The Big Pinkish Cake

Hold on to your seats. This is going to be a mess.

My son turned seven last Friday so I decided to take the day off from blogging to focus on him and the behemoth cake I had planned.

The ORIGINAL plan was to make three separate layers that were all the same size, but different colors, stacked together, secured with toothpicks, and frosted like a champ. Ahh!

But alas, this is not how it turned out….at all.

In order to mix colors into the layers, I needed white cake. Not yellow mix and definitely not chocolate. My brain was obviously not working while I was at the store so I figured I would just go with a marble cake. (I don’t know why the cake mix is pictured with icing ingredients. Please just ignore my absent mindedness!)

Actually, since I’m on the subject, let me start by addressing the cake mix.

Yes, I used a cake mix.

No, I’m not the least bit sorry.

I stay so busy with my three exhausting lovely children that making a cake from scratch was just not on my agenda! I did, however, make homemade icing so that stands for something…right?

I got started on the boxed mixes and it was a miracle that I didn’t mix up the batters since they were sitting right next to each other.

Next, it was time to put the batters into pans. First, I went to get the pans out of the cabinet. I reached down and didn’t feel anything (my cabinet is basically on the floor). I thought that was a little odd as they are usually stacked near the door and easy to grab. I crouched and still didn’t feel anything. I finally had to get down onto my knees and look into the cabinet to realize my six round pans had dwindled to three mismatched round pans of different sizes. I was already using a different batter than I planned so I decided to roll with it. I would make it work. The toothpicks would hold it together.

I knew that the pans should be greased and floured, but wondered if I could skip Crisco and flour and only use cooking spray. I called my sister to ask her ( by the way, she went to culinary school-obviously she got ALL the cooking genes) . She paused slightly and said, “You can use cooking spray, but you still have to use flour unless you want the layers to stick.” She was likely thinking “Bless her heart”.

As I sprayed and floured the pans, I was as pouty as a two year old that was given the wrong color sippy cup. I finished quickly and moved on to putting the batters into the pans.

Let me clarify I didn’t know what in the world I was doing. I was just winging it (I swear that’s my motto). I grabbed a ladle out of my Lazy Susan thingy and started alternately scooping the batters into the pans. I knew I wanted the base layer marbled, but the other two layers were toss-ups. I used the middle layer to test my theory that you can have two separate colors in one pan without them mixing and then I used the smallest layer to try to alternate each color back and forth to make rings. It doesn’t work in case you were wondering. I used a butter knife to swirl it around a little and make a cool looking design. I had so much batter left over I was able to make 11 cupcakes as well.

Once I got the batter all divided out, I got the pans into the oven and breathed a sigh of relief. The first part was done!

The cakes came out of the oven and I let them cool for a bit. I decided to make a video of the cakes coming out of the pans.

The video can be seen here:

http://www.facebook.com/journeyofabadchef

Spoiler alert: They came out! I’m still shocked!

Once the cakes were out and cooled, I rummaged around for toothpicks to hold it all together. And, as per usual, we were out. How in the world was I going to keep this thing from sliding into the leaning tower of cake?! Whatever. It just wasn’t my day.

I started mixing the ingredients together for the icing. My son requested a Baymax cake. Baymax is from the children’s movie, Big Hero 6. Here are two pictures I found of him:

The one on the left is Baymax normally and the one on the right is him in a super hero costume or something. It’s not really important. What is important is that my son wanted a cake of him. I found a cake that resembled the helmet with his weird, connect the dot eyes. Perfect. I would ice the cake and draw his face on top with black icing I had on hand.

Did you know red frosting is impossible to achieve? Not just hard to do…no, no, no. Literally I’m pretty sure it’s IMPOSSIBLE. I put a ton of red gel into the icing mix and then I poured in HALF OF A CONTAINER of black as I was trying to achieve the red I was hoping for.

No such luck.

My son got pepto-colored icing. It looked like the cure for upset stomach was on his cake.

I shrugged off the icing. I mean…what can you do? It was close to dinner time so I needed to have the monstrosity done!

I slowly stacked the layers. I put down the bottom layer, iced it, and pushed the next layer on very firmly. Then I chanted “please don’t slide” while dancing around like an idiot. I repeated with the top layer and surprisingly, the layers stayed put. I iced the cake somewhat horribly and proceeded to make a face on top that slightly resembled Baymax, but basically it looked like I had an icing mishap.

 

I called my son in to look at the cake. He had no clue what it was until I told him. I apologized for the pink cake. His sweet response?

“Oh it’s okay, Mommy. I never told you what color I wanted it to be anyway.”

I could squeeze him sometimes.

