Sunday, December 30, 2012

Don's Delicious Apple Pie Turnovers

Melt two tablespoons butter in a large skillet and add two of your favorite apples, peeled, sliced (1/4 " thick), and cored with 1 cup craisins or dried cherries. (You can go half and half also).

Let cook until tender.  Add 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar, 1/8 tsp cloves, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
Stir until apples are well coated.  You can add a bit more butter if needed.
 Cut the apple circles into wedges.  You can do this before hand but they are softer after cooking but you can do it either way.  When you leave the apples round they seem to cook more evenly.

Roll out one sheet of Pastry Puff Dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into four squares.

Place a spoonful of apple mixture in the center of each square.  Beat one egg well and brush egg wash on two edges of the "V" in the square.  Fold the dough over and gently press evenly around the edges. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet covered with either baking paper or pastry baking sheet.  If you used these you don't need to grease the sheet. 

With a fork dipped in flour to keep it from sticking mash down the edges lightly to seal off the dough.   Take a knife and poke a small "vent" hole in the top of each turnover.  With the remaining egg wash brush liberally all the turnovers.  This helps them to become golden brown.  Then sprinkle a small amount of raw or decorating sugar crystals on top of each turnover.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool a bit before serving as the filling is really hot if you try to eat it too soon.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Dinosaur Volcano Cake

This was my Grandson, Sebby's, sixth birthday cake.  I promised him a working volcano.  What I did was put a small can I saved from using green chili's into the middle of a cone cake made from rice crispy treats.  I used a doll dress cake pan for the mold. To make the volcano "erupt" I pour water over a small piece of dry ice that I dropped in the can.  It worked well - smoked all over the cone. Then I put his candles around the top of the crater for him to blow out.
 I used four chocolate cake mixes for the base of the cake.  I covered it with fondant and used butter cream frosting to decorate all the lava, rocks, and grass. I used gum paste to make the leaves of the palm trees.  The trunks are cookie straws. I made a pool of "tar" from melted dark chocolate for the tar pit.
For the plants I molded them from gum paste and veined with a leaf vainer.  Then I glued each leaf together with royal icing to make the plants.  I used a leaf tip to make the "ivy" growing down the side of the cake and up trees.  For the "rocks" I used nut cluster candies.
 To make the dirt look sandy I used gold sprinkles on top of brown butter cream frosting. I also used red and white sprinkles along the red lava.

I was going to sculpt the dinosaurs but then found pretty good plastic ones at Walmart for $1 each so I bought enough for each of the kids to take one home as a party favor.
 This cake was a huge success with the kids.  They really liked the "erupting".  I wanted to use sparklers but didn't have any and couldn't find any in the stores at this time of year. Will have to remember to stock up next July.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bird House Cake

This is by far the most fun cake I have made.  My sister-in-law LOVES birds and for her birthday I knew that I wanted to make a birdhouse cake for her.  I went on google and typed in bird cake images and found a slew of ideas for this project.  Believe me there are many wonderful cake decorators out there with awesome ideas. 
How I chose what to do is simple.  I wanted a clean and detailed cake design that I, a novice, could do.  I know that I am not proficient at clean straight lines so I picked a round design.  I used 8 " round cake pans and made four layers.  I used my small Pyrex bowl for the round top and trimmed the bottom to fit the height I wanted. I also used stabelizers to support the roof and weight.
I made my yellow Black Eyed Susans out of gum paste and used the daisy cutter.  I used petal dust as a finisher.  For the centers I used a mold to create it, covered it with smokey petal dust and bronze sparkle dust.  For the leaves I used a vainer to get the right look on the leaves and then brushed bronze petal dust on the edges.  I wanted the house to have a glittered look but not too overwhelming.  I also used a mold to make the little blue bird on the branch to the left of the door.  The mold I found in Walmart.  It's a Wilton mold with tree branches, flowers, leaves, and bird all on one. 
I made a white cake with a chocolate ganache filling.  White cakes are hard because they are crumbly.  I need to find one that isn't too dense but not so crumbly either.
The red flowers on the cake I made while at my Mom's this past summer.  I was practicing different types of flowers and I liked this trumpet shaped flower so I stored them until I found the right project.  They were the perfect fit for color in this arrangement. 
For the base fondant color of the birdhouse itself I chose an eggshell blue.  My sister's favorite bird color.  She also loves the warm oranges and browns of fall so this worked out perfect for her.

