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A Special Day to Celebrate!

6 Jan

Happy Birthday Mom!

I couldn’t be happier that my first cake of the new year is for my fabulous mom! Another year at 29 and I can’t wait to celebrate tonight!

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I have to say, I’m pretty lucky to have grown up with my mom at my side and even luckier to have her as my friend as an adult. Things like: “clean up your room before the cleaning lady comes” and “I’m going to make chicken tonight for dinner” all seem to make sense now when I look back, but I have to admit, when I was younger I thought she was crazy!

I really struggled to come up with an idea for my mom’s birthday cake. I mean, what do you make for one of the most important women in your life? It has to be fantastic! I wanted it to be elegant, but fun with a bit of flair. She mentioned a while back that she thought the cakes that look like presents are really cute, so I started with that and expanded from there.

As you know from my previous New Years post, I love the contrast of black and gold with a pop of color. I knew I would cover the cake with black fondant, but then had to work out the details from there.

The cake is my ‘go to’ vanilla cake recipe which you can find Here with chocolate buttercream filling. Needless to day, I cannot WAIT to devour this cake tonight!

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And So It Begins…

4 Jan

The Start of a New Year

We have another year in the books we’re celebrating a fresh new path for 2016. What better way to start it off then with CAKE? Obviously!

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After 2 weeks in Antigua (heavenly) for our honeymoon, running around NY for Christmas and hosting our friends for New Years, my husband and I are now back to the grind of our day to day. I have to admit, it was a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Just to reminisce a little (because I’m not ready to give up the island mindset for the NYC aggression):

Christmas

Rob and I returned from our honeymoon on 12/23 and flew right into the Christmas spirit. As wonderful as 85 and sunny was, Jingle Bells just isn’t the same on the steel drums and I need my Michael Bublé Christmas! So, on Christmas Eve, went shopping, bought a tree, decorated the apartment, wrapped all of our gifts and last but definitely not least, made a Christmas Cake!

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My intention on this one was to keep it simple. I didn’t have a lot of extra time, it’ll be cute, won’t take too long, but it’ll be great. Then, I got carried away! This was such a fun little cake to make, but with all the details in the igloo, the snowman, the trees and presents I was finishing it up in the car ride out to Long Island!

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I did keep it simple with the cake however. It’s my “go to” vanilla cake with buttercream frosting from my Just Because post. While the buttercream was still setting, I coated the outside with coconut shavings to have the appearance of snow. For the trees, I rolled green gum-paste into cones and snipped the edges with scissors as I went around from the top down and sprinkled with powdered sugar. A little tedious, but worth it! Needless to say, it was a successful Christmas!!

New Years

I knew I wanted to make a fun cake for new years and found some inspiration through various pictures on Instagram (follow me!! : @KristinsCravings) and Pinterest, but none were quite what I was looking for. I saw a photo from The Icing Artist that really stuck out to me, but I put my own twist on it (A video of her actual cake is HERE). I’ve always like the dramatic contrast of black with gold and even more so when I can add some pops of color.

I was slightly pressed for time this year (seems to be a trend!) since I decided I would also cook a full dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu, baked potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta, but it all came together fabulously!

Here’s a couple pictures of the process:

I wish everyone a wonderful, happy and healthy 2016 from Kristin’s Cravings!!

P.S. have I mentioned how much I LOVE my new apron!? (Thank you Uncle Tom and Aunt Eileen!!)

me apron

-Kristin

Just Because

18 Nov

Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Frosting

‘Semi-Naked’

You know you’ve got the baking bug when you walk around your apartment and realize you have all the ingredients for a delicious cake, but nothing to make for dinner. Well, welcome to my Tuesday night! I just left yoga class, picked up a juice, meandered around the supermarket and left empty handed. Anyone who knows me, knows that a juice is NOT going to cut it for dinner, so it was either a PB&J Sandwich (definitely been done), ice cream (also been done and taunting me from the freezer) or some cake. I looked in the cabinets and pantry (pantry = 1 cabinet shoved haphazardly with whatever it can hold in my 1 bedroom NYC apartment) and of course, I have all the incredients to make a cake!

