Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice...

Now that's what good things are made of.

(Note: I have a back-log of several cakes and goodies to post, and I should really be blogging about those instead... But after making these rolls this morning, I just couldn't resist)

Months ago, I saw a post on Pioneer Woman's blog a post about cinnamon rolls. I swore I'd make them someday, then promptly filed it in my mental recipe box.

Serendipitously, this past Monday, Bakerella (another one of my blogger goddesses) posted about making them on her blog. It gave me a renewed urge to try it out (since both of these beautiful and talented ladies made them look so deliciously amazing).

I've been working a string of early mornings at the bakery lately (open, off, open, off, etc.) and I've really been trying to keep up a good early morning routine.

I got up at 4:30 this morning. I laid around for about 45 minutes, and then finally got up and made some coffee. I started making the cinnamon rolls around 5:30, 5:40ish and had them fully baked by a little before 9:00. So yes, they do take some time. But you know what? Most of that time is spent waiting. Over half, actually. And hey, good things come to those who wait. Keep that in mind.

So. I made a half batch of these rolls, like Bakerella did. A half batch makes 2 1/2 pans. I fit 7 rolls in an 8" round cake pan, and 8 rolls in a 9" round cake pan. I had 4 rolls left over, and didn't want them to spread out all over another 9" pan, so I put them in a muffin pan.

I'd never worked with dough before. Well, like making my own dough. Never ever. I was really, really worried they wouldn't turn out well. In the end, I was quite pleasantly surprised, and extremely proud of myself!

Start with 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup sugar.

Mix them all together in a saucepan over medium heat, turning it off before it begins to boil. Let it cool until lukewarm (around 45 minutes) and then add 1 package of active dry yeast.

Sprinkle it on top of the lukewarm milk mixture and then let it sit for one minute.

After that add four cups all-purpose flour. Stir until just combined…

Then cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour to let rise. After an hour, add another 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir together until thoroughly combined.

Then you can roll out the dough. Roll it into a large rectangular shape around 30 X 10 inches.

Mine looked like this:

Spread 1 cup melted butter, sprinkle 1/8 cup ground cinnamon and shake about a cup of sugar right on top.

Then, starting from the edge farthest from you, carefully roll the dough towards you tightly.

As you can see, I had copious amounts of buttery/cinnamony/sugary liquid oozing everywhere. I hear that's normal. While making these cinnamon rolls, that is... If it happens to you on a regular basis, you should probably get that checked out.

Once you have the dough in a nice, long roll, you can cut 1 1/2 inch slices (I started out with a sharp knife but found a butter knife to be easier) and place in a melted butter-coated pan (I actually just sprayed it all really well with Pam, and it turned out fine. If you don't want MORE butter on top of an already large amount of butter [close your ears, Paula Deen and Julia Child], Pam will do the job nicely).

These bake for about 13-17 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

While they are baking you can whip up the icing.

Bakerella made her half batch of rolls first with no icing, and then made a full batch with icing. I was doing really well with halving the icing recipe, but I did accidentally use the full amount of butter (See? Good thing I only used Pam on the pans, huh??) so my icing was more runny than the other ladies' was. I actually like that better, I think... It gave it more opportunity to seep into the cracks and around the edges. It made for a thinner cover overall, and as I'm not a huge fan of icing on anything, be it cakes or donuts or even cinnamon rolls, I welcomed this mistake.

To make the icing:

Whisk together 1 lb. powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter (unless you want thinner icing like I had, in which case use 6 tbs not 3), 1/8 cup coffee (whatever's leftover from your morning pick-me-up is fine) and a dash of salt.

Then add 1 1/2 tsp maple flavoring (or vanilla, or almond, or whatever you desire) and stir it all together.

I ended up substituting vanilla flavoring since there was no maple flavoring to be found in the spice cabinet. We have everything else (cherry, orange, rum, butter, vanilla, almond), and even multiples of a few of them, but no maple. The vanilla was just fine, though, and probably not as strong as the maple would've been. Again, I was OK with that. I may just stick to the vanilla when I make them in the future.

When the rolls are ready, remove them from the oven.

Here are my little masterpieces:

Sans icing:

Avec icing!

You may have noticed that over the course of these photos, two rolls from the muffin pan disappeared already... My family couldn't wait to dig in. :-) Just goes to show you're doin' something right, right?

Take a close look at these sweet golden brown rolls of love just cozied up in that pan full of icing and then try and tell me otherwise (pay no attention to the screams of despair coming from your hips, ladies).

