Shirlee Goodness Cakery

Making the world a sweeter place one cake at a time

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

In honor of the Pokemon Go craze, thought I’d post  all of my Pokemon Cakes on one page together!

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Pokemon Ball with Pikachu Birthday Cake

 

Wailord Pokemon Cake

Wailord Pokemon Cake

Click to read Wailord Pokemon Cake Post

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Jirachi Pokemon Birthday Cake

 

Tepig Pokemon Cake

Tepig Pokemon Cake

Click to read Tepig Cake Blog Post

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Spheal Birthday Cake

 

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Celebi Pokemon Cake

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Drum Major Bear

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Drum Major Bear Cake

Every Christmas eve for the last 4 years, I’ve made a birthday cake for my cousin’s daughter, Natalie.  This year, Natalie is one of the drum majors of her high school band, so I decided to make her a teddy bear cake dressed in her drum major uniform.

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Natalie in her drum major uniform

 

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Bear Cake Mold

I used the Williams-Sonoma Build-A-Bear cake mold and instructions.  I modified the Santa Claus and Soccer Player Bear patterns to make the drum major outfit.

The cake is baked in two halves and put together with a layer of buttercream.

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First, anywhere that won’t be covered with fondant gets covered in “fur.” The bear’s “fur” is created by sprinkling turbinado sugar over a sugaring glaze.

Then the bear gets dressed!

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I bought white, black, and blue fondant.  When you add a lot of gel color to fondant it just gets really sticky.  For intense colors, it’s better to buy the pre-colored fondant. I added some navy and black coloring to the blue fondant to deepen the hue.

 

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For the hat, I had baked a cupcake and then covered it in fondant.

The gold accents were white fondant with gold painted on. You can get the gold dust at a cake supply shop.  Sprinkle some dust in a small dish and add just little bit of clear alcohol like vodka or almond extract. The buttons were cut out using the small end of an icing tip. My daughter Allison helped me with some of the details.

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Allison painting the gold eagle ensignia

 

I think Natalie really liked her drum major birthday cake!

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Natalie and her cake

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Panda Cupcakes

 

Chocolate Panda Cupcakes

Chocolate Panda Cupcakes

My aunt was throwing a farewell party for her son who is moving to China.  Since the party was a drop-in buffet dinner event, I thought cupcakes would work much better than a cake.  People, especially kids, can easily serve themselves.  And you don’t have to worry about when to cut the beautifully designed cake, messing up the presentation for people who join the party later.

IPanda-cupcakes_3655 wanted to make something with a Chinese theme and saw these adorable mini-cupcakes on Bakerella’s site.  Can you believe these are made with MINI chocolate chips?! I decided to make full size cupcakes for my cousin.

IMG_8858These cupcakes were easy to make because I was able to find the items I needed: black chocolate melting wafers at the local cake and candy supply shop, candy eyes at Hobby Lobby, and dark chocolate expresso beans at CVS (yes, the pharmacy!).

Here are some cupcakes I decorated, experimenting with different techniques for the fur, eyes and ears.IMG_8861

The decorating steps are pretty self-explanatory:

  1. Frost the cupcake using large tip.
  2. Use spatula to smooth the frosting.
  3. Insert two chocolate wafers round side up for ears.
  4. Place two chocolate wafers flat side up for the color around the eyes.
  5. Squeeze a small dot of buttercream icing where you want to place the eyes.
  6. Place candy eyes.
  7. Place the chocolate covered expresso bean for the nose.

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It was fun to make subtle differences in the faces like moving the eyes up or closer together, using big or small noses.  I wasn’t able to make as many funny faces as Bakerella since I didn’t have a mouth.  Next time I hope to find something to use for the mouth.

Lastly, I decorated a small 6-inch cake so I could write a message wish to my cousin.  I think he really liked the cupcakes!

