Sunday, July 14, 2013

Been awhile...

Hello blogger world!  I know I have been MIA.  I guess I have kind of taken a break from baking.  Well I still bake, but I haven't done very many fancy cakes these days.  Caking can be quite stressful and it's a lot of work.  And life kinda gets in the way sometimes ... last year was my first year teaching which consumed me and I've recently become a newly wed.  I still LOVE baking, but I have other interests as well.  I'm not getting rid of this blog, but plan to keep it around as my portfolio.  Maybe soon I will be inspired to make some more grand cakes.  But in the meantime, I have started a personal blog.  Please feel free to check it out and follow me over there:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wedding Cupcake Tier

Ok so it has been awhile once again. My life as a new teacher has kept me busy what can I say. I hope to start baking soon again as I have 2 big cupcake orders this month :) Just easing myself back in.

In the meantime, here is a wedding cake and cupcake tier I made back in September for a friend of mine. I used fresh flowers to garnish each tier of cupcakes. The cake topper is just vanilla cake with a vanilla SMBC that I iced in a rustic way. I was really happy with the way this turned out :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Circus Birthday

Here's another birthday cake I created for a friend's son's 1st birthday.  I was challenged with a circus theme that in the end turned out to be one of my favorite cakes I have done in awhile.  First time I've used rice krispy treats which I used for the top of the circus tent.  I also loved my lil' elephant - I didn't want to part with him ;-)

 Happy Birthday Knox!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday

This weekend I created a cake for a very good friend of mine.  It was her son's first birthday!  When she told me she wanted to do The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, my head was already swirling with ideas.  I have been wanting to do this themed cake for awhile.  Not just because it is so cute, but it has always been a childhood favorite of mine too ;-)  After scouring pinterest and the internet for ideas, I came up with this version.  I love the part when the caterpillar eats all the different foods and used that to design the cake board.  The caterpillar and butterfly were molded with fondant.

This was such a fun cake to make. Definitely one of my top cakes ;-)  Happy 1st Birthday Brayden!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Golf Cake

It's been quite awhile since I've blogged last!  I finally graduated with my masters of arts degree in teaching and have been actively looking for the right teaching job.  I've also been taking advantage of my free time this summer by planning my wedding for next year.  As for baking, I did my first cake of 2012 a few weeks ago for some of our very closest friends.  

In October of 2010 my fiancee and I introduced two of our mutual friends - Charl and Nicole.  They feel in love and got married this past June 24th.  Since I was in the wedding party there was no way for me to do the actual cake for the wedding, so instead I made a groom's cake for the rehearsal dinner. 

Charl loves golf so we decided on a golf theme red velvet cake.  I cheated a bit and bought the golf cart, but personalized it by painting the South African flag on top (that's where he is originally from). 

Charl and Nicole - It was such an honor to be apart of your special day!!  Congrats!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

French Macarons!

Hello blog world! Do you remember me?! I know it's been way too long since I have posted on here. It's been a crazy few months balancing my internship, graduate school, and work. It's left me with no time to bake :( But in addition to my crazy life right now one of the most amazing things happened in November... My boyfriend of 9 years proposed! So I have been kind of wedding planning here and there (but school is most important and I'm trying to focus on that ;-) I'm excited to really get wedding planning when I graduate in May because now I can really gather ideas from all the wedding and event blogs I love to read! hehe...

The fall semester has come to an end and I have a little more time on my hands during my winter "break" (which is less than two weeks! boo).... so I am trying to take advantage of that time. Yesterday was my first day off from the semester so I decided to tackle French Macarons. As you may recall I took a macaron class back in September for my birthday. I finally had time to make them on my own yesterday. I was so nervous! I've heard so many horror stories about macaron making that I researched extensively on the blogs as well before I started my endeavor. I won't bore you with every detail of my macaron experience or with a tutorial (because you can find plenty of them on the blogs out there) but here are a few things I found useful...

1. Prepping is worth it! That includes aging the eggs and weighing ingredients. I did all this the day before.
2. Magic bullet. I love this thing! I do not yet have a good food processor but there is nothing I have done yet that the magic bullet has not been able to handle. I made the almond flour with this amazing kitchen tool. The only thing is you may have to sift the flour a few more additional times.

