May 28, 2012

Baby Crib Cake...for a baby shower!

This Crib Cake was one of the most special cakes I have seen or made until now :-) 
My friend S had seen my graduation cupcakes on the blog and she loved them so much that she asked me if I could bake a cake for a baby shower that she and her friends were throwing for their good friend and neighbor who is expecting their second baby in June. 
I was more than happy to oblige and the only requirement was that they wanted a quarter sheet cake, the flavor and theme was left to me. S had mentioned that the couple did not know the gender of their to-be-born , so I had to think of a neutral theme. 
The baby shower was on May 12th , I'm so late in posting this I know, but I had a lot of things going on, which you'll see in subsequent read on !!

Trust me, I have never given so much thought into anything I have done until now. The idea for a Crib cake came to my mind one day after I was returning home from work ;-) . 
My main inspiration was from this video on youtube. I literally lost sleep thinking of different ways and methods to get this cake done. :-)
I just couldn't fix on a design for the crib sheet and comforter until the last minute. I knew the theme should be neutral, but I din't want to use Pink-Blue or Yellow-Green combos, very very common. Finally I saw an actual crib sheet design online with Lavendar-Brown and I thought, that would look unqiue and different and I must say, it was just perfect.
Also, this is my first try ever at making a Fondant cake and that too with homemade Marshmallow fondant (recipe below), which tastes absolutely yummm. Ok, so theme was ready , I knew I would use fondant, now all that was left was a killer cake flavor that everyone would remember. 
I found one at my most favorite baking site, a Chocolate Banana cake (recipe here) and I used Chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe here), which was a super duper hit at the baby shower...Hurray!! 

The whole cake decoration was a mathematical situation! My cake size was 9 x13 x 2 inches. I had to take measurements to roll the fondant such that the fondant would be atleast 2 inches more than the cake width, length and height. I used different cutters to give the polka dot design and heart shapes for the bed skirt and the teddy bear on the comforter.
I also threw in some cute little baby feet candy around the Crib Cake :-)
My darling husband offered to help with the crib railings and he measured and drew the beautiful railing shape on 3 sheets of paper and stuck them on our table and placed a parchment sheet over the drawing so that I could trace over it. How sweet :-) The crib railings were made using melted dark cocoa flavored candy melts.
These railings were the most delicate and difficult portion of the cake. They did break twice or thrice, but I glued it back on with more candy melts, Phew!!!

The Donald and Daisy on top were added at the last minute. I wanted to make a teddy bear, but my skills at that were quite limited :-) So i decided maybe a small puppy or teddy bear would be cute and also a nice gift for the couple to remember the cake for years to come, and was I glad I found these 2 cuties at Toys R Us, and the Daisy doll literally matched the color of the cake... :-)

The Crib Cake was a absolute hit at the shower. Everyone, specially the children were all really happy with the cake and it was over within seconds of cutting the cake. Too bad there were no seconds ;-) They loved the taste of the fondant too.
Here are few snaps taken on my mobile from just before and after the cake cutting.

I forgot to take my camera in all the hurry , so here's a snap taken by the father-to-be :-) and isn't it just lovely. 

Homemade Marshmallow Fondant Recipe 
You'll need
Marshamallow - one 10oz bag (you can also use mini marshmallows)
Confectioners or Powdered sugar - 1lb (4cups) + extra if needed
Water - 2 tblsp
Vegetable shortening (optional) - to grease work area and hands [ I did not use this ]

1. In a large microwave safe bowl , add 2tblsp water and the entire pack of marshmallows and heat on High for 1 minute or until marshmallows begin to puff up and melt.
2. Stir the marshmallows until a thick paste is obtained.
3. Add powdered sugar into the bowl and stir until the sugar and marshmallows are somewhat mixed together.
4. Over your kitchen counter spread some powdered sugar and add the marshmallow-sugar mixture here and knead continuously until a smooth dough is obtained. 
(You may use vegetable shortening to grease your kitchen counter and also your hands , so that the dough does not stick to your hands, but I skipped this).
5. Wrap your fondant in cling wrap immediately, coated with some powdered sugar or shortening and keep it aside for sometime. Before using, again knead until soft and use as needed.

[ I used Wilton Icing gels to incorporate color into the fondant wherever required ]
To color the fondant:
1. Take the required amount of fondant and using a toothpick or coffee stirrer add some coloring gel into the fondant and knead well until the desired color has spread across the entire fondant ball.