The cake was actually pretty great tasting and he seemed to have a great birthday even though the cake wasn’t what I envisioned for him. I forgot to ice the cupcakes, but I’m so over the whole cake debacle that I don’t even care.

My daughter asked if I was going to make the cake for his party with his friends. I’ll let you know when I quit laughing long enough to give her a response.

Buttercream Icing

  • 1 lb confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-5 Tbsp milk
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. In a medium-large bowl, pour melted butter over confectioners sugar and mix slightly.
  2. Add vanilla extract and stir.
  3. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until it is creamy and spreadable.
  4. Mix in food coloring if desired and mix well.
  5. Spread over cake or cupcakes and enjoy!

Owl Take a Chance

My oldest child turned 10 this past May and was excited to have a birthday party with her friends. She is very much into the Harry Potter craze and has been reading the books for the past year. I don’t know much about Harry Potter (not my preferred genre), but I know it has an owl in it and she likes owls so I ran with it as the theme.

I found these ADORABLE owl cupcakes on Pinterest. I was under the impression they would be simple. I did not take the original picture that is featured on the site and I’m not sure if I can share it on here, so I’ll refrain. Let’s just say the owl cupcakes are supposed to resemble the picture attached to this post, but cuter. Much, much cuter.

First off, I’m not sure how big the cupcakes were in the original post’s picture, but the “eyes” and such fit much more comfortably than they did in my kitchen. I had the hardest time trying to keep all the items on top of these stupid cupcakes.

Secondly, how did this person separate the Oreo cookies so cleanly? I only wasted 15 sets of these things trying to get one set of eyes. I am just going to assume I got a faulty bag. It’s definitely not user error, right?!

Once I finally got the M&Ms and Oreos placed, I patted myself on the back for this cupcake creation that “SLIGHTLY” resembled an owl. Then, this happened:

What. The. Crap.

That little guy melted faster than a popsicle in an Alabama summer. I was so aggravated at this project. I used almost all of the frosting on only a few of the 24 cupcakes trying to keep everything in place. I ended up scrapping the poor, melting “owl” cupcake and took the successful cupcakes to the party. Unfortunately, only two made the cut.

 

My daughter had one of the owl cupcakes and gave her best friend the other one. The rest of her friends had the non-owl cupcakes and, wouldn’t you know, I didn’t hear a single complaint. My daughter would have been perfectly happy with the plain cupcakes had I decided to forego the owl idea entirely. I think that it is us, the parents, that usually put more pressure on ourselves than necessary for birthday parties. To be honest, children just expect sugar at birthday gatherings. I don’t think the form that it takes is that important to them.

The cupcake mix came from a box and the icing from a plastic tub (because her birthday was smack dab in a crazy time of the school year), but I’ll leave you the directions on how to “fashion” the owls. Good luck!!!

Owl Faces

  • Oreos
  • M&Ms (brown and orange)
  • patience (big heaping loads of it)
  1. Separate the Oreo cookies by gently twisting the two pieces in opposite direction. Separate them according to the ones that come off with frosting and the ones that come apart “clean”.
  2. Take two of the brown M&Ms and put a tiny amount of frosting on the back of each and attach one to one of the frosted Oreos
  3. Take two of the frosted Oreo cookies with M&Ms and place them on the cupcake next to each other.
  4. Cut or snap one of the “clean” Oreo cookie pieces in half and place above the “eyes” at a slight angle to act as the owl’s eyebrows.
  5. Press an orange M&M firmly into the cupcake vertically and centered underneath the two “eyes”.
  6. Use your patience to tweak them however they need to be tweaked to work properly.

Cake in a Mug

Cake.

There is nothing that hits the spot quite like a warm cake straight out of the oven. Unfortunately, I do not have the gift of patience so waiting for a cake is comparable to getting a root canal. You know it’s necessary, but you really just don’t want to do it.

A few years ago my mother-in-law introduced me to these wonderful little things called mug cakes. I don’t quite remember if she made one or she just told me about them, but I was eager to give it a try!

Russ and I started off with chocolate mug cakes. We would wait until the kids went to bed (I’m not sharing chocolate!) and then we would make these awesome little chocolate creations. It was all fine and dandy until I figured out that chocolate was causing my migraines. Well CRAP! What in the world? I tried in vain to find an alternative or a way around it, but chocolate and I are no longer friends. Ho hum…

I found a few recipes for different types of mug cakes, but honestly, they were not good. They were either too dry, too runny, etc. You get the gist. I finally found one that works pretty well since I’ve tweaked it a bit so I figured I would share with those that can’t eat chocolate like myself…or that just prefer an alternative occasionally.