Panda cupcakes with 6" cake

Panda cupcakes with 6″ cake

 

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Peanut Butter Cookie Experiments

Peanut Butter Treats - Clockwise from top left: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies Cups, PB&J Cookies, Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Peanut Butter Treats – Clockwise from top left: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies Cups, PB&J Cookies, Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I love the flavors of peanut butter and chocolate together.  When I saw Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups at Trader Joe’s (TJ’s), I had to buy them!  Then I had fun incorporating them in some easy baking projects. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

  1. Peanut Butter Cup Brownie – Very easy!  I mixed up a batch of brownie mix.  Then chopped up some TJ’s peanut butter cups and pressed them into the top of the batter.  Bake as directed.
  2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Cups – I made a batch of peanut butter cookie dough.  I pressed a ball of dough into a mini-muffin tin and used the Pamper Chef Mini Tart Scraper to make an indention and placed the peanut butter cup in the center.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cookie is golden.
  3. PB&J Cookies – I had leftover peanut butter cookie dough, so I rolled small balls of dough, flattened them and made a small well using a measuring teaspoon.  I spooned some grape jelly into the well.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cookie is golden.

And there you have it!

Chopped peanut butter cups on brownie dough

Chopped peanut butter cups on brownie dough

Peanut Butter Cookies with Jelly Centers

Peanut Butter Cookies with Jelly Centers

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Cupcakes or Cookies…?

Cupcake Cookie with Sprinkles

Cupcake Cookie with Sprinkles

Cupcake Cookie Cutter

Cupcake Cookie Cutter

I had made some sugar cookie dough a few weeks ago and froze the dough because I didn’t get around to baking the cookies.  I had a cupcake cookie cutter and thought it would be fun to decorate the cookies as cupcakes.  For tips and tricks on baking and decorating cookies with royal icing, see my post on Baby Girl Cookies.

Cupcake sugar cookies?!

Cupcake sugar cookies?!

After I carefully rolled out the dough on parchment paper and cut the cupcake shapes out, I popped a tray into the oven.  I was dismayed to see how much the cookies spread in the oven! 😦  They weren’t recognizable as cupcakes at all!  Oh, well, I thought, it’s a good thing that I was not making these for a particular event!  (After I finished decorating, you’ll see that the shape didn’t really make too much of a difference in this case.  Still, I will used a different recipe next time I make shaped cookies!)

I continued on, making the royal icing while the cookies cooled.  I made royal icing from pasteurized egg whites.  You can buy the egg whites ready to use from the grocery store.  I’ve like using egg whites better than meringue powder because my icing comes out softer.  I don’t like really hard icing for cookies.

The advantages of buying the egg whites in the carton are 1) You don’t have to separate them from the eggs yourself, 2) They are shelf stable for some time so you can buy them ahead of time and they are ready to use when  you want them, and 3) You don’t have to worry about salmonella because the egg whites are pasteurized.

Three steps to decorate cupcake liners

Three steps to decorate cupcake liners

I decorated the cupcake liner first, outlining the bottom of the cupcake with white icing, then flooding it with thinned colored icing. (I used more of the pasteurized egg whites to thin the royal icing for flooding.) The tip of a chopstick works well to spread the icing to the edges and into the corners.

I decorated the liners in various ways.  For some I piped white stripes to imitate the accordion fold of basic cupcake liners.  When the lines were piped right away before the flood icing set, they sank into the flooded icing, giving a nice integrated look.  For some, I dipped a chopstick tip into thinned icing of contrasting colors to make polka dots.  For some, I drizzled lines of contrasting thinned icing and ran a toothpick through the icings to swirl them.

 

Piped Lines

Piped Lines

 

Liner with polka dots

Polka Dots

Liner with swirled pattern

Swirled Pattern

The last step was to add the frosting tops.  I used a variety of star tips to pipe luscious-looking mounds of frosting on the top of the cupcakes. When I ran low on frosting, I used a knife to spread the frosting to look like a homemade frosted cupcake. Colored sprinkles added a festive touch!

Cupcakes or Cookies?  You decide!

Cupcake Cookies

Cupcake Cookies

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Cake Decorating 101

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Last weekend, I held my first cake decorating workshop. The workshop was part of a crafts event at church which where ladies could take classes to make items such as greeting cards, fabric pumpkins, mini-glitter houses. I had eight students ranging from 7-years-old to seniors. We all had a great time, and I was so pleased and proud of each of the beautiful and unique creations!

