time to celebrate bloggie

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I can’t believe it is two years ago that I decided to sit down and write about my attempts to create something special with the help of flour, sugar, eggs, butter and a looooot of fondant. For two years I was trying to get better with each cake. For two years I have been kneading fondant, reading other blogs, collecting tips, trying new things, trashing a couple things, succeeding, and failing. My first attempt to make a two tier cake with a topper was not really appealing – well, that at least is my opinion when I look at it today. I made a teddy bear, some butterflies and covered the cakes with marzipan. Which didn’t work as well as I hoped. The marzipan had many, many cracked spots and looked rather unfinished. A lot of practice followed and I think I am getting better. My best cake so far was the princess castle I made for my niece two years ago. It was my biggest challenge and I am still a little proud ;). Cakes for different occasions waited in line after that. Birthdays for my loved ones, holidays, family reunions. Not all of them had a theme, thus not every cake posted was a one week progress, spent with my head lowered for hours, trying to create 100 pieces of decoration. Many of these cakes are worth sharing for their taste. The decorations are usually simple, but nevertheless somewhat appealing to the eye. I am trying. If it wasn’t for the internet and all those wonderful people, sharing their expertise, I would have been lost and would have never achieved the stage I am at right now. Still very far from perfect, but motivated to learn and get better and in my opinion a huge deal further down the baking road that I have been when the first word hit this blogging site ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Birthday to you, little blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Starting with a bear.. what will it end with? The next cake is in progress.. the first one, you see here:

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The butterfly in the background is also handmade. It is still hanging on the wall, filled with cards and other little things owned by my nieces. As far as I know the bear is also kept somewhere.

Do you happen to have something to celebrate today? If so, I can recommend the cake I made for my sister’s birthday. I showed you the cake in my last post and promised to post the recipe soon. It is a very light blackberry cake with yogurt and cream cheese. Easy to make and absolutely refreshing. I made the cake twice already, so I have some pictures where you can see the cake a little better. Even without the “Olaf” decorations, the cake can look very nice. I made some sponge cake as the base and made the cream without a recipe. It worked quite well, so I am pretty sure there are many variations you can try. I wrote it down for you though. Here is the recipe:

SPONGE CAKE BASIC RECIPE (for approx. โŒ€20-24cm pan):

4 eggs

4 tbsp sugar

optionally 1 package vanilla sugar

4 tbsp flour

1 tsp baking powder

  1. ย beat the egg whites with the sugar and vanilla sugar
  2. ย add the eggย  yolks
  3. ย add the flour and baking powder and quickly mix everything together
  4. ย bake for 25-30 minutes at 180ยฐC

BLUEBERRY CREAM FILLING:

200 ml heavy cream

500 gr cream cheese

125-150 gr plain jogurt

2 Tbsp sugar (you can use a little more if you like it sweeter)

optional 1 package vanilla sugar (I used it the second time. It came out very nice)

1/2 lemon – you can use either only the juice or both juice and zest

4-5 Tbsp San Apart (this is a stabilizer for whipped cream, which also works with the cream I made. It is available in Germany only, as far as I know. If you can’t get your hands on something like this use gelatin. 8-10 leaves should do it)

100 gr white chocolate

blueberries

  1. whip the heavy cream until stiff
  2. set aside
  3. in a huge bowl mix the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon and san apart or gelatin
  4. melt the chocolate
  5. when the chocolate is cooled down, add it to the cheese
  6. with a spoon combine with the whipped cream
  7. rinse the blueberries and either add it to the cream or use the whole berries to spread them onto the cake and cover with the cream. Both works ๐Ÿ™‚

The cream stabilizer makes the mixture very creamy and the chocolate adds some firmness, so it wouldn’t just float from the cake.

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For the cake you see on the pictures I pureed some blueberries and spread it on top of the first layer of the cream. I covered it with a second layer of sponge cake and cream and put the remaining blueberries on top. I also grated some white chocolate and sprinkled it on top. I like to make the decorations according to the ingredients of the cream, that is why I added the white chocolate. If you decide to do something similar and just put the berries on top make sure to serve the cake soon. The berries will bleed and make the cream a little unappealing.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend. Celebrate whatever you can celebrate today and if there is nothing you can think of, celebrate with me and my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers!

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Olaf’s summer

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I have a couple of summer recipes in line, waiting to be shared with you and really don’t know which one to start with. Summer is almost over and I am already missing the smell of fresh berries and my satisfied stomach, full of vitamins and fresh berries. Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries.. all waiting to hop into my mouth. Let’s face it.. this summer was AMAZING! We have been spoiled and I demand… I DEMAND!!!! another summer like this next year. And the year after.. and after. And I won’t accept any other summer until the end of my life. I mean, if summer wants to be summer and be called summer, there are certain terms: Rain is fine.. but if possible only at night. It is necessary for nature. Our flowers and fruits need it and honestly, I love rain at night. It is very soothing. Some chilly days below 30ยฐC are also fine. Some clouds are fine.. but let’s not overdo it. Last but not least, if summer wants to be called summer, the sun has to be present, let’s say, 90% of the days ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe more, if that is manageable ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, yes.. I am living in a dream world. So what? This year got veeeery close to it.

