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I’m always amazed at little ones!  How in the world did my then 4yo daughter decide she wanted to learn to play the violin?  While being exposed to lots of music I certainly hadn’t suggested she learn to play an instrument let alone a classical one.  No worries we got her started and away she went with gusto…  Well this post isn’t about music but recently I was asked by my friends to make their 3yo daughter a birthday cake. Apparently she had requested “a raspberry on the inside” birthday cake.  I’d never made one before but love a challenge so this is how I did it.

WARNING – Heavy text as some dummy (me) forgot to take progress photos… but it turned out great so bear with me folks.

First off I thought I’d start with a white cake recipe and add my raspberry goodness to it.

White cake mix or this from scratch recipe…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Then To make it Raspberry Flavoured…

Ok.. great but it had to be raspberry flavoured…  I could not for the life of me find fresh raspberries that day that weren’t growing fur, so my next best option was a heaping tablespoon of raspberry jam (jelly) with the seeds for authenticity AND I added a 1/3 of a sachet of Raspberry Jello Crystals dissolved into a half cup of water.

Raspberry cake by Cake Artisan

Cake Crumb

I figured it wouldn’t throw off the balance of the cake since it thickens as it sets up.  My theory proved right and the cake was relatively dense (with a fine crumb texture like a Madeira or pound cake) but still light and very flavourful.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two eight inch round pans or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth, the jello crystals and the raspberry jam. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.  For cupcakes 20-25 mins.
Raspberry Cake by Cake Artisan

Raspberry Jam (Jelly)

For this little lady’s cake I made two 6 inch and two 8 inch round cakes to stack.

In between each matching pair I spread a fine layer of raspberry jam (jelly) and then added raspberry cream cheese frosting (my original recipe with some raspberry jello crystals and a small amount of jam added to it).

I placed wooden dowels inside of McDonalds straws into the 8 inch stacked cakes and then placed the 6 inch stacked pair on top.

Raspberry Cake by Cake Artisan

Dowels

All of the cakes were covered in my crusting cream cheese frosting prior to stacking as they wanted it smoothed to look like fondant.  I then cut out about one hundred or so purple and one hundred or so pink fondant flowers for decoration.  This cake was to compliment a Tinkerbell cake topper.

The glitter is edible sparkle glitter.  The cake was a lot of work but my friends loved it.  Hubby enjoyed the crumbs I had cut off the top so much I made him his very own raspberry cake the next day.  It was pretty much gone in an instant.  Don’t forget to email me if you have any questions.  Happy Baking!

Tinkerbell Raspberry Cake by Cake Artisan

Raspberry Cake

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This is the cake I made for my daughter Megan’s baby shower this past weekend.  The cake on the bottom was yellow cake filled with white cream cheese frosting and then covered with the same frosting coloured blue.  I added balls of chocolate fondant to the sides and for the circles.

Teddy Bear Baby Shower cake made for my daughter Megan's baby shower on May 1st 2010.

Baby Shower Cake

The top cake was made using the good old Wilton Teddy Bear pan.  I made this for her first birthday some 20+ years ago so thought it would be a nice touch for this cake.  The cake is chocolate cake and is iced with a chocolate flavoured cream cheese frosting.  The diaper is thinly rolled white fondant made using Carrie Biggers’ recipe.  Sorry but I can’t give that to you here because Carrie sells it on her website as one of her product range.  It’s a great recipe and tastes so much better than commercially produced fondant.  I am always horrified when I see the fondant being torn off of wedding cakes by folks that have only had the shop bought kind.  The home made stuff is so much nicer and very edible.

Vanilla and Chocolate baby shower cakeOk, so I have to “fess up.”  Even experienced bakers and decorators make mistakes.  Stupid mistakes actually.  That bear on the top took three attempts before I got it right.  I can’t believe it since I’ve made it many times before but the first time around I didn’t add enough batter to the pan so when bear came out he had NO LEGS!  Um no.  That bear became chocolate cake balls that I put into the party favour boxes for our guests to take home with them, so not a total waste.

With my second attempt I totally forgot to insert the cone into the center of the pan which ensures even cooking.  Not realizing my mistake I took the “perfect” bear from the pan and then wondered why his head was caving in.  After a crack formed I could see that the batter inside was still liquid and not even close to being cooked.  This poor bear met his demise down the garbage disposal.. sorry bear number 2.