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For each student, I provided:

two six-inch cakes

filling

frosting

offset spatula

handout with basic instructions and icing techniques

 

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piping bags

couplers

tips

icing color gels

other miscellaneous tools

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I demonstrated basic steps for filling and frosting a cake, and decorating techniques using a star tip and round tip.  Lastly, I showed them how to make leaves with tip #352, and how to ice cupcakes.

I think the pictures speak for themselves!

 

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It’s a Boy!

Shower cake for Baby Boy

Shower cake for Baby Boy

 

A coworker requested a cake for his wife’s baby shower.  They are expecting a boy.  I asked them to send me some pictures so I could get an idea of what they wanted.  Here are the pictures they sent.

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These pictures gave me a good idea of what their tastes were like.  I knew I should do a tiered cake in fondant for that classic look, and have baby booties on top.

Cut out shoe part with detailing

Cut out shoe part with detailing

Directions for making baby shoes can be found on the web. I saw the most adorable baby high tops, but I thought this cake would be better with a more traditional baby shoe look. Many thanks to the Cake Journal for their Baby shoe tutorial which I followed more or less.  I used a mixture of half fondant and half gum paste.  The gum paste gives strength and the fondant gives pliability to shape the shoes before they dry too fast!

Assembling the shoes

Assembling the shoes

 

When I saw the mother-to-be after the shower, she told me that she was so happy with the cake.  She said it was the first time that she asked for a cake and got what she wanted! She didn’t get the cake she wanted for her wedding cake or birthday cakes, but she did for her baby shower!  So I was very pleased that I was able to meet her expectations!

Here is a picture of the mom-to-be and the big-sister-to-be at the baby shower.  They are very sweet!

Mother and daughter with baby cake

Mother and daughter with baby cake

 

 

 

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Baby Sweater – Size 18 months to 8 years!

Kristi wearing pink sweater that I knit for her.

Kristi wearing pink sweater that I knit for her.

Pictured above is my niece Kristi wearing a sweater that I knit for her when she was 18 months old. Just to tell you upfront, this post is not about baking.  I haven’t posted since January because I really haven’t baked anything I thought was interesting.  I’ve been busy knitting and sewing.

Sometimes people ask me if it’s hard to spend so much time creating a cake and then have it eaten and gone.  Actually, I like that it’s not permanent.  I can feel free to try new things and if they turn out, it’s great, and if it isn’t exactly how I had hoped, no one will remember in a few days. Plus, I know the cake will taste good!  And I always can look back at my pictures.

I do like to create some more permanent items, though.  These days, I mostly make baby things like baby quilts, sweaters, hats, booties.  Here are a few pictures of my knitted projects from the last few months.

 

Baby girl hat and botties

Baby girl hat and socks

Purple Hat and Booties

Purple Hat and Booties

Multi-colored Toddler Cap

Multi-colored Toddler Cap

And guess what?  My niece Kristi is now 8 1/2 and still wears the sweater…now re-imagined as a cropped sweater with three-quarter length sleeves.  I guess it’s time for me to knit her another one!

Kristi wearing sweater at 18 months.

Kristi wearing sweater at 18 months.

Kristi now, 8 years old, wearing the sweater I knit for her 7 years ago!

Kristi now, 8 years old, wearing the sweater I knit for her 7 years ago!

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Snoopy Christmas Birthday Cake

Natalie's Snoopy Birthday Cake

Natalie’s Snoopy Birthday Cake

Filling and frosting Snoopy Cake

Filling and frosting Snoopy Cake

My cousin’s daughter Natalie’s birthday is Christmas eve.  We always have a big family gathering of about seventy people that evening to celebrate Christmas.  The last few years I’ve made a special birthday cake for her.  This year, we had a Charlie Brown Christmas theme so I made the cake with Natalie and Snoopy on the cake.

Pictures for Snoopy Cake

Pictures for Snoopy Cake

The cake was a quarter sheet chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream.  I found a picture of Snoopy holding a Christmas present to use, and I looked at some pictures of the Peanuts characters from the Charlie Brown Christmas to draw one that looked like Natalie with her long hair and Asian eyes.