As for the recipe, I used the recipe they provided us from the class which uses an Italian meringue technique. I made the basic macaron shell recipe - I was too nervous to add extra ingredients for flavor or food coloring that may throw off the recipe so I decided to make the basic recipe for my first time. This way I was also able to make different fillings to try out. Here are the results:

Filling: Grand Mariner dark chocolate ganache
Decor: Painted with diluted gel food coloring

Filling: Mocha swiss meringue buttercream
Decor: Sprinkled cocoa powder before baking

Filling: Dulce de leche swiss meringue buttercream
Decor: sprkinkle Wilton gold stars before baking then brushed
with edible gold shimmer dust after

I can't believe my first time was a success!! I'm glad I took that class back in September... I could only imagine if I tried these before then lol. I'm excited to try all the fun flavor combinations. They are a bit time consuming but worth the meticulous effort. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season... if I don't post before then, have a happy new year too! ~Cara Lee

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

I am dedicating this weekend's post to my mom! It's her birthday Sunday October 23rd. I made her a simple little cake with fun sprinkles - it reminded me of my childhood. It was my mother who instilled my love of baking. Here I am with my little pink mixer... scrambling eggs was what I did best at 4 years old ;-)

Aside from baking, my mom has always been there for me. She is a strong woman I've always looked up to. She made sure my brother and I had all the opportunities we could growing up.
But lately my mom has been going through a tough time this year after losing her job. I never really thought much of the economy these past few years, but when it affects your family you then realize what many other Americans are going through right now. I just want to say I know it can be hard, but I hope you can enjoy your special day. And each day find something that brings you joy! Love you mom & Happy Birthday!! ~Cara

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes

This past weekend's wedding cupcakes included a s'mores cupcake with a toasted marshmallow frosting. I was so excited to use my new creme brulee torch from Bed, Bath and Beyond LOL. I liked them so much I made them for a football party Sunday and I'm going to make them again to bring in to school for my teacher friends this week lol. Here's the recipe I used, but of course you can modify it to your liking.

For the graham cracker crust, you can use pretty much any homemade recipe. I just mash up a pack or two of graham crackers in a food processor (aka my "magic bullet"). Add a few table spoons of butter and sugar til it's slightly moist. Press it in the bottom of each cupcake liner - I use a small glass to press it down evenly.

For the cake, and for my chocolate cake recipes I love to use Martha Stewart's Devil's Food Cake recipe. It makes at least 36 cupcakes and I usually cut the recipe in half. I do a little less than an ice cream scoop full. Pour into each cupcake liner and cook for about 15 minutes (depending on your oven).

After the cupcakes are cooled I top them with Trophy Cupcakes Toasted Marshmallow Frosting. It's basically a meringue frosting that I use the creme brulee torch to "toast". The recipe on the site says it makes enough for 2 dozen... when I think it makes enough for 20 dozen!!! I cut it down and this amount makes really makes a smaller amount good enough for 2 dozen or so.

Marshmallow Frosting
Modified from Trophy Cupcakes/Martha Stewart

3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Dash of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. (I make sure they reach at least 140 degrees F)
  2. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately (it cannot be saved for later use)
  3. Optional: use a creme brulee torch to toast the frosting like a marshmallow :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rona & Greg's Wedding

I had the pleasure of making the cake and cupcake tower for my friend's Rona and Greg's wedding this weekend. It was held at Glen Echo Park here in the DC area. What a fun location! It is so rich with history and has that vintage feel. Little fun fact: Glen Echo was built in 1891 and was the premier amusement parks in the DC area until the late 1960s. The wedding itself was held in the "Bumper Car Pavilion."

The entrance to the park with an old trolly from the 1900s

The Bumper Car Pavilion in the early 1900s
(I love seeing old pictures from past history)

The Bumper Car Pavilion today!

The cake and cupcakes were simple and fun. The cake was a basic yellow cake with amaretto ganache while the cupcakes included red velvet and a toasted s'mores cupcakes (a fun cupcake for the fall weather!).

The wonderful beautiful bride and groom

And last, I made a groom's cupcake with the old school Redskin's "R." I am not a skin's fan, but I'll do what I gotta do for my friends ;-) Congrats to Rona and Greg!! I had such a great time and thank you for letting me be apart of your special day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I'm so behind on my blog these days... grad school has consumed me! Hopefully will find time to post some of the things I have done recently as well as one more upcoming wedding for a friend next week. In the meantime, I found an hour of my morning to bake some tasty yet healthy muffins. I had some very brown bananas that needed to be used. I like banana bread but it takes forever to bake in the bread pan and I usually burn the sides and the middle is not cooked. So I used my large muffin tin to make big muffins instead. The BF couldn't even tell they were whole wheat ;-) This recipe is a keeper!

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins w/ Chocolate Chips and Pecans

Adapted from the blog Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body

Makes 1 loaf (or 9 large muffins)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk (can substitute regular milk which I did)

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large or 4 small bananas -
I was short one banana and I subbed a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin in its place)
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup mini chocolate chips (I put extra of course)

1 cup Chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8×4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray (I used a large muffin tin). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, mix sugars and oil with a whisk or fork until well blended (about 1 minute). Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add banana, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; mix with a whisk or fork just until moist. Fold in mini chocolate chips (and pecans if you want). Don’t over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan or two ice cream scoop fulls per muffin tin. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes (or 30 minutes or so for the large muffin tin) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.