Tiny Ladybugs / A Tutorial

My little girl just turned 4, and she loves ladybugs. One of her favorite things is a huge stuffed pink ladybug we got her for valentines day several years ago. When I asked her what she wanted on her cake this year, the first thing she said was “PINK LADYBUGS!”. I wasn’t able to pull off the yellow dragonflies, or the frogs she wanted as well. But I WAS able to make the ladybugs, “I want SMALL lady bugs Mom. Like tiny real ones…” and some purple butterflies.

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They were SO easy to make, and so much fun.

What you will need:

  • Fondant (the color of your choice. I use pink here.) recipe
  • Black food pen, or black fondant, or black food color mixed with vodka to make edible paint.)
  • some kind of shaping tool with a fine end.

Here is how to make them.

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Start by rolling a pea sized ball of fondant. My bugs are slightly larger then the real thing, but pretty close. Any smaller and it would be pretty hard to get in any kind of detail.

Next take your pea sizes ball and gently shape it in to more of an oval. Lady bugs are pretty round, but not exactly. after you have a shape that looks about right to you, its time to shape the wings. This can be done by using any of the tools shown in the picture above, but I found the cutting scoring tool the easiest. (The one with the tiny pizza cutter like blade on it.)

Also note that it is easiest to make the lines if you start from one side and slightly under the small ball of fondant. Make sure your gentle. You don’t need to CUT the fondant, just indent it. Notice the small v at the back end of the bug? I made mine larger then they would be on the real thing so they can be seen.

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Next take a tiny piece of fondant and form it it in a ball. Moisten a paint brush with a drop of water and brush it on to one side of the head and attach to the body. (If you have black fondant, you would use it for the head. I did not so I had to color mine in.)

If your running short on time you can move right on to the next step, but it dose help to let your bugs rest for at least a half hour before moving on. This lets them dry out a bit, and makes them easier to handle with out changing there shape.

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After letting them rest for a while, color in the head, using the medium of your choice. I love my edible pens, but if you do not have them and have access to black gel food colour, mix a small amount with a few drops of vodka to create an edible paint. Then use that to carefully paint those tiny heads.

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Next comes the dots. There are many different kind of lady bugs so feel free to dot them up as much as you want. I like the 3 dots per side look my self, but I tried to not have them look to uniform.

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And it is really as simple as that! I added these as is to cupcakes and a cake with green icing. But they would be SO CUTE on fondant leaves as well. They were perfect for cupcakes. My daughter LOVED them. They were just what she wanted and again, I can not stress…JUST HOW EASY TO MAKE!

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My bug army, all ready to go. A note. I used whipped cream frosting on my cake and cupcakes. So I added these on RIGHT before serving. Whipped cream contains a lot of liquid so the black colour WILL run if left on it for a while. One way to avoid this is to leave any part of the lady bugs head, that might touch the icing, free of any black colour.

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Its amazing what such a small bit of color can do for a cake or cupcake. Simple was the star of the show at this birthday. I hope this shows you, you don’t have to go over the top to get great results. Or be anything like a pro to make an adorable cupcake, or cake!

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace

Pumpkin Cake Pops / Pumpkin Pound Cake Recipe

I knew I wanted to try cake pops again for my own birthday, and with it being fall, pumpkin was an easy flavor choice. I love all things pumpkin. I also new I wanted to use a pound cake recipe for my cake pop filling. The few times I have tired it, pound cake has given me a moist but structured filling. Only a few large table spoons of frosting are needed to bring it to the perfect consistency, cutting down on the sweetness, but holding everything together so nicely.

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I used Wilton Candy melts for the dipping and decorating. I was a lot happier with them this time around then my last attempt using them with my blueberry cake pops. To thin out the candy melts for dipping I added MELTED vegetable shortening and didn’t have the problem with white specks like last time. YAY! I also had paper cakepop sticks instead of bamboo kitchen skewers.

I didn’t have any cracks or leek problems with my cake pops this time around. BUT, even though I dipped my sticks in candy melts before inserting them in to the cake pops, they did soak up some of the oils from the cake. About a third of each stick turned a slight yellow color. No big deal this time, but I would NOT have been happy if this happened for a wedding or someone else party. I am thinking a good alternative to the paper sticks would be bamboo sticks made for candle apples?

My sister helped me shape the cake pops, and though we attempted to make them bumpy like real pumpkins, our artistic efforts were foiled by the dipping. I guess the candy melts have to be REALLY thin to let any shaping show threw.

I was also a bit apprehensive about how easy it would be to pipe with candy melts. But I was pleasantly surprised. It IS a bit trickery then with regular icing, but I was able to get the hang of it fairly quickly and it worked great for the squiggly vines and even my small leaf tip.

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Pumpkin Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2-3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients, whisking to mix evenly. Add to creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating just until combined.
  4. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes before removing form pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Make sure to look and see exactly what size your loaf pans are when making these. I have some 8.5 as well as 9’s and even that half an inch changes the baking time by up to 20 minutes. That results in over baking the out side of your loaves.

I LOVE the aroma that comes off of these while crumpling them to make cake pops. HEAVEN. I wanted to stick my whole face in and just breath. Its moist and rich like all good pound cakes, and works GREAT for cake pops. Highly recommended if you like pumpkin. All of the ladies at my tea loved them.

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace

Raspberry Chiffon Cake / Birthday Tea With Mary

For my birthday this year I decided to invade my mothers home, and hold a tea. (I have a vary gracious mother, who let me do this, and helped in so many, many ways.)

With her permission I raided my older sisters tea stash. Used EVERYONE’S tea sets, and we all had a WONDERFUL time drinking Moroccan Mint, Amsterdam Liquorish, and Don’t Worry Be Happy Tea.

I enjoyed baking for all my friends and family the few days proceeding this “Birthday Tea With Mary”. One of the main deserts was a Raspberry Chiffon cake.

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Now I am VARY new to the world of Chiffon cakes. I fell in love with Rose Beranbaum’s, Orange Glow Chiffon recipe, a few months ago, and have been dreaming of the same light, moist texture, but with a luscious raspberry flavor. I was unable to find a raspberry chiffon cake recipe that didn’t have other flavors mixed in with it…so I had to make it up as I went along. The result was not as heavenly has I had imagined.

I didn’t even think about removing the seeds from my raspberry puree, and ended up over mixing and deflating the meringue. This of course resulted in a denser, shorter, and slightly dryer cake texture. BUT…my raspberry flavor did indeed shine threw it all, and optional cool whip topping saved it from being TO dry.

One of the ladies at the party was able to shed the light on what exactly I had done wrong, (in a vary sweet way) and I now look forward to my next attempt, and being able to share my vary first recipe, all my own! When that next attempt will be, I am not sure. But if it works out any better it will be a recipe worth waiting for!

One must not look at mistakes as failure, but learning experiences. Anyone ells have any tips on baking chiffon cakes? I would LOVE you to share them with me.

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Along side the Chiffon cake I also baked my favorite Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe, as cupcakes, and tried my hand at pumpkin cake pops. See the cake pops down there, at the end of the table? Well, I will tell you all about them in my next post. Until then…

God bless!

Mary Grace

White Velvet Butter Cake Recipe Review

I have used this recipe for my last few cakes, and it is fast becoming a favorite of mine. It holds up so well in tiered cakes, and tastes good even with a small amount of icing. (When I cover a cake in fondant I use less buttercream, as a filling and also to ice the sides of the cake before laying on the fondant.)

The texture is tenderest the same day as baking. If eaten that same day its soft, and melts in your mouth. But I love how it retains its flavors after chilling over night in the refrigerator. That chill time adds firmness that is great for a stacked cake. I can’t wait to be able to use this recipe for the first time in a full wedding cake.