Ok.. so here is my dilemma I am having with this post. Like I said, I have some recipes and pictures waiting. I could show you another recipe with strawberries, one with strawberries and nectarines, another with raspberries and also one with gooseberries. All of them really quick and easy to make and all of them worth sharing. Summer recipes you could easily use with other fruits. However, since I started talking about summer and how much I love it, I think that today I will show you a cake made for my sister. I am reminded of that cake, because the theme I chose for this cake was the movie “Frozen” and its most adorable character “Olaf”. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I watched this movie on my way to the US and enjoyed it so much, that I watched this movie four to five times already. I could watch it again ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you ever watched it? Do you know Olaf?? For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about (which I can’t really imagine, since Olaf and the Frozen characters are everywhere these days), Olaf is one of the main characters. A snowman who is built by the Ice princess, with a very naive and heartwarming character and positive attitude. When one of the other characters mentions summer, Olaf starts daydreaming about swimming in the sea, tanning, flowers, and sun. He LOOOOOVES summer.. I could tell you the rest, but that would just spoil the real feeling of his summer-excitement. Just watch it, if you haven’t yet ๐Ÿ™‚

So, yes.. my sister is not a small kid and yes, she got an Olaf cake. I think this is totally normal! An Olaf in a water barrel enjoying summer ๐Ÿ™‚

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I made a sponge cake with a cream cheese-joghurt-blackberry cream . For the water on top I made blue buttercream . The Olaf is made of gum paste and the barrel is made out of KitKats. It was a pretty small cake, 16cm in diameter I think, but I needed approx. 5 packages of KitKats – just to give you a number of what you might need, if you choose to make one yourself. The brown strings around the barrel are gummy worms and some textile strings to stabilize it.

I will post the recipe of the cake next time.

I hope you like the design. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you can, watch the movie and enjoy the rest of this summer!! ๐Ÿ™‚IMG_2175

school days memories

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I do remember some little things about my first day of school. Actually, I had two first days of school. My family and I moved to Germany when I was about to go to school. On our journey we were sent to different locations, before we got assigned to a temporary home in the town of our choice. That is at least how I remember it. I remember a huge hall, filled with hundreds of people.. It might have been a gym or something. The showers have been outside, along with all the other sanitary arrangements. My parents sent me and my sister to visit my aunt, so we wouldn’t have to stay there for too long. The next stop was a little apartment in a tall building. I remember a balcony, but this is basically all I can recall. My pictures and memories might be a little disguised with a childish perception of surroundings, with pictures and memories, that are not truly mine, but stories told by somebody else. The way I remember it might be peppered with things that did not even happen. I don’t know how much of all this is true. I was seven years old and my comprehension of what was happening was definitely limited. I did not understand. Probably, for me, this was just a huge adventure. Then, on day x, on a warm day (I think it was, but I don’t know), there it was… my first day of school. I was entering the world my siblings were living in and I was about to follow. I received a cornet full of candy and a bag and walked the steps of the big kids (for those of you who don’t know the customs in Germany: on their first day of school kids get a large cornet, usually made of cardboard, filled with candy and little presents. It is a really nice tradition and many kids make their own, designing it just the way they want to. Some are bought and match the design of the school bag. People do all kind of things ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Anyway, I remember I had two and I always thought that this is because just one or two days later we left this little apartment and this school and moved to our final destination, where I experienced my first day of school all over again. I thought that this is when I received my second cornet, but my mom told me now that I received my second from the first school. Usually kids get the cornets from their parents, but at the first school, the kids got one from the school as well. Hmm.. I might stay with my version though, cause I kind of like it more ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was difficult for me in the second school. I didn’t speak German and the only things I was able to say were “Thank you” and “I don’t speak German.” For some reason I remember that my teacher (btw. the best I ever had) told me I had a nice bag. Of course I didn’t really understand, but the words for satchel are very similar in Polish and German, so maybe that’s why I knew what she was saying. Besides, she probably pointed to it and smiled, so I figured she liked it. I learned German, while the other kids were learning math (which I already did in kindergarten in Poland). And I made it ๐Ÿ™‚

And that is what I am thinking, when thinking about my first day of school. It is August and many German kids start school these days. My niece is one of them. Last thursday she had her bag ready and her cornet filled with candy. Her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were invited to spend the day with her. We escorted her to school, attended the welcome ceremony, waited for her, while she was sitting in her classroom for the very first time. When all this was over, we celebrated with presents, a nice lunch, coffee and of course cake ๐Ÿ™‚ And I was the one honored to make it.

