14 August 2018

Coco Cake Land's Bunny Cake + New Book!

I baked, decorated, and photographed this cake on Sunday and I am already talking about it here on Tuesday. I never have this quick of a turnaround time because I get excited to take photograph cakes but writing it up is another story. This time is a bit different because the cake I made on Sunday is a Coco Cake Land cake and it is from her new book, Coco Cake Land: Cute and Pretty Party Cakes to Bake and Decorate. Even if you don't recognize the name Coco Cake Land (but I'm sure you do), you will recognize the cute furry animal cakes (is it weird to call a cake 'furry'?) she makes. Without even looking at the source of the photo, I can easily point out a Coco Cake Land cake. Her style is always so cute and whimsical.

Lyndsay's blog was one of the first blogs I followed when I started doing the whole baking and blogging thing. Since the first day I saw Lyndsay's blog and Instagram, I have been obsessed. Lyndsay is not only a cute cake maker, but she is also a breast cancer survivor (!!) and a maker of super cool feminist cakes. She is  an overall super cool person that I can't wait to meet her irl. We are meeting up for hot chicken sandwiches soon!

Lyndsay's new book arrived in my mailbox last week. The book is split into two categories, cute cakes and pretty cakes, and I wanted to make them all. After having a quarter life crisis about which cake to make, I finally decided on the cover cake. I have never piped fur or used fondant before but Lyndsay's step-by-step photo guide was extremely helpful. Everything went smoothly and after piping rows and rows of pink buttercream fur, the cover bunny cake came to life. I felt a tad bad cutting into the bunny's cute face but I knew I needed to eat a few slices of Lyndsay's vanilla cream cake (might as well call it vanilla dream cake because it was that good) recipe. Congratulations on your new book, Lyndsay! I cannot wait to bake all the things.

Coco Cake Land's Bunny Vanilla Cream Cake
Recipe reprinted with permission from Coco Cake Land: Cute and Pretty Party Cakes to Bake and Decorate by Lyndsay Sung

Yields one three layer 6-inch cake

Vanilla Cream Cake
From Coco Cake Land (*converted to make a 6-inch cake instead of 8-inch)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder 
1/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare three 6-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the cream and the milk.

With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Keep alternating as you add the mixtures, finishing with the dry ingredients. Careful not to overmix batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. 

Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, checking for doneness at 20 minutes. 

The cakes will be done when a toothpick inserted in the centres comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are light golden brown.

Cool cakes for 30 minutes in their pans and then gently turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Cakes should be completely cooled before frosting.

Vanilla American Buttercream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon whole milk
2 -3 drops of gel food colouring, if using

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Mix on low speed to combine the ingredients.

Add gel food colouring if using. Mix on low to distribute colour evenly.

Once the sugar is incorporated, crank the mixer to high speed and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes, until it has more than doubled in volume.

Transfer buttercream into a piping bag fitted with multi-opening piping tip.

For cake decoration
White fondant
Black fondant
Pink fondant
Multi-opening piping tip (I used Wilton #233, Lyndsay uses #234)
Piping bag
Cake turntable (optional)

After layering cake and applying a crumb coat, start piping fur all around the cake by holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle to the cake’s surface and squeeze in short spurts until entire cake is covered.

- Roll out the white fondant and cut out two white circles for the cheeks. 
- Using black fondant, roll out four short whiskers.

- Cut out two black fondant small circles for the eyes. I used the back of a piping tip for this.
- Cut out two smaller circles of white fondant for inside of the eyes. 

- Cut out a small oval of pink fondant.

- Cut out two white fondant ovals for the ears. Cut out a similar shape, but smaller, of pink fondant for the inner ear. Push a thin skewer down the ear so you can attach it up right to the cake.

Place the pieces on top of the cake and press lightly to adhere to the frosting.

“Life is short. Enjoy the good times, treasure your loved ones, and don’t forget to eat cake.”
- Coco Cake Land

4 August 2018

Rainbow Confetti Cake!

I know it might sound weird and unconventional to pair confetti cake with something fruity instead of the usual pairing of classic vanilla or cream cheese frosting. I promise it still tastes like childhood because: a) strawberry jam (but we make our own easy peasy stovetop strawberry compote here), b) clear imitation vanilla extract (the type that makes everything taste like childhood nostalgia sheet cake), and c) sprinkles. I always feel like I need to make cakes that are super seasonal and inventive, something that no one has ever done before. Sometimes that pressure gets the best of me and I don't end up making anything. So today I am overcoming that and sharing with you a confetti cake and telling you that it is okay to share something just because you like it and it is what you are craving at the moment. (I am still working on the perfect pea cake but it putting peas into cake is hard. That will be my cool and creative cake for you in the near future.)