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The recipe is tasty when used for cupcakes as well, though I do prefer it for full sized cake rounds. It makes a firmer textured cupcake.

This recipe is almost identical to All Occasion Downy Yellow Cake. The only difference is that instead of all egg yokes, all egg whites are used. The color is pleasantly white, with out looking bleached out.

I give this recipe 4 stars. It misses 5 for me because of not being my choice for cupcakes as well as full sized cakes.

Thank you Rose Beranbanm for all the wonderful recipes in The Cake Bible.

I found this recipe easy to fallow. Again I can’t say how much I love how Rose has included ALL the measuring systems with in her cook book. Weights as well as cups and liquid measurements. I have found it to be a great learning tool for someone who was raised with the US cup’s system, but needs and wants to learn more accurate measuring habits.

I have used this recipe most recently for:

Woodland Animals Cake

Potato Pile Cake

and half of… Lego Star Wars Cake

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfaits

Renee Burson, at sweetrevelations.net I love your blog! I have been waiting to try your Peanut Butter Parfaits for 2 months, and then you just have to post your Pumpkin Custard recipe right before I make them. Oh my! What to make? …the decision was soooo hard. But my husband LOVES chocolate and peanut butter, so for Him, for our 7th anniversary, I made the Parfaits…

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Excuse me while I go in to a peanut butter coma again, just think about them…

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes, but the icing was by far what threw this desert over the edge from good, to OLALA! I took the left overs to a bible study night and a friend said… “This is confusing me! Its peanut butter, but…its SMOOOOOTH. How can this be peanut butter, it can’t be, but it is! All peanut butter has just that bit of grit to it.” All I can say is, that is what Swiss Meringue buttercream will do for you.

Now I didn’t use Renee’s exact recipe for the icing. Being new to Swiss Meringue buttercreams I felt it safer to stick to the amounts and method I already new. Even doing that I was afraid I was going to fail at getting it right this time. I had kids in one ear, a husband in the other, and limited time to get them made. SOO…I rushed it. BUT, my buttercream DID come together, and it was DELICIOUS. And even though I didn’t fallow Renee to a tee, my inspiration IS ALL HER!

This icing is light, silky, smoooooooth, and pared with the chocolate cupcakes it makes for a richly satisfying desert. The ONLY thing I would EVER change…is to use only one cupcake. Its so good, but really it was so good that it was just to much for me to handle so much of it! Next time I will be cutting my cupcakes in half and then layering it with the icing.

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It is also absolutely wonderful in regular cupcake form. I found that adding the peanut butter did make for a softer consistency then I usually get with my swiss buttercream. But that in no way affected its ability to hold its shape. Regular american buttercream would have been a whole different story.

As I said before, I used my regular Swiss Meringue Icing recipe. I added in 6 table spoons smooth peanut butter. (Renee’s version calls for a 1/4 th, US, standard cup.) The lightly salted peanuts add a delightful texture for someone who prefers crunchy peanut butter to smooth. Topping it all off with half a Reece’s Peanutbutter cup, or one mini Cup. SO GOOD. My cupcakes didn’t get the extra candy because I only picked up enough for the Parfaits.

Renee, thank you so much for great recipes, and inspiration.

For the full Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Icing recipe please visit Renee’s blog via the links at the top of this post. Or Go to my Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and add in the peanut butter!

God bless!

Mary Grace

Star Wars LEGO Cake

Do you need to connect a bit with your spouse? I Highly recommend buying and building a Star Wars LEGO set. My husband and I had a lot of fun, and got some surprising alone time while buying, and assembling the ship for this cake. Just another example of how cake brings my family together.

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I was going for a space scape with this one, and am not sure I nailed it quite as well as I was hoping to. In fact I know I didn’t, my 3 year old told me so. You might not think that the input of a 3 year old would hold much weight, but it really dose. Kids are generally honest about there first impressions.

