I am sorry I have taken so long between posts. This past weekend I celebrated my cousin's marriage and I made the wedding cake. My cousin wanted a lighter and less sweet frosting for this special occasion. This is a typical request and I usually make a Swiss meringue or Italian buttercream which is a combination of egg whites, white sugar, butter and vanilla and very time consuming These frosting tend to be more yellow in color because of the amount of butter and very soft. So I decided to tinker with my typical American icing which is butter, vanilla and confectionary sugar by adding melted white chocolate and a little milk. I didn't have to add nearly as much sugar because the white chocolate was sweetened. Please try this recipe with your favorite cake and feel free to use milk or dark chocolate instead of the white.
Delicious white chocolate frosting recipe:
3 sticks of room temp butter
1/2 cup while milk
9 oz melted, slightly cooled, white chocolate chips
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectionary sugar
Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. While chocolate is melting, whip the butter for 3 minutes over medium speed in your stand mixer with paddle attachment. Make sure to gently stir te chocolate. Add 1/4 cup of milk at a time to butter. Wait until butter absorbs milk before adding more milk. Whip butter and milk for 2 mins after adding all milk. Make sure chocolate is melting ad take it off the heat before all chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate completely melt by itself. Let chocolate cool slightly. Add chocolate to butter and whip on medium for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and mix through. Add sugar slowly and gradually to butter/chocolate mixure while mixer is on lowest speed. After all sugar is added, scrape down the mixing bowl and beat frosting for 2 minutes on medium speed. ENJOY!!!
I must admit that even though making cheesecakes are in the "easy" column of baking 101, due to their minimal ingredients and basic directions, I tend to mess them up because its not everyday that I get to make a cheesecake. Cheesecake is not a cake but a custard and custards like humidity and gentle heat. When a cheesecake looks done, it's more then likely over done, dry and gritty. No one like a dry cheesecake.
So I wanted to revisit the art of cheesecake making when I ran across a great sale on my favorite cream cheese. Besides on my occasional bagel; when I see cream cheese I think of creamy dense cheesecake. I love cheesecake because of the creamy dense texture but I love the the crust on the bottom!!!
First a little background on the types of cheesecakes. Cheesecakes are nothing more than a soft cheese (cream cheese, ricotta, etc.), sugar and eggs. There are three ways of making cheesecake. You can dry bake a cheesecake at a relatively low temperature, like 300-325 degrees, for about an hour and a half. Second way is to bake it the new york way, which is to put the cake in at 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes to set the top and then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and what one hour until the cheescake reaches 140-150 degrees internal temperature. Lastly, there is the water bathe. That is when the cheesecake is baked at the 300-325 degree heat range and it is sitting in a hot water bathe that comes up about 1" up the side of the cheesecake mold. I use the water bathe because I love moist creamy cheesecakes. Important note, electric ovens have a drier heat than a gas oven so a water bath is vital when using an electric oven.
No one likes a cracked cheesecake but it happens and all you can do is drown your tears of frustration in a delicious slice of cheesecake or two or three slices... Cracks either form when the cake is baking or when it's cooling. While baking, the top sets before the inside of the cake cooks thus the skin of the cake is pushed up by the internal steam produced by the cooking process and the skin cracks. The cheesecake shrinks when it cools and if the sides are stuck to the pan then the top will stretch and rip. So gentle, even humid heat is required while baking and letting the cake cool slowly after a slender knife is used to release the sides from the pan.
Also please make sure your oven is calibrated. You might hit the 325 degree button and your oven can be operating at 275-375 degrees. Invest in a good oven thermometer and set your oven to 350 and check the temperature 10 minutes after it has preheated. Then let it run for 30 minutes more and see how high and low the heat range goes. The narrower the range the better.
Here is a great SIMPLE cheesecake recipe that uses a graham cracker crust and can be used as a base recipe for any flavor you would want to add to it.
1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) full fat Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
HEAT oven to 325°F.
MIX graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. It is very important to make sure that these ingredients are at room temperature. This will ensure a smooth velvety batter. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. DO NOT OVER BEAT!!! Air causes the cake to rise which inturn leads to cracks. Pour batter over cooled crust.
BAKE 55 min. or until center is almost set (140 degrees). The center will 2.5" will jiggle like jell-o. the cake will continue to cook after it is out of the oven. After cooling for 15 minutes, loosen cake from rim of pan with a paring knife; cool to room temperature before removing the rim. Refrigerate over night.
