Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Friday, April 30, 2010

The goodness that is Creme Anglaise

I had another cake commissioned for today. It was in a design near and dear to my heart- a U of M graduation cake in the shape of the infamous Block M.

When asked about the cake flavor/frosting flavor I was given "white cake, plain frosting". hm... real adventurous here.

I also had an order for chocolate chip cookies, banana bread and had to prepare for another birthday cake for this weekend. I had to plan out my week and what I would do nightly so I wouldn't be up all night last night. Hey, at least I TRIED. I was still up 'til 1 a.m. this morning.

Anyhow, I whipped up the Swiss Buttercream on Wednesday night. I made a double batch so I had 12 egg yolks with no purpose. I asked my new friend Lisa (@thebutcherbaker- GO CHECK THIS HOT MAMA OUT NOW! she's the most recent addition to @brutalsnack... more on Lisa later. I <3 her) about what to do w/ all of these yolks. She gave me three ideas: ice cream, creme anglaise for buttercream or a really fatty omelet. hmmm... Well, I don't have an ice cream machine and don't know that I want to take the time to figure out how to make ice cream at this point... an egg yolk omelet? while it sounds delicious I don't think my heart will allow me to eat it... Creme Anglaise? What is this "Creme Anglaise"? Sounds fancy...

I started to google. It's this custard type cream/sauce that you can use in buttercream, for a different flavor profile. It uses 5-8 yolks, depending on the recipe. Yup, it's going down.

Let me preface this that I was scared to make this. It involves tempering eggs. As you know- I am deathly afraid of tempering eggs. I've scrambled PLENTY of eggs in my time due to my impatience. I had a boat load of yolks though and so what if I scrambled some, I could keep trying.

I set to work. The recipe I used was very explicit about the utensils you had to use to make this recipe (stainless steel bowls, wooden spoon, whisk, ice bath, sauce pan..) Not anything crazy, but I thought- if they made the effort to clearly say STAINLESS STEEL BOWL, I better get everything out and ready and be a good little chef and do my mise en place.

Here is some:

Here is my half and half coming to 'just under a boil'. I think just under a boil means it starts to steam and you see little bubble forming along the edges of the liquid. Basically, you want to scald the liquid.

While the half and half is heating up, whip the egg yolks and sugar:

OK- now comes the 'scary' portion. I had to really focus on this part so I didn't take any pictures. But this is what happened: The half and half got to the scalded point. I walked it over to the Kitchen-Aid and started to slooooooooowly pour down the side of the bowl into the egg and sugar mixture. By "slooooooowly" I mean really really slowly and only a little bit at a time.
It appeared I didn't scramble the eggs! shriek of joy! Then, I poured the mixture back into the sauce pan and went back to the stove top and put it on low heat:

Then, I stood there and stirred with a wooden spoon for about 25 minutes. Seriously- I was irritated. I had the banana bread in the oven w/ the timer on, so I could see exacly how long this was taking me. I was to be stirring until the mixture coated the back of the wooden spoon. It took a long time and in typical Sandy B. fashion I got antsy and turned the heat up.

DUMB, DUMB and dumb. Guess what happened? The eggs started to scramble. (duh). Know how I knew? Because I COULD SMELL THE SCRAMBLED EGGS. I quickly took the pan off the heat and ran to the fine mesh strainer sitting in the ice bath and dumped the mixture out and pushed through the strainer. Caught in the nick of time... here is what the ice bath set up looked like (my savior):

and, I forgot to take pictures from here on out because the banana bread was done, I had to re-whip the buttercream and start carving the cake. Well- let me tell you what happened. I put the ice bath and creme anglaise in the fridge for about an hour. It cooled off and then I added it to my Swiss Buttercream and whipped the two together.
Then, I tasted it, then I died and then I swore I would do this for all of my cake frostings from now on, just adding different extracts to add different flavors. HOT DAMN was it good. So good in fact that I even let Mr. Papers try it out. He isn't too good with the compliments in regards to my baking, so when he agreed it was "best ever", I knew it was good... (I would like to note that he isn't this picky in regards to 'regular' food- he has been known to eat things OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN because it was 'still good'. gross)

Anyhow, make some Creme Anglaise, or find a cake/cuppie that uses Creme Anglaise. You won't be sorry and you won't ever want frosting any other way. Trust me.
So- here is what it was all for. My Block M graduation cake:

I'm pretty stingy with the pictures on this one mostly because I consider it a "fail". I should KNOW dude! Whenever I think a cake is going to be "easy" it ends up being way hard. It wasn't until I was rolling out the fondant for it that I was like, hm... It might be somewhat difficult to get into the crevices in the middle. hm... Yeah, BIG HMMMM on that one. Idiot. It isn't pretty, I'm not proud and it was a huge learning experience. I tried to do anything and everything to make it look presentable. This is what I came up with. I know it tastes really good because I carved so much out of the sheet cake and tasted it. But, it doesn't look that great.
I need a lesson on how to lay fondant on letters. Help, please... anyone?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ever been dumped?

