Beckoning Spring With Baked Goods

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As I was headed to the store today for more butter I stepped outside to thick, puffy SNOWFLAKES!  This has been a long, draining winter and I am so ready for Spring to really be here.  We have had a few teaser days but then snow keeps coming back.  At least it felt like Spring inside my house this weekend.  I had colorful flowers on the table and I made this cake with handmade flower, butterfly and bumblebee decorations.  This is the first time I added this type of detail to a cake and it was so fun to make.  I was making cupcakes too so I made many, many flowers, bees and butterflies.  I still have to practice lots of techniques but I can see where I am improving.  Practice makes perfect.

To make this cake I tried several new things.  First: this is a surprise inside cake.  There are two flavors: White Cake and Lemon Cake.  Using my Cake Pop Maker  I made cake balls with the lemon cake batter that was tinted yellow and sat them in the freezer while I made the white cake batter.

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I intended to make a small personal cake for my boss’s birthday but I wanted to make sure there was enough space for the yellow cake balls inside so I chose 6 inch by 3 inch cake pans for this project.  In each pan I spread a layer of the white cake batter, then placed 4 cake balls and covered them with more white cake batter.  Since I knew I was decorating and giving this cake away I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the results of the inside of the final cake so I baked one extra that I could cut.  Luckily there was just one that was a little messed up coming out of the pan so that’s the one I cut.  Below is a cutaway of that cake.  The final cake is two layers so, hopefully (fingers crossed), you will see two layers of yellow circles throughout the cake and it will look really cute and better than this one.

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I also used both flavors with the cupcakes., putting a layer of each. For the frosting I made a lightly-lemoned buttercream.  There is a hint of lemon without it being overpowering.    The decorations were made using a pre-made colored fondant.

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My youngest son does not care for lemon flavored cake so I let him make a few cupcakes with the white cake batter.  He chose green icing with sprinkles and decorated them himself. 🙂

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With this winter weather I have been doing a lot of baking and a lot of gobbling but no running, and boy is my body feeling the effects.  I have to balance out all of these baked goods!  Come one SPRING!  I rarely run in cold. Haha.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream and Fondant Raspberry Toppers

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With a request for cupcakes I had the opportunity  try out my branding vision for my future business. Red is my absolute favorite color and I have always adored red and white polka dots.  I have red and white polka dot sandals that I can’t wait to wear again when the weather gets warm.  I even have red and white polka dot unmentionables….anyway, I digress.  Since I love this pattern I figured why not incorporate it into my vision.

I am also embracing my childhood nickname.  As a teenager I started to reject the name and tried to insist that everyone call me by my real name.  My family just laughed at me and continued to call me Punkin. I believe there are still some family members who don’t know my real name.   As an adult I actually embrace the nickname.  Family nicknames come from a place of love and it is an honor to be given one.  How can I reject that?  I am my mommy’s Punkin and will always be 🙂  So with the embrace of my nickname comes Punkin’s Pies, Cookies & Cakes!  Short and sweet 🙂

The cupcake request that gave me the opportunity to try out my label and packaging is for Chocolate Cupcakes.  I chose a Raspberry Buttercream and I made Fondant Raspberry toppers.  If you have been following my blog then you may remember a previous post I did that included a raspberry buttercream filling.  That particular buttercream did not come out as expected in texture, although it tasted very good.  Today’s buttercream (different recipe) is much better!  The only thing I will change next time will be to use less food coloring.  I often forget that when I use the gel food colorings the color tends to deepen as it sits.  The pink came out a bit to deep/bright for my liking.  (even more bright than the pictures in this post) It looked very artificial.  The raspberry in the buttercream only gave it a slight but dull pink hue.  With the intention of brightening it up I added pink food color.  Next time I will use less.

So let’s start with the Fondant Toppers!  This is when the kid in me comes out.  It is like playing with playdoh!

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You can create these, or other toppers with fondant, gum paste, or any other edible modeling dough.   If you make your own fondant or purchase white then you can use gel food colors to achieve different colors or you can take the easy route and use pre-colored products like I did this time.

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These are easy to make.  First, working in small batches, roll out your red dough.  Cut into strips and then cut each strip into small, uniform pieces. (I am not good and making them uniform lol).

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Take another piece a bit larger than the others and roll it into a ball.  Then take the smaller balls and start building your berry.  The first row of balls you attach will represent the top of the berry.  So you are building your berry upside down.  Depending on what kind of dough you are using you may want to have a little water handy.  The dough I used attached better if the pieces were slightly wet.

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After building the berry you can decide if you want to leave as is, or attach leaves.  I liked the added color of the leaves.  For this I rolled out the green dough and, using a small star-shaped cookie cutter I cut out stars.  (the star shape that came with my Linzer cookie cutter set was the perfect size).  After you cut the start shape next cut the star in half and separate each point of the star. ( I forgot to take a picture of this step and how I attached the leaves).

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Next, attach each star point to the top of the raspberry using a little water, if necessary.  Using fondant modeling tools or just a toothpick, press the leaf pieces in the middle of the top of the raspberry and , make imprint in it to make it look like a leaf.  Then bend them down a bit to make them look like they are simply laying on top.

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Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:

1 3/4 cup Flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

 1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of strong coffee

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a lager mixer bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Next add them to the flour mixture and beat for about 3 minutes.  Finally add the coffee and stir well.  This batter will be thin and liquidy compared to other cake batters, this normal!

Fill your cupcake liners with about 1/2 cup of batter and bake at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Remove from cupcake pan and let cool on wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter (softened)

4 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)

3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons of raspberry jam (I used an all natural fruit spread with no corn syrup or unnecessary ingredients,  I used heaping spoonfuls :-))

1 tsp of vanilla ( probably used more, I tend to just liberally pour vanilla, I like it a lot)

1 tablespoon of milk

Pink food coloring if desired

Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Next add 1 cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of jam, the vanilla and also.  Blend well and add another cup of powdered sugar and another tablespoon of jam.  Repeat.  And voila! Raspberry Buttercream.  If you are not a fan of cream cheese then you can use 2 sticks of butter and eliminate the cream cheese.  Personally I like the cream cheese version better.  The tartness of the cream cheese lessens the intensity of the sweetness.

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