Sunshine and Raspberries

It was such a beautiful sun shining day today!  I haven’t posted on my little blog is what feels like forever, so I thought I’d do a quick post and share this lovely cake with you!  This cake makes me think of sunshine with its ombré yellow frosting, zingy lemon throughout and a pop of red with the raspberry topping!  I made this cake earlier in the summer, but never had an opportunity to share it here.  It’s a rich butter cake infused with lemon zest and rich vanilla, filled with a raspberry buttercream and frosted with a lemon buttercream.  Maybe you will head in the kitchen and whip up a cake that makes you think of sunshine too!

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(I love the inside cake shots!)

This cake was soooo good!  If you would like to recreate this cake, I used a couple of my old faithful recipes. The cake recipe can be found here, my Meme’s rich pound cake.  The buttercream filling is an italian meringue buttercream with fresh raspberry purée, this recipe can be found here and the frosting is a whipped buttercream with lemon juice, cream and a litte vanilla, this recipe cane be found here.

Enjoy!

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Spring Flowers Birthday Cake

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~ Henry Van Dyke

While we still wait for spring…  let’s enjoy a lovely spring inspired cake!

Spring Flower Cake 3

A good friend of mine asked me to make a birthday birthday cake for her lovely daughters 26th birthday.  The birthday girls favorite colors are the tiffany blue, black, white and lots of bling and her mother gave me the direction to make something in that color pallet with lots of flowers, something spring like, so this is what I created.

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Although spring seems to be taking its time arriving, it doesn’t mean that we can’t embrace spring in other ways, like with cake… like a cake with lots and lots of flowers!

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I love baking and I especially love making layer cakes with good fillings and frosting, lots of pretty flowers and lovely color combinations.  I love the creative process of designing cakes, being given an idea or a direction and coming up with a way to bring the idea to life.

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I can imagine this cake in multiple tiers… like maybe two or three?  I mean this one is pretty, but just imagine flowers cascading down the cake from one tier to the next.  That would be beautiful.  Does anyone out there need a cake with two or three tiers with cascading flowers, anyone?!?

Spring Flower Cake 3

This cake was a lemon vanilla butter cake, with a thin layer of lemon curd filling and an Italian Meringue Buttercream frosting.  Pretty classic flavor combination, but it seemed perfect for a spring inspired cake.  I love lemon curd, especially homemade, its so easy to make.  Plus, when you make Italian Meringue Buttercream you are left with just enough egg yolks for a batch of lemon curd!  Perfect!

Spring Flower Cake 1

I mentioned that the birthday girl likes bling and although this cake isn’t full of bling, I did add a couple iridescent and black sugar crystals for some… sparkle! The birthday girls loved the cake, but noted that I needed to up my bling for her future wedding cake… so I’ll get to work practicing so I’ll be ready!

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Spring Flower Cake 8So a word about the CUT cake…

I have a thing about seeing the inside of the cut cake. Maybe its because I don’t often get to see the cake cut and have the pleasure of seeing the layers and the filling inside.  I work really hard to make sure that the layers are even and that I have equal amounts of filling and that hopefully the inside will look just as pretty as the outside.  Every so often I’ll get someone to actually send me a picture of the cake after its is cut.  So that I can check my work out on the inside!  My friend was kind enough to send me this picture…  and I am SO pleased with my layers!  Just look at all that evenness.  The inside is just as important as what’s on the outside.

I am so pleased with how this cake turned out, it makes me think of spring and gives me hope for warmer days to come.

Here’s hoping we will start seeing some real spring flowers soon… but until then, hope you enjoy the cake!

Blackberry Lemon Sweet Roll Muffins

I should warn you, these may be addicting…20130714_133050_20130928001107030[1]

I made these lovely sweet roll muffins for the Pillsbury Bake Off!   About three months ago I decided to enter the contest and although I would have loved to enter the dessert category, at the time I entered the only remaining category was the Quick Rise and Shine Breakfast.  So, I went full force brainstorming ideas for a delicious, unique and easy breakfast recipe and this is what I created.  Unfortunately my recipe did not get selected, however it was still really fun to come up with a recipe!  I have been meaning to share this recipe on my blog for sometime now, so finally without further ado let me tell you about my Blackberry Lemon Sweet Roll Muffins!