Trace of figures in the frosting

Trace of figures in the frosting

After coloring all the frostings, I filled and frosted the cake.  I traced my patterns of Snoopy and Natalie onto parchment paper and cut them out.  I traced the outlines on the cake frosting using a toothpick.  I outlined the figures with black frosting (chocolate frosting colored black) with a round tip #2 or 3, then filled in with the various colors, also using round tips of varying sizes.  I smoothed out the filled in shapes with a small knife.

Snoopy cake in progress

Snoopy cake in progress

The final touches were adding the Happy Birthday Natalie and the falling snow flakes.

Happy Birthday Natalie!

Happy Birthday Natalie!

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Bananas + Toffee = Banofee Pie!

Slices of Banoffee Pie

Slices of Banoffee Pie

Last month, I spent some time in Ireland for work.  While I was there, I tried an English dessert called Banoffee Pie. The pie consisted of a creamy layer of toffee filling, sliced bananas, and mounds of fluffy whipped cream, all on a tasty cookie crumb crust and dusted with chocolate.  It was so delicious, I decided I wanted to make it when I went home.

“The Completely True and Utter Story of Banoffi Pie” is told in an entertaining manner by  Ian Dowding who invented the creation.  He also provides the “Official Banoffi Pie” recipe here.  Mr. Dowding’s yummy creation has undergone some transformations to it’s most popular form today.  From what I gather, he detests crumb crusts, but the two versions I ate in Ireland both had crumb crusts.  All the recipes I saw (except for his) did also.  His original whipped cream topping has an addition of coffee flavor, but again, I did not see that anywhere.  I did add some instant coffee to some whipped cream as he instructs, and tried it on a piece pie, but I really didn’t like it, so left out the coffee.  The popular version with crumb crust and unsweetened whipped cream is given below.

The recipe I used was given to me by my Irish coworker. It’s very simple, with few ingredients.  There’s really no baking involved, it’s more of an assembling of the ingredients.  And it will taste like you got it from a bakery!

Crumb crust made with digestive biscuits

Crumb crust made with digestive biscuits

Ingredients

4 ounces butter, melted

20 McVities Digestive Biscuits (can be found at Cost Plus World Markets, link to store locator)  For gluten-free crust, see note below.

14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

~4 bananas

1 pint whipping cream

grated chocolate or cocoa powder

1.   Submerge (unopened) can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water.  Bring water to a boil and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Open can of sweetened condensed milk after simmering for 3 hours.  It's hot so be careful!

Open can of sweetened condensed milk after simmering for 3 hours. It’s hot so be careful!

2.  While the milk is cooking, assemble pie crust. Crush biscuits until you have a fine crumb texture.  You can do this by placing the biscuits in a ziploc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin, or by using a food processor.  Pour crumbs into a bowl.  Add the melted butter and stir to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan or other baking dish.  (I made a large pie in a 10×13 dish to share at work when I got back from my trip.)  Chill the crust for at least one hour.

3.  When the sweetened condensed milk has cooked for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, carefully remove the can from the pot of water and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.  The contents will be hot and under pressure.  The can I used had a pull tab.  I used a pot holder to hold the very hot can, and a butter knife to pop the tab.  Some of the toffee squirted out, so be careful!  Pour or spoon the toffee onto the crumb crust.  Chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Layer of bananas over the toffee.

Layer bananas over the toffee.

4.  Slice bananas and arrange in a single layer on top of the toffee. If using a spring form pan, remove the sides from the pan and place the pie on a plate.Whip the cream and spoon it over the toffee and bananas, spreading to the edges to seal the pie.  Sprinkle with grated chocolate or cocoa powder.  Serve and enjoy!

Single serving Banoffee Pie with gluten-free crust made from almond meal.

Single serving Banoffee Pie with gluten-free crust made from almond meal.

Note #1:  For a gluten-free version, I made the crust from 1 cup of Trader Joe’s ground almond meal mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.  This made some small 4-inch tarts for my gluten-free friends.

Note #2:  Mr. Dowding says that multiple cans of sweetened condensed milk may be prepared ahead of time and stored for later use.

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