Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cake decorating = GOOD TIMES!

My only memories of home-made and decorated cakes from my childhood are that they were exactly that. All of my friends would have these commercially produced store-bought cakes with Barbies and the Little Mermaid piped on top of them while I would have to settle for a made-from scratch cake with edible daisies or some other creative decorating idea that did not appeal to my young, and somewhat tasteless, mind.

It wasn’t even really about the decorative part, it was more about the synthetic, super sweet, shortening based icings that these cakes were laden with. Although I will admit that Barbie was a HUGE draw! In my teen years I learned to pre-empt the dreaded home-made cake by requesting a store-bought one as a birthday gift (or as ONE of my birthday gifts…I am an only child after all).

Its amazing how things have changed. Now I live for the days that allow me to bake and decorate cakes for those around me. The baking part is nice but it’s the decorating that I really get excited about. Here are two cakes I have created in the last few months.

This one is a three layer chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese icing and topped with fresh strawberries and white and dark chocolate curls (also made by me). My Dad loves chocolate cake…or chocolate anything, for that matter, so I went all out on this chocolate monstrosity.


3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup hot chocolate
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate squares melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whipping cream
6 oz semi sweet chocolate squares
2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz (250g) pkg cream cheese
1 cup butter. softened


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut circles of wax paper or parchment paper to fit bottom of pans and place in pans. Lightly grease paper. Set pans aside.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat eggs on high speed of electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until they have thickened slightly and are lemon colored. Add buttermilk, hot chocolate, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix on low speed until well blended.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, peel off paper, and cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, whisk together sugar, cocoa and whipping cream in a medium sauce pan. Cook slowly over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended. Refrigerate frosting until desired spreading consistency is reached, about 1 hour. Important! Don’t let it get to firm, or you won’t be able to spread it.

To frost cake, place one cake layer on a pretty plate. Spread 1 cup frosting over top. Repeat with second layer. Place final layer on top. Ice top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Decorate cake with chocolate curls and/pr chocolate covered strawberries, if desired. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving

The chocolate curls were made by melting chocolate and mixing with a little bit of coconut oil. Spreading the chocolate on the back of a cookie sheet and letting it cool until firm but not hard. The back of a metal spatula or thick knife is then pressed along the chocolate to create a curl.

This beauty is my latest pride and joy. I just love it when I have an idea in my head about what the end result will look like…and it comes true right in front of my eyes. I saw a picture of something similar to this in a wedding magazine and thought “I could do that”. After some searching online I realized that several people had obviously thought the same and there were several examples of how others had executed this.
The cake is a three layer, gluten-free chocolate quinoa cake and the icing is a buttercream (1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter). This cake was baked by my mom for her friend Valerie’s 65th birthday. After the cake was cooled I went to work decorating. The colours are three shades of teal food colouring. This cake was a huge hit and will be hard to top!


1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners/icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk (to desired consistency)
food colouring


In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Separate icing into separate bowls and tint each amount with desired colour.

Start with one colour (I started with the darkest shade) and place icing in a piping bag with a 1M rose time attached. Begin piping spiral roses in random order all over the cake. Continue this with the other two shades until the cake is covered in roses. pipe little stars or swirls into any empty spaces and VOILA!

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