If you have been following this blog or my instagram for a while you might have noticed a decrease in rustic floral cakes and an increase in buttercream-heavy decorated cakes like this succulent one and my newest favourite, this flamingo cake. I hope you're okay with that be I am really enjoying piping all the things and exploring what piping tips can do. I will still be making many floral cakes (because I will always remember how I started) but in between all the fresh flowers you might find a buttercream rose or succulent.

Rainbow Confetti Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Confetti Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
2 cups granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
3 egg yolks
3 cups minus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoon sour cream 
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (quins and jimmies won't bleed into the batter!)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease three 6-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine milk and sour cream. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. On medium speed, beat butter with sugar and vanilla until the mixture is fluffy and pale in colour.

Add eggs and eggs yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Add in half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.

Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 26 - 28 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Cool cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before remove cakes from pans to cool completely.

Strawberry Compote
200g strawberries, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, toss to combine strawberries and sugar.

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, add the strawberry mixture and add vanilla extract.

Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Then gently stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberry is tender and juices become thick, 10 to 12 minutes.

Let compote cool completely before assembling cake.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup egg whites (*not from a carton)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined.

Create a double-boiler for the egg white and sugar mixture. Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.  The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture. 

Whisk the mixture continuously to make sure the egg whites don't get cooked. Whisk until all the sugar granules have dissolved. 

Once the egg white mixture is hot and no sugar granules remain, carefully transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 6 - 7 minutes (meringue should form medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature)

Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. It is very important the the butter is at room temperature

Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth.

2 large round piping tips
Blue gel food colouring
Pink gel food colouring
2 pieces of rainbow belt candy

Divide the buttercream into three bowls — with half the buttercream into a large bowl and the remaining half divided into two smaller bowls. The larger portion of buttercream will be coloured blue for the sky. One of the smaller bowls of buttercream will be coloured pink while the other small bowl will remain white.

Transfer pink buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Do the same for the white buttercream

Place first layer of cake onto cake plate/stand. 

Pipe a thick border of pink buttercream around the edge of the first cake layer. 

Fill the centre with half of the cooled strawberry compote.

Gently place second cake layer and repeat previous step.

Once the top layer of cake has been placed, gently coat the sides and top of the cake with the blue buttercream for the "sky."

Fitted with a large round piping tip, pipe large dollops of white buttercream on the top of the cake to resemble the "clouds" to anchor the rainbow. Five or six dollops for each cloud is a good amount.

Place rainbow candy from the centre of one cloud to the centre of the other. 

With any excess white buttercream, pipe dollops on to the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth of the buttercream to roughly blend into the sky. 

Optional: add blue sprinkles to the bottom of the cake for extra fun!

Happy baking and happy pride weekend!

3 July 2018

Buttercream Succulent Cake

If you ever go to my Pinterest account you will find that I have pin boards dedicated to layer cakes, boards all about sheet cakes, and some about muffins and no-bake desserts. One of my favourite pin boards that I am constantly adding to is the one dedicated to piped buttercream flowers. I have always admired people's patience that goes into piping delicate petals with all the details. Piping buttercream flowers is something I have always had the intention of trying but I never knew how to get started and which piping tips to buy. As a result I stuck with simpler piping techniques like the ones used on the chocolate lilac cupcakes and the peanut butter and jelly birthday cake.

I recently picked up a few of Wilton's new DIY cake decorating kits, with one of them being a kit for piping simple flowers. The kit included all the piping tips and tools as well as an easy-to-follow, full-colour instruction book that shows you how to pipe all kinds of blooms like drop flowers, leaf tip flowers, petal tip flowers. While flipping the through the book, I came across a section on piping succulents (!!). The succulent section had a step by step guide on how to pipe a cute cactus with little white spikes and a pink flower on top. The first few cacti I piped were the ones demonstrated in the book. I then went rogue and played around with some other piping tips in the kit. You will find a little helpful diagram I made with all the piping tips I used for this cake below.