I have a wonderful birthday cake to make this weekend and I thought, “OK, let’s play around and have some fun”… 11pm rolls around and I’m finally having “dinner”! PB&J would have been faster, but definitely not as fun, and of course, you have to test the batter along the way!

Every once in a while I like to spruce up my recipe draw and see what else I could use to spice things up. I follow several other blogs and play around with different ingredients pretty often and the other day I stumbled upon the BEST WHITE CAKE EVER! Really, honestly, it’s fantastic. It’s from Add A Pinch which has never steered me wrong.  Typically, when I go off of a recipe I find myself tweaking bits and pieces of it to adapt to my style, but not this one! The only think I did was cut down the recipe to fit two 6″ pans versus the three 9″ that the recipe calls for (A great site to help figure this out is from Food52 called How to Make Your Baking Recipe Fit Your Pan Size). *The recipe below is for the three 9″ cakes*. This recipe was so easy make and absolutely delicious!!

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Vanilla Cake with Buttercream

What You’ll Need:
Cake:

  • 1 Cup (2 Sticks) of butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Vegetable Shortening
  • 3 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Eggs, room temperature
  • 3 Cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup of Buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

Buttercream: (yields roughly 6 Cups)

  • 1 Cup of Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 Cup (2 Stick) of butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoon of Merengue Powder
  • 2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (use clear if you want the frosting very white, or regular gives it a slightly off-white color)
  • 8 Cups of Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
  • 8 Tablespoons of Milk*
    *If you’re planning to cover the cake in fondant and want a crusting buttercream, use only 4 Tablespoons of Milk

Instructions:
Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Prepare three 9″ round cake pans with butter and flour. Be sure to remove all excess flour from the pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  3. Whisk together the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar with your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light, fluffy and very white. It will take 3 – 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the other.
  5. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture into the creamed butter/shortening/sugar mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. It should be about 3 – 4 batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. DO NOT OVER-MIX! Once incorporated, use a rubber spatula to make sure all is incorporated at the bottom.
  7. Evenly distribute the cake batter between the pans and bang them on the counter a bit to  get the air bubbles out and get an even coating.
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (may take longer depending on your oven, but the best test is once the top is slightly browned, lightly touch the top and see if it bounces back), once a toothpick comes out clean, you’re ready to go!
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack and let cool completely, roughly 1 hour.

Frosting:

  1. In a large bowl of you electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and butter.
  2. Add vanilla and milk until just combined. If you’re making a spreadable buttercream with 4 tbs of milk, the mixture might seem like it has a bit of excess liquid, but it will come together once the sugar is added.
  3. Sift together the meringue powder with the powdered sugar.
  4. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, beating on slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure it is all encorporating. Do not over whip!! You don’t want to bring in unnecessary air bubbles or it will be impossible to smooth.
  5. Use the frosting right away or cover with a damp cloth until ready to use. It can also be refrigerated on an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Assembly

  1. Place a tablespoon of frosting on your cake round and place your bottom layer right in the center. Trim the top of the cake layer if necessary to get a flat top.
  2. Using an off-set spatula, or a piping bag, add some frosting to the layer, enough to your preference. Smooth evenly across the top.
  3. Trim the top of your second layer, if needed, and place on top of the 1st frosted layer. Press down to ensure it is level all the way around. I typically go eye level with the cake and see if any one side may need more pressure than the other.
  4. Frost the top of this layer the same you did the first.
  5. Trim the top of the 3rd layer, if needed, and place upside down on top of the frosted layers. You want the bottom of this layer on top to ensure you get a smooth, crumb free top on your cake. Same as before, press down to ensure the cake is level and secure on top.
  6. With an offset spatula, frost the outside of the cake as desired. I always frost the sides before the top so that I can use the top as I go to secure the cake on my turn-style, but everyone has their own method, so experiment!

I frosted my cake playing around with the semi-naked look and adding some sprinkles for color!

*Neat trick – Placing a Viva paper towel around the cake and using a fondant smoother, lightly over it, will create a really smooth finish!

** Place your off-set spatula under hot water, wipe dry and use on the cake to smooth any spots that may not be cooperating. This also helps as you’re finishing the top along the sides. Don’t overdo it with this however or you’ll melt all the buttercream away!

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Enjoy!
Kristin

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