Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Strawberries and Champagne

For those of you who follow my blog, you're going to start to notice a trend - I make cakes and cupcakes for any reason I can find.  This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have an entire evening out (no kids, yay) with a wonderful group of gals for my sister-in-law's bachelorette party.  Of course when I got the invite I immediately started looking for cake ideas.  Let me just warn you now, DO NOT look up bachelorette cake ideas around your children, parents, grandparents... DEFINITELY don't do it at work, I think you get the idea.  I swear I'm still blushing!  Seriously, I can't even DREAM of decorating, let alone EATING some of those cakes!  Is anyone still reading, or are you all googling hen party cakes?

Despite my prudish ways I still wanted to bake something for the night and phallic cakes were definitely out of the question, so I started brainstorming on my own.  As I was looking through my fridge for flavor ideas, I noticed a bottle of champagne tucked in the back.  In my head champagne and a girls night out go hand in hand, right?  So I whipped out my stand mixer and a champagne buttercream was born!

And we all know what goes great with bubbly - strawberries!  Luckily I still had some of the strawberry preserves left over from my hello kitty cake.  Believe it or not, this was my first time filling cupcakes.  I might not have done it the best way, but it worked and was pretty easy so let's make some cupcakes, shall we?

First of all you need to bake yourself some cupcakes, I made vanilla.  Once they're cool, take a small paring knife and cut a circle out of the top of your cupcake and hollow yourself out a little hole. Then fill up the hole with your strawberry preserves.

Next up, give your kids a snack, waste not want not!

Now we're on to the buttercream.  I don't have very specific instructions here, it was a lot of trial and error!  Basically I whipped up a batch of buttercream and dumped in some champagne.  This of course makes a soupy mess so I added icing sugar to firm it up again.  I ended up using about a third of the bottle to get the flavor I wanted, as for the icing sugar....who knows!  Lots!!!!  The goal is to get the buttercream back to its original consistency after adding the bubbly.  I got mine pretty close but it was still really wet.  I was worried it was going to turn into a blob after piping but it held up nicely.  That being said, if I were to do this over I think I would pick up some sparkling wine flavoring (like this).  It packs a ton of flavor into very little liquid so it has very little impact on your icing consistency.  But then again, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the rest of that bottle of champagne!!!

OK, ready to pipe!  I decided to pipe roses onto my cupcakes.  To pipe a rose you're going to need a piping bag fit with the 1M or 2D piping tip.

So pretty.  The only thing left to do is try one!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hello Frozen Buttercream Transfers

Good day all ye cakey boys and girls.  I am so excited about today's tutorial!!!  These transfers are the perfect place to start for a beginner.  They're easy, they don't require any special cake decorating tools and the end product looks absolutely amazing. So, let's dive right in!

Ok, time to grab our supplies.

1 iced cake (duh, for icing tips check out my tutorial here)
1 large batch of buttercream (if your recipe calls for all shortening, sub out half for butter)
Parchment Paper
Picture to transfer
1 Piping bag for each of your colors
A couple round tips (I used Wilton tip 3)
Gel colors to dye your icing

The first thing you need to do is cut yourself a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan you baked your cake in.  Now place your pan on top of the parchment paper and trace it.  This is your guide, as in your picture needs to fit inside this outline.

Perfect!  I would like to point out a few things here.  First off, your finished product is going to be a mirrored image of what you are looking at (ie. in my finished product Hello Kitty's spoon will be on the left hand side).  For my example it didn't matter so I just went with it.  If your image contains any words, you need to mirror your image.  If you're fancy, you'll go on your computer and click a couple buttons and be able to print out a mirrored image for yourself.  If you're not so fancy pants (like me), you'll flip over the piece of paper with you picture on it and trace it (little tip here, if you're having a hard time seeing your lines while tracing put your picture up to a window or over a lit up tablet).

The second thing I want to point out is a little more random.  Did you know that you can't tape things to parchment paper????  Doesn't work - it just won't stick.  My next step was going to be tape your picture to the parchment paper, but don't bother!  My tape's just for show, you learn something new everyday!

Ok, time to tint your icing and fill up those piping bags, we've got some coloring to do!  You want to start with your outline first. 

Just a little aside here, I can't be bothered to make black or red icing.  It takes FOREVER and usually requires close to a whole jar of gel coloring to achieve the true color.  This is way too time consuming and expensive for me (plus the amount of dye used can affect the taste of the icing), so I just buy these 2 colors.  If you still want to give it a go, here's a couple of tips for you.  For black, start with chocolate frosting and then start adding your black food coloring.  If you're making red, I hear the color darkens as it sits, so try making it the day before you need it.  Also, Wilton makes a no taste red color that I highly recommend using.

Now it's just a matter of filling everything in.

If you're not sure how to fill this in check out this tutorial.  I'm using the exact same techniques.  The only difference is that I'm also taking my finger and smoothing the icing so it gets into every nook and cranny.  Once your image is all filled in you have two options.  You can stop here and just transfer the image onto the cake.  Your second option is to continue filling in the background, all the way out to your outline.

I like to do the whole thing.  It gives your cake a nice smooth top and you don't have to worry about getting your image perfectly centered when you transfer it on to your cake.

Now it's time to pop this baby into the freezer.  You might have noticed that earlier in the post I mentioned that you need to have some butter in your buttercream.  The reason for this is because butter will go rock hard when frozen, and I don't believe vegetable shortening (Trex, Crisco) will.  If you've had success doing frozen transfers with shortening please leave a comment, I'm curious to know how it would work!

So, lucky for us busy bakers, these transfers freeze really fast.  An hour should be more than enough time.  Just touch it, you'll know.  Next step is the exciting part, flip that transfer over and place it on your cake and peel back the parchment paper.

Ta da!!!  You can see in my photo that there are a couple air bubbles.  I just filled in the spots with my left over icing and smoothed them out.  Now it's time for the finishing touches, I piped a shell border around the transfer and around the bottom of my cake (check out this post for shell border tips).

And of course, this tutorial was brought to you by cake number 4 and 5, before I knew how to do a proper frozen buttercream transfer!

I love seeing these side by side comparisons of my cakes then and now!  Hope you enjoyed this post, time for some cake!