Sally’s Baking Addiction, September Challenge: Sunflower cupcakes

IMG_3508

I made sunflower cupcakes for the first time a couple years ago, in culinary school. The are so sweet and adorable! I was excited to see that Sally had chosen these for the September challenge because I had been looking for a reason to make them again. This time I combined the two versions of the recipes that I had to, hopefully, put together the best part of each process.

I started by baking spice cupcakes from Sally’s recipes. After baking and cooling the cupcakes, I made the vanilla frosting recipe that she recommended for the piping of the sunflower pedals and leaves. I colored one small batch leaf green, and the larger portion lemon yellow, using gel colors in order to maintain the overall consistency of the frosting. I always save some white portion of the frosting, just in case I need more of one color later on. My original recipe called for Oreo cookies for the center of the flower and red candies, which could be made into lady bugs. Sally used frosting and chocolate sprinkles to make her center (you can see how she did it and how she piped the flower pedals in the video embedded in the vanilla frosting link from above).

I took a short cut with the lady bugs by purchasing black gel icing. This worked ok, but royal icing is really better. I should have taken the time to make some, next time I will!

IMG_3481

I pulled everything together and loaded up two disposable piping bags, each with a #352 leaf tip.

352

 

 

The first step was to lightly frost the top of the cupcakes to provide a base for the Oreo to sit, and for the pedals to have something to adhere to.

 

IMG_3485

There are two options for the Oreo. You can use a whole cookie which will make a tall sunflower with a fair amount of icing or you can split the cookie to make a shorter flower. I made some of each just for variety.

IMG_3486

A whole cookie from the side,

IMG_3487

And from the top view

IMG_3488

From here I just added some leaves in various spots to fill in the flower. I used the black gel icing to draw a line and spots on the red candies to create the bugs.

IMG_3491

IMG_3489

IMG_3505

IMG_3494

IMG_3495

It appears to be quite the infestation! The finished cupcakes will stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days, according to Sally’s recipe.

IMG_3502

IMG_3504

IMG_3503

IMG_3508

IMG_3506

IMG_3509

IMG_3505

These were really simple to make. Once you get the hang of the piping tip it goes quite fast. Perfect for a fall dessert table, especially for the kids. I have a feeling Sally’s next challenge may have something to do with pumpkin! Cant wait 🙂

Advertisements

Sally’s Baking Addiction, August Challenge: The Checkerboard Cake

IMG_3407

The Seahawks won last week!! Probably because I made this checkerboard cake in their honor, because it’s all about me right? Well, maybe their success is not so much about me, but I did enjoy making this cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction Monthly Challenge. I barely got it finished in time as we have been traveling so much and did not return until August 29th. That left me two, jet lagged days, to complete the challenge before month’s end. I finished baking, photographing and tasting then posted to her Facebook at 2pm on August 31st. I think I was the last one done, fortunately, this project was easy enough for a sleep deprived zombie to bake!

Sally has wonderful recipes for both the vanilla cake and frosting, and a step-by-step video to successfully pull this together. Click on the link above for all the details. Since I missed the first 3 preseason football games this year, I decided to use Seahawk colors for the batter and icing. The first step was to make Sally’s vanilla cake batter, which was very straightforward, and divide into two equal portions. Yes, I used my scale for this! ~26 oz. (1 lb.  10 oz.) of batter into two bowls.

IMG_3381

This part was a little tricky. Matching the neon green was simple as I had that gel color on hand, but dark blue was tougher. I used sky blue and a little black to get the “Seahawk blue” I desired.

 

I still wasn’t sure how the colors would translate after baking, but this was how they looked at this point. Each color had to be split into two 9 inch baking pans, for a total of 4 layers. Yes, I used my scale and ~13 oz. went into each pan. Even with a scale it is hard to get it just right, but I poured the batter as best I could into the greased and floured pans. These baked at 350°F for 25 minutes. Once they were cooled completely, I wrapped them in plastic and stored them in the refrigerator overnight, which for me was from 6pm to 3am (jet lag, remember).

IMG_3385

The next (very early) morning I prepared the vanilla frosting, as per Sally’s instructions. It was time to assemble the checkerboard. Sally recommended two ring cutters, one 6 inch and one 3 inches in diameter. I had the 3 inch already but had to make a paper pattern for the larger one. I traced around a 6 inch plate to create that template.

The cakes are easier to cut when cold, so you don’t have to wait overnight, but do make sure the cake is chilled well ahead of time.

IMG_3386

I was happy with the final color of the baked cakes

I placed the paper template on the darker cake, taking care to center it as best as I could, and cut around the circumference with a sharp knife. Then, flipping the template to avoid color contamination, did the same for the green cake. I then used the 3 inch cutter to remove the center of both layers.

IMG_3387

Now it was just a matter of inserting the cut outs to form an alternate color scheme. This is where it is helpful to have chilled cake in order to manipulate the pieces together.

IMG_3388

Then  just repeat the process for the other two layers. At this point I noticed that my green layers were slightly higher than the dark blue, but oh well!

IMG_3390

Time to frost! I chose my bottom layer to have a darker outside ring, spread on a layer of frosting. The next layer was one of the lime green outside layers, and so on.

IMG_3391

This creates the alternate layering affect shown below.

IMG_3392

The final cake was frosted completely, and I reserved a small amount of the white frosting which was divided and tinted neon green and dark blueish to be use for the final decorations.

IMG_3394

IMG_3393

I kept the finishing touches simple as I was still too groggy to do anything too spectacular. A simple shell border for the bottom, dots around the top, a few mounds of green, blue and stripped icing and a dusting of Seahawk sprinkles completed the cake.

IMG_3395

IMG_3396

IMG_3400

IMG_3403

IMG_3401

IMG_3397

IMG_3404

IMG_3398

IMG_3405

IMG_3407

This was a fun challenge, and most importantly the flavors from Sally’s recipes are wonderful!  It is a really easy technique execute and a fun option for a special occasion cake. Next month is already posted and I am already looking forward to making some cupcakes in September.

GO HAWKS!!

SaveSave