Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cupcakes in a Jar- My Holiday Project Planning

Like many of you, I am sure, several months back I decided to play with fire and check out I had heard much talk about this website, and I say "play with fire" because from what I had heard, I was quite certain this site had the potential to suck even more from my ever dwindling well of free time. Oh, and it has most certainly lived up to that potential!

I mostly use Pinterest to catologue all the wonderful cakes and baked goods I want to make. One of the most intriguing ideas I have seen on the site is for cupcakes in a jar. Putting desserts in jars seems to be a current trend and I am in the process of gathering supplies to hop on board this train of sweet jarred cuteness this Holiday Season. In my mad dash to buy mason jars and adorable tiny and earth-friendly wooden spoons I realized maybe I was putting the cart before the horse. So this post is basically a list of the best links I think the Web has to offer on making and jarring cupcakes. I hope it helps me with my Holiday baking project and I am sharing in case it might help you too!

1) Martha's Buttermilk Cupcakes in a Jar. This recipe does not offer instructions on how to jar the cupcake but I feel it is worth noting that Martha has been putting cupcakes in jars since the Spring of 2009.
2) This post on Glorious Treats has instructions but omits how to put the lid on the jar. Since I have heard stories about the process of boiling the mason jar to seal the lid from my canning friends, this is something I  definitely an area where I want more details. Also, she uses cupcake liners in this recipe whereas I have seen others say they omit them to eliminate the ridges and give the cakes a smooth look in the jars.
3) Cakies has a post on jarred cupcakes and the instructions are fairly descriptive and include information on how to actually bake the cupcake in a jar
4) I like this post because it gives some tips for decorating the jars. To me, especially because these will be Holiday gifts, the decoration of the jar is almost as important as the cake inside it.
5) These instructions show you how to make the cupcakes in 4 ounce jars, instead of the 8 ounce jars, and she also makes an adorable printed label for the top of the jars.
6) These peppermint fudge cupcakes in a jar would be perfect for Christmas gifts! It looks like 4 ounce jars are used here, and I have purchased 8 ounce jars. However, if you add the step of baking the cupcakes in a muffin tin and halve them, and frost between the layers this would work in 8 ounce jars as well.

Good luck to you if you are trying cupcakes in a jar for the first time this Holiday Season, and wish me luck too, please!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake: Custom Cake

This is a custom fondant covered and decorated cake that was requested by a friend of mine for her sweet little girl's second birthday. Selina loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so this was the perfect cake for her.

This is the first time I added elements on wires to a cake. They were fairly easy to work with, although I opted to place the wires in plastic stirrer straws so they would not have direct contact with the cake, and this made them a little more difficult to manipulate.

Here it is from the back.

Here is the full cake with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse figurines.

The cake was inspired by this picture my friend sent me. The flavors are marble cake with chocolate buttercream.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One of the things I like most about baking and caking is the process by which a project "comes together". For me, this process is often a string of random ideas and happy coincidences. I found the inspiration for these Fall themed cupcakes as I was browsing Melissa Diamond's blog at Her turkey cake and Fall cupcakes caught my attention because they were so colorful and fun. As luck would have it- happy coincidence- :), I had some of the Fall leaves sprinkles used to decorate the cupcakes on hand.

When I ran across the Fall tree decoration idea, I was already planning to make some pumpkin cupcakes topped with my favorite cream cheese frosting. I thought these tree decorations would pull the cupcakes together so nicely. After all, a pumpkin flavored cupcake with cream cheese frosting definitely tastes like Fall and with these colorful Autumn trees on top they look like Fall too.

So now I just needed a great pumpkin cupcake recipe. I wanted a recipe that would knock my socks off and wondered who I should turn to: Paula?, Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes? Their recipes looked good, but they incorporated chocolate, and I wanted a traditional pumpkin cupcake recipe. I considered Brown Eyed Baker's recipe, but it called for cake flour, and I have found my trusty King Arthur's All Purpose Flour makes the best cupcakes. I also perused the 130 options on In the end, I went with Martha, I trusted her to do a classic right, and my trust was not misplaced: These cupcakes are scrumptious! The cake is moist and only slightly sweet and the cream cheese frosting adds a perfect extra bit of sweetness.Martha also suggests that you use your favorite cream cheese froting recipe to ice the cupcakes, and I definitely have one of those!

I followed the recipe as is, with only two minor changes. I did not use canned pumpkin. Instead, I roasted a small pie pumpkin in the oven and pureed it in my trusty chopper attachment for the Cuisinart stick blender. Michelle over at Cook Au Vin, loves pumpkin in recipes and uses fresh instead of canned because it is so easy to prepare the fresh pumpkin. I agree that roasting and making the pumpkin into a puree was no big deal, but I will say that you need to have a very good knife before you attempt to cut the pumpkin in half to roast it. I thought our knives were in good shape, but that pie pumpkin let me know I was sadly mistaken. I ended up hacking the top of the pumpkin off with a paring knife, and roasting it upside down. However, I digress. I also did not have ground allspice, so I omitted it.

I will include Martha's pumpkin cupcake recipe below. If you are interested in the Fall tree decorations you can see the tutorial I followed here.

Pumpkin Cupcakes


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.

3.Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pistachio Cake with Honey Buttercream: Classic Cakes

As my own birthday approached this past September I found my head, not unusually, filled with thoughts of cake. I wanted to try something different, but not so outlandish that I would risk ending up with a flavor I didn't dig. I started out thinking, "neopolitan cake." Then I thought, "No, those flavors are too simple, what about spumoni cake?" Lastly, I thought, "The pistachio part of the spumoni cake is probably the best, I wonder if I can find a good pistachio cake recipe??" And so go the thoughts of a cake obsessed lady with a knack for Internet searches.

This time around, the product of my Internet searching that piqued my interest the most was Baked's Pistachio Cake with Honey Buttercream and it resides on Oprah's website. Pistachio infused cake? Fluffy buttercream icing with a hint of honey? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I did not get to make this cake until October. I guess there was a bigger plan for it though, because instead of my 34th birthday cake, it became a gift for my Grandmother's 80th birthday; which is, as far as birthdays go, a much bigger deal!

As it turns out, this pistachio cake was chosen as one of 10 "sweet creations" in celebration of "O" Magazine's tenth birthday. Also, when I posted about making this cake on the KT Kakes Facebook page Josie over at Pink Parsley mentioned she had made this cake for her birthday a while back. She also blogged it and her write up on it is, as usual dead on. Her observations were also similar to my own. I agree that the cake is delicious but the frosting recipe is the real find here. It is not too sweet and comes together so silky, smooth, and is really SO good! So, I won't re-invent the wheel any further, if you want the details on making this cake you can head over to Josie's blog post.

I linked to the recipe above, but for simplicity's sake, I will also paste it in below. The only change I made was to the number and size of pans I used to bake the cake. The recipe is for a traditional layer cake with 3 8 inch layers, but I only had two 8 inch pans. So instead, I went for two tiers of one 2 layered 8 inch cake and one 2 layered 6 inch cake. I don't think it changed the texture at all and it made for a nice looking 80th birthday cake.

Oh, one quick note on the fondant roses: I used this youtube tutorial to make them. I worked with pre-made Satin Ice fondant that was already tinted red and the roses came together SO quickly! It took me about 20 minutes to make the four roses on the top of this cake. As a bonus, it just so happens that red roses are my Grandma's favorite flower.

Baked's Pistachio Cake with Honey Buttercream via

Servings: Serves 12–16


1 1/3 cups shelled pistachio
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs , at room temperature
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
3 large egg whites , at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract