Sally’s Baking Addiction: March, 2018 Challenge: The Naked Cake 🎂

 

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Have you heard of naked, or semi naked cakes? 🍰 I am going to be very honest, I am not a fan of this style of cake decorating. It drives my crazy to leave the cake unfinished. I don’t find it “chic” or stylish to see the sides of the cake, must be the control freak in me!

But, that is the point of a challenge, is it not? So, I sucked it up and went for it. Aside from the instructions to not frost the sides, we were free to choose any type of cake and frosting combo we desired. I knew I would be in Seattle the week before our son’s 22nd birthday. So, the choice was easy! Ryan loves funfetti cake with vanilla icing, and has a ginormous sweet tooth.

Sally’s funfetti cake recipe is straight forward, and I was happy that it did not come from a box! It is basically a vanilla butter cake with sprinkles, and came together easily.

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Then the sprinkles were folded into the mix

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This batter is quite dense and thick. I decided to split this into two, 6 inch baking rounds, with the intent of splitting each to create four layers. It took awhile longer to bake than the times listed in her recipe, as she called for 9 inch pans.

And yes, I did weigh the batter so I could divide it exactly into the two pans (control freak remember, 😜). I let the cakes cool, wrapped them up to be frosted (or not frosted!) the next day.

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I was happy with the look of the funfetti cakes. They look just like the box mix

I made Sally’s vanilla frosting, just as she directed, and started icing, sort of..

This Was Killing Me!!! How can this be a finished cake 😫

I had a small amount of frosting left over and we were allowed to decorate the top. I dyed that remaining frosting blue, and I had no idea what to do with it. So, I put the cake in the fridge and walked away!

I needed a time out! I was making a birthday dinner for my son, daughter and her boyfriend, where the cake was the dessert. I went to Costco and bought some sandals. I went to Soma and bought two new bras (TMI 😂). Then I went to Safeway for some inspiration for this cake!

Since there is an abundance of Easter candy in every grocery store since February 15th, I bought mini robin’s eggs and mini M&Ms. If I cant frost it, then I am going to cover as much as I can with candy 🍭 🍬

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I felt a little better, but was still thinking that this is the ugliest cake I have ever made!

Ryan chose those sparkler candles for his cake and I was ready to light this sucker on fire 🔥 🔥 🔥

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The funny thing is that the kids loved it!

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I will admit that I was happy with how even all four layers were and the amount of icing was equal in each layer. See? I have symmetry issues 😉

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Even big sis liked it

All in all, it worked out well! I met the challenge, mostly, and Ryan loved his sugar bomb cake 🎂

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I hope April’s challenge will let me finish completely! 😳

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: February, 2018 Challenge: Cake Pops!

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I now have to include the year in the title of my baking challenge posts because I have completed one full cycle of Sally’s monthly tasks! I am kinda proud of that fact. Sally launched her Baking Challenge in February of 2017, and I have managed to complete all 12, so far! It has been tricky to stay on track over the last 12 months as we have travelled, bought a new home and have had some really busy months. But I have persevered, and managed to not gain 10 extra pounds 🙂

This month’s challenge was not too tough as Sally set cake pops as the perfect Valentine’s Day treat for us to create. My plan was to omit the stick and go with cake pop truffles. I felt this would be easier, and slightly more professional, for my hubby and his coworkers to pop into their mouths, as opposed to sitting in a client meeting eating cake on a popsicle stick!

Sally’s chocolate cake and chocolate icing were scrumptious, and so simple!

The first step was to bake the cake, which I did a day ahead. This was cooled and crumbled into a bowl of Sally’s chocolate icing.

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The mixture was rolled into balls and refrigerated overnight.

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At this point you can insert the stick, but I skipped that! I made rather small truffles and had a yield of 65 balls to be dipped into melted chocolate.

I happen to have milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and red chocolate melting discs at my home. Yes, I have too much chocolate on hand at all times!

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I also have way too many candy decorations! So, my daughter came over to make and decorate truffles with me, and make some candy apples for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.

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We made quite the mess, but so worth it!

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We had a blast dipping and decorating these little guys.

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They were also delicious! I was impressed that they were not dry inside-as I have purchased cake pops from bakeries before that required a full glass of water in order to choke them down.

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Another great Sally creation! If you can’t tell, I am a fan of her recipes!

They are all simple, delicious and accessible for any level of baking skills you may possess!

I hope to keep baking with her through 2018!

 

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King Cake for Mardi Gras!

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This is my first King Cake. I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that a King Cake was complicated and took days to make. One of my good friends from culinary school, Jen, makes one every year and has a condo in Phoenix. This is my first February in Tucson, so we decided to get together and make King Cakes at her place.