So finally at 11:30pm on Friday night (the party was the next day) I baked off bear number 3.  You might think this one worked out perfectly.  Well not exactly.  Probably due to the fact that it had been one heck of a busy week I did remember to insert the heat cone this time BUT forgot to spray it with cooking spray.  As I pulled it out a crack formed across poor bear’s face.  Thank goodness for buttercream which I used to patch him up with.

So next time you make a mistake or forget something, don’t worry too much, we all do it!

Happy baking!

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We’ve probably all sang that little ditty at some time in our lives. Hot Cross Buns I know we did when we were kids growing up in Australia.  Bread often plays a major role in holiday and religious observances. The hot cross bun is traditional Lenton bread, its exact origins unknown. Some say that it has pagan origins, the cross representing the moon and its four quarters. Anglo-Saxons ate the sacramental buns in honor of their goddess Eastore. When the Romans arrived in Britain, the clergy tried to stop the use of the sacramental buns, but could not. So they blessed them and gave the cross on the buns a Christian meaning. Traditionally these buns are decorated with dough piped across the top before baking, not a sweet icing as is commonly seen. A thin glaze brushed over the buns provides the added sweetness.

Yield: 30 Rolls

Ingredients:

Dough
10 ounces Golden raisins
10 ounces Dark raisins
3 ounces Candied orange peel
2 lb. 4 oz. Bread flour
4 ounces Shortening
3 1/2 ounces Granulated sugar
10 grams Dough conditioner, optional
2 ounces Dry milk powder
2 3/4 ounces Compressed yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
1 teaspoon Allspice, ground
2 teaspoons Ginger, ground
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon, ground
19 fluid ounces Water

Cross Dough
4 ounces Pastry flour
3/4 ounce Shortening
3 1/2 fluid ounces Milk

6 fluid ounces Bun Glaze

Method:

1.    Place the raisins and candied orange peel in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let soften in the water for 5 minutes. Drain the water and let the fruit condition for 2 to 4 hours before using. Set aside.

2.    Place the flour, shortening, sugar, dough conditioner, if using, dry milk powder, yeast, salt, eggs, vanilla extract and spices in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the water and mix the dough on low speed for 3 minutes until moistened. Stop the machine and scrape the bowl. Add additional flour if necessary to create a soft dough. Mix the dough on medium speed for 6 to 7 minutes until it is soft and pliable.

3.    Add the conditioned fruit and mix the dough on low speed until the fruit is well distributed in the dough. If necessary, dust the dough lightly with more flour to help the fruit incorporate.

4.    Scrape the dough onto a flour-dusted workbench. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes. Deflate the dough and fold it into thirds then let it rest for another 15 minutes.

5.    Divide the dough into 3-1/2-ounce (100-gram) pieces. Round the dough into tight rolls with a smooth top surface. Place the formed rolls, seam side down on a paper-lined half sheet pan. Position them in rows on the tray, 5 rolls by 6 rolls so that the rolls touch when fully proofed.

6.    Proof the rolls with low humidity until doubled in size, approximately 50 minutes.

7.    While the rolls proof, prepare the cross dough. Combine the pastry flour, shortening and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the shortening is well blended and the dough is lump free.

8.    When the rolls have proofed, scoop the cross mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Quickly pipe a cross over the surface of each roll.

9.    Bake at 375°F (190°C) until the rolls are a rich brown color, approximately 15 minutes.

10.    Brush the hot rolls generously with the chilled Bun Glaze, making certain they are well coated so that no dry spots appear when the glaze dries.

Source: On Baking – Labensky et. al.
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Here’s a thought that crossed my spoiled mind this evening. What if, say, like my family in Australia, I can’t just run to the store and grab a box of red velvet cake mix off the shelf. I’ve obviously forgotten that it wasn’t that many years ago that I didn’t even know what a red velvet cake was! Imagine that.

This week I received an email from a fellow cake maker who asked me to share my favourite red velvet cake recipe since she wasn’t able to buy a box mix. Fellow bakers give me mixed reactions when I openly admit to using (insert scary music here)…. red velvet cake out of a box!! Well, I do and I’m not afraid to say it. Why not? It’s bad enough getting covered in red cake mix, which I usually do, without having to mess with red food colouring when measuring it out for a “from scratch” recipe.