In light of my recent 'dumping' experience, I thought it would be fitting to come up with a treat that reflected all the wonderful and awful things about going through a break up. :)

I was playing around on Pioneer Woman's website- salivating and laughing per usual and came upon this recipe.

You know me, the easier and more bad for you, the more likely I am to try it out.
I present you with the "DUMP CAKE":

Here is what you need- one can of cherry pie filling, one can of crushed pineapples, one box cake mix (white or yellow, you choose) and 1.5 sticks of butter (a little over 1/2 a pound, muah hahahahahah)

First, get a Pyrex dish (standard 9x13 or two small square ones) and get a can opener.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
And now the easy stuff... seriously- this is so easy you MUST make it tonight.

Open the can of cherry pie filling:

Marvel at the beautiful-ness of this cherry color. Not a color found in the cherry's natural state. I said this was bad and wonderful like a breakup, right? Just think about the wonderful color now... And dump the cherries into the dish

Next open the pineapples and dump into the dish

Mix the two together and spread out on the bottom of the dish:

Then, open the cake mix, dump it out and spread evenly on top of the fruit mixture:

Here is what it looks like from the side... pretty

Slice up the butter into little pats and dump/spread evenly on top of the cake mix

Pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes - hour, and watch it bubble so nicely... Then when the top gets a nice golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up, pull it out
and inhale the wonderfulness that you just made out of those seemingly awful cans of fruit

Scoop some out onto a dish and enjoy!!! It is like a cross between a cobbler and a cake and oh so good.

TIPS: you can make this EVEN BETTER by scooping up some vanilla ice cream on top, making some fresh whipped cream...actually if you want to go MORE awful, use some Redi-Whip! It adds to the easiness of the recipe. OK, you know what, just use Redi Whip or Cool Whip. Don't make fresh whipped cream.
Let's just go all out with the processed food idea on this one. In fact, USE MARGERINE instead of butter. awesome....

see, breaking up doesn't have to be hard to do.

The Dump Cake... Make it TONIGHT and people will love you. And you can pretend like it took alllll day.

Blogger Note: I made this cake last night and popped it into the oven while I went to the gym for a run. I tasted it when I got home and consumed the calories I burned off. So is life... Plan was to bring it into work for the co-workers as they haven't had treats this week (aside from chocolate chip cookies). But I had to see Dr. Ryan in the a.m. and figured the cake wouldn't be that great when it was cold. So I told Mr. Papers to take it into work for his peeps after I reheated it this a.m. in the oven.. I'm smart and caring...and nice, and all that good stuff...

Karma is so sweet. Mr. Papers scooped himself a piece of the cake and took a bite and much to his dismay, he bit into a cherry with A PIT still inside. He broke his tooth.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Landon!!!

For a little over a year, I was the only girl in my coterie of friends in the Midwest that had a baby. No friends to have play dates with, and definitely no baby birthday parties. But the past 2 years, it was baby palooza up in this mug...
This weekend, we had Landon's first birthday party. My great friend asked me to make the cake, and let me know the theme was to be sports related as he really really loves playing with all things round.
She decided on cupcakes and a smash cake so I got to work as the kids got to giddly think on this elusive thing called 'party' we were going to attend after naps.

Let me tell you something- my kids are shy. Like, run from the camera, hold onto my legs for dear life, can't be pried from my arms, wail when I leave their sight. I mean, they blush if you look at them.


Yeah, right.
My kids are the EXACT opposite of that. #1 hasn't met a stranger he DOESN'T like. He frequently tells new friends that he loves them within 5 minutes of being introduced. Moochie had a few months where she was a strict mama's girl, but man ALIVE did she come out of her shell lately and on Saturday, the girl came wearing her party pants and got down to business. She flirted and laughed, walked on tip toe and sashayed about in her party dress, cooing her favorite word to anyone who would listen. "shooooes" she would proudly proclaim, lifting her foot for them to bestow the inevitable "awwww, cute", to which she would reply "ank oooo". How could you not love this child. She's my favorite girl.

ok- the real deal reason for this post is this cake, here it is:

Since I was doing cuppies and not a stacked cake, I wanted to do something creative. I have quite a few inspiration books on cupcakes and I hoped there would be something sports related or something to get my creative juices flowing. In the book "Hello, Cupcake" there was a picture of a stacked cake of cupcakes. It didn't use a cupcake tower (thank GOD because I don't have one, yet) and it was colorful (another request from my friend) and I thought I could use my cupcake toppers too.