Here’s what you need to get started. Sorry I didn’t bother dividing the ingredients up for the picture. I was having a major sweet craving so I was eager to get the mug cake cooked!

I have to be honest. The recipe calls for a 1/2 tsp of butter. If you look at the side of the butter and see the little markings that tell you the measurements, a 1/2 teaspoon is small. Super small. I had no interest in trying to measure it out and then wait for it to soften so I just used olive oil. I’m pretty sure my “shortcuts” are a big factor in my kitchen issues, but we will ignore that subject for now.

The ingredients for the mug cake can be mixed in a bowl or right in the mug you plan to use. I usually just use the mug to cut down on dishes, but I used to a bowl this time as it gave me a chance to use my much neglected whisk. The first picture is with the ingredients mixed up. The second is when I added sprinkles. These are absolutely optional, but I like them so I tossed them in there. It’s like a party in a mug.

Next, if you mixed the ingredients in a bowl, pour the mixture into a mug. I grossly overestimated the size I would need. This could easily fit into a normal sized mug….

Next, microwave that baby for 90 seconds and you have fresh cake from the microwave. It’s sweet enough to hit the spot, but not so sweet that it is overpowering. You could easily whip up a tiny bit of frosting to go on top, but I had no patience and no powdered sugar so that was not an option. I’ll try to post a chocolate version soon for all you lucky ducks that are able to eat it. I’m sure my husband will be more than willing to help me experiment with the chocolate recipes.

 

Vanilla Mug Cake

4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp butter, softened (or olive oil if you want)
4 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or in the mug.
Microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds (or 90 seconds).

Archives- Who Needs Cake Mix from a Box?

Original post- June 26, 2013

My family holds a birthday supper every month of the year. Our birthday dinners could be for one person or five, but nevertheless, we always have one. Every month, we sign a menu list (with 26 people, you have to be organized). I signed up for cake and cornbread this month. Saturday night I went searching in my pantry for boxed cake mix and came up empty handed. Normally, I would just run to the store and grab some, but it was late and I was not leaving. My husband looked at me funny and said, “Hey, what is your blog about this week?” I looked at him like he was stupid and told him it was about cooking as usual. He suggested I make a cake from scratch so all of my readers could laugh at me. So….here you go:

Russ agreed to help me with the cake. He greased and floured the pans while I measured out all of the ingredients. Well, let me backtrack. We started to make the cake and then realized the butter and eggs had to sit out for 30 minutes. I would have just stuck the butter in the microwave for a few seconds, but I was trying to do this the right way, so I followed instructions! Once the butter and eggs quit holding me up, I mixed the dry ingredients like the recipe instructed. I beat the butter and then added the sugar while my husband watched. (By the way, it kinds of look like scrambled eggs when you mix butter and sugar!) I cracked the eggs, added them to the “scrambled egg” batter and then mixed slowly after each one. For some reason, this thoroughly annoyed Russ that I was taking so long so he started putting them in for me as I kept the mixer going. Then he decided to pour in the flour mixture and the milk alternately for me. I’m pretty sure this is where I messed up.

I didn’t read the part that said to beat on low speed just until combined. Actually, I probably did read it and just chose to ignore it. About halfway through mixing the milk and flour stuff in, Russ asked why I was beating it on medium instead of low. I turned it down after re-reading the recipe. Then, I realized it said “just until combined”. Oopsy. I was really over-mixing it! I was just standing there talking to him and holding the mixer. I wasn’t paying attention to how much it was mixed! I’m not sure if this had a standing on the consistency of the finished cake, but I’m just going to assume it did.

We finally got it poured into the pans and then into the oven. When the cake was done, I took the pans out and put them on a cooling rack. I was supposed to remove the cake from the pans after 10 minutes and let the layers finish cooling off. I went back around 30 minutes later to do this. I didn’t think it would hurt anything to cool off a little longer! I flipped the first pan over after running a thin scraper around the sides of the cake to loosen it a bit. Nothing happened. I flipped it back over, repeated the scraper routine, and tried again. Nothing. That cake was going to come out! I did the scraper trick one more time, flipped it over and beat the bottom of the pan like a mad woman. The cake came out. Sort of. It lost a little of itself to the pan. I was going to work with what I had though. I started on the second pan. The same exact scenario played out. I now had two layers that were kind of deformed, but promising. I decided to leave them out and let them cool completely and finish the cake in the morning.