I brushed the smokey petal dust on the bird house first to give it an outdoor worn look.  Then I used the bronze dust over that.  It look perfect.  For the roof I cut shapes out with the heart shaped cutter and brushed them with the same dusts.  Before I brushed the house and the roof tiles I used a roller "cutter" to gently score lines to simulate wood grain.  I was a bit worried at first because the dust didn't go on evenly.  But I realized that it looked more rustic by allowing the dust to "cling" to areas on the fondant.  Look at the back.  It seems to have a swath across it.  It just looked rustic and so I left it.
The two ceramic birds are salt and pepper shakers that I gave to her as her birthday present. As you can see my sister-in-law was VERY please with her cake.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice - The Art of Cookie Making

I thought I would share with you the results of my practicing the Art of Cookie Decorating.  You can go to my blog on "Cookies, Cookies, Cookies" for the links to recipes. 
I learned that you cannot rush this.  A bit slower and deft hand will get the best results. But not too slow.  Also, the consistency of the frosting is key.  You'll just have to practice until you get it the way you want it.
I made these two dresses for my granddaughters.  They loved them.  The one at the top didn't flood well so I decorated over my mistakes.  It turned out pretty cute.  Though I am still striving for perfection around my boarders I am getting better and the cookies look more professional.  These are made for a birthday party tomorrow.  I am also making cupcakes and I will share those when they are done.  They promise to be super fabulous! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies


I watch my Grandchildren several days a week so I am always trying to come up with something that will keep their interest and we can do together.  I want this time with them to be memorable and they will look back on this time together with fondness.  I have done sugar cookies before and felt kind of iffy about them.  They take a long time to do and the mess can get out of control.  They are also temperamental.  Bake too long and they get hard - bake too little and they taste doughy.  I also live at high altitude and it sometimes takes things a bit longer to bake and by then can become overdone.

Hippie Girl!
Sexy Momma, Love the painted toes!

I tried two recipes and both were great.  I followed them exactly and didn't change anything for altitude.  The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe and Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies. Alton Brown's recipe doesn't spread as much as the first one does.  But if you decorate well it doesn't matter. For the icing I put several tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small bowl along with a drop or two of food coloring gel.  I added a few drops of water at a time and stirred throughly to get the icing smooth but thick. (It's easier to add more water than to put to much in at first.) I put the icing in piping bags and tied the ends with rubber bands because the kids squeeze the icing out the wrong end.  I also gave them knives to do some of the big stuff and then we used the piped icing for details.
Davy Do!
Sebby's Creations.  He loves the Christmas tree!

Chef Abby making cookie dough.
When I work with the kids I pre-measure everything into little bowls and let them pour each ingredient in when it is time.  They get to turn on the mixer and scrape the bowl. They love it.  The reason why I pre-measure is because I get distracted as you will read below and I don't want to forget where I am in the recipe.  They love it.

Chef Davy the Taste Tester!

You will notice that some of the cookies got a little bit more brown than others.  Don't forget that I am watching at least three toddlers while trying to get exact baking time and that doesn't always work out when I need to drop everything to change a diaper or get a drink of water or kiss a boo-boo.  I do like having the cookies get very slightly brown around the edges, not much. What I learned was just go for it.  It all turns out in the end and we had a blast doing it together.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sara's Baby Shower Cupcakes

I really had fun doing these cupcakes.  They are a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate pudding for filling and Butter cream Icing. I made my own fondant and colored them with food coloring gel.  I made them pastel colors and used blue and pink because Sara doesn't know what she is having and isn't going to find out.  They apparently want to be surprised.  

I looked online for images of cupcake toppers and found a number of ideas.  This is how they turned out.  I did them the night before so they could get well dried.  I think that next time I will mix half and half gum paste and fondant.  I think they will dry faster and not wither when placed on something moist.  These held up really well, but we have such changes in weather that doing a mix may work better.
I also tried the "Swirl" with two colors this time using pink icing and blue icing.  It work well.  I also practiced making "rose" icing swirls and those were a bit harder to do.  Need to practice that one more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quick Cakes for Friends

I made a couple of quick cakes for friends who called and asked if I would do something for them.  The first is a chocolate mint cake for Pastor Jim and another church member and friend Sara.  I did chocolate mint because Jim's wife said it was his favorite and he was turning 40.  She didn't ask Sara what she liked and I found out later she didn't like mint.  Oh well.  Everyone else did because the cake was devoured in a short amount of time. 