I would recommend using stiffer buttercream to pipe your flowers and succulents so they create crisper lines. I used a simple American buttercream for my flowers and adjusted the stiffness of the buttercream by adding either more icing sugar (stiffer) or adding more milk (softer). You could pipe directly onto the surface of your cake but I chose to pipe my cacti onto parchment paper squares that were included into kit so I could easily transfer them to the fridge to firm up. Once the flowers have firmed up in the fridge, I used an offset spatula and transferred them over to the cake. Since the flowers are firm, you can easily position and reposition them on the cake.

What I used:
Includes 9-inch straight spatula, twelve 12-inch disposable decorating bags, 3 standard couplers, decorating brush, 13 decorating tips (Round 2, 8; Star 18, 199; Drop Flower 1B, 1G, 2C, 2F, 109, 225; Leaf 352; Petal 104, 127), flower nail and 50 flower squares.

Thank you Wilton for sending over so many goodies so I can finally get started with learning to pipe buttercream flowers! For more how-to kits to help you get started, click here!

Devil's Food Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup (270g) brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven at 350°F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated.

Add in the dry ingredients and start mixing on slow. Gradually add the milk and sour cream.

Divide batter evenly into three cake pans.

Bake for 26 - 29 minutes until the cake springs back when you press the top gently. Let cakes cool before removing them from pan to completely cool.

Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Melt chocolate and butter together on top of a double broiler. Set aside and let mixture cool.

Once chocolate mixture has cooled, transfer mixture to the bowl if a mixer and combine with sour cream, vanilla, and salt.

Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix on low until incorporated. Turn mixer on high and mix until frosting is fluffy.

Simple Vanilla Buttercream (for piping)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
Food colouring of choice

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla.

Gradually add the icing sugar and mix until incorporated. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Mix on high until buttercream is at desired consistency.

Separate buttercream into bowls to colour with food colouring.

Happy baking!

26 May 2018

Rhubarb Bakewell Tart

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

I’m breaking my Saturday morning ritual to write this at 9am. The farmers markets opened three weeks ago and my Saturday morning routine for the last three weeks has been precisely: wake up, get an iced coffee (which I will proceed to spill on my new white shoes), go to the farmers market, scour for any remaining bunches of lilacs of the season, buy all the ruby red stalks of rhubarb, eat ham and cheese crêpes, and repeat. I go to the market without any idea of what I am going to buy but the market is never short of inspiration. The first week of the market took place during peak lilac season, and I bought more than enough bunches of purple lilacs to last several batches of lilac cupcakes and lilac layer cakes. The two weeks following was when everyone was selling the most beautiful stalks of rhubarb. I have never really worked with rhubarb in the past and never had much desire to do so, maybe a strawberry rhubarb pie once in a while. Seeing everyone's excitement about rhubarb at the market and so many bakers' rhubarb treats on their blog pushed me to get a few stalks to play with. Strawberry rhubarb compote was the first thing to result from the vibrant red stalks and I have been slathering that compote on everything. Putting it on toast, piping it inside cupcakes, and now baking it inside a tart filled with almond frangipane and topped with even more rhubarb.

This Rhubarb Bakewell Tart is everything I wanted it to be. A sandy and buttery crust, a sweet and tart strawberry rhubarb compote layer, and a fluffy frangipane layer which has some textural similarities to cake. It is topped with more roasted rhubarb because 'tis the season. Serve warm as is or alongside a large dollop of vanilla bean-flecked whipped cream.

rhubarb stalks

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

Pâte Sablée
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

Beat in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in the salt and flour just until the dough comes together and there is no more visible flour. Careful not to over-mix. Remove dough from the bowl and press the dough into the tart pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell to prevent the bottom from puffing up when baking.

Wrap the pan loosely in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Bake the tart shell at 400F until the crust is golden, approximately 10 minutes. You do not want the shell to be too brown. Remove carefully from oven and let rest on a wire rack.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
100g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
100g strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

When the butter has melted, add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.

Gently stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is tender and juices become thick (10 to 15 minutes).

Remove from heat and let compote cool.

Almond Frangipane Filling
Adapted from Vikalinka
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well-incorporated. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Add dry mixture to butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined.

Rhubarb Stalks
5 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, until rhubarb is tender to the fork.

Remove from oven and let rhubarb cool.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Evenly spread compote on cooked tart shell.

Carefully spoon the almond frangipane mixture on top of rhubarb compote layer. Even out layer with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.

Place stalks of rhubarb in a radial pattern on top of almond filling.

Bake tart for 40 - 45 minutes until tart is golden. Let tart cool in tart pan for 15 minutes before carefully removing.

strawberry rhubarb bakewell tart

Happy baking!


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