It's simple to enter. Just LIKE JohneCakes on facebook and comment below. In your comment please tell me what type of cake you would like to have me make for you.
On sunday, August 26th, at 8pm one randomly selected comment idea will be selected. This giveaway is subject to a few rules. First, the delivery site must be within Central NJ and second, the cake dimensions are limited to 12"x12"x12". (a cubic foot). The cake will be made of vanilla cake, vanilla butter cream and then covered in fondant.
Maybe you want to play it simple and only want a pink cake with purple polkadots and a glittery purple balloon bow on top. Or you can go wild and want a thanksgiving turkey, a zombie head, a crab, a beer can, your dog or a sports car. The choice is yours.
Be descriptive and creative!
JohneCakes, "Where your imagination becomes our inspiration!"
My sister, Katrina, bought me an airbrush kit from www.tcpglobal.com
for Christmas this year. I wanted to get more detail than what I have been getting with just solid fondant, buttercreams and painting with edible dyes. www.TCPglobal
.com has several kits available, from a starter kit to a super deluxe kit. They also supply the colors and all replacement parts.
Setup was as simple as taking out the compressor, plugging it into the outlet, attaching the braided air line to the compressor and to the airbrush. After adding 5 drops of amerimist airbrush color
to the gravity-fed well on top of the brush, I was ready to try it out. Don't forget we are dealing with an airbrush here people. It is a little messy. I recommend completely covering your work space with old newspaper for quick clean up. I watched a few www.youtube.com
videos about air brushing and how to practice and how to clean the gun between colors and uses, which proved very beneficial.
The master g34 airbrush that comes in the kits is a dual action airbrush. This means you must push down on the finger lever to allow air to flow through the brush and then pull back on the lever to apply the color. The further you pull back the more color is released. I found that setting the pull back limit screw on the back of the airbrush helped when making thin precise lines and allowing it to be fully open allowed maximum color and a larger area to be covered more quickly.
I used the airbrush on my chocolate leopard print somoa cake pictured above. Ii started with a chocolate fudge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and a layer of butterscotch caramel in the middle. I then frosted it with vanilla buttercream and packed a layer of toasted coconut to the outside. After the coconut adhered to the frosting, I melted 4oz of dark chocolate in a double boiler and tempered it by getting it to a temperature of 122 degrees F and then letting it cool to 80 degrees F and then reheating it to 90 degrees F. Tempering allows the chocolate to mantain a high gloss and a snap in texture. I piped the chocolate directly onto the cake in "U" and some small "o" shapes. After placing the cake in the freezer for the chocolate to harden, I setup my airbrush and took out yellow and orange amerimist colors.
I started with the lighter color first which would be the yellow. I did this for two reasons, first, the yellow is going to be sprayed all over the cake to lighten up the coconut and give a nice contrast to the orange and second, I did't have to clean out my airbrush if i go to a darker color like the orange.
After the cake was covered with a nice sheen of yellow, I blew the extra yellow out of the airbrush and into a big white bowl that was lined with paper towel. I then sprayed the orange in small spots inside the "U"s of the leopard prints. This gave the print that pop that it didn't have before.
After finishing up with my cake, I now have to clean the brush. I use a little alcohol that I spray from a spray bottle into the well and open the lever screw all the way and spray the alcohol through the airbrush into the paper towels in the white bowl until no more color is visible. The alcohol will evaporate if any is left in the airbrush. Get out there and play with new equiptment. I will highlight your business and make your product just that more interesting.
I love breakfast... So much so, that I will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was thinking of new flavor combinations while baking at 6am on saturday morning and my belly started to growl. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. lol.
I love sitting down at a little coffee shop or towny diner and ordering bacon and eggs with a side of pancakes. I then proceed to slather on some soft salted butter and maple syrup on those fluffy pancakes. That got me thinking; why not put my favorite breakfast into a cupcake?
I crisped up some thick-cut smoked bacon in my cast iron skillet and chopped it into fine crumbles. I added those bacon crumbles along with about 1/2 cup of real vermont grade B maple syrup to my buttery yellow cake batter and baked them at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes; remember they are minis.