The lack of black fondant, probably didn’t do this design any favors. But I was happy with the over all look. Its not easy to get such clean edges on a fondant covered cake, that a border is optional. I was VARY happy with how I did on this one. Who wants a weird piped or LEGO border right threw there star field if they can help it? I love the clean look a cake with out a border has.

I used Wilton’s color mist to create the varying shades of blue, it dose a good job of adding depth to flat colored fondant or buttercream. The silver stars are hand painted using edible silver paint, and the gold are sprinkles. I glued them to the cake with a touch of light corn syrup.

I used modeling chocolate to create the LOGO, witch I am vary proud of. It was just the right touch the cake needed to real in the Star Wars theme. for tedious work like this I have come to prefer modeling chocolate, its much less likely to lose its shape while cutting it out and transferring it to a cake. The letters are painted in edible gold paint.

Thank you for reading.

Mary Grace

 

 

Jungle Cake

I have been learning about gum paste cake toppers like crazy the last little bit. Its been both a challenge, and easier then I thought it would be. I know, that might be a bit hard for someone not learning along side me to understand. There are so many great tutorials out there on how to make gum paste, fondant, or modeling chocolate toppers. It makes it so much easier to create great figures, while at the same time struggling to get the hang of gum paste, and work fast before it drys out and forms wrinkles or cracks while you work with it. I used this one, to make this cute little Lion to adorn the top of a cake a made for a friend, and her little mans first birthday!

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I am proud of my self for how he turned out. There are things I would do differently next time. I had trouble getting him to sit up strait and not let his back end get to rounded as he sat and I worked on his face. But his tale fixed the backwards lean. (I added it  two days after the rest of him dried so it would hold him up better.)

It was requested I make an orange cake, so I used the Beat and Bake Orange Cake recipe from Allrecipes.com again. I iced the cake in Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing, flavored orange. I LOVE how Swiss Meringue covers a cake when it is made properly. I find it so much easier to get a smooth finish then when I use American buttercream. I was also vary please with how it worked for piping the green grass on top of the cake. I have not used the grass tip vary often, but once I got the hang of it it did almost just as well as American buttercream, for standing up and looking just like grass. Most of the issue I had was my hot hands. Swiss Meringue butter cream is mostly butter, not sugar, so I find it melts in a held piping bag a bit faster then regular sugary icing dose.

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I tried to imitate giraffe print on the cake with reddish brown Marshmallow fondant spots. I cut it out in random though squarish shapes, and applied to the sides of the cake after it was chilled for a few minutes. To finish it all off I added the fondant palm branches before adding the lion topper. I like the cute and simple look of it all. It turned out so well for the minimum of effort I felt I put in to the design.

If I am ever asked to make a cake like this again I will add some dark shading to the edges of the brown spots, and along the defining lines of the palm branches.

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace

Woodland Animals Cake

I have been learning about gum paste cake toppers the last few weeks. I have had vary little experience with them up until this point. So when I was asked to make a woodland cake, with woodland creatures for the toppers, I made sure my friends new it would be a first for me! With a little help from my friend Ashley, my toppers turned out great, and so did the rest of the cake.

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The slightly inaccurate dear (on account that he has small antlers growing but still has his faun spots) and the fox are my handy work. While my friend Ashley tried out her skills with the squirl and the racoon. I had so much fun making these! As well as the flowers and feather that were also made from gum paste. I found this tutorial on using polymer clay to make a deer, and it was vary helpful. I have watched several of the tutorials by LetsClay WithEwa  and have really enjoyed them. For the rest of the animals my friend Ashley found picture tutorials that worked with fondant, and we referred to those while making the toppers together.

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Kudos to the Mama and Antie that planed the decorations for this little birthday party! I love how different, and earthy everything was. Even the treat bags were brown paper with feathers for decoration.

The yellow flowers are just something I made up, while the green ones are my first take on succulents. All the flowers and feathers were attached to the cake using royal icing.

