Monday, March 23, 2009

Pillsbury Bake-off

So, Anne has convinced me to enter the Pillsbury bake-off. I decided what flavors I want to work with - maple, walnut, whole wheat. So, for a month or two I've been playing with different ideas and different recipes. I couldn't resist letting you take a peek at this one. I don't think it will be my entry for the contest but it was pretty yummy and tasty too. It is sort of a yeasted coffee cake. Jamie's taking one to work tomorrow to see what his coworkers think. I wonder what Anne is working on . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ships Ahoy!

Not to be outdone by Anne . . . I too made a cardboard creation. Jonathan wanted a pirate themed party for his 5th birthday. Anne had sent me to the site that inspired her train and I noticed a pirate ship there so I got the plans and started work. My husband procured bike boxes for me instead of the requisite refrigerator boxes so I had to scale the ship down a bit and rework it but after a few days of work the results were totally worth it. I surrounded it with blue balloons which, with a little imagination, was to be the sea. Inside I stashed black balloons to act as cannon balls. All eleven children had a blast with the balloon fight, lobbing cannons at each other and trying to "sink" the ship by filling it up with blue balloons. The cake was a pirate ship, too, courtesy of Martha Stewart. It tasted great! My only complaint is that the chocolate chips were supposed to just get pressed in but they didn't stay. So, I melted chocolate and made them stick. Unfortunately all that melted chocolate was very hard to cut at a moment's notice. Other than that, it was a yummy cake, a fun party, and a jolly good success!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A first birthday flower cake

A first birthday is always special, and it comes with the tradition of giving the birthday girl/boy the cake to explore, destroy, devour—basically do with as she/he pleases. But are guests as excited to eat a baby-palmed cake as a fresh, clean one? Hmmm... Not sure.

One way to make the cake palatable for party guests while following tradition is to give the baby a smaller cake, keeping the larger one for everyone else. But the designer in me wondered, was there a way to make both cakes work in one, fun, colorful design? As it turns out, there is, so that's what I did.

For Lydia's first birthday I made a 5" cake plus cupcakes and arranged them into flower shapes. The flower cake turned out to be the perfect solution. We gave Lydia  a cupcake to play with. Plus the cake was colorful, fun and easy to serve. All in all, a perfect cake for this very special occasion.

By the way, I used the Martha Stewart's Yellow Butter Cake recipe, which yielded 20 cupcakes plus the 5" cake. I made 2.5 batches of Betty Crocker Creamy Vanilla Frosting and found it very easy to make and use.