Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Picky Palate

I have begun to LOVE reading all sorts of different blogs. One of the blogs that I like is the Picky Palate. She has great ideas for all sorts of dishes. Today she has posted a great giveaway she is doing on an awesome book. Check it out!!!

Shortcut Cookies Cookbook Giveaway!!

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Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!! My dear friend Camilla Saulsbury, talented cookbook author and cooking contest queen :) has offered to give 3 of her beautiful “Shortcut Cookies” cookbooks to Picky Palate readers! I have had the pleasure of meeting Camilla at numerous cooking competitions and I must say she is not only a talented cook and baker, but a wonderful friend too! This is just in time for your Valentine’s Day Baking too!

Here is some information on her book:

With over 745 recipes for cookies starting with packaged doughs, mixes, and cereals, Shortcut Cookies is one of Camilla’s best books yet. And given her penchant for perfection, you can be sure anything Camilla’s tested will be delicious enough for the school functions, bake sales and friends.

Some stand-outs from the book include an Italian Cheesecake Bar made with refrigerated sugar cookie dough, ricotta cheese, and traditional Italian flavorings of orange, golden raisin and hazelnuts; Lemon Curled Swirled Cheesecake Bars made with a packaged lemon cake mix base; Mango Cream Bars, with a crust of crushed gingersnaps and cream cheese & fresh lime topping and a recipe called “Dad’s Double Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies” made up of a brown sugar doctored brownie mix and topped with Camilla’s homemade peanut butter frosting. My favorite chapter is always “Brownies” and Camilla has a bunch including Turkish Coffee Brownies, Whiskey Brownies and Aztec brownies which I will review very soon.

Over on Camilla’s blog Shortcut Cookies, she’s taking recipes from the book and making them with all-natural and gluten free mixes. Be sure to check it out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My first fondant cake

So with me being out of work I have a lot of time on my hands so I have been reading lots of baking and decorating blogs. These are good because I learn how to do things myself which saves lots of $$$$$ BUT I am running into some problems. One is that I have no job which means NO MONEY!! Two is that since I have no job I am still living with my aunt and uncle soooo...I have NO room!!! Anyway, I have always had an interest in baking and cake decorating and have wanted to learn how to decorate cakes. My friend Laura has taught herself how to decorate cakes using MMF (marshmellow fondant). I have wanted to learn but we just haven't had a chance to do it. So, Laura's birthday is Thursday and we decided to surprise her with dinner at TakoSushi, I decided to try my hand at making her a cake. I have been watching LOTS of videos and reading LOTS of blogs that can be found here and here.

So, with the help of my dad and his kitchen at work, I set out to make my very first fondant decorated cake!!!! So, I started by making yellow cake from scratch using this recipe. The cake tasted GREAT!!! This cake is better than the ones that you use from the box because it is a bit denser and holds the fondant better. While the cake was cooling we set off to make our very own MMF. So, a couple of things that we learned during this. You should only put in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time because it gets way too dry!!! So, we then colored it pink (which used LOTS of pink gel coloring) but we finally got it made. YEAH!!!!

Next we had to make our butter cream frosting to do the dirty icing on the cake. You should really start to make your own icing because it taste so much better and it is so much less expensive than what you get at the store!!!!!

So, the next thing we had to do was to dirty ice the cake. All this means is to ice the cake with a thin layer of icing. This locks the moisture in the cake while you are doing other things. I didn't really know what I was doing so thank the Lord that my dad was there and knew what he was doing!!!! All of this took us about 2 hours to do, so we called it a night.

Today I went back to finish up the cake but had to go by Hobby Lobby (my FAVORITE store) to get some black fondant as it was way difficult to color white icing to black. Well, they didn't have any so I bought some blue fondant and some black icing color and colored it black! Works like a charm!!!!

I learned how to ice a cake so I was able to put the second layer of icing on the cake. Next step....roll out the pink fondant and cover the cake. I thought it would be pretty easy, uhm...not so much!!! It is hard to get it on the cake and smoothed without getting cracks, holes, bumps, and dents. Soooo....needless to say, I have all of those on my cake but you can't do it perfect the first time. You know what they say, "Practice makes perfect!" Anyway, once I got the fondant on there, I decided that I needed to pipe the monogram on first so I didn't put any decorations in the way. piping needs work too. Good thing about piping on fondant? You can scrape it off and try again (and again, and again)!!!!! Next step, cut out polka dots in black, pink and white to put all over the cake. At this point I am loving how it looks!!!!!

We have it all done but I decided to rolls little balls out of pink and white to cover the bottom of the cake where it meets the cake board. This took some time but with my dad's help we did it in no time!

All in all - I was SO please with the way it turned out! I am DEFINITELY going to do it again! It was WAY fun!!!!

Let's try this again...

So, I canceled my previous blog because somehow it got attached to another email plus I wasn't very good at updating it anyway. I have recently gotten very inspired to do projects and cooking so I thought that I could begin to put all of those on here. So you can keep up with my job searching, arts & crafts projects, cooking and baking that I am doing! So, enjoy if you want to!!!!!