This recipe for fondant is a keeper and I already made two cakes using it and everyone loves the taste. Try it out.
So what do you think of my Crib Cake? Do let me know. Also come and join me on Facebook , we'll have lots of fun sharing, learning and eating some yummy food and creative cakes ;-)

Hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day weekend!! Enjoy!


May 17, 2012

Chenda Kappa with Ulli-Molakku chamanthi (Boiled Tapioca with Onion-GreenChilli chutney)

Vacations to Kerala were always anticipated with great of the main reasons were the thought of eating some yummy and authentic Kerala style food. Of those our favorite used to be anything made with Kappa (Tapioca).

Tapioca/Cassava/Yuca  is easily grown in most Keralite households and almost everyone enjoys the root in the form of various mouthwatering dishes, KappaPuzhukku (Tapioca cooked and mashed up with a spicy coconut base) , KappaBiriyani (Tapioca cooked with Beef) , Chenda Kappa (Boiled Tapioca) eaten usually with some spicy chutney , to name a few.
Tonight for dinner my husband (who loves his Kerala food) wanted Chenda Kappa with a simple Ulli-Molakku chammanthi. This dish is so easy to prepare and the only time involved is the time taken to boil the tapioca, which is done similar to boiling pasta, where water is brought to a boil and seasoned with salt and then the Tapioca pieces are added and boiled until well cooked. While the kappa cooks, you can make the Onion-GreenChilli chutney mixed with Coconut oil.
The coconut oil in this chutney is very important, as that is what gives this chutney its unique flavor and believe me or not, its totally takes away the spice from the onions and green chillies. (I mean the chutney would be spicy , but not the same effect as directly biting into a green chilly ;-) hope you got my point.)

The best flavor is obtained when we use shallots, but I dint have any and used red onions. I used my mortar-pestel and crushed the onions and green chillies in it , which provides a better flavor.

This recipe is good for 2-3 people.

Chenda Kappa with Ulli-Molakku chamanthi Recipe
You'll need
For Chenda Kappa
Tapioca/Cassava/Yuca - 2 medium sized roots
Boiling water - to boil the taipoca
Salt - to taste
For Ulli-Molakku chamanthi
Shallots - 5-6 (I used quarter of a red onion)
Green Chillies - 2 ( you may add more if you prefer the spice)
Coconut oil - 4-5 tblsp (enough to mix everything together)
Salt - to taste

For Chenda Kappa
1. De-skin the tapioca and wash well. Cut the tapioca into 2 or 3 portions depending on the length of the tapioca, cut these pieces again in half , wash well again.
2. Bring water to boil in a deep bottomed vessel or pan and season with salt and add the tapioca and cook until tapioca is cooked well through, it should get an almost translucent color.
3. Drain the water and serve hot.

For Ulli-Molakku chamanthi
1. Crush the shallots (or red onion) and green chillies using a mortar-pestel until the onion has started to release its juice and the green chillies are thin. (You can also pulse the mix in a grinder , making sure you don't puree it)
2. Add coconut oil and salt and mix everything together. (The coconut oil literally forms the sauce for this chutney) .
3. Serve immediately.
Enjoy this delicious and simple Keralite dish as a evening snack or for dinner. You'll really love it!

This post is special in a way that its the first time I'm posting a dish the same day that I made it ;-) The more I wait for a perfect time to post, the less that seems to happen ;-)
Have a good and tasty day u guys!!!


May 16, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Now that I have shared my Red Velvet Graduation cupcakes here , I should share the recipe for these gorgeous beauties, all high and mighty and RED and oh so yummy! :-)

I have to admit that I must have gone through atleast a dozen different red velvet cake/cupcake recipes before finalizing on the one I used for mine. There were a few factors which was my highest priority:
a). It should be moist even a day or two after baking them
b). I wanted a flavorful cupcake, such that it tasted good with or without frosting
c). The cupcakes shouldn't be very oily such that the cupcake liner is drenched with oil ( though oil helps in retaining moisture)
I was finally able to bake the best Red velvet cupcakes ever! They had a smooth velvety crumb , a slight hint of cocoa and was very moist without your hands smeared with oil :-) My recipe is highly adapted from here, but I'm so glad I tweaked the recipe.
I baked an extra batch a few days before the graduation party (with recipe below) and took them to my office and my colleagues really loved them. They all said it had a professional touch and that it tasted very yummy ;-)
The friend for whom I was making the graduation cupcakes is Vegan, but instead of making them wholly Vegan , she suggested I use Soy products instead and eggs for from a trusted farmer she knew. So from the recipe below, I substituted these ingredients to make her cupcakes:
a. Soy buttermilk ( 1tblsp Lemon juice mixed with 1 cup Soy milk)
b. Soy cream cheese
c. Margarine instead of butter ( but she gave me margarine spread which was salty, so I used regular unsalted butter)
You'll never know the difference, both recipes resulted in beautiful cupcakes and a sweet, creamy and cheesy cream cheese frosting.

