Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rocketship Pillow

*Housekeeping note: I have a slight backlog on projects I want to post. I'm going to try to catch up, but my camera is not working so I may be MIA until I can take care of that issue- or I might post and add photos at a later date*

Last month when our family visited we celebrated my nephew's fourth birthday. You remember the giant cupcake cake, right? Right.

Since our nephew was visiting on his birthday and he was on a roadtrip with untold number of hours spent in the car, I wanted to make him something fun that would come in handy on the trip.

I looked through my One Yard Wonder book and found a super cute Rocketship Pillow that I thought would be perfect. Comfy and useful for napping in the car, cute and fun for at home, and it even has a little pocket where he can stash his stuff.

If I could go back in time and remake this, I think I would put piping on the "fins" of the rocketship (there are three, the third is in back). I used piping on the pocket instead of bias tape, because I liked the look more. I modified the pattern by sewing on "windows" that had "aliens" peeking out of them.

This is not a pattern for a beginner. But if you can piece your way through it, you do end up with a very cute and useable pillow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reece's Cup Cake

No, not cupcakes- a Reece's Cup cake.

Sunday was my husband's birthday and I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. He said "surprise me." That is...kind of dangerous because it allows me to do whatever I want, meaning not necessarily what he would want.

However, it being his birthday I went with one of his favorite things: peanut butter. And who doesn't immediately think of chocolate when peanut butter desserts are on the table?

I started with a yellow cake recipe from my Sur La Table baking book (another recipe towards my resolution!). I read their whole primer on cakes, even though I've been baking cakes (and cupcakes) for quite some time now. I didn't learn a whole lot of new information, except that pre-beating your eggs (just enough to mix the whites and yolks) can help keep your cake light and fluffy. The other stuff was mostly information about bringing cold ingredients up to room temperature before adding and the importance of sifting.

The yellow cake recipe yeilded much less cake than I had anticipated, so I used one 9 inch round pan, instead of two. Since I only had one 9 inch round of cake, I decided to section it into three pieces, instead of two.

I found a quick and easy peanut butter frosting recipe in my Martha Stewart Cupcakes book. I was a little surprised to see that it called for cream cheese, but it was delicious. The peanut butter frosting was put between the layers of cake and I should have been a little more generous with the frosting.

To top the cake I used a chocolate ganache recipe (from Sur La Table, again). I was beyond pleased that my crumb coating worked like a charm. (Crumb coating, in case you don't know, means that you coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting/ganache and then let it set. Once the layer is set, you add a more generous layer of frosting/ganache so that the crumbs do not show.)

As a final touch, I added some mini Reece's cups and peanut butter frosting accents. This cake should be kept chilled until about fifteen or twenty minutes before serving.

Mmm, don't you want a piece?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Giant Cupcake Cake

I know I've been MIA for a bit- things were a little hectic. We had a visit from some family and then our basement flooded. No worries, everything/everyone is just fine and dry now.

Our family's visit coincided with our nephew's 4th birthday. Although we celebrated his birthday in NYC a few days before his stop by our place, I was itching to try out my Cupcake Cake pan and this occasion was too good to pass up.

My nephew requested chocolate cake, so I used my favorite recipe and layered vanilla buttercream in between the "frosting" and the "cake" sections.

My crumb coating is terrible on cakes. Terrible. I wanted this cake to look like a cupcake I would bake and not like one I'd dropped on the floor. I decided to try using rolled buttercream (because I'm pretty sure my nephew would not have enjoyed eating fondant on his birthday).

My experience with rolled buttercream was interesting. I am a perfectionist (I may have mentioned that before) and I got quite frustrated. The rolled buttercream was probably a little too warm (too much kneading by hand) and a little too sticky (I kept adding powdered sugar by the handful, but it never seemed to un-stick).

However, having said that- I think it looked great on the finished product. Plus, it tasted really good too. It's quite sweet, but I think that's right in line with it being a buttercream product.

I used the leftover cake batter to make coordinating cupcakes.