Cake, Crafts, DIY, Home

DIY Old-Fashioned Cake Stand

Those of you who know me know that I love anything old-fashioned/vintage/antique. I also happen to love thrifting and crafting, so why not combine them all?
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Yesterday I made a trip to my local thrift store and picked out a few porcelain plates, took ’em home, and just went at it. This is a very easy (and cheap!) project for anyone looking to add some flare to their cake presentation or just their home kitchen in general.

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But before we start, some tips on choosing your items wisely: for the base of the stand, I picked out some short candle holders. Make sure that it is sturdy enough to support both the plate and a cake; it is best to use something that is wide at one end and tapers toward the other. I’ve seen people use shot glasses, even old-fashioned ice cream sundae glasses for this! There are so many options for this, so let your imagination run wild. Many of these things can be easily found at the dollar store as well. This time I chose a base with a gold trim because my plate also has a gold trim to match.

What you’ll need:

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A decorative plate
A base (candle holder, shot glass, ice cream glass, etc)
A ruler
A marker (preferably a light color; I used a blue highlighter)
A hot glue gun

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Step 1: Wash yer dishes!
Make sure that both the base and the plate are free of any dust particles, grime, etc. The glue will stick better to a clean surface. I used a soft sponge and some mild soap to clean between all the groves along the frame of the plate.

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Step 2: Measure your base and your plate.
Find the widest part of the top of your base, and measure its diameter. Then measure the widest part of the bottom of your plate, and measure its diameter.

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Step 3: Mark your measurements.
Since my base measured 4cm and my plate measured 16cm, I marked the plate right at the center (8cm) and marked 2cms on each side of it. This is where you will place your base.

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Step 4: Align your base with your plate.
Make sure that your base lines up with all your markings, and check to see that it is centered.

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Step 5: Glue around the rim of the top of your base.
Place a small ring of hot glue onto the rim of your base. Make sure you do this step quickly, as the glue will set faster on cold surfaces.

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Step 6: Firmly press base onto center of plate.
Hold it down for about 30 seconds, until you are sure the glue has dried. Let the plate sit upside down for a few minutes until the glue is set completely.

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Et voila!
Your cake stand is done, and cute as a button. Now go to a tea party, have some cake, and be creative. I’ve seen people stack these to make a tiered cupcake stand, like so

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Ehh? Ehhhh? Just let your creative juices flow, have fun with it, and happy crafting!

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DIY, Fashion, Sewing

Feeling the Heat

So I don’t know if it’s just me, but I swear 2012 went straight from winter to summer! Not that I don’t like it or anything, it’s just another excuse to wear more dresses, which I definitely don’t have a problem with.

Cream has to be one of my favorite colors of all time; it matches with pretty much any color, while still keeping the look very demure and classy. And, when paired with red, it adds a touch of spice.

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See what I mean? Rosie Huntington-Whiteley knows what I mean!

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The two colors together just make a dreamy, romantic combination, perfect for any summer dress. Last week I made a creamy crepe dress, and it came out really cute, but I thought it needed a little more ooomphh, if ya know what I mean.

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Red maxi skirt to the rescue! Woot! I decided to give it a lil’ hippy-chic feel and make a floor-length skirt to the equation, using the rest of the leftover fabric I had from the last dress I made. I’d say it was a success.

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Without the lace vest.

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The back. Excuse the bra! I also decided to make the straps cross at the back, just to keep things a little more interesting. The fabric for the skirt was soo light and flowy, making it perfect for summahtime and trips to the beach.  Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed and keep craftin’!

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Candy, Caramel, Recipes

Vanilla Butter Caramels

Whenever I cook, I always try to consider what I have on hand so I can avoid going through the hassle of making a trip to the grocery store. I love recipes that use simple household ingredients that you can find in anyone’s pantry, and this happens to be one of them!

Yesterday I made some vanilla butter caramels; they’re both chewy and soft, and almost melt away in your mouth.