And that's that! My first adventure with dough. And cinnamon rolls. Happily Ever After.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My husband and I love sushi. It's a simple fact. Another fact is he had a birthday on the 14th. And I made him a cake yesterday. :-) It was actually supposed to get done on the 16th (I have the ability to postpone birthdays until I have the spare time to make a cake... It's my super power. :-)), but like I mentioned in my last post, I caught a cold, and after being sick for the third time, well... I had just kind of lost all ability to care about gathering enough energy to do much of anything, really. So I'm finally feeling better, despite a head full of... Gross things that have no place in a discussion about cake. :-) My point is, Brandon finally got his birthday. And it was chock full o' sushi goodness.

He had mentioned (months ago, right after we went to the theatre and saw the latest Harry Potter movie) that he just HAD to have a Harry Potter cake. Months later, I asked him again, and after he said, "Dragon Age!!" (his new obsession, an XBOX 360 game) and I said, "Uhh, I don't know enough about that.. Pick something else." He decided that Harry Potter would still be OK to do. But, as it wasn't something he was currently super into (currently as in these next 5 minutes before he finds some other shiny object that catches his attention ;-)), I thought I'd try to think of something else to do. And I settled on sushi.

It was actually super fun to make... The cake part was really simple-- He wanted carrot cake, so I just baked a regular 2-layer 8" round carrot cake, and iced it with cream cheese icing. I airbrushed it golden brown & dark brown, to kinda resemble wood, like how some sushi restaurants serve their dishes.

The sushi rolls were made out of rice krispy treats. I made it regularly (Rice Krispy cereal, marshmallows, butter) and spread/flattened it out on some parchment paper to the thickness of about the thickness of sushi rolls. I trimmed off the excess around the edges so I had a big rectangle shape. I was able to make two different rolls out of the rectangle I had. I used fruit roll ups on the rolls that had the "seaweed wraps" on the insides of the rolls, and I used fondant for the rolls with the "seaweed wraps" on the outsides. The insides I had icing (cream cheese), green M&M's (avacado), and gummy worms (the fish). I used the extra Rice Krispy scraps to make some nigiri sushi (the oblong lumps of rice with a piece of raw fish laying across the top).. I made some "tuna nigiri" and "salmon nigiri," both using fondant for the raw fish part.

I also made some fondant ginger, wasabi, and chopsticks. :-)

Under the Big Top, The Finale!

I've been so caught up with life, I totally forgot I never posted Ava's circus in it's completed glory!

Well. Life. It's been crazy. In the past two months I've been sick three times. I kid you not. I had the flu, I had the SWINE flu, and I'm now just getting over a cold. At the time of little Ava's birthday party (over the span of about 10 days, including Halloween), I had the Swine. I actually had just started feeling a bit better on Halloween... I had to finish up details on her cakes wearing gloves and a surgical mask so I wouldn't risk infecting her or her party goers. ...needless to say, I did NOT attend that party. :-(

But, Ava's mom, Beth, said everyone had a great time, and the cakes and accouterments turned out wonderfully. Beth and her family did a great job getting everything set up!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Under the Big Top, Part II

Ooh, Halloween is just around the corner! Usually, I would be at some sort of Halloween party with [of-age] friends, or with my brother and sister-in-law celebrating their anniversary.. This year, I have the pleasure of spending the evening helping an old friend celebrate her daughter's birthday. :-)

I started talking about Ava's birthday cake in my last post... Well, things are coming together, and I am SOOO excited to close in on the final result!

I had bought some super cute wooden cut outs of circus animals (zebra, lion, elephant) to use on the cakes... But I really just couldn't get it out of my head to try and create little circus characters of my own. I've never tried making critters out of gumpaste/fondant before, and... I guess I just figured it was a good time!

Started out making an elephant...

And he turned out so darn cute!! Figured I'd try my hand at a lion, too!

What cuties...

So they're made. I'll let 'em sit out and dry 'til right before the party, probably..
I had also started the tent, last post, to go on top of the main cake. I finished that tonight, too! Yay!

Aaaand, here's a little peek at the cakes. :-)

:-) Almost done!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Under the Big Top, Part I

This is just part one of a cake project I'm working on right now... I have a long-time friend, Beth, whose daughter is about to turn three... She's asked me to do her cake, and I gladly accepted. Beth took her daughter, Ava, to the circus this summer and she absolutely LOVED it, so that's what the theme of her party is going to be.