The recipe is straight forward and the dough comes together quite easily. Here is the problem. Phoenix is 2 hours from Tucson, so we decided I would mix my dough, at my house, and then drive to Phoenix while the dough was rising. Jen would make her dough and then we could stagger the baking times in her oven. Makes sense, right? The dough should take an hour to rise before I needed to move to the filling stage. But the drive is 2 hours, remember?

So, I started at 8am and had the windows down until I hit the freeway. At that point I put the air conditioner on and trained the vents to directly hit the dough container. That worked well for about an hour, and my feet were frozen! At that point I turned off the air and let the dough finish doubling for the last 45 minutes of the drive.

It looked pretty good when I got there.

It had doubled and was ready to be rolled out into a 14in X 18in rectangle. The filling, which is cinnamon, butter and sugar was spread out leaving an inch border.

This is basically just a big cinnamon roll! I rolled it up, length wise into a cylinder, and sealed the edges to make the wreath.

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This is left to rise for another 30 minutes

Then into the oven and 25 minutes later, I had my first King Cake.

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Looks good from this side!

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But over here, it looks like I forgot to put it seam side down on the baking sheet!

 

A simple icing of powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter was whisked up. The important part is getting the colored sugars applied before the icing sets. So, I had to work with a little urgency.

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How cute is Jen’s spatula! She loves those little baking implements!

I tried to apply the three, traditional colors in equal amounts.

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I said I tried to have equal amounts, not that I succeeded in doing so!

While we waited for the icing to set, Jen gave me a taste of the Nutella Babka she made using Sally’s Baking Addiction Recipe.

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Seriously, is this artwork or a quick bread! It was delicious and beautiful!

Now, the time of the big reveal!

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I love the swirl!

 

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And the taste! Of course I had to have mine with a cup of coffee 🙂

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Macarons copy

I was pretty happy with the result and the recipe was really simple. Not sure if it is a traditional King Cake, but I do recommend this recipe for a quick way to partake in the Mardi Gras season.

If you would like to see more creations from my friend, you can find Jen on Instagram.

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, October Challenge, Pumpkin Roll Cake

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This month Sally challenged us to make a pumpkin roll cake. We had a roll cake challenge back in May. At that time I talked about how my roll cakes always crack and I have to cover it up with icing or flowers or some type of decoration.

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This time I thought I would really challenge myself and put a pattern in my pumpkin sponge cake. I saw this, for the first time, on The Great British Baking Show. Since this was a pumpkin sponge I wanted a pumpkin patch pattern but couldn’t find anything I liked or could put on the cake, so I made my own template using stickers from a craft store. Sally recommends a 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan, so I made my template that size. I cut a paper to the same size and measured to find the exact center. I knew I would be rolling the cake from the short side so made my pattern such that it would repeat in that direction. I also knew that the edges would most likely be trimmed away so I left a good sized border along both sides. I used a pencil to draw in, roughly, where the vines would connect the pumpkins.

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I then layer a parchment paper over the template, securing it with tape, so I would be able to pipe the batter onto the parchment.

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Now I needed to mix up a cake batter that would be denser than the pumpkin sponge so that the pattern would not mix into the cake batter and disappear. I used this mixture:

50g butter, room temperature

50g powdered sugar (or icing sugar)

50g egg whites

50g flour, all purpose

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Using a hand mixer, combine the sugar and butter until smooth, then add the egg whites and finally the flour and stir to make a strong paste. You want this pretty thick, you need to be able to pipe it but still want it to hold a firm shape. I needed two colors, orange and leaf green.

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I used gel food colors and a number 1 piping tip to make the pumpkins

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Another portion was colored green, and using a number 3 tip, I piped the vines.

 

This went into the freezer for, at least 30 minutes, while I prepared the Pumpkin sponge cake as per Sally’s recipe. Once the mixture was ready I had to remove the template from the pan and replace the frozen pattern. Then I spread the pumpkin batter, carefully, over the design.

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Sally’s recipe stated that the baking time would be ~17 minutes, but mine was done in 10 minutes. It is important to not over bake the cake or it will crack when it is rolled (I should know, this is my big problem with roll cakes!). I had to flip my cake twice when it was done. The first time I turned the cake out onto a sheet pan covered with powdered sugar and removed the parchment paper-carefully, so the design would stay intact.

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The prepared pan

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The cake after I removed the paper. It worked!

To my surprise the patten was intact! From here I followed Sally’s instructions and flipped the cake onto a tea towel that had been generously sprinkled with more powdered sugar. Now the pattern side was down and I could roll the cake up, while it was still warm, to allow it to cool in the final shape. I was so busy doing all this while the cake was still warm that I did not get a picture of it this time. Here is what the process looked like from May, when I did the last roll cake.

 

The rolled cake needs to chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator before adding the filling.

The cream cheese icing was also from Sally’s recipe. I did make one small change and added 30g of finely chopped crystallized ginger for some extra flavor and texture.