You know me and can imagine that I would not make a plain cake, covered with some sprinkles. It had to be something special.. something to remember. On the Saturday before, I started to make the decorations. After sketching a few designs, I decided for a two tier cake with crayons surrounding the bottom layer and a sitting figure on top of the upper layer. The figurine should resemble my niece and her accessories should very much look like the originals. Her favorite color is blue (at the moment), so I made her a blue dress, decorated with little flowers. I wanted to make her sit next to her cornet and eat the candy, so I made a lollipop and molded a full cheek on one side, with a smile going to the same side.

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From a photo I copied her satchel and cornet and tried to come as close to the originals as I could. I made some little candy out of gum paste and let everything dry for a couple of days. In order to support her feet, while she was sitting on the upper cake, I made school books. I covered wafers and sugar tablets with colored fondant and labeled them with the names of school subjects. I made a whole bunch of them, so I could scatter them a little on the cake.

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For the crayons I made long rolls out of cookie dough and when they were still warm I cut and formed them into crayons. After cooling I covered them with white chocolate, which I dyed in different colors (the colors are not very bright when you use white chocolate and normal food color. There are special food colors for chocolate, which I don’t have, so if you want to have bright colors, you might need to consider getting those). I also used the same cookie dough for the blackboard. I wanted to have the blackboard on two stands, so I could put it on top or at least behind the upper cake, but the stands broke when I was trying to attach it to the cake, so I left it without. I only used a rectangular piece of cookie and scraped out the middle, which I filled with melted dark chocolate (I added some black food coloring, to make it real dark). The frame I covered with chocolate fondant.

When all the decorations were ready, I started to prepare the cakes and the fondant. I decided for a marzipan-apricot cake as the bottom layer and a chocolate egg liqueur cake with blackberry-lemon filling on top. The marzipan-apricot cake is a lot of work, because you need to bake each layer separately, but it is good for hot days, not having any creams or anything that would go bad or melt quickly.

This time I also wanted to try the chocolate fondant for two reasons – number one: because I wanted to try it. I heard good and bad things about it and wanted to see for myself. The taste is supposed to be very good (it is!), but the handling is supposed to be difficult.. (hmm.. I am not sure about this one). The production was a little trickier than the normal, white fondant, but I didn’t have a hard time to knead it and it was soft and chewy. It did melt (maybe because it was so hot) very easily and was not so smooth on the cake. So I was very happy with the handling, but not so much with the look.

And this leads us to the second reason, why I wanted this fondant: because I think that colorful things like the crayons, candy, and books look very nice and bright on a dark background. Don’t you agree? Anyhow, unfortunately the fondant came out very bumpy and did not meet my expectations here.

All in all, decorating the cake was easy and fast, having all the decorations prepared and ready. I glued the crayons with edible glue, but secured them with melted chocolate afterwards. Everything else I glued to the cake with the glue.

When the cake is ready to go, there are always two crucial moments waiting, which I am nervous about each and every single time – the transport and the reaction of the one/s the cake is for. The transport almost ended in a disaster this time. I put the cake into a box and left the top open. Because of the heat and the sun, my mom decided to cover the top with a plastic cover and a blanket. It was very unstable, but it was a short drive, so I thought it would be fine. I kept the box on my lap and when we drove around the first corner, the plastic cover with the blanket collapsed. I thought it fell on the figurine and smashed it, but luckily the figurine was dry enough and survived. Only the blackboard got a little smashed, but I was able to fix that pretty fast (due to the heat it was very soft.. in this case it was good ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

My niece and her parents were very happy and excited with the outcome, which is always the best thank you and payment for a baker. The cake was treated like a star and it seemed like it got the most pictures on that day.
I hope you guys like the design as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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to be honored

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It is monday. A rainy, grey monday. I am having my second cup of tea, a blanket, a book.. It is just what I need. No rush, no need to go anywhere, no things that need to be done today ๐Ÿ™‚ I have time to do whatever I want … that is a pure luxurious feeling.

