Friday, February 26, 2010

Fondant Birthday Cake for Nicole

I made this Super Fun, Blue, Purple and Orange birthday cake for Nicole who is turning 12 today!  Hurray Nicole!!

This cake was a serious endeavor.  I made only two tiers, but each tier was a different flavor.  The top tier was Strawberry and the bottom was Lemon.  For each cake I  made a soaking syrup, a curd, a filling, and a flavored buttercream to go with the cake.  The Lemon Cake was from my very favorite The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.  She makes tasty cakes, and I'm sure glad I found her book!  The Strawberry Cake was a mix of different recipes, and some of my own ideas.  I'm learning how to compile my own cake recipe!  I'm excited that I'm finally figuring out how it all works and what tastes good.

Once I had that completed, I covered it with my homemade fondant and decorated it.  It was so fun and very rewarding!  I learned a ton!!

The back of the cake

The bow of course.

To celebrate my new Strawberry Cake compilation I made my very first fondant video.  It's a little goofy, but hey, at least I'm trying new things.  I have to say, I made this video with absolutely no sleep.  With that in mind, I'm sure you will think it's grand. hehehehe.  Hopefully I'll get better as I continue to work on it and as my friend Erica continues to coach me on what to do!  :)

Have a great Friday!!  Blessings, Rachel

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia- Recipe included!

These brownies were so delicious!  My little brother (age 28) was here recovering from his knee surgery, and he told me he really liked brownies.  What could I do but make them for him?

I found this recipe as I was browsing the internet looking at some of my favorite foodie websites and I saw a Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) challenge to make brownies.

My brother and I couldn't eat them all so I took some to bible study.  I cut them up nice and small as my friends requested.

Each bite was chocolate bliss.  

Rick Katz’s Brownies For Julia
Dorie writes “In 1995, when I was working with Julia Child filming the PBS series Baking with Julia and writing the companion book, Boston-based pastry chef Rick Katz was running the prep kitchen in Julia’s basement.   Working between the washing machine and the dryer, Rick was in charge of getting the recipes of each of the twenty-six visiting chefs ready for their close-ups.  An ordinary human would have had his hands full, but superman Rick always found time to make us extra little goodies, among them these very dark, very fudgy brownies.   The way he prepares the batter is different from any other brownie recipe I know.  Half of the eggs and sugar are mixed in with the chocolate, while the other half are beaten until they double in volume and are as light as a sponge.   Whipping the eggs creates the surprisingly creamy, soft and definitely fudgy texture.
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.  Put a 9 inch square baking pan (I actually used a 9 x 13" Pyrex for this) on a baking sheet.  Grease and flour your pan.  

Whisk flour and salt together and set aside.

Set a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the butter and chocolate in.  Stir frequently until the ingredients are just melted-you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates.  (Or melt in the microwave)  To the chocolate mixture, add 1 c. sugar and whisk gently just to incorporate it, then remove the bowl from heat.   Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a large bowl.

Put the remaining cup of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or a medium bowl using a wire whisk.  While whisking stir in the eggs.  

Next,  little by little pour only half of this sugar-egg mixture into the warm chocolate, stirring very gently without stopping-you don’t want the heat of the chocolate to cook the eggs.  The remaining half of the sugar-egg mixture in the bowl should be beaten more with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, on medium-high for about 3 minutes, or until they double in volume.   

Using a spatula and a light touch, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate, stopping just short of blending them in completely.  Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter and delicately fold them in, working only until they disappear.   Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.  I added walnuts to the top of the brownies.  Just enough to cover.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the top looks dry. I ended up cooking them for about 10-15 more minutes.  They were still very runny.  Poke a thin knife into the center and take a peek:  The brownies should be only just set and still pretty gooey.

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
The brownies are fragile and best cut in the pan.   Cut eighteen 1½ x 3 inch bars. 

Here is where I found this yummy recipe.  I did tweak the recipe a bit.  One, I had a hard time understanding it as written, and two, I made some personal changes.  I hope you enjoy!

Beautiful Blogger Award

I have been awarded the "Beautiful Blogger Award" by my friend and fellow blogger, Erica at Erica has lots of fun ideas and random thoughts to keep us on our toes!  I love looking at her blog and seeing all the fun crafts she has made and all the great deals she has found.  Erica you are a blessing to know, thank you for being my friend!

With this award, I am to tell you 7 interesting things about myself and then pass it onto another Beautiful Blogger.