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The cake is unrolled, the filling spread out leaving a 1/2 inch border, then tightly rolled back up

This was the first time that my cake did not crack! And, the pattern is pretty good. There is some powdered sugar still on the cake, but that does disappear after a little time has passed.

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The cake and filling are delicious! Sally has another winner recipe on her hands!

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I had fun working this out and challenging myself a little bit. It is a great cake for Halloween and I am really looking forward to what Sally comes up with next month!

 

 

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, September Challenge: Sunflower cupcakes

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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!

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

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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.

 

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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.

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A whole cookie from the side,

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And from the top view

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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This creates the alternate layering affect shown below.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, April Challenge

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When Sally first posted her April challenge, I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate her idea into an Easter dessert. Usually the holidays are celebrated at my in-laws but this year my husband and I hosted Easter dinner. Our extended family is not real big on desserts in general but they tolerate my incessant need to bake, which I appreciate!

Sally usually presents her followers with a recipe that highlights a specific technique, but this time she focused on the technique itself, while providing a killer frosting formula to go with it! She posted a video on her blog, Sally’sbakingaddiction, that demonstrated the technique of piping simple roses. Her unique twist was to make them two toned and to use a star tip, which makes is much easier than the flowers we made in culinary school. If you have ever used a flower nail and a petal tip, then you know how tough that can be to master. Although, I am tempted to go back and try again now that I have Sally’s amazing vanilla frosting recipe (same link as above).

First I had to choose the cake flavor I wanted to make for our Easter table spread. I wanted something different and appropriate for spring. I searched for a strawberry cake recipe and was quite discouraged. They all seemed to rely on strawberry flavored jello and boxed mixes with artificial flavoring, as well as a lot of food coloring. I finally found “made from scratch strawberries and cream cake” from The Kitchen McCabe. It looked perfect for my needs. The recipe is enough for a four layer, 6 inch cake and 12 cupcakes. This would allow me the opportunity to try out Sally’s technique for roses on both the cupcakes and for decorating the top of the 6 inch cake. The cake on its own is moist and delicious! I had a lot going on during this time period and decided to break up this project over the course of a few days, so I have included my timeline here as well.

I followed this recipe exactly as written, no changes this time! The first step was to make the strawberry puree which I did by placing 2 pounds of strawberries into a food processor and mixing until smooth. I then strained out the seeds and ended up with 2 1/2 cups of puree.

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Only 1 1/2 cups were needed for addition to the dry ingredients, so I saved the extra cup (more on that later!)

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This cake batter smelled amazing!

I panned up two 6″ rounds and 12 paper lined cupcakes and baked as directed. As soon as all the cakes were cooled they were double wrapped in plastic and popped into the freezer. I wasn’t planning on frosting them just yet. The next day I removed the 2 cake layers, defrosted them, leveled the tops and split both to create four layers. I made Sally’s vanilla frosting and decided to add in some of the strawberry puree to the portion of frosting that would be between each layer.

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Sorry about this picture! It was the only one I had to show the layering.

By adding in some of the puree I was able to boost the flavor. Also, the cake is not strawberry colored because I did not add food coloring to the batter. I knew I would be covering the cake with frosting and decided to omit the extra artificial additive. Of course, if you would rather your cake look like it is strawberry flavored, you could add some red or pink gel paste, but the flavor is still present without it. I then applied a crumb coat and put the cake to sleep in the fridge until decorating it the next day.

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I placed the frosted cake onto a gold cake round that I had from another project. This would be the final decorating platform.

Finally, decorating day arrived. At the last minute I decided I wanted to make the cake look like a basket of flowers-actually, a basket of two toned roses! I took some of the vanilla frosting and tinted it red, hoping for a pink color. That did not happen and I had a batch of red frosting, so now I knew that my roses would be red and white! I put that aside and began again and got a lovely shade of pink, yeah! I used a basket cake decorating tip, like this one basket weave tip

I worked my way around the cake.

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I finished the top of the basket with dots from a round tip

Now it was time to pipe some the roses. I was nervous about jumping right to the top of the cake so I did some practice flowers on the cupcakes first. I lined the piping bag with some of the red frosting that I had made, just as Sally directed in her video. But I had some pink left over from the basket portion, so I lined part of the bag with pink as well and then filled the bag with the vanilla frosting (so, three toned roses instead of two). I set to work on the cupcakes. I did not have the exact tip that Sally recommended in her video so I chose an alternate closed star tip171

I was happy with how the frosting was flowing from the tip and how each color combination was different from one another. I then went to the cake top.

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I could have stopped here and been really happy with the results, but flowers need leaves, and I could not help myself! I colored a little more icing and used both a small and large leaf tips to add a few details.

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I placed a green dragee at the base of each leaf. Now I was happy!  My family loved the look and taste of this cake!

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A big thank you to The Kitchen McCabe and Sally’s Baking Addiction for the inspiration and a great holiday dessert!