The last days and weeks were busy. I was running around, trying to find an apartment, driving more that 100 km every day in order to get to and from work. There was absolutely no time to sit down and write or to go through my baking books to find the next recipe to try out. I only made some cupcakes and that is it. There are no holidays, no birthdays and no celebrations that would require a cake, so somehow the baking disappeared from my to do list. However, there was one day that needed to be honored and thus required a cake – mother’s day. In Germany mother’s day is always the second sunday in may. So a couple of weeks ago I packed my bags and went to visit my mom. Apart from my clothes, I packed a new baking book with new recipes. We decided for a small cake, because only my sister and her boyfriend would join on that day. The cake that we picked was a cherry cake with an almond pudding filling and roasted almonds at the sides. Well, the roasted almonds burned and whatever was left, did not want to stick to the sides of the pan.. I skipped that part. The filling was too runny and only the cherries were ok. I have to admit that I really did not stick to the recipe. I did not want a gooey texture of the filling, so I skipped the gelatine – bad choice.. it sure needs a little. I did not follow the instructions for the batter, but used my own sponge cake recipe – ok.. that of course worked well. All in all, it was ok, but not outstanding. I need to work on that. That is why I won’t post this one in the recipe sections. If you want to try it, use the sponge cake recipe and for the filling make some almond pudding as instructed on the package and add some whipped cream and a little gelatin. Put some cherries on the first layer of the cake, spread some of the filling on top and repeat with the second layer. Put the third layer of the sponge cake on top and cover with whipped cream. Decorate as your heart desires ๐Ÿ™‚ I made quick marzipan roses and sprinkled some sugar hearts on top of the cake. The lower and upper edges I decorated with small heavy cream flowers, which I added a red nonpareil to. Done ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you like the design. Enjoy your monday and the rest of the week.

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now and forever

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Do you know those days when you get back home from work and you really, really need something sweet?? And there is nothing that can satisfy your taste buds?? No matter what you eat, you find yourself still searching the cabinets and drawers, while chewing the last bite of a granola bar.. Sometimes you will not find whatever your body is craving in your kitchen. Sometimes it needs to be something you simply need to make or bake. Usually that is the worst thing that can happen in those moments… “Baking something? But I need that nooooow and I can’t stare at the oven for 30 minutes until the cake is out.” Guess what? I found something that might help..At least it helped me through moments like these ๐Ÿ˜‰ Like today.. and a few weeks before … and before that… and… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got home from work, paced around the kitchen cabinets and fridge, ate some snacks and still found myself craving for something else. I pulled out my cake pop maker (I didn’t post anything about it for some time..did you realize? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and made one of my favorite little round treats.

After buyingย my cake pop maker I was looking for good recipes and you guys know how much I was trying out stuff.. which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. The usual cake pops take some time to make.. not so much the pops themselves, but more the coating and decorating. I was looking for something fast and easy that could be made for craving tummies… NOW.

I came across a really nice website:ย http://amyshealthybaking.com/ and found the following recipe (which I will copy into this post, but please visit the site.. it’s great and the pictures are really nice too) The donut holes are fast, easy and ooooooooh sooooooooo delicious. You NEED to try that recipe if you have a cake pop maker.. or get one now ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also tried a vegan version, because I did not have an egg at home today. I substituted the egg with a tbsp citric acid and 1 tsp baking soda. Vinegar of course works too.. but I did not have that either ๐Ÿ˜‰

donut holes pops

(http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/09/25/baked-snickerdoodle-donut-holes/)

3/4ย c (94g) flour
3/4 tsp (3g) baking powder
3/4 tsp (3g) ground cinnamon
1/4tsp (1.5g) salt
1 tbsp (14g) butter, melted
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp (5mL) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1mL) butter extract ( I never used that.. just the vanilla, so you can leave it out)
1/4 c + 1/2c (144g) sugar
1/4 c + 3 tbsp (105mL) nonfat milk
  1. Preheat an electric cake pop maker.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ยผ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and extracts.
  4. Stir in ยผ cup of sugar and ยผ cup of milk.
  5. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
  6. When the cake pop maker is hot, fill each cavity all the way full with batter.
  7. Close the lid and bake for 3-4 minutes, or until the tops are lightly firm to the touch.
  8. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining batter.
  9. Combine the remaining ยฝ cup of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour the remaining milk into a separate small bowl. Once cool, dip each donut hole in the milk and shake off the excess. Roll around in the cinnamon sugar until coated. Place back on the wire rack until ready to serve

Like I said, I made the vegan version today. I added some more sugar to the batter – 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup. It happened accidentally.. I added all the sugar at once and then realized it should have been only 1/4 cups. I took some of the sugar out and left approximately 1/2 cups in the bowl. It was not too sweet and I really liked the donut holes. It got a little fruity character because of the citric acid and the sugar made it not too sour. So you might want to go along with adding a little more sugar than suggested to balance the citric acid, if you decide for the vegan version.

I also tried a version without cinnamon.. in case you don’t like cinnamon, you can add vanilla sugar instead in the batter and later for the dipping. It’s delicous as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

Btw. if you ever have problems cleaning your cake pop maker, try the following: Boil some water and fill the cavities. A sponge will suck out the water with the grease and dirt. It always works for me. You can also add some dish liquid to the water. This way you will get rid of all the remains.

Well..I hope that my tummy won’t crave more treats tomorrow, because as embarrassing as it is… almost all of the donut holes are gone. Just a few are left.. so I won’t feel too guilty ๐Ÿ˜‰

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