Actually, there is a little history to my dread of red…  I used to own a small bakery in Australia and had left some decorating items out on the dining table in my brand new dining room, in my brand new home.  To cut a long story short, my youngest daughter was a climber and the result was red food colouring all over her and the brand new carpet!  We bleached it out and then had to dye the carpet back lovingly with teabags.  So you might now understand my dislike of red food colouring, even if red is my favourite color!

Ok, back to the cake at hand.  I tend to look at box cake mixes as a starting point, and usually tweak them by changing out the oil with apple sauce for instance, and adding my own flavourings, add-ins etc. I’m sure the good people at Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury didn’t just whip them together in five minutes. It is my understanding that they have spent years perfecting their mixes for our convenience. And very often that is the time I have no compunction in reaching for one.

Sure there is nothing quite like a delicately created sponge or genoise but there are times when I just need to get out two dozen cupcakes in a hurry and trust me, 5 year olds very rarely call me out on using a box cake mix over a scratch baked cake. Their beaming little faces covered in frosting are all the proof I need that sometimes, it’s ok.

So let’s get this red velvet cake made!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dutch processed (dark) cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons red gel food coloring
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ( softened)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together cocoa powder, food coloring, and hot water. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture. Sift cake flour and salt together into another bowl. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the cocoa mixture (in 2 parts) to the egg mixture. Beat until incorporated.  Combine vinegar and baking soda and stir until baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to batter and stir until just combined.

Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely.

___________

So, of course I ended up with red food coloring up one arm and on the kitchen rug.  Still not sure how that happened!  These cakes are very light and fluffy due to the sifted cake flour. I topped and filled mine with my favourite crusting cream cheese buttercream and some decorator sugar and toppings I had on hand. I love the color with this recipe. I have made them in the past where they weren’t red enough but it helps to use the dutch processed cocoa powder because it’s darker than regular cocoa.

Don’t forget to try this recipe out making the Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls, they’re delicious! Ok, so now I’m off to make a cuppa and maybe sneak one of these! ~ Colleen

Just in case I get busy in the next day or so!Merry Christmas from Cake Artisan


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As a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher I had received a great coupon from Pepperidge Farms and wanted to make a meal around their pastry.  Easy!  Chicken Pot Pie.  I used my coupon to buy the frozen sheets of pastry and lined two pie plates, made my filling and topped with two puff pastry lids.  Delicious, quick and very affordable!

Ingredients:

1.5 T olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup celery
1 tsp. minced garlic
4T all-purpose flour
1 ea. 10 oz bag  frozen peas and carrots
2 cups chicken stock or strong vegetable broth
2 cups diced chicken

1 package Pepperidge Farms puff pastry
Melted butter as needed

Method:

Using a small stock pot, heat oil and sauté onion and celery until translucent.
Add the diced chicken and cook until done.
Add garlic and sauté two minutes more.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Pour in stock and stir.
Simmer until filling has thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add remaining vegetables and stir until all is cooked thru.

Roll out pie crust and cut it about 1/2 an inch larger than the pie plate  you are using.  Add some of the filling.  I usually fill it almost to the edge.  I do brush the edge of the bottom pie shell with egg wash and then add the top crust, also rolled out to be a bit larger than the plate.  Secure the top crust to the bottom with a fork or by a folding method whichever you are used to.

Bake in pre-heated 400° oven until the crust is nice and golden as you want to make sure the bottom crust is cooking also.  The filling is already cooked so you just have to ensure that it is warmed through especially if you had pre-made it and it was refrigerated.

When you have a nice dark golden colour on your pastry you can remove it and serve it up!

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Print recipe hereAfter many emails and requests on how to do this I am going to do a quick post.  I have used coloured sugars on many cookies and cupcakes and it’s really simple to make your own.  I’ve even made it with a pearlized sheen.  It all depends on the food colouring you choose.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you must use a POWDERED form of food colouring.  Any liquids or gels will just melt the sugar and you’ll have a colourful but sticky mess.

I try to buy a coarsely ground sugar for my decorating sugars just so it gives a little more impact, or you can always use regular white sugar if that’s all you can buy or have on hand.

Colorful Decorating Sugars

To be on the safe side you should probably start off with just a little of the food coloring and see what shade you get after you shake it (with the lid on tightly of course!).  You can then adjust it and make it darker by adding a little more coloring until you get the desired shade you are after.

Store your sugars in a dry space so they don’t clump up from moisture.

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