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I love the combination of lemon with just about any fruit and at the time I created this recipe the blackberries were looking really good, so blackberries won! The contest rules required that you use at least two brand ingredients, so for my recipe I decided to use the Pillsbury Grand Biscuits and the Smucker’s Simply Fruit Seedless Blackberry Spreadable Fruit .  The rules also stated that recipes had to be prepared in less than 30 minutes, not counting baking time and mine recipe came in well below that time requirement.  I’m sure that there are ‘professional contest people’ that probably started testing recipe ideas over a year ago.  I on the other hand saw an announcement on some website, visited the Pillsbury website to figure see how it worked and then began to think about potential recipes that would fit the category.  I think for a first time effort that I came up with a solid recipe that ended up being quite tasty.  Blackberry Sweet Roll collage

Although the blackberries can be seen all throughout the muffin, in my opinion the real star is all that lemon!  The lemon zest throughout the sweet roll and the fresh lemon juice in the glaze adds a nice brightness to all the sweetness.  If I’m honest I think that I kind of snuck in a dessert to the breakfast category.  This clearly could be a wonderful dessert.  Yes, sweet rolls are considered breakfast items, but… I think I secretly wanted to make a dessert, so I kind of did!  I did test these to make sure they were breakfast (and dessert) worthy by accompanying it with a good cup of coffee… it was perfect!

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The process of coming up with a recipe for a contest was interesting.  Because I simply enjoy cooking I didn’t think that I would feel any different about coming up with a recipe specifically for a contest. I don’t think that I felt different per se, but I didn’t find myself wondering from time to time if my recipe could be the million dollar recipe.  It’s definitely something to ponder and something that would make anyone feel at least a little different about what they are creating in the kitchen.  I mean, one million dollars is a lot of money, especially for a recipe with no more than seven ingredients, prepared in 30 minutes or less!  I’m definitely going to have to remember to check the Pillsbury website to see what a million dollar recipe looks like!

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Well, although this recipe wasn’t THE million dollar recipe…
to me, it’s still quite good!

Blackberry Lemon Sweet Roll Muffins

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Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Butter Tastin’ Refrigerated Biscuits
1/4 cup Smucker’s Simply Fruit® Seedless Blackberry Spreadable fruit
1 large lemons juice and zest
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoon butter, unsalted melted
4 oz blackberries
1 cup confectioner sugar

  • Arrange the 8 biscuits between two pieces of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the biscuits until they are slightly larger.
  • Zest and juice 1 lemon. Combine the zest and granulated sugar, rubbing the zest into the sugar.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the confectioner sugar, mix to combine. If necessary, add additional juice to achieve desired consistency.
  • Brush one side of biscuit with melted butter and sprinkle liberally (about 1-2 teaspoons) with the lemon sugar zest mixture, pressing in lightly to make sure it sticks. Set aside remaining sugar mixture.
  • Combine blackberries and blackberry spreadable fruit. Using a fork, lightly mash up some of the blackberries, being careful not to mash them completely.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of the blackberry mixture to each biscuit, evenly distributed around each biscuit in little drops. Roll up each biscuit, lightly pinch the seam to close and cut each biscuit into 4 pieces.
  • Prepare a muffin pan with 8 muffin liners and add the cut biscuits in each liner, pressing lightly. Sprinkle the tops of each with the remaining lemon sugar mixture.
  • Bake until the muffins rise and are nice and golden brown, about 18 minutes. Finish the muffins by drizzling with the lemon confectioner sugar glaze. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Jewelry and Desserts

Two of my favorite things together at last… Dessert and jewelry!!!image

This weekend my dear friend Tonya had an event to showcase her beautiful jewelry.  Her business is called HoneyBrown Jewelry, it is absolutely gorgeous and everyone should know about it… so I am helping to spread the word!  Everything is handmade and one of a kind, and when I look at some of the details of her work I am simply amazed at the level of care that she takes to create such beautiful things! My apologies for the quality of these pictures, I was taking pictures with my cell phone that was two seconds from dying, so in my rush to get pictures they didn’t come out as clear as I would have liked.  However, I have included a couple pictures from her site and I think that you can definitely still see the beauty of the pieces below… image

I love the fact that she has turned what started out as a hobby into a business!  It encourages me because perhaps one day this baking thing I have going on can turn into something more!  I have several of her pieces of jewelry, they are some of my favorites and every time I wear them I receive compliments. image

To help support my business, she asked me to make a couple desserts for the occasion (true friendship!).  More on what I made later, but now let’s take a look at her anklets… I am the proud owner of the one that is front and center! image

You should definitely check out her Facebook page for additional pictures of her jewelry!  She is so very talented and I expect that in the near future that you will be seeing HoneyBrown Jewelry in stores and Boutiques across the country! Here are a couple of my favorites from her site…HB Jewelry collage

