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Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Blog Catching up! Awards, Wilton Classes & A Cake

I'm catching up on overdue posts! Back in FEBRUARY (o dio mio, I am behind) the glorious Donna of My Tasty Treasures bestowed upon me the Kreativ Blogger award. Yeyy, Thank you Donna! So sweet! If you haven't yet, you should really go visit her blog. She's hilarious and always whippin up something new and delicious in the kitchen.

I am going to pass this award on to 5 bloggers whose sites I thoroughly enjoy visiting:
*Elyse's Confectionery Creations
*honey & jam.
*Tami's Kitchen Table Talk
*The Cupcake Activist
*Three B's .... Baseball, Baking, & Books

Now, on to the cake. I am taking the Wilton Cake Decorating Classes at Michaels. So far, I have completed Course 1 which "Focuses on basic skills and techniques, from icing prep and simple borders to roses". It is time consuming - there is quite a bit of prep work prior to going to class... course 1 required a cake baked and frosted prior to coming to each class, and also required you to bring several different containers of frosting in different colors & consistencies.... as well as the clean up time once you get home from class. But nevertheless, it was definitely worth it. I really feel like I learned a lot, and more than anything else, it gets you over than FEAR of cake decorating. It was challenging and fun and very useful. Here are some pictures from course 1:


A neat little trick I learned during lesson 1 - How to properly add a filling in a 2 layer cake:

You take your "Thin Consistency Course Buttercream Frosting" (see my post on Sugar Cookie Bars for the recipe and make a very thin layer on the top of your bottom layer. This makes it kinda waterproof, or pudding-proof or filling-proof if you will. It protects the porous cake from absorbing all of your delicious filling. Then pipe a thicker layer of Buttercream Frosting around the outside of the cake like this:

Now, you fill up your circle with your choice of filling (I chose the easy route and used a pudding cup :)

The little frosting dam you created earlier prevents filling leakage once you squish on your top layer...

Next, attempt to ice your first 2 layer cake ever.. get fed up because you neglected to do a Crumb Coat (very. important.). Realize you earned your reputation as "The Angry Baker" for a very real reason. Shout expletives and wave your offset spatula threateningly until your more-patient and thoroughly-talented boyfriend offers to help/do the rest of it for you. Thank him and secretly be envious of his cake icing skills...

Finally, bring this cake to class and learned to transfer patterns and pipe decorations using the star tip:

Not bad for a first timer, eh??


Check out the scallop shell border, and dot piping skills. Ohh yah baby.

Ok, maybe the clowns could use some improvement.
and yes, Daniel did frost this one for me, too. he's really good, isn't he??

And there's a RECIPE with this one! :)

The cakes baked for the previous lessons were a plain ol' white cake. Though they were gobbled up radidly, I thought I'd go with a fancier one for my final cake. Inspired by Vanilla Sugar's Cinnamon Espresso Cake, I decided to alter the recipe to fit my Wilton Course Requirements.

Cinnamon Espresso Cake with Cinnamon Espresso Pudding Filling adapted from Vanilla Sugar, makes enough for (1) 2-layer cake.

1 3/4 C minus 1 Tblspn sugar
2 1/2 Tblspn cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp espresso powder
2 1/2 C + 2 Tblspn flour
3 tsp baking powder
a dash of sea salt
1.125 C half and half (just estimate its 1 1/8 C)
3 eggs room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 & 3/4 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1/2 C miniature chocolate chips
1 pudding cup

1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two 8 inch cake pans - use shortening to grease, and dust with flour, shaking out the excess
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the sugar, with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and the espresso powder. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, remaining cinnamon and salt together until combined.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the half & half, eggs, and vanilla until blended together.
5. Pour the egg/cream/vanilla mixture over the flour mixture and gently whisk until almost combined but do NOT overmix!
6. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted butter just until the butter is incorporated.
7. Divide evenly between two mixing bowls (this will make the second portion much easier). Take one bowl and pour a little more than half of it into one of your prepared cake pans. Repeat with the other bowl of batter and the other cake pan. Spread evenly.
8. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over each of the cake pans and then top with the cinnamon-sugar espresso sugar mixture** (**Be sure to Reserve about 2 tablespoons of this mixture for use later). Top with the remaining batter but dolloping the batter on top of the cinnamon/expresso mixture.

9. Go slowly and lightly, and use your wet fingers to spread it out as much as you can. You want As little of the cinnamon/expresso stuff showing as possible.

10. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes at 350F, but start checking for doneness at like 22 minutes. Bake just until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Turn it out again onto another rack so it is right side up.

For the filling:
When the cake has completely cooled, create a frosting dam as seen in Cake 1.

Take the reserved cinnamon-sugar espresso mixture and stir into the pudding cup.

Fill your frosting dam with the cinnamon-sugar espresso pudding.

Top with your top cake layer and frost with frosting of your choice!*** (Warning - you may need to level your cakes off before layering them to avoid a cake hump. This may leave you with small scraps of cake filled with cinnamon-sugar espresso powder. Eat at your own risk, it's incredible addictive.)

***or make your boyfriend frost it for you as I did.. check out his skillllsss:

PICTURE BELOW OF FINISHED CAKE AFTER DECORATING DURING OUR FINAL CLASS OF COURSE 1:\ my buttercream roses are PATHETIC. I blame it on being the only lefty in the class, quite a disadvantage. But my dots are cute, right?!

Aw, look how pathetic they are up close:

They're a bit wilty but oh well. We learn Royal Icing roses in Course 2, maybe that will be easier!

As for the Cinnamon Espresso Cake... delicious.

WHEW, Long post. Course 2 post to come soon!


A Feast for the Eyes said...

I'm so glad that you posted this info. I was just thinking about taking a Wilton class at my local Michael's. I didn't realize how much homework would be required, so I'll wait till summer (when I'm not working at my school). I'm so impressed-- especially since I don't consider myself to be artistic.
Looks yummy!

Dawn said...

one of my all-time favorite cakes. so many people ask me to bake them one--I need to open my own bakery soon.
I'm so glad you liked it. thanks for the shout out!!

Ingrid said...

Okay looks like you learned about me more than me! Oh, yes, and I'm soooooo jealous of your honey's skillz! Actually I think he's better than my instructor.

It kinda looks like your frosting wasn't the right (too soft)consistancy and that's why they wilted. The hardest part of the roses for me was getting the base (the kiss) right.

Do you like the taste of the frosting? I thought it ruined any cake except a white one and I'm a frosting lover!

Thank you so much for the award!

Ingrid said...

okay, I caken't frost a cake or type. I meant you learned way more than me in your class!

Alyse said...

Oh wow, I am for surely making that last cake. And what a brilliant Idea for a pudding filling! I am always looking for new fillings and such for cakes.

Tami said...

Thanks you so much for the award!

I love the tip of using buttercream icing to hold another filling in the cake! Clever!

I used to decorate cakes years ago in a little bakery that I worked in. I loved making those clowns! They were one of my favorite things to do. The roses, on the other hand, gave me fits! I've been wanting to take the Michael's classes, too, but I can never seem to find the time to fit it in.

Keep up the good work! Your cakes look delicious and you'll perfect the roses with practice!

apparentlyjessy said...

I think you have done a really great job of those cakes considering you are learning and a leftie! ;)
I particularly like the colours of the green and purple on the white on the last cake!
I turn into the angry baker when things don't work out in the kitchen for me too!

Melinda said...

Great cakes! I took the Wilton courses too and LOVED them. Just some info I learned by mistake.....they make right and left handed icing tips! I accidentally bought a left handed tip and had the hardest time using it! Also, try using the pre-made Wilton icing to make your first made a WORLD of difference. Then once I learned the rose with the "perfect rose icing", I could play around with my homemade icing to get the consistency closer. Best of luck and have fun...looks like you're doing great! And...I love your blog :)

Hannah said...

thank you so much for the award!

Donna-FFW said...

I think your cake looks just gorgeous! I have been looking into taking one myself, but I am so not talented that way!! It really looks wonderful!

Cupcake Activist said...

Congrats on the award! And thank you for the award in return.

I love the step-by-step pictures of your cake decorating. You make it look so easy and so yummy!

Elyse said...

Thanks so much for passing on the award Stephanie!!! Man, your cakes look totally fabulous. Are you trying to make me hungry? Because it's totally working. Man, talk about beauty and taste!

Sara said...

Great job! I took the Wilton courses too and they were so fun! The clown cake was one of my faves. That cake recipe sounds delicious.

jodye said...

Your cakes are very pretty, good to know about the wilton baking classes!

Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

I want that espresso cake! I would gorge on that instead of real coffee on my insane paper-writing binges.

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