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Happy 4th!

Hello Blog World!  I hope you all had a fabulous day off of work…er…Independance Day.  I used this patriotic holiday as an excuse to make some adorable desserts – Red, White, and Blue sugar cookies and cupcakes!

I divided each of the batters into 3 sections.  I kept one white and used Wilton dye  to turn the other sections red and blue.  The colors didn’t quite have the oomph I was hoping for, but they worked!  For the cookies I took a little batter from each color and formed them into a ball.  I placed the ball on the cookie sheet and then smooshed it with the sugared bottom of a glass.  I’m not including the actual sugar cookie recipe because I didn’t really love it.  I would assume you could follow the above steps for any recipe you’d choose. 🙂

The cupcakes turned into a complete guessing game and I ended up overfilling the pans a little bit.  It wasn’t a big deal, but we had some rather large cupcakes. 😉  I decided to put the filling into the liners as blue, red, and then white.  I baked them (yep…cake mix), frosted them (with canned frosting…sometimes I’m just too lazy for the extra steps), and topped them with red and blue sprinkles.  Yay Festive!  Coordinating with the holiday or event makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!

 

The F Word…

Fondant.

What!?  Of course I didn’t mean THAT F word.  Though, I really thought that word would escape my mouth about 100 times while making homemade fondant, but it didn’t!  Okay, I probably said it.  Afterall I was making fondant for over an hour…that’s quite the stretch of curse-free time.  But, without lying, I can tell you the F bomb was not delivered due to the pain-in-the-arseness of Rolled Marshmallow Fondant.  Once again, Erica stumbled upon a recipe that was actually easier than anticipated.  After accomplishing the first batch sans troubles I actually made a second batch.  Both batches were made and cleaned up after in an hour and a half! 

Ingredients: (The directions really recommend name brand products) 
1 package (16 ounces) white mini marshmallows
2-5 tablespoons water
2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

 Directions:
1.  Place marshmallows and 2 TBSP water in microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.  Repeat the process until all the marshmallows are melted. (It took my marshmallows 2.5 minutes to melt.)
2.  Put about 3/4 of your powdered sugar on top of the melted mallows.  Fold in the sugar.
3.  Scoop out your shortening and put it in a separate dish.  You’ll be reaching into this dish throughout the course of your fondant kneading. (Your measurement here doesn’t need to be exact.)
4.  Cover your kneading surface and your hands in shortening.  Really, really cover them.  Load those babies up!
5.  Dump the contents of your bowl onto your greased surface.  Knead away and slowly add in the remaining powdered sugar.  
Warning: Don’t dump a bunch of powdered sugar on top and haphazardly press down on it.  You will, in fact, create a powdered sugar volcano in your very own kitchen.  Disastrous results immediately follow.

Powdered Sugar Explosion!

 Honestly, that’s really it.  Re-grease your hands and surface as you knead.  If the fondant is too dry and tearing, add small amounts of water until you reach the correct consistency.  I added about 1.5 more TBSP of water as I kneaded.  Oh, and you’re going to be kneading for like 10 minutes.  So make sure to crank some tunes before you get all greased up.

I did dye half a batch of fondant once it was all kneaded and ready to go.  I just used Wilton’s dyes and added a small amount with a toothpick and kneaded it in well.  I went with purple!

One batch of fondant


The directions say it is best to let your fondant sit overnight.  Double wrap it and store it in the fridge.  It’ll keep that way for a few weeks.  You know you want to try it.  Bust out your Crisco and get cracking! 

Word of Warning:  Making this F word turned out to be a literal pain in another f word…finger.  Between the fondant making and yard work I did last week I seem to have strained my thumb.  Try not to knead the fondant like a crazy person, and maybe you’ll be okay.

 

I linked up at It’s a Keeper!

Smells like roses…

Roses and Daisies, that is!  Do you remember my first post?  I blogged about my first foray into cake decorating.  I started “simple” with drop flowers and leaves and I was surprised at how well it went.  I should have learned something from that experience, but in true Erica form I did not.  I was quite certain that making Royal Icing Daisies would be a walk in the park and learning to make roses would be the death of me – I.was.wrong.

I did some research (Youtube rocks, by the way!), and started this adventure with the daisies… since they looked simple.  Daisies did NOT start off well.  I eventually realized that my Royal Frosting wasn’t stiff enough, so I put it back in the bowl and beat it so more.  (That helped tons once I reached the roses.   PS – When the directions say to beat for 8 – 10 minutes…beat for 8 – 10 minutes.)  My main issue, though, was that I couldn’t figure out the spacing of the petals.  They kept turning out lopsided and awful looking.  I took a break from the daisies, made some roses, re-watched the youtube daisy video and tried again. 
Use a rose tip (I started out with #104 but switched to #102 later on.) with the larger end towards the top and directly above the wax paper.  The trick with the spacing is to first make four petals in the shape of a cross and then go back and put one petal in each corner.  Then you can fill the center in with a round tip and a different color.  Voila!

 

Roses look incredibly difficult, don’t they?  I’m hear to tell you that not only can Youtube teach you anything, but also…roses aren’t that hard to make!  Mine don’t look nearly as pretty as the ones the professionals make, but you can still tell they’re supposed to be roses…or at least some sort of flower or naturey-thing.  Once again, you use a rose tip (uh…duh, right?).  I used #104.  You start with a flower nail and a piece of wax paper affixed to it with a dab of frosting.  You’ll squeeze a mound of frosting in the middle and pipe petals around that.  Go ahead and click on that link because I will never be able to explain it as well as she does.