I'm making cake AND cake balls for them.. Well, I should say cakes, plural. Beth had originally asked for just a regular sheet cake with a circus theme or circus-y colors, but I couldn't resist getting some additional inspiration from all the other awesome circus cakes out there that have already been made.

This is what I've come up with:

So let me explain it a little.. it's going to be an 8" double layer and two 6" single layers..
Starting with the main: the cake will be pink with teal and purple diamonds on it. There are stars on wires that will be sticking out of the cake. And I thought I'd put some sort of plaque on the side with HBD or Ava or something.

The bottom two: one will be teal with pink/purple circles, the other purple with pink/teal stars. Connected to top cake by strings with little flags on them. Each one will have a ball on it, with an animal balanced on the ball.
I bought little wooden animal cut outs today, but I'm still battling with making little characters out of fondant/gumpaste. They look so cute that way! We'll see how much spare time I have. I at least have something already to fall back on. :-)

Here's a closer shot of the cakes:

I already made the big stand today... I went to a local thrift store and got a clear plate/platter for $1.98 and a pink/white patterned glass vase for $2.98... I used a really strong glue (E6000) to fasten the two together, and voila!! It's cute, it's sturdy, and it's perfect! I'm so excited to use it. And it was really so simple to do.

And for another more upward shot:

The two smaller cakes will be on smaller stands, which consist of a simple bowl and plate combo. No need to even glue anything there.. the bowl gives the plate enough stability on its own. I chose clear glass pieces for both the plates and bowls... This way, they would match the big plate on the big stand I have made, and I don't have to worry about finding some sort of color or print that I like. I bought a couple bags of skittles and plan on pouring those in the bowls before setting the plates on top. That way, it's all reusable, and it's bright and colorful, too!

I also started working on the circus tent to go on the top of the 8" double layer cake... I forgot to take pictures of my progress there, but it's turning out really cute so far. I bought a half a yard (and so far I have a TON extra) of a girly, striped fabric... Also found a scrap piece of a really thin pink tulle-y fabric.. used an oatmeal container (the heavy cardboard, cylinder type), made it a bit shorter, cut a piece out for the doorway, and hot glued the fabric around the cylinder. My next step is making the tent roof..

Friday, October 9, 2009

Morning Rituals

We all have our own rituals in the morning, don't we? Typically, mine consists of hitting 'snooze' on my alarm as many times as humanly possible, crawling out of bed, throwing on my work clothes, making a quick stop in the bathroom to potty and brush my teeth, and then running out the door, sometimes while tying my shoes. Of course, these are the mornings I have to work at 5:oo AM, and let me just say for the record that I am in no way, shape, or form a morning person. I stay up late. And I enjoy my sleep.

My mom, however, has a much nicer morning ritual that I have seen her perform too many times to count. She, like myself, is not a morning person. Her first "good morning" is to the coffee maker. It greets her in return with a warm, aromatic smile, and she makes her way to get the newspaper. Coffee mug and paper in hand, she sits at the table and reads and drinks in a sleepy-eyed state until the caffeine has had enough time to course through her veins.

Once she's had ample time to wake up, she moves on to the puzzle section of the paper. One of our favorite puzzles to do together is the Word Scramble one, where you have four or five words to unscramble, and then you have to use certain letters from each unscrambled word to unscramble the final puzzle, based off of the provided cartoon. Sometimes, the words elude us so badly that we have to pull out Scrabble tiles to help us figure them out.

Her morning ritual is something that will always be a fond memory for me (aside from her morning grumpiness :)), so I thought I would use that to celebrate her birthday!!

I took all of the elements of what she does every morning: the coffee, the paper, the puzzles, the Scrabble tiles, and gave her something edible to enjoy.

The cake was the same pumpkin white chocolate chip cake I mentioned in the earlier post about wedding preparations... It turned out just as delicious, but let me tell ya... This is NOT the type of cake you want to use with a shaped cake! It's so moist, and porous, with all of the chips in there.. It's so not ideal to cut and shape and then try to cover with a heavy fondant. It sagged, it wrinkled, it tore... But I kept it together for the most part. At least it tasted yummy!! :-)

So, pumpkin white chocolate chip cake, cream cheese icing, fondant to cover... I made the mug handle out of gum paste (which I let dry and then wrapped with the same colored fondant as the mug) and stuck a few cut pieces of a thin wooden skewer in either end to stick into the cake.

