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Bring it on 2016!

31 Dec

If you asked me a year ago if I thought I’d be where I am today, I probably would have laughed at you. If you told me I’d be making plans and designs for a fabulous couple’s wedding cake, I never would have believed you. If you told me I’d make a beer bucket cake using modeling chocolate and isomalt, once again, I’d think you were out of your mind!

…But I did ALL of that!!

2015 was the year I rediscovered how much I truly enjoy the art of baking. Cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, you name it! 2015 was also the year I got to marry the love of my life, go on an AMAZING honeymoon and share all my experiences with my biggest fan, my husband.

Here’s a little collection of my favorite highlights from 2015:

Don’t let me fool you, there were many ovens slammed, spatulas thrown and fondant crumbled, but I learned A LOT:

  • Maracons will decide when they want to be perfected. If it’s raining, they may decide that they don’t want to rise. If it’s sunny, they may decide to be hollow inside. I’ll get there, I will be in charge of the maracons in 2016!
  • FunFetti is my FAVORITE
  • Cheesecake is my nemesis
  • Isomalt is SO MUCH FUN! Tricky, but fun to experiment with!
  • Snowmen are not as easy as they look
  • Be CrEaTiVe
  • Vodka is a bakers best friend… when painting a cake of course!

Get ready 2016, I’m coming for you!

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I hope you’re all hungry!

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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

Best Day (Weekend) of My Life

17 Nov

A month ago today I married my best friend! It’s still a bit strange to call myself Mrs. Pfeifer, let alone someone’s wife! It’s been such a wonderful ride and while I’m thrilled that the planning was done, I’m loving reliving the weekend though all the photos

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Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I thought: “oh wouldn’t it be fun to bake a cake for the rehearsal dinner!!” Thankfully I didn’t decide to make my own wedding cake, someone would’ve had to pick me up off the floor, but I did bake for the rehearsal dinner. Truthfully, it was probably the best thing for me. It kept me pre-occupied and calm, so it didn’t hit me that I was getting married and walking down with isle with 135 people staring at me until roughly mid-morning on the day of. That’s when the water works started and I realized just how important pockets in your wedding dress really are! 

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Leading up to it, no one knew I was baking, but my Instagram (@KristinsCravings) should definitely have been a give away! I was making gum paste flowers, funfetti and chocolate cakes, and learning how to paint cakes. Needless to say, I’m sure people had an idea, but no one except Rob (my now husband, who probably thinks I’m a little crazy, but is now stuck with me!!) knew for sure.

I had SO much fun making this cake and I learned so much from it! It was my first time painting a cake and making gum paste flowers. There were many long nights within the week of the wedding, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing!

  

ALSO, Madison Lee’s CAKES did an absolutely fantastic job on our wedding cake! It came out more beautiful than I could have imagined. Thank you!!!

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Kristin

 

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