For the frosting I wanted to really get that maple flavor and still have that soft texture of the butter. At first, I made a swiss merigue buttercream with egg whites, sugar, butter, maple syrup and rendered bacon fat but the flavor was just to much, it was like BACON to the tenth degree!!! I love bacon but the maple syrup was lost with all that bacon goodness. I used swiss buttercream because I love its soft texture and it's not overly sweet. But it just didn't give me the flavor I wanted. So I whipped up some velvetty traditional american buttercream, which is sweeter than swiss buttercream, and added about 1/4 cup of maple syrup along with 2 pinches of salt, no bacon. =(
I piped a liberal amount of maple frosting on each mini and I topped each with a sprinkle of bacon crumbles, and i took a bite. First, the cake is soft and buttery like pancakes. Second, you get the saltiness of the bacon along with sweetness from the buttercream. Then as you chew and mix the flavors in your mouth, the maple syrup shows up with an earthy sweetness that kisses your tastebuds. Simply delicious!!!!
My friend, Debbie, asked me to make her some PB&J cupcakes for her birthday. Naturally I said yes... But I wanted to stay as true to the orginal PB&J sandwich that I had growing up. With that said, I had to make sure I hit on a couple key points.
1. The bread has to be soft and white with a firm yet yielding crust.
2. The ratio of peanut butter to grape jelly had to be 50/50.
3. It had to be gooey but not a mess.
With a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish, I decided on this combo of ingredients. Yellow cake; yeah i know I said white bread as #1 in my list, but I believe the butter texture of my yellow cake will give something more important than just the color of the bread. It will bring that moist, squishy texture that I remember of white sandwich bread. Next is real grape jelly as a filling. About a tablespoon is enough to get a mouthful in each bite but not be overwhelming or messy. Finally, the peanut butter frosting. Yes, the thought did cross my mind to just slather on a disk of PB but that is a little to literal for a cupcake. We still need that sweetness from the buttercream which I believe is one of the main characteristics of a great cupcake; right next to cake texture and overall taste. So I took natural creamy peanut butter and added just a little powdered sugar and then whipped some heavy cream into the peanut butter. What I was left with was peanut butter x1000!!! It was lighter and creamer than just PB, but it had a subtle sweetness with a hint of salt. I wanted to grab a spoon and dig in!!! These cupcakes are every bit as tasty as the orginal but with that sweetness you can only get from a cupcake. i hope you enjoy them.
Little baby Grace is 1 year old tomorrow but yesterday, my wife, Katie, and I went to her winter themed birthday party. So I decided to make snowflake cupcakes for Grace's little hands.
White cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkled with light blue sanding sugar and topped with fondant snowflakes.
As soon as Katie and I walked into the party we were greated by a room full of excited children and one happy mom. There is nothing like a little child enjoying a cupcake and that er to ear smile and frosting covered face. It makes my heart smile! <3
Devil's food cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. The snow flakes were made using a snowflake cutter, fondant and luster dust to give them that shimmer.
Here is a little fact for all of you; my birthday is today and one thing that I always loved was the possibility of SNOW on my birthday. Not only did we bring snow to Grace's 1st birthday party with these moist cupcakes but as luck would have it, it was flurrying outside the whole time. I can see some sledding birthday parties in her future. It was fun spending time with friends and family, with new additions on one arm and a cupcake in the other hand!
So after several years of toying around with the idea of opening a cake business, I finally did it! I have to admit, it is a little bit nerve wracking. Okay....it is very nerve wracking. I can not stop thinking about it. Every time I see something related to baking, my mind starts up and my heart races. It's like a drug! I love the fulfillment of making an idea that I dreamed up into a reality.
My dearest memory of childhood was my 5th birthday. I was attending preschool and my mom arranged a birthday party with all of my classmates. I handed out He-Man invitations while wearing my Osh Kosh overalls and told everyone it was going to be so RAD! Yeah I was an 80's child, can you tell? I wish I could find the picture of that party. The party was all of my friends sitting around the dining room table with streamers hung from the ceiling, balloons attached to the chairs, and my BIG CAKE with a bunch of He-Man action figures stuck into it. It was so awesome! My mom was and still is my inspiration for baking. She was extremely crafty. i remember the late nights spent around the kitchen table, painting ceramics and sewing. But when my mom broke out the baking pans and her KitchenAid stand mixer, that was when my adrenaline spiked. No wonder I used to fit into size Husky pants. I can still see the easter basket cake made out of buttercream and the smell of her chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies baking in the oven. Then she would gently stuff the cookies inside an old cookie jar of an old grandma with a rolling pin. LOL.
In this blog, I hope to share my newest creations and some old ones. But I hope that I can get some of you to try new things and have a better understanding of the process of which it is to bake. I wish every one happiness and love through the treats that they share with the world.