The recipe for the red velvet cupcake is really simple, dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another and combine the two, really simple. I have provided detail pics below, taken the night I made these cupcakes and frosted them. Enjoy! :-)

May16: Update -  this recipe provides 24 standard sized cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
You'll need
For the cake:
Cake Flour - 2½ cups
Sugar - 1½ cups
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Cocoa powder - 3 tblsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Large eggs - 2
Vegetable oil  -1½ cups
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Liquid red food coloring - 2 tblsp (1 oz.)
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Distilled white vinegar - 1 tsp

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Cream Cheese - 8 oz. ( 1 pack)
Unsalted Butter, at room temperature - 5 tbsp
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Confectioners’ Sugar, sifted - 2½ cups

For Frosting the cupcakes:
Piping bag or large Ziploc bag - 1
Piping tip (optional) - I used Wilton 1M

For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and  line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.
3. Using a electric hand mixer , combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.
4. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, almost 2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway (at around 9  minutes) through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
7. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. ( If left within the pan for too long the cupcake will continue to cook with the heat of the pan and may become less moist)

Directions for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1. Combine the cream cheese (best if cold and straight out of the fridge) and butter using a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric mixer.  
2. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth  (about 2-3 minutes).  
3. Mix in the vanilla extract.  
4. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. 

Frosting the Cupcakes:  
1. Cut off the ends of your piping bag or a large Ziploc bag just enough to squeeze through your piping tip. The tip should be tightly secured inside this hole. ( I used a large Ziploc bag)
2. Put the piping bag into a large tumbler (this will help to add in the frosting easily).
 3. Scoop the entire prepared frosting into the piping bag using a spatula or spoon and gently press the frosting down into the bag and once you can see the frosting at the tip , twist the bag at the topmost end such that no frosting comes out from the other open end. You may tie that end with a rubber band and squeeze the rubber band down as you frost or simply keep twisting the bag.
 4. Place your arm on the sides on the table (sit down if that's preferable) and with a steady hand , place your left hand near to the tip of the bag and with right hand on the twisted top end and gently squeeze the frosting from the top end of the bag releasing it out from the tip.
5. Keep rotating in concentric circles until you reach the centre, and pull out.
   6. There you go, beautifully frosted cupcake in a nice swirl design.
7. Repeat for each cupcake . Yummy and pretty cupcakes are ready to eat  :-)
Suggestion: If you do not have a piping tip, you can simply place about 2 tblsp of frosting on the cupcake and smooth it around the cupcake using a butter knife or a small spatula.

 Give them a try. You'll love them and its a definite crowd pleaser , beautiful to look at and really good to taste! 

May 1, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes for a Graduation party !

I'm feeling so proud of these Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream cheese frosting which  I baked last weekend. They were made for my friends's friend's Graduation Party .

She had no specific requirements except that I bake a cake for her party. I have seen several graduation themed cupcakes earlier and I suggested to go with individual cupcakes and she was happy about that. Finally after having thought for over a week regarding which flavor would go well, I decided on Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream cheese frosting! Who wouldn't love that? ;-)
And of course, to go along with the theme of the graduation party, I wanted to jazz up the cupcakes a bit by making cute looking graduation hats and diplomas to go on top of the cupcakes, and I must say, they were a bit of hard work , but soooooo much fun!!! ;-)
My neighbour (who is also a good friend of mine), with whom I've shared a few of my cakes, really liked them and she suggested that her friend ask me to bake for her. I must say I'm more than thrilled to have done this for her friend and it has really made me explore the more creative side in me!!
I left the cupcakes in plain white cupcake liners to show out the bright red color and delivered them in small cupcake boxes with some really cute HomeMade stickers stuck on them ;-)

This was definitely a really fun 'project' and will always be my favorite . My friend and her friend (for whom these cupcakes were made) , both mentioned that the cupcakes received a lot of compliments and tasted very flavorful and moist.
I will post in detail the recipe for the Red velvet cakes and Cream cheese frosting in a later post!
Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did....more later!! ;-)

You can check out recipe for the red velvet cupcakes here.

Linking this post to:
1.  Lets Party- Desserts