The next morning I pulled the covering off and my cake stuck to the covering and the plates I had put it on. The layers were a sticky mess. I had no other choice, but to run with it. I stacked them together like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and stuck in several toothpicks. There was a wide gap in the middle where the icing would go. I was not covering the cake in fondant so there was no remedying the mammoth crack. I had to chant: “Pretty OR edible, not both!” Next, I started mixing up butter cream icing. I have made this so many times, I could probably make it in my sleep. I had a brain fart though and couldn’t remember how much vanilla went in. I decided a tablespoon would work and  measured it over the bowl. This resulted in accidentally spilling a little extra into the icing. I shrugged it off and told Russ it wouldn’t be noticeable. I discovered a tablespoon was too much. Way too much! I managed to ice the cake and make it look somewhat presentable.

My family ate the cake without complaining.  I don’t know if they were being nice or were just having sugar cravings and I was the only one to supply a dessert. I ended up getting a piece that had something sour tasting in it. I’m sincerely hoping I was the only one. I think I’ll stick to the box mix, or sign up to bring ice next time!


Happy Cooking!

Yellow Cake

Better Homes & Garden’s Cookbook- 14th edition

3/4 C butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 C sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 C milk

 

  1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temp. for 30 mins. Grease and flour two round pans or one 13 X 9 inch pan; set aside. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking pwdr, and salt; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on mdm to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating until well combined. Beat 2 mins. more. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 20-25 mins for the 9-in pans, 30-35 for 8-in pans, or 25-30 for the 13 X 9 in pan. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 mins. Remove layers from pans; cool thoroughly on racks. Frost with desired frosting.

Archives- Frozen Cookies…Not So Much

Original post- June 14, 2013

Last night my husband pulled a fast one and wanted fast food. I argued about it for a few minutes until he finally admitted he just wanted something unhealthy and didn’t want me to spend time in the kitchen. I would have fought it, but I was half asleep yesterday from lack of sleep the night before so I complied. So, tonight we will be having salad and a homemade pizza. I don’t make my own dough yet, but that is a task I plan on trying in the near future. I’m mainly looking forward to my children taking on the task of spreading the sauce, cheese and pepperoni. It should be interesting considering they cannot sit at the kitchen table without whining about how the other is staring, how the other is being annoying, etc., etc.

I figured I would let y’all in on the fact that I had a major chocolate craving two days ago and decided it was imperative that I make chocolate chip cookies. After I picked up the chocolate chips at Walmart, I got home and put the kids to bed since it was bedtime. I still had several things to do around the house and I finally got around to making the cookies around midnight. (I am a hopeless insomniac.) Russ, my husband (for all my new readers), was somehow still awake and wandered into the kitchen as I was finishing the cookie dough. After having to promise the bowl, the spatula, and the beaters as soon as I was done with them, I finally started to put the cookies on the cookie sheet. It was at that point that I got the fantastic idea to make frozen cookie dough. I put about ten cookies in the oven to bake (I still had a craving to take care of) and I grabbed another cookie sheet and started putting little dough balls in lines. I put them very close together since I was just going to freeze them and then pull them off of the sheet and put them into a bag or a Tupperware container. I ran out of room on the cookie sheet before I ran out of dough so I stuck the cookie sheet in our deep freezer. I realized I didn’t have room to put anything else inside the freezer without it being on top of the dough covered cookie sheet. I grabbed a plate from my cabinet and made the last 10 or so dough balls and put them in the freezer connected to my fridge. I finished up the cookies in the oven, had one to fix my craving, and cleaned a little and headed for bed.

When I got up yesterday morning I immediately remembered I had stuck the dough in the freezer. I had intentions to take the dough off of the cookie sheet and plate before I left the house for the day. Well, the cookies had other plans. This was supposed to be an easy task. Most things I try in the kitchen are supposed to be easy and rarely are so I shouldn’t be surprised, but alas, I always am.  I tried the dough on the sheet first. I grabbed a ball and pulled up and the cookie sheet came with the dough ball. I wiggled the dough ball a little and it came off as the cookie sheet fell on the table. Not only that, but I lost some of the cookie to the pan. Hmm. My thought was, “That one was stubborn. I’m sure it’s just a fluke.” Then it happened again, and again. I was getting a little frustrated at this point and decided to try the dough balls on the plate. Once again, I had the same stickiness problem! The dough was so sticky (and pretty much not completely frozen) that I just tossed them into a container and separated each row of cookie dough balls with a piece of wax paper. I had no idea what else to do so this would have to work. I wonder if it was the type of cookies I made or if it had something to do with me not spraying the pan prior to freezing. Either way, if you have a tip, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies:
The recipe I used was on the back of the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips bag. Although it doesn’t freeze very well, the cookies I baked were fantastic!

Happy Cooking!

*I haven’t decided whether or not to write on the weekend. I will either update tomorrow or wait until Monday.*