I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Devil's Food cake mix.  I know it's cheating, but when I have to do quick stuff I don't have time to mess with recipes especially at high altitudes.  I used Butter Cream Frosting .  I used heavy whipping cream in the recipe, about a cup, and it came out really light.  I also blended into the frosting melted  Ghirardelli Mint Chocolate Squares. This gave it a minty flavor, but I still added two teaspoons of mint flavoring as well.

For the Chocolate Mint ganache filling I melted Lindt Intense Mint Chocolate with heavy whipping cream to make a soft chocolate filling.  Very minty and decadent chocolate taste! 

The rose was one I had left over from a previous project.  It is gum past as are the leaves.  The candies on the cake are Junior Mint Candies.

The second cake was one I did really last minute for a friend who was having a wedding anniversary.  She was afraid to ask me because it was so late.  It usually takes me several days to make a nice cake so I told her that I probably wouldn't be able to do it.  But after looking around, I found some more box cake mixes and left over red roses from another project plus I had left over frosting ingredients so I made the cake.  I have heart shaped pans and made a two tiered chocolate cake with Butter Cream Frosting.  I had some sprinkles and used them to dress up the cake on the leaves.  I also had sugar pearls and used them for an added touch.  It turned out pretty good for a super fast cake and the "bride" was overwhelmed with her surprise cake.  I got the warmest hug ever and she loved the taste. 

 By the way, I usually brush my cakes with a simple syrup for added moisture.  Simple syrup recipe is 1 cup granulated sugar to 3 cups water.  Cook until the sugar is melted and the liquid is clear.  Let cool.  Us a pastry brush or spray bottle to apply the syrup. I think it's best to wait unto both cake and syrup are completely cool before applying.

I put red food color gel on one side of my pastry bag and then filled with white frosting.  I won't do that again.  It came out to grainy and not good consistancy.  Next time I will us a pink or red frosting painted on the side of the bag and see if that works better to get a two toned look.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I haven't posted since May basically because my mother had a small stroke and I flew out to California where I helped Mom get back on her feet.  We had been planning a vacation for my folks in Colorado for the month of July so I brought them home with me.  Unfortunately my Dad took deathly ill just after getting here and I spent the next several weeks getting him back to good health.  Now that they are both doing quite well I decided to celebrate by making my own birthday cake.

I made the rose while in California. I used gum paste for that and the leaves.  For the little white flowers I used butter cream frosting.  I used a mold for the beading.  I painted the pink beads with pink peril luster dust.  

The cake itself is double layer chocolate with chocolate gnache filling.  Hey, I love chocolate and I wanted decadence.  What can I was my birthday!

I really wanted to make a Topsy Turvy cake.  But I just didn't have the time.  However, that will be my next cake once things get back to normal (whatever that is). 
By the way, thank you to all of you who gave me encouragement while I took care of my folks. Thank you for the calls, prayers, food, and texts.  You are awesome!  I thank God for you. Love to you all!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mother's Day May Basket Cake

I love these flowers.  They were really fun to make.  I enjoyed making this cake for my friend Anna.  It is a triple chocolate decadent cake with chocolate gnash filling.  The recipes for the Marsh Mellow Fondant and Butter Cream Frosting are at 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mother's Day Basket of Flowers Cake

This was a total practice cake.  I wanted to make fondant flowers and so I practiced this week and then made a cake to put them on.  I did different arrangements on each side of the cake.  There are arranging errors that I see so will be careful next time to have a more exact plan.

This is my first try at basket weave.  It was too hot to make it work well though it came out okay. My hands were so hot and I had to keep putting the piping bag in the fridge.  I also wanted the weave to stand up better after putting the flowers on.  I probably should have cooled the whole cake before putting them on.

The flowers were fun to make but I think I can do better with them too. I want my leaves to look more real as well so I guess I will break down and get some veiners. I learned by watching You Tube.  There is much to learn if you are a self taught baker/decorator like me.  Whatever you do JUST HAVE FUN!