So, what dessert does one make to compliment such pretty jewelry… Pretty desserts of course!image Tonya gave me free reign to make whatever I wanted, so I updated a couple of old favorites.  I made my pineapple up side down cupcake, with more pineapple compote added, a lemon cupcake with lots of lemon zest and homemade lemon curd filling and my nutty coconut cupcake.  But the real star of the show was the chocolate raspberry cake… image

I was really proud of this cake because this is the first time I did this type of decorating technique! image Three layers, raspberry Italian meringue buttercream filling, chocolate buttercream frosting, chocolate ganache topping and a couple of fresh raspberries for a pop of color!  It was really good, if I do stay so myself!

So… you should definitely check out and like the  HoneyBrown Facebook page.  You will see the beautiful pictures of her truly one of a kind, handcrafted beaded jewelry designs.  For special orders or information contact Tonya at HoneyBrownJewelry@gmail.com.  Check out this picture is from Tonya’s page… isn’t it beautiful!

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I am actually hoping to have Tonya make some of my wedding jewelry, perhaps my bridesmaid jewelry!  Wouldn’t this be beautiful!  I kind of want bold statement pieces for the bridesmaids!  This is a good example of what I want (hint, hint! :)) Can’t wait to see what she comes up with!!

Well, my showcase of my little baking business yielded a cake order and a request for two walnut cakes for the holiday season… not bad at all!!

Recipe Line Up!

So, I adapted a couple recipes have already been showcased…

Lemon Cupcake – using just lemon zest

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcake – minus the rum

The nutty coconut cupcake can be made by adding a little coconut milk to the Sour Cream Pound Cake recipe (yes, this becoming my favorite vanilla cake recipe!).  The frosting is a marshmallow frosting…  I used this recipe from Epicurious.

My chocolate cake is now an old classic recipe that I am still having fun remixing!  This is my favorite recipe for Italian Meringue buttercream, its from Whisk Kid’s site.  What I love about it is that it only uses 2 sticks of butter, compared to 4 or more.  Its so light and airy and not overly sweet.  It takes on the flavor so well and to this version I added about 1/4 cup of pureed fresh raspberries.  FYI, be patient with this buttercream recipe, all will appear to have gone very wrong when you start adding the butter, but keep mixing and everything will be alright!  I promise!

And last but not least, check out the inside of the chocolate raspberry cake!!  Not the greatest picture, but I wanted you to see the goodness on the inside!

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ENJOY!

A Little Sunshine – Triple Citrus Cupcakes

These cupcakes will bring a little extra sunshine to your day…

citrus-cupcake

I was asked to make some cupcakes (and a cake!)  for a jewelry party my friend is hosting next weekend!  She said that I could make any flavors I wanted, so free reign on the cupcake flavors… Yay!   One of the flavors I want to make for the event is a really citrusy cupcake, something with just the right balance of tartness and sweetness.

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It also had to be really good and moist cake!  I feel very strongly that cupcakes are just smaller cakes and should be just as good as their larger counterparts!  This recipe should be familiar, I decided to try cutting my Meme’s Sour Cream Pound cake in thirds and add lots of zest, a light citrus glaze to the top of each cupcake and top them with a citrus whipped buttercream frosting with more zest and juice and a little cream for added richness!  One word sums this citrus packed cupcake… YUM!

citrus collage

Not a lot more to say, except to urge you to go and make these and bring a little citrus sunshine into your life!

Triple Citrus Cupcakescitrus cupcake eaten
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Fill cupcake pan with 12 liners
  • Sift flour, salt and baking soda together.
  • Add zest to sugar and rub zest into sugar.
  • In bowl bowl of mixer, cream butter and zest sugar until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
  • Add eggs to creamed mixture one at a time beating well after each addition
  • Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternately with sour cream.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.
  • Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from pan after 5 minutes and cool on cooling rack.

Citrus glaze

1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1/2 tbsp lemon and 1/2 tbsp lime juice
2-3 tablespoons confectioner sugar

  • Mix to combine until a smooth consistency is reached.

Triple Citrus Buttercream

10 tablespoons softened butter
2-3 cups confectioner sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lime zest

  • In stand mixer, mix softened butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes
  • Add all confectioner sugar, half and half, lemon juice and extract and mix on medium for about 6 minutes.
  • Add zest and mix for 3 minutes more.

Assembly

  • After cupcakes have cooled, dip each cupcake in the glaze and let dry.
  • Top with buttercream, I used a 2D piping tip to make the swirl in the picture.