Posts Tagged 'vanilla'

How To Manipulate Royal Icing

So I have been dying to show you how easy these are to decorate. I am actually delighted that I get to tell you. Imagine how much fun this could add to your life! Minus the somewhat finicky prep work, the actual cookie decorating process is so great. And easy. And aesthetically rewarding. I saw the technique here. It was love.

First, pipe your outline of undiluted royal frosting. You can find the recipe and tutorial for royal icing and flood icing here. Remember not to overbeat your frosting, or you will end up with pit marks and weirdness.

Fill in your outline with flood icing and spread into the corners (or arc segments, in this case) with a toothpick or fondue stick or whatever you happen to have on hand.

Next, dot a different color of flood icing onto the fill. You can use a piping bag or a squeeze bottle for less mess. I used the end of a metal kabob and a toothpick. Hey…

Now comes the fun part. Using a toothpick (or the tines of a plastic fork—can I do nothing correctly?), swirl around the dots however you would like. You can make all sorts of pretty patterns. To make a heart, draw a single line straight through the middle of a dot.

Be careful not to press too far into the icing. You could get divets like the above, or the frosting colors might mix too much.

It’s a little work, but a lot of impressiveness. Winner.

Luck,

L

Pipe Dream #78: To Make Manly Treats – Heart Sugar Cookies

The unicorn sugar cookies (click here for the recipe!) were such a smashing success that I was eager to try them again. I hadn’t meant to make them so girly, but the colors didn’t turn out, basically because I wasn’t willing to really commit and use a lot of food coloring. My bad. Plus, once I discovered that I could make hearts, I just couldn’t stop. They were too for cute.

It was so fun. Every cookie was different. Pardon the edges; I know they don’t look awesome. If I had really been professional, I would have used a piping tip or a squeeze bottle to pipe the royal icing. Anyway, I wasn’t being professional, so I snipped off the end of a piping bag. Hence the untidy squiggles. It was an experiment.

Here are some more pictures. Stay tuned for the flood icing tutorial coming up!

Heart,

L

How To Tier A Cake

In our previous tutorial, I demonstrated how to layer a cake. I figured I’d give you a couple weeks to sort that all out. So now you should be pros at layering, yes? Excellent. Let’s begin.

Step One: We’ll start where we left off with icing your cake. Please do that. It looks pretty.

Step Two: When you have your cake iced how you want it, stick some sticks in it. They’re technically called dowel rods, I think. Break or cut them off so they are perfectly level with the top of the icing of your tier. Then, stick them in to the cake, making sure to keep them within the bounds of the next tier so they don’t show. You can use three or four, but five is way out (name that movie). I used three because I went to jr. high shop class and learned that a triangle is the sturdiest shape. Holler.

Step Three: Being very careful not to mess up your frosting, center the second tier over the first and let it rest. To hide the cardboard layer, you can wrap a ribbon around the cake or place flowers artistically or just pipe dots or swirls.

Voila! A tiered cake. It sounds simple because it is. Have fun!

L

How To Layer A Cake

Layering cakes has become a pretty big part of my life. I mean, considering that I had never layered a cake before two years ago, they’ve pretty much taken over. I’ve layered so many cakes I should be re-named. Lauren the Layerer. Sounds sort of medieval, don’t you think? Like Franz the Ferrier or something. Ok. Moving on.

I made a two-tier cake for my friend Amber’s wedding this summer. Each tier had four layers. Please excuse me while I give myself a pat on the back for making a cake with four layers. I’ve never done it before, and splitting cake layers is a particular baking fear of mine.

Here’s how I layered it. Never mind my excessively messy hands. Please try and forget that I am not, in fact, a professional, and focus instead on my gloriously tan arms, courtesy of summer camp. Man, I’m falling more and more in love with myself as this post goes on. I feel a humbling situation coming soon.

Step One: Cut out a piece of cardboard fitted to the bottom layer of your cake. If you are doing the bottom tier of a cake, the cardboard can be a little bigger than the cake, but I tried to cut this one really close because it was a second tier. It will make your cake easier to frost later on.

Step Two: Bake individual layers to stack, or depending on what your recipe calls for, slice your baked layers in halves or thirds. That’s what I did on the cake above and it worked pretty well. There are plenty of tutorials on how to slice cakes if you cared to know.

Step Three: Pipe a big line of buttercream along the very edge of the cake tier. Make the frosting as thick as you want your filling to be else it’ll spill over, and that is no fun for anyone. Except perhaps sweet ants, who seem to have invaded the kitchen counter due to the high volume of weddings this summer. And by high volume, I mean three.