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At first my friend Ashley tried her hand at the small tepees around the bottom of the cake. But after making up a few and decided they were not fitting with the chosen colors as well as we wanted, she spent the rest of the time helping me mix the colors just right. All of the design are hand drawn, with edible marker, on to marshmallow fondant, and though the ones she made for me didn’t get used on the cake they were still a HUGE help. When the time came all I had to do was pick and choose from all of the great patterns she had come up with, copy them on to the new tepees, and place them on the cake.

I used White Velvet Butter Cake recipe from The Cake Bible, for a second time with this cake. It was a huge success. My friend called it the best cake she had, had! I filled and iced the cake in American buttercream, and covered it in my regular marshmallow fondant.

(I was given a photo to work off of for the design of this cake. I have been unable to find the original anywhere online. If anyone knows who made the original cake please let me know.)

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace

Potato Pile Cake

How dose one make a cake look like a pile of potatoes? That was the thought that ran threw my head when a friend phoned and asked if I would have time to make a  goodbye cake. She wanted it to look like a POTATO PILE? Yes, she did. I will tell you the story behind it.

I have some dear friends that own a local farm. There grandparents and parents are from Switzerland, and there are always people from Europe coming to visit, live, and work with them. This particular cake was for a young man from Germany. He had helped out in the potato fields and also at there small summer vegetable stand. Lets just say that one or more of these jobs were not his favorite.

So the idea was to make a humorous goodbye cake for him. He must not have disliked the work to much, because his wish was, and is, to some day come back. So this cake was to say, Goodbye, until we meet again! This is what I came up with.

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My friends asked if it was possible to make a figure to represent this young man and place it under the potato pile. Or something to that affect. Well…I failed at that aspect of the cake. I tried to make a foot and shoes look like they were coming out from under the cake…and I attempted a head but. It was BAD…so in loo of that this is what I ended up doing.

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It always bugs me to no end when I am not able to find a way to make a cake exactly like what is asked for. But this defeat was sweetened by just how much my efforts were appreciated.

The cake was time consuming, but not as difficult to decorate as I had anticipated. All the decorations were made from Marshmallow Fondant, except the arm and flag. I used gumpaste for those and let them dry over night to ensure they would be nice and hard, and strong enough to hold that upright pose.

I used the White Velvet Butter Cake recipe, from the Cake Bible, and was vary pleased with it.

God bless!

Mary Grace

Montreal Canadians Cake

One thing Canadians are known for is our LOVE of THE GAME. What is THE GAME? Ice Hockey! If your Canadian and not completely obsessed with one team or another, you have a family member, or multiple family members that are. (In Canada people take off work, or are GIVEN time off work…or even CANCEL a day of work, just to watch a high profile game like the men’s or woman’s Olympic gold medal game.) It is a huge part of our culture.

This last week I had the chance to share in a bit of that Hockey love with a friend of mine. We worked together on a cake for her man. He is one of those guys that has HIS team. She was vary concerned about betting the logo and everything as perfect as possible. (And so was I.) This is the result of our obsession.

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I am so happy I got to work WITH someone on this cake. I am so use to doing things all by my self, or at least being in charge of ordering my sister (who helps me out alot) around the kitchen. It was so good for me to have not only someone I could tell what to do, but someone to brain storm with, and for some things, hand all the work over to. I am not the greatest at mixing colors to get just the right shade. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get the red dark enough, and we would end up with pink. We were both SO EXCITED when the color came out PERFECT. The trick is to just add a drop of black. It keeps it from going pinky, and darkens the red just enough to get that lovely red.

We both learned so much working together. This really is one of the reason I love making cakes. They bring people together in so many ways. Thank you Ashley for letting me learn with you.

We used my go to chocolate cake recipe, along with regular American buttercream icing and covered and decorated with Marshmallow fondant.

Thank you for reading!

Mary Grace