You can see the whole spread in this shot... The cupcakes were lemon with a lemon zest icing. The "steam" coming off the coffee mug had to quickly turn into candles, because the chocolate pieces I had created started melting and falling over... So I had to eat them to teach them a lesson. ;-) My lovely husband (of one month as of today!! Happy 'monthiversary,' Brandon!) ran out to the store to get me some twisty candles to substitute.. What a great guy.

Closer up view of the mug on its saucer, the newspapers, and the Scrabble tiles that spell out "Happy Birthday Sue." You can see how the cake is really starting to get saggy underneath the fondant.

And here's my lovely mom and dad, checkin' everything out after Mom's extinguished the fire. ;-)

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wedding Waiting


At this exact time in 45 days, I will be a changed woman. I will have just finished pledging my love to the very special man in my life. I will probably be having my picture taken while wondering when we can go inside and eat, drink, and be merry...

These past few months have just flown by, and as our big day rapidly approaches, I'm trying to tie up all loose ends and figure out exactly what's left to do. Somehow, that always circles back around to food. ;-)

I've recently tried a few recipes that have to do with our upcoming nuptials. One was a pumpkin spice cake with a white chocolate glaze. The other was a sugar free oatmeal cookie.

The spice cake was done in order to sample something for one of our cake layers. A good friend of ours, Cortney, will be making the cake for us, and she sent me the recipe to try out.



Extremely simple (you even get to start out with a --GASP-- box cake mix. I know, a lot of people frown on that, but I say, if it tastes good, why the heck not?? So here's the recipe!

White Chip Pumpkin Spice Cake


PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan.

COMBINE cake mix, eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk and vegetable oil in large mixer bowl. Beat at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes; stir in morsels. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.

BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 25 minutes; invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle half of glaze over cake; serve with remaining glaze.

3 tablespoons CARNATION Evaporated Milk in small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat just to a boil; remove from heat. Add 1 cup (6 oz.) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Premier White Morsels; stir u
ntil smooth. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

No, seriously. It's that easy! I'm sure you could easily adapt it to cupcakes or mini bundt cakes or rounds or whatever you fancy. Just finagle the timing. I wanted to taste it at its best, so I stayed with the bundt pan.

Yes folks, that's right. So good I had to show you twice.

This was gone after a day.

What's that? You STILL want more? Well Ok...

Several guests invited to the wedding will be from out of town. We've decided to put together some OOT gift bags (Out Of Town) to place in their hotel rooms so they have something nice. We'll have practical things like tissues, pain killers, bottled water, pen and paper, and a few other odds and ends... We will ALSO have a few it

ems I've opted to include, in order to hit them where it really counts-- their stomachs! I'd like to put some tasty treats in their bags, like muffins or cookies and cake balls. I haven't quite decided what all I want to make, but I do have several ideas. One in particular involves my fiance's mom. She's diabetic, but loves oatmeal cookies! Y'know, the ones you buy at the store with icing drizzled on top? So I searched and searched for a recipe to try, and I finally decided on one. Sugar free oatmeal cookies.

It called for a lot of ingrediants, but nearly everything I already had at home! I'm sure a lot of people already have all the necissary items. The only two things I had to purchase were wheat flour and oatmeal.

Here's a line up of all my ingrediants:

(minus the vanilla extract, which for some reason was a little camera shy and snuck out of my picture)

And here's the result!

They're nothing at all like I'd imagined, but they're super tasty! I understood after they were made as to why I needed all those spices. It really gave it a nice flavor. Of course, it wasn't very sweet because it was lacking sugar, but the vanilla and the apple sauce turned out to be just enough. The consistency was what really surprised me. The texture was definitely more of a cake than a cookie. I'm not really learned on the science behind the food, so I'm not quite sure why it was like that, but it was certainly still tasty. And anyway, I might just decide to start marketing "cakies" and make me a fortune! ;-)

Chickening Out

Sadly, I haven't been cooking a lot lately. I'm gearing up to become a Mrs, and in doing so, I've been trying to cut out all the delicious foods in which I was previously enjoying, in order to not only be a little healthier, but to ensure I will still fit into my beautiful gown!

I'd like to think that everything has a silver lining if you look for it long enough... In this case, it's this: Cutting out the constant baking and cooking will give me a chance to catch up on my posts! I've done a few things since Bryan's birthday, and I have nothing to show for it!

Here's a tasty plate I made a few months ago that is guaranteed to tickle your palette and warm your belly.