Step 4: Pick your poison. In this case, a luscious raspberry curd. Jist don’t let it spill over your frosting line.

Step 5: Add your cake layer and press down lightly to seal the filling inside. In this instance, I would have preferred a bit more filling (see how low it is?). But I was working with what I had. Improvising.

Step 6: Give your finished tier a good dirty ice and frost as desired.

This is how the final product will look. Pretty ok, eh? Layered cakes add such a delicate touch to any celebration. Go forth! You can do it!

Bye now, sweetums,

L

Pipe Dream #55: To Be Brave Like Amber

I was privileged to be a part of my dear friend’s wedding in July. We’ve been friends since we were real small, perhaps even in the womb. Womb-friends we are.

I made vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream. I was tempted to fill them with raspberry curd, but between doing the rest of the cake and being a bridesmaid, I found that my time was short. It’s ok though; the cake was filled with raspberry curd, and the cake is the important part. Seriously, one of the best vanilla cakes I have ever made.

She married the boy from across the street, so I guess it was only appropriate that the girl down the street should do the cake. It was a regular neighborhood wedding.

Seen here is the bride and her fabulous cousin having the time of their lives, obviously.

I also have to say, Amber is one of the bravest people I know. She is in the Army, which is enough by itself, and now she gets to move to Germany. That’s a foreign country! Where the people don’t speak English! I would be scared a little. Maybe just for a little while. She is not scared, and it is admirable.

All in all, a very fun day filled with lots of memories. Best of luck and Auf Wiedersehen, my dearest Amber.

L

P.S. I apologize for the poor photo quality. I could make excuses, but who wants to spend their time listening to my excuses?

Pipe Dream #34: To Be Bismarckian – Lemon Curd Cupcakes

I just made up the word ‘Bismarckian.’ adj. possessing skills enabling the creation of filled donuts, cupcakes and other confections.

I can handle filling baked goods. Savory meals, though? I think it would be really hard to stuff calzones or make chicken kiev. For some reason, now all I can think about is one night a couple of years ago when I tried making basil and goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts. The chicken turned out fine, but the writhing of my internal organs due to excessive internal “vapors” was something to behold. Perhaps it was not the chicken breasts that resulted in what has become my most embarrassing moment, but I haven’t made a stuffed meal since. Telling.

So these are summer in a cupcake. No, really. When I bit into one I thought, “This reminds me of sprinklers and hot tar and sweat.”

Ok, so I exaggerate. They actually reminded me of lemons and vanilla and perfect boiled buttercream.

To fill them, I used the “cone method,” which is ideal for chunkier fillings. In my case, I filled them with lemon curd, which isn’t chunky at all. I didn’t have a piping filler at the time. It was tragic.

I picked some flowers from my mum’s garden to garnish them with. I thought the rustic slather of buttercream showcased them nicely. A regular cupcake bouquet, this is. A profusion of cupcake flowers.

You can find a vanilla cupcake recipe here. I’ve posted a really great lemon curd recipe below (requires no straining!), but you can always use store-bought lemon curd and save yourself the trouble of standing over a pot of boiling butter and lemon zest for a million minutes. I’m just giving you the facts.

Be summery and vapor-less,

Lauren

Lemon Curd

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Yields 2 cups.

3 oz. (6 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 min. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

Pipe Dream #18: To Get The Basics Down – Vanilla Cupcakes

Often  I try and get fancy with my cupcakes. But I’m really just a fake because I haven’t gotten my basic skills down. I have dreams of creating these six-layer cakes piped with flowers all over, but the truth is, I need to learn how to crumb coat better first.

So, I’m going to be my small little self and find a great vanilla cupcake recipe. And it will be good. It will be delicious. It will be the trunk of my proverbial dream tree.

I will mix in much vanilla after whipping the butter until fluffy and adding eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

I will stir in flour and milk alternately, ending with the flour and being careful not to overmix.

And at the end of the day, I will hopefully be ready to move on to bigger things. I don’t say ‘better things’ because we all know that a well-done vanilla cupcake is quite good.

Basically yours,

L

Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes

From Organic and Chic

Makes 24

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or um, a tablespoon of vanilla extract works too)

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350º F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  If the batter begins to looks a bit curdled, that’s alright.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the vanilla milk mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour.  When the batter is almost combined, stop the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula, making sure that any flour bits at the bottom of the bowl are well incorporated.

Divide into the lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely before frosting.



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