So I know that this is candy-making blasphemy, but I didn’t use a candy thermometer. I know, I know, but those of us at KnitterBakerPateaChouxMaker are also risk-takers, and this recipe is simple enough to follow without one, I promise!

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I love the beautiful sheen this caramel has, and the little flecks of vanilla bean just bring it to another level that is incomparable to any flavor a plain extract would have brought. Oh, and they taste pretty damn good too.

Vanilla Butter Caramels

makes about 36 pieces

300 g sugar

170 g corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scraped

80 g water

130 g cream

40 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Line a small sheet pan with a silicon mat or parchment paper sprayed lightly with oil. This recipe is really small, so I used metal bars to make an 11″x 5″ frame to pour the caramel into. Set pan aside.

In a medium-sized pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, vanilla beans and pods, and water, and mix until just combined. When choosing your pot, pick one with tall sides, as the caramel will bubble up a lot later on. Make sure there are no granules of sugar stuck to the sides of the pot.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pot from time to time. Do not stir! Let sugar boil until it reaches a deep golden brown. Immediately turn off heat, then slowly pour in 1/3 of the cream (the caramel will bubble furiously, so be careful to avoid steam burns!). Whisk in the cream until fully incorporated. Pour in another 1/3 of the cream, and whisk again. Then pour in the rest of your cream, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add your butter and whisk until completely emulsified.

Discard your vanilla pods and quickly pour caramel into your frame or sheet pan. Refrigerate caramel until it is fully set, at least 1 hour. Using a clean, hot knife, cut into 36 pieces and wrap in wax or parchment paper. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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Custard, Recipes

Saffron and Honey Pot de Creme

So, I know it’s been a while. Work has been really busy, and we’re all adjusting to our new chef. It’s the very beginning of wedding season, so we’re all looking forward to a very busy couple of months!

But onto our dessert! Yesterday I made saffron and honey pots de creme. Pot de creme literally translates to “pot of cream” or “pot of custard,” and that’s just what it is, a simple, creamy baked custard.

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Les ingrédients. It’s amazing what you can make out of so few elements!

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Steeping the cream with the saffron, vanilla, and honey. This recipe only calls for a pinch of saffron, although my pinch was a little heavy just because the variety I had was very light in flavour.

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Cooking with a waterbath in the oven.

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The finished product.

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The result is a very soft, creamy custard, not unlike flan or creme brulee. The saffron and honey give it a delicate floral flavor, as well as a very light earthy tone.

Saffron and Honey Pot de Creme

Adapted from Food.com

makes 4 servings

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

1 pinch (about 1/4tsp) saffron

4-5 Tablespoons honey (add according to your tastes)

4 large egg yolks

2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat your oven to 300F, and bring a small pot or kettle of water to a boil.

In a small saucepot, combine heavy cream, saffron, honey, and vanilla beans and pod and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn off heat and let steep 5 minutes.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk together on medium-high speed until eggs are very pale and light.

With a fine mesh sieve, strain out saffron and vanilla pod from cream mixture, and with the mixer running, slowly stream hot cream into egg mixture. Let mix until thoroughly combined.

Divide custard between 4 ramekins, then place ramekins in a shallow baking dish. Add enough of your hot water to the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins, as pictured.

Carefully place in oven, bake at 300F for 30-35 minutes or until the centers of the custards jiggle slightly when shaken.

When done baking, remove from oven and let sit until cooled to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, preferably overnight.

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Cake, Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

Vanilla and Mocha Mini Whoopie Pies

I don’t know what it is about whoopie pies that I love so much; possibly the fact that it’s a cake you can hold in your hand without getting frosting everywhere, or just that it’s so fluffy and creamy just the perfect little bite of cake when they’re mini.

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The first time I had a whoopie pie was during a trip to San Diego; they were mini pumpkin whoopies, and they were just so adorable and perfect  for a sweet snack that I knew I had to make some of my own. This recipe uses both buttermilk and cream cheese to keep it fluffy and moist.