Kaytucky Chicken

Crash Hot Potatoes

mmmm... stuffed, breaded chicken breast (cream cheese, green onion, italian cheeses, bacon, red pepper flakes, parsley, garlic) with corn, tomatoes, and "crash" potatoes. the original recipe for the chicken called for pastry shells instead of breading for the outside... i couldn't find any pastry shells, which is why i breaded them instead. they were still delicious! a couple nights later i ran across shells, so i made them again. didn't get pics of the second batch... but i must say they're better with the shells. the potatoes are amazing-- crunchy on the outside, mushy on the inside. topped with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and some italian cheese.

Follow the links for the original recipes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Play on, Player

Happy Tax-Due-Date! Er-- I mean... Happy Birthday, Bryan! :-)
My younger brother's birthday was April 15th. While many people were scrambling to get their tax returns into the mail, I was busy planning out his cake. Now last year, I made Bryan his WOW laptop cake. I didn't stray too far from this, since I still kept in the theme of video games. ...Bryan's a gamer. :-) Nothin' wrong with that!

Bryan's girlfriend, Amanda, helped me decide on the SNES that I ended up making. I was struggling between a few different ideas and she helped me settle on this one. Thanks, Amanda!

I sketched out (forgot to take a pic of my sketch this time) about 15-20 little Mario Bros characters and a rough sketch of the SNES (it's a pretty simplistic boxy form) and got to work!

I tried to use only the icing, but the shape just wasn't coming out right so I covered it with fondant. It made a huge difference.

Bryan's SNES birthday cake and Mario Bros cupcakes:

Half of the Mario Bros cupcakes in closer detail:

Other half of Mario Bros cupcakes:

Side view of the cake and cupcakes, and the color-cordinated HAPPY BIRTHDAY candles:

Love these candles!:

Right before I revealed the cake to Bryan, after the candles were lit:

Everyone checkin' out the cake (left to right, mom Sue, Bryan's girlfriend Amanda, brother Paul, sister-in-law Jesi, birthday boy Bryan, and dad Phil) :

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My brother's girlfriend, Amanda, had a birthday March 24th. Last year I did a fairy cake for her because she loves fairies so much... This year, I decided to go with her other great love-- penguins!!

I wanted to do something different for the cupcakes, though, and decided to go with a "musical" theme for those. One of the things Amanda and I share is a love for musicals (I have a broader love, 'cause Amanda only goes for those sad, angst-y ones, and I have quite a list of ones that I really enjoy... But it's still something we have together :-)) I used gumpaste (first time playing with the stuff!) and made little cupcake toppers from the musicals Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and Little Shop of Horrors.

So! She asked me to make the cake with a chocolate shortbread cake recipe that was her grandmother's. I decided to just use our simple cream cheese icing recipe on both the cake and the cupcakes (which were carrot cake), since no one likes picking off fondant from my cakes!! :-)

I had a little bit of a mishap with the penguin (which was a representation of Amanda in penguin form), which really upset me... I bought a new 3D egg-shaped cake pan, and was totally excited to use it. I thought with the icing between the two layers, and the skewers I'd put through for the iPOD and the beak, it would hold together. Well, everything was nice and perfect all the way through the decorating process... The trouble started after I put it in its box and then took it back out to take pictures, and then put it back in the box. Since the two layers were vertical, they started to slump and crack at the seams. Luckily, since it was in the box over night, it was propped up. I was able to patch it up before showing Amanda, and it looked like it was laying back, relaxing and listening to music. About 3o minutes after blowing out the candles, it finally broke down and it looked like its skull broke open... :-) Ahh well, everything worked out ok. I'll know better next time!!

So everything on the cakes and cupcakes is edible, although neither gumpaste nor fondant tastes all that great... :-) I used gumpaste on the cupcake toppers, as I said earlier... I also used it to make the little purple (Amanda's favorite color) flowers, the penguin's feet and beak, and the iPOD. I used fondant on the iPOD's earbuds.

Initial sketch of Amanda-Penguin:

The final product (pre-slouching! :-)), Amanda-Penguin, purple flowers, listening to The Dresden Dolls' "Coin Operated Boy" on her iPOD:

My dad and my younger brother, Bryan (Amanda's boyfriend) watch as Amanda checks out her cake and cupcakes:

Amanda models her favorite musically themed cupcake (the lips from Rocky Horror):

MY favorite cupcakes (of course!!) out of the batch-- Nessarose's ruby slippers and Elphaba's hat from Wicked:


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