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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Made - from - scratch Chocolate Cheetah Cake

Hello, all! I've been on a bit of a hiatus as of late, but hopefully, I'll have a few more projects trickling in as the season goes on (it is that pumpkin time of year, after all!)

Today is my good friend, Leigh Ann's birthday. We had a celebration for her over the past weekend, and I'm very proud to share this cake for two reasons: 1) I made a successful, super-moist chocolate cake from scratch and 2) I made my first cheetah print cake!

The recipe is from Taste of Home and can be found here. The recipe is as follows:
  • 2 c AP Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda (don't get those two mixed up, like I usually do!)
  • 3/4 c baking cocoa
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 c canola oil (not a healthy cake, but moist!)
  • 1 c brewed coffee
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 325 and grease 2 -8" pans.
2) Sift together the dry ingredients into your mixer's bowl and turn on low for a few seconds to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee, milk, and oil.
3) Add the coffee mixture into the dry mixture and mix at medium for 1 minute. Then add eggs and vanilla. Beat 2 more minutes. **The batter will be super thin-- just trust it!**
4) Pour batter into two 8" pans (the batter fits perfectly into these-- no boil over!) and bake for 25-30 minutes.
5) Cool cakes for 10 minutes in pans, then turn them out onto a cooling rack.
See? Two perfectly moist cakes. Yum!

To decorate, I mixed some golden yellow vanilla buttercream and frosted the cake. Then I pinched together different sized blobs of black and brown fondants to create cheetah spots.
I made sure that the black fondant peeked out around the edge of each spot.
Then I repeated until the whole cake was covered in spots.

Leigh Ann is a huge fan of pink, so of course I had to add some pink elements. I decided to add pink roses at the top and some pink white chocolate numbers.
Here's a bit of detail on the top...
Leigh Ann liked the cake and she was totally taken by surprise because she didn't know about it! :) And I must say, this chocolate cake recipe is definitely a keeper!

Happy birthday, Leigh Ann!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jack Skellington and Cow Cakes!

This past week or so, there have been a LOT of birthdays, including mine! I had a joint birthday party with my good friend, Jessica, and I made us a cake (of course). We are huge fans of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, so I decided to make a simple little cake that pays homage to the film.

The cake was strawberry cake with cream cheese filling on the bottom tier and vanilla buttercream filling on the top tier. It tasted great, and Jessica liked it, so my mission was accomplished. :) And based on the amount of cell phone cameras that snapped my cake as well as the amount of empty plates, I think the partygoers liked my cake inside and out!

The next cake was for one of my oldest friends, Ainsley. We go way back to 7th grade! And her love for cows hadn't changed, so I decided to make her a cute cow cake. She is also a fan of almond pound cake, so I found a recipe from Paula Deen for Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake. Yum!

In order to make two 6" layers and two 8' layers, I multiplied the recipe by 1.5
  • 3/4 pound butter (3 sticks)
  • 4 cups sugar (** I changed this from 4.5 because I didn't want the cake overwhelmingly sweet)
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream
  • 4 1/2 c AP flour, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 9 eggs (I made sure they were room temp)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract (I changed this from the orange in the original recipe)
  • 1 tsp almond emulsion (I liked the almond flavor from the emulsion rather than extract)
Preheat the oven to 325, and butter (or shortening) the pans then flour them.
In the mixer, cream together the sugar and butter then add sour cream.
Sift the flour and baking soda together in a separate bowl then add alternately, 1 at a time, with the eggs (yes all 9 of them!)
Add extracts then stir to combine them. Pour the batter evenly into the pans then bake! For me, the 6" cakes took about 50 minutes, and the 8" cakes took 1 hour. But ovens vary, so check your cakes!
Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks.

As for the buttercream, I used my usual vanilla buttercream recipe and added almond emulsion to it (I added enough to taste). I wanted to accentuate the almond-y-ness, since it seems the flavor got a bit lost in the baking of the cakes. But then again, I love almond cake, so add almond flavor to where you can stand it.

I filled and covered the cakes in the white buttercream, then cut out thin asymmetrical shapes out of black fondant to represent cow spots.
I then made a little cow to go on top. *Note: I have no clue what the specifics of a dairy cow are, so I ended up making a male-female  hybrid. It had horns and an udder!
Still cute though, right?
I added some blue borders and writing (Ainsley's favorite color is blue--that had not changed, either)
Then lastly, I added white chocolate numbers that I spotted with black buttercream. There was no doubt this was a definite cow cake!

Unfortunately, the numbers didn't make the ride over to her house because of the horrible heat, but the cake was still loved. :) And it tasted awesome! Yay for scratch baking!
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