1.  I can't decide which I like more, making the cake as delicious as possible or the fun of decorating it.  

2.  I am married to a wonderful guy who I met in high school.  Who knew?
3.  I live in a partially restored late 1800's farmhouse in Georgetown, TX.
4.  I'm joining a raw milk coop this week, and I'm very excited about it.
5.  I have a sweet little Papillion named Fifi who likes to torture her big sister Callie a wiem.  Here is Fifi-

6.  When I'm not making cakes I'm taking care of my two sweet little girls 5 and 9 years old.
7.  I love my church- Celebration Church in Georgetown TX.  Come visit sometime!

Now, it's my turn to pay this blog award forward. I'd like to send it along to my friend and sister in law Carolyn at  and my friend Vanessa at, she is so wise!
Blessings, Rachel

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lauren's Cupcakes

My good friend's daughter, Lauren, just turned 6 and she wanted vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for her birthday party.  Her birthday is just one day before Valentine's Day.  She had Valentines theme this year.  It was so cute!  I made the Devil's Food Chocolate Cake from Tish Boyle and Billy's Vanilla cupcakes.  All cupcakes were frosted with Billy's Vanilla Buttercream.  

Purple, pink and white cupcakes are decorated with pink and purple fondant hearts.

For Lauren I made a L on a special cupcake just for her.
Below is my new cupcake tree (a present from my step-mom).  It's so cute, and it worked perfectly for these cupcakes!

I put the L cupcake on the top of the tree.  I made so many cupcakes we had to put the extras on a platter.  You really can never have too many.  ;)

A close up of the cupcake tree.  
Happy Birthday Lauren, you are so precious to us!!  We love you!!  
Blessings, Rachel

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day Cookies- recipe included!!

We love Sugar Cookies!  Christmas, Valentines, Easter, or anytime!  They are just yummy.  I have tried quite a few recipes and up until now I had not found the perfect one.  I've looked on all recipes, through my library of cookbooks, and I just could not get the right recipe.  They are either too soft or too sweet or not sweet enough. Then came Martha, oh thank you Martha!!  These are delicious!!


These cookies have just the right amount of sweet.  They taste great frosted or fresh from the oven.  This one is frosted with Royal Icing.  First I piped the outline with a stiff Royal Frosting, and then I flooded the heart with a thin Royal Frosting.  This frosting is opaque, and is a more traditional look.  

Love is in the air...

I made this design, it reminded me a little of Mary Engelbreit.  I used the Royal Icing for the outline then I flooded the cookie with a frosting mix of powered sugar, food coloring, and water.  This sugar frosting looks a bit translucent.  I love the combination of the two frostings!

A sweet array of cookies!

Our cookies all dressed up and ready to give away for Valentines.  :)
Blessings, Rachel

Ideal Sugar Cookies by Martha Stewart 
Makes 2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Royal Icing - Optional


Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.

1. Transfer dough to a work surface.  Shape into discs, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
3.  On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between.  Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more.  Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.
4.  Decorate with Royal Icing, optional.

Royal Icing
makes 2 1/3 cups

1 box confectioners sugar (1 lb)
5 tablespoons meringue powder, or 2 large egg whites

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder.  Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water.  A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details.  Mix until icing holds a ribbon like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

To look on Martha's website click here:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Aunt Julie's Birthday Cake

My cousin Heidi planned a fabulous Surprise Birthday Party for her mom. I asked Heidi if I could make the cake, and she said "yes!".  So, when I asked her what her mom's favorite cake was she said "she didn't really have a favorite but that she liked chocolate".  I knew just what to do.

I made the Devil's Food Chocolate Cake from The Cake Book by Tish Bolye.  To go with it, I made the Chocolate Pudding Filling and the Fudgy Chocolate Frosting from her Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe.  This is by far the most wonderful chocolate cake ever!  Yummy!

After the cake was cooled in the refrigerator, for about an hour, I cut the top of the cake layer to make it flat.  Then I piped a ring of the fudgy frosting around the layer to place the filling in.

Next I filled in the ring with the chocolate pudding filling.  I made the pudding the night before so it would be nice and firm for the filling.  You don't have to do this for all fillings, but I had made this one before and I knew if it was too warm it would be runny.  Still tasty, but not as pretty of a presentation once the cake was sliced.

I placed the second layer on top of the first to make the bottom tier of the cake.
Once I had it assembled I covered the tiers with the fudgy frosting.  I used a chocolate fondant from Rose's Cake Bible, to cover the top tier and a marshmallow fondant to cover the bottom tier. I spent the afternoon making some fondant roses for the sides of the cake.  I thought of a new idea on how to make these, but I'm still experimenting with them.  I will share more with you, as I figure it out.

Happy Birthday Aunt Julie!! We love you!!  Rach