 

 

 

Icing on the Cake

Confession:  The title of my blog post is incredibly corny.  You see, this post is entirely about icing…and the cake it is on.  Literally. 

Since I (obviously) “mastered” creating leaves and flowers with Royal Icing, I felt the next logical step was actually decorating a cake.  Gotta start sometime, eh?  All I needed was an event to bring the cake to.  There is no freaking way I could have an ENTIRE cake just sitting around my house.  I would blimp out in mere milliseconds…  One of my good friends recently accepted a job offer that meant he would be moving to another state.  Going-away-party cake?  Yes.please. 

There were two things I wanted to try out for this (my very first) attempt at cake decorating:  homemade frosting and fondant.

Homemade Frosting
In case you didn’t know, homemade frosting is utterly delicious.  Whoa…Nelly.  Though, I don’t even want to guess how many calories this frosting has.  For the sake of our sanity I am going to forgo figuring it out.  Making this frosting is actually pretty easy.  Add all ingredients together and mix.  That’s it. 
Ingredients:
1/2 c clear crisco
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

Fondant
I don’t know about you, but fondant scared the undies right off me.  The things professionals do with fondant is so amazing!  I needed something simple, just to get my feet wet.  Polka dots.  I purchased some Wilton Fondant to minimize the scariness of fondant.  It seemed smart to start with a fondant that someone else made so I know what it is supposed to be like.  I also have a fondant roller and some fondant cutters.  This was another one of those things that baffled me.  It was so simple!  I opened the package of fondant, put a little powdered sugar down, and rolled out the fondant like playdough.  Seriously, that’s it.  After that I just took the circle fondant cutters and cut them out like cookies.  I would change one thing I did, though.  I had rolled out the fondant to about 1/4 inch thick, but I would actually go much thinner than that.

The Cake
I cheated on the cake and totally used a box mix.  I made two 9 inch round cakes and stacked them with a layer of frosting between them.  Spreading the frosting on the cakes isn’t very easy.  I have to read up on it a little bit, but I definitley managed.  After frosting the cake I used a decorating comb around the outside and then stuck the fondant circles on it.  Then I was able to write on my message and complete the outside with a star tip.  Piece.of.cake.  Oh come on…I had to. 😉

Wine & Flowers

Before I get down to business here, I wanted to inform you just how terrible I am with anything (oh, and I really mean anything) that needs the tiniest bit of coordination.  Trying to play fetch with Kyra (our 2-year-old cockapoo) turns into warfare in our house.  Just this afternoon I attempted to throw a toy for her and it proceeded to bounce off the table sending quite a few icing flowers cascading to the floor.  Needless to say, the sugar raining down on her distracted her from the toy and even now she’s bouncing off the walls on a sugar high.  Yippee…

Anywhoo.  Me = uncoordinated.  The reason I’m explaining this to you is so that you understand just why I am soooo excited about yesterday’s adventure!  Are you ready for it?

I waded into the kiddie pool of cake decorating.  Yep…me.

I was doubting my ability to have the slow, steady, and precise movements needed for all those tiny little decorations, but Wilton has made it easy for people like me!  So last night I whipped up a batch of Royal Icing and started my journey as a cake decorator.  (Royal icing can be left to dry hard and then stored away for future use.)  The decorating kit I bought came with a beginner’s guide and I simply followed the steps.  Honestly, that’s.it. 

I started with the leaves first, and I think that was a really good idea.  I used tip #67 and icing color Moss Green.  This is called a “veined leaf”…at least it is in the world of cake decorating.  Basically you just squeeze the bag harder at first, and lessen up as you are pulling away.  Super easy!

 

After the leaves, I moved on to the flowers.  I started with tip #129 and icing color violet to make “swirl drop flowers”.  I would recommend that you start with just regular drop flowers before moving on to the swirl drop.  I’m a super novice and had NO idea there was a difference.  With the leaves, I was making darn near perfect ones right out of the gate.  That wasn’t the case with the purple flowers.  This is where the wine part of the title comes in to play.  I wasn’t grasping what Wilton was telling me, and I was getting frustrated.  So I cranked up the music, opened the wine, and took a breath and guess what…I figured it out!  So, they aren’t as beautiful and perfect looking as the ones in this book, but they are still cute!  I don’t think I can explain the process any better than Wilton does, so I’ll just tell you to go get the book. 🙂

After figuring out the “Swirl Drop Flowers” I felt pretty good about tackling the regular old “Drop Flowers”.  Same basic principle except without a wrist twist.  I also used a smaller tip, so they are smaller flowers.  Tip #225 and icing color rose petal.

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with Wilton.  Heck, I’m even sort of impressed with me!  Haha!  I’m excited to try out more decorating ideas, and to move on to an actual cake!  I urge you to take a crack at this whole cake decorating thing, it might be easier than you think! 

(Sidenote:  I’m quite certain cake decorating to the professional extent is not easy at ALL, but there are plenty of techniques us average folks can use to make our desserts appear above average.  Oh, also I’m pretty sure that all cake decorators must have a wicked case of arthritis.  The wine helps…)