Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mixers and Cut-Outs and Pans! Oh my!

    I'm so impatient to bake I might just burst into a million pieces.  I just finished looking through a recipe book Steve's dad found laying around the house, and even though it's from 1983 and each recipe has a gazillion inconvienient ingredients, it's beckoning me to my kitchen.  Which is, oh, only about 80 miles away right now.

    But honestly, I'll be back home by Wednesday night, and if anything goes the way I want it to, I'm going to bake everything in the universe.  Evvvverrrrythiiing. 

    Well, okay, that's obviously an exaggeration, but there's a New Years Eve Party looming in the near future... and even though the hosts would probably be happier if I brought a gallon of alcohol, I'm using it as an excuse to make dozens of cookies.  Because not only was that out-of-date cook book tempting me into a baking frenzy, but I also happened to have acquired a lot of nifty stuff for Christmas that I'm just dying to use.  And since I don't have any baked goods to be showing off at the moment, I thought I'd share them with you.

First up is my brand new stand mixer!

 Mom was ready to spend a ton of money on one of these things, but I really didn't want to start out with a super expensive one.  This stand mixer comes with two different sized bowls and dough hook attachments.  I've read mixed reviews about it, but either way, it should hopefully save me some work in the kitchen.  I reeeally hate using a hand mixer 12 minutes straight for buttercream frosting. Oh, and I happened to have broke both of our hand mixers in the last month anyway.

Mom also got me the Wilton Stand Up Doll Cake Pan, the Big Top giant cupcake pan, and the Wilton cake decorating stand!  Yay!

My buddy Janey got me this awesome set of fondant cutters.  (They're all great, but I think the leaves are going to be super handy.)  And Steve's dad got me a book called "1 Dough, 100 Cookies". (The one I'm reading with the Grinch above.)  I don't know about you guys, but to me that sounded like a challenge. So expect a lot of cookie posts as well. :P

Mom even cleared out a whole bottom cabinet for all my pans and such, and I reorganized my baking drawer.  So see?  I need to bake, pronto. It's killing me.

I'll leave you all now with a picture of my lovely kitchen, since Steve thinks you guys need to know where all the baking (or in this case, not-baking) happens. So ta dah!

<33 Rachel

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Gingerbreads" and Sugar Cookies

My mom's never been much of a cook.  I mean, dinner's always good when she does make it, but cooking just isn't something she's ever enjoyed very much.  Because of this, I've probably had more than my fair share of Mac and Cheese and PB&Js over the years.  But for as much as my mother dislikes cooking, she makes up for it in baking.  I didn't even realize (until I started writing this entry) all the countless times I've come home to a full cookie jar or Oreo brownies in the fridge.

Now that it's Christmas time, Mom's gone a bit cookie crazy.  The freezer's jam packed with Thumbprint Cookies, Oreo Balls,  and Chocolate Chips.  And after tonight, some decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men are occupying the fridge as well.

Somewhere within the last week or so of extremely stressful Christmas preparations, I missed out on the actual baking of the two types of cookies.   I'm serious, this year has just about turned me into a Grinch.  Being absolutely broke and trying to Christmas shop had me super worn out a few days ago, and even though I had a good time at  Secret Santa party the other night, the world's just got me down.

But today's been nice. Thank goodness.

Steve and I woke up at 4pm today after arriving home late from the Secret Santa party last night.  Sometimes I really hate sleeping in forever, but today it was just relaxing.  In contrast, the last-minute-shoppers traffic was soo crazy by the mall when I dropped Steve off at his car.   I'm surprised it didn't make me berserk. (Okay, so it didn't a little.)  Maybe I was just happy I wasn't actually shopping in all that craziness, who knows, but I was in a pretty darn good mood.

And not long after getting home again, it was time to decorate cookies! :)

These cookies were more for fun than showmanship, but some of them turned out kind of neat.  I divided up our frosting into four colors, which were "the best looking colors we've ever had" as Mom stated several times. :P  Besides that, it was mostly just splashing on sprinkles (and the occasional raisin.)

The cookies got rather time consuming and the initial thrill of them wore off quickly.  So we beckoned my brother John and two of his buddies to come in for Operation Cookie Overlord, and we finished them up a few minutes later.  (On a side note, Operation Cookie Overlord was nowhere near as epic as it sounds.)

The rest of my night so far has been good as well. I  drew a Christmas present for my dad and watched a rather Christmasy episode of Conan.  And since my sleep schedule is all out of whack (just regular kind ;P)  who knows how late I'll be up.

Anywho, I hope everybody has a super awesome fantabulous Christmas!


<3 Rachel

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Upcoming Cakes

I probably won't have money for all of my Christmas cakes, but I thought I'd make a list of some of the things I want to do.

  1. Santa Claus Cake
  2. My House in Gingerbread Form
  3. Snowman Cake
  4. Christmas Tree Cake
  5. Super Secret Holly Birthday Cake
  6. Ashley's Pink Princess Castle Cake
  7. Anndd... A Neon Pink and Green Ankylosaurus Cake

Wish me financial luck :P



EDIT:  I got bored and made this video.  Youtube will probably disable the sound, but until then, enjoy!

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Squeezy

Whew, I've been neglecting this blog for awhile.  Finals week was awful, so I plan on kicking back and blogging much more often now that winter break is here.  On the downside though, I'm so poor right now that I don't know if I'll be able to buy any of the ingredients for all the super awesome Christmas cakes I had planned...*sigh*

When I last posted, I had mentioned I made several cakes for Thanksgiving.  Well, Cake Number 3 was a lovely pumpkin bundt cake.  I was planning on carving the shape of it myself, but once I come across the idea of using two bundt cakes instead, it was too easy to pass up.  (I was just all caked out at this point.)

Then came my search for the perfect recipe.  I decided on this one from allrecipes.com

* 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
* 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
* 4 eggs
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 cup canned pumpkin
* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
* Whipped cream


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds; beat on medium for 4 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

I only had one bundt pan, so it took double the time to bake the two pumpkin halves.  In the meantime, I started working on the frosting.  I thought a cream cheese buttercream frosting would be amazing, so I took a recipe from MarthaStewart.com.  I dyed the majority of it orange, but dyed some green and brown for the stem and leaves, too.  (You just cover an ice cream sugar cone in brown frosting for the stem, sooo simple. :D )

This frosting did taste great, but I had a few issues with it when it came to covering the cake.
When I had both cakes baked and cooled, I put the two halves together with frosting.  This left a very apparent line across the middle of my cake.  When I began to frost the entire "pumpkin" I unfortunately discovered the frosting was too thin to completely hide the cake (and the line across the middle) beneath it.  I struggled with it for a good 30 minutes before just coating the whole thing and giving up.  I was super late for a friend's birthday party at this point, so I left, planning to get home early before my family Thanksgiving to give the cake another coat and to add the vines and leaves.

Except....that never happened.  In fact, I was super late to Thanksgiving too.  (Being late is kind of a thing with me. Heh.)  And! To top it off, some of the cake was eaten before I ever got to take a picture of it. :(

All and all though, I'm okay with how everything turned out.  It was still an orange pumpkin shaped cake with a nice brown stem.  Some vine detailing would have been nice, but that one layer of orange frosting got a bit thicker over night, so I'll take that instead.  Not to mention, I happened to think it tasted preeeettty darn awesome.

So, if you have the time to fiddle with the frosting for this one, I'd recommend it.  It's super simple, just a bit time consuming.

Toodles for now!

<3 Rachel