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Ready to take home! The filling is an American mocha “buttercream,” also known as 7 minute frosting. It’s ridiculously simple to make, and delightfully creamy and smooth when made correctly. I can honestly say this is one of my favorite recipes that I’ve come up with thus far!

Vanilla Cream Cheese Whoopie Pies

makes 42 mini (1″) sandwiches

120 g butter, room temperature

100 g cream cheese, room temperature

100 g sugar

200 g cake flour

6 g baking powder

2 g salt

190 g buttermilk

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Scrape sides of bowl, then with mixer running, add the egg and mix until just incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In another bowl, combine buttermilk and vanilla extract.

Add 1/3 of flour mixture to batter, mix until combined. Scrape sides of bowl, then add 1/3 of buttermilk mixture. Continue adding ingredients in this manner until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Line 2 large sheet pans with silicon mats or parchment paper, then pipe 1″ circles of batter onto pans, keeping each of them 1″ apart. Bake at 350F, for 8-9 minutes until cakes are risen and spring back when touched in the center. Cakes should  not brown. Let cool completely before removing from pans.

Mocha “Buttercream” Filling

Makes about 5 cups

340 g (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

200 g powdered sugar

30 g cocoa powder

1Tablespoon coffee extract, or VERY strongly brewed coffee

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder until there are no lumps. In a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until very light and airy. Add cocoa sugar mixture, then (slowly) mix until incorporated. Add coffee extract, scrape sides with a rubber spatula, and let mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

Assembly:

Pair cakes together so that they are all fitted with a cake that is the same size. On one cake, pipe a quarter-sized amount of filling, then sandwich with the top piece, and enjoy!

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Cake, Chocolate, Recipes

Banana Cake & Whipped Milk Chocolate

After an incident when I was 7 involving my cousins mixing bananas and Hershey’s syrup, I decided I hated the combination of bananas and chocolate. It was something I didn’t try again for several years, until I started to make pastries for a living, during which I learned to love it (in the right proportions, that is!).

Today I made a mini banana cake with a whipped milk chocolate ganache frosting, aka my Bumblebee Cake because it has yellow and brown stripes when cut into it.

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The cake came out amazingly fluffy and moist, with a good amount of sweetness and banana flavor.

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The milk chocolate ganache came out a little grainier than I would have hoped, but the flavor was definitely good and whipping it up well made it a lot fluffier.

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So, definitely a match made in heaven. Just don’t smother it in Hershey’s syrup!

Mini Banana Cake

Makes 3 (4-inch) cakes or 20 mini cupcakes

70 g butter, soft

110 g sugar

2 medium bananas, very ripe and mashed well

240 g apple juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

200 g cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together sugar, butter, and banana on medium speed until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together apple juice, vanilla extract, and egg, and in another bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of apple juice mixture to butter mixture, and mix until combined. Scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula, then add half of flour mixture to batter, and let mix until combined. Repeat until all ingredients are in batter, then scrape bowl one more time, and let mix until completely smooth with no lumps.

Lightly oil 3 (4-inch) cake pans or line 20 mini cupcake molds with cupcake liners, then divide batter between pans/molds. Bake at 350F for 16-18 minutes for cupcakes or 25-30 minutes for cakes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely in pans before removing.

Whipped Milk Chocolate Ganache

Makes about 4 cups

450 g milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or you can use chips)

250 g heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Measure chocolate in a heatproof bowl, then pour hot heavy cream over chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then whisk mixture together until all chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Refrigerate ganache until cooled to room temperature and slightly firm (30 minutes or so), or if you’re impatient like me, put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes (I would be careful with this method; just make sure it’s not in the freezer too long, otherwise it will firm up too fast and result in lumps!). Put ganache in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, and whip on medium speed until chocolate looks light and airy.

Enjoy!

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