Monday, January 20, 2014

My History of Baking.

First Birthday Cake!
I'm not a baker. I'm an avid cook and baking is done only twice a year in my household: December and January. These two months just happen to be my sons' birthdays. The problem with baking twice a year is I tend to get these wild and crazy visions about what I see in their celebration treats and this is where things get a little hairy.

When I do something, I DO something. I'm laid back 363 days a year - until that birthday celebration starts creeping up and then something incredible happens: I think I can bake. Not only bake, but come up with these grandiose ideas of triple layer, raspberry-infused ridiculousness. I just can't seem to help (or stop) myself.

This reminds me of a story when I first started dating my husband. He has no patience really and hates surprises, but I didn't know that at the time. It was Valentine's Day and I got this crazily dumb idea to bake him a "love" cake. I don't even know what that is and I'm embarrassed to say it now, but that's what I did. It was affectionately  called the Triple Chocolate Celebration Cake and required mousse, ganache, chocolate cake and fruit. Knowing what I know today, I would never have attempted this; it took days to make and when you're trying to surprise someone with this beautiful cake - it's no easy feat to hide mousse and a triple layered cake in the refrigerator. He was annoyed to say the least and by the time Valentine's Day came around, it was incredibly anti-climatic and I almost threw the whole cake in the garbage.
My go-to birthday cake recipe:
Deluxe Devil's Food Cake

We have both moved on from that Valentine's Day, but I'm not so sure I've really learned my lesson.

The cute reindeer cupcakes for my son's first birthday.
They did end up looking like a moose, droopy faces and all.
I especially love torturing my sister and getting her
on board with these birthday treats!
When December and January rolls around, I keep launching my crazy ideas because I become obsessed with my kids having homemade cakes and goodies. I'm not sure a 17-pound prime rib, a crock pot full of sautéed mushrooms and another vat of red-wine au jus (which happened last year) is really appropriate for a kid's first birthday party, but damn it, those reindeer cupcakes are!! 

Happily, I have my go-to 'birthday cake recipe' that I'm willing to share: Deluxe Devil's Food Cake on the Softasilk cake flour box. It's really delicious if I don't mind saying so and I accompany this cake with some fun "theme of the year" cupcakes like Spiderman or reindeer (or moose cupcakes when the marshmallow face starts melting and drooping, but hey, moose are cute, too!)

The start of something wonderful.

Thankfully for me and my baking hardships, we have the BEST Home Cake Decorating Supply store in the area. This is a wanna-be baker's DREAM and I love this crowded, cool store. It has everything you would want or didn't even know you wanted when it comes to baking and the owner gives out free tips, all you need to do is ask! (Who knew how hard red frosting was to NOT make pink when it came to my Spiderman cupcakes last year.) The trick: add your red food coloring to your buttercream frosting and stir, place in refrigerator for a day or two so it brightens up. People make the mistake of adding more and more food coloring to the point it starts tasting bitter. DON'T DO IT!

Whoa, look at me! I'm giving out baking tips now which goes to show all you need is a little creative spirit, patience and the right tools (or people to ask) and us 'non-bakers' will be on our way.

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