First, frosted the cuppies in either vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream, rolled the edges in sprinkles and then got to stacking.

I popped the cupcake toppers in all the outside cuppies and added a single swizzle candle on top.

And that's his smash cake. It was 3 layers of banana cake with chocolate buttercream. I was about to go all out on this cake, but I was like- no one is going to even be LOOKING at this cake they will be too focused on this cute baby eating it with his hands. So I went with simple and it was my FIRST time frosting a cake without using the Swiss Buttercream! I think it went well.
Don't know if Landon liked how it tasted, but he seemed to enjoy it. ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Butterflies, and some Monkey-ing around.

I've been wanting to do a butterfly cake for a while now. I found a beautiful wedding cake that was 4 tiers and had butterflies cascading down the front of it, on the diagonal... Well, look at what I did- this is a weak attempt at the beauty that I was inspired by:

This was (obviously) a birthday cake... Again, didn't have much direction on what it was to look like... wait- I was told she liked "pretty things, like flowers"... SO at the last minute I decided to throw on two fondant flowers (can you spy them on top?) Mostly because I wanted to practice making them, and I would have done MORE, but the kids were getting antsy.

I should have made the butterflies a few days in advance to let them harden. Yeah, but I didn't start working on the cake until Wednesday late night. SO- I had to come up with a way to get them to dry out quicker. I baked them. I set them on skewers and put them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. They did get hard, but I don't know if that's 'kosher'. I figured, you put clay into a hot kiln to dry the pots out... why not fondant?? It was either that or freezing it, but I didn't have room in the freezer.

I broke a few while putting them on the cake but I got really excited to make a real deal butterfly cake at another time. To shape their wings in various stages of flight, to make a rainbow of them... Doesn't that sound pretty???? Just agree with me, make me feel better.

OK- and Monkey bread...mm. mm... MMMMMM!
In following with my addiction to making food that is nothing but BAD for you, I had to make some Monkey Bread.

I thought this was something new and different- I mean, I had never heard of it before ir seen it before really... I thought people would be like, "how do we eat this? slice it?" and I would wink and say "NO, you pull it apart, one little nugget at a time, see?" and I would pull apart a little nugget and the caramelized sugar would ooze over the little piece I pulled off, and pop it in my mouth with a smile.
Not so much. It didn't happen like that.. What really happened was that my co-workers were like, "OH YEAH, Monkey Bread is awesome, I've had it here and here and my neighbor makes it all the time, and did you know you could add this..." and on, and on, and ON.
so much for being original.

It was still fun, easy, used lots of butter and tasted delightful. Check me out:

here is the POUND of butter melting with the cup of brown sugar (I love saying a pound of butter- it sounds worse than 2 sticks of butter. Sucka's!)

Here is the refrigerated biscuits I used. You can use 3 or 4 cans (each have 10 biscuits) and cut them into 4ths.

Then you dump them into a giant ziploc bag of sugar and cinnamon

and shake like mad. If you have kiddies- give the zipped up bag to your kids and play catch or something. The more shaking the better. Get every little nugget completely coated in sugar goodness

THEN you dump it into a BUNDT PAN! Yeah, another use for the bundt pan!!! This is better than just a cake pan because it offers more edges for caramelized sugar and little bits of crunch

Then, you take that melted POUND of butter and brown sugar and POUR over the top of the nuggets...

Yes, you will be eating this shortly...

Throw into a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes until the top is a nice golden brown and no longer swimming in the POUND of butter.
Let it cool in the pan for another 15 minutes or so, then turn upside down onto a serving platter:

This is the Bundt Pan after I dumped. I didn't grease or flour this pan (shocking, I know) but because it had so much butter, it pretty much just slid out of the pan, easy peasy.

TRUTH: I baked this the night before I brought it into work. It was still pretty good in the a.m. and I imagine it would have been BEST if it was still warm and melty. I went ahead and made it again this a.m. for the co-workers. I love walking into work with goodies fresh out of the oven, the smell of cinnamon wafting behind me. They like it too- it's like the Pied Piper or something. This time I added some cut up pears though- I wanted to add diced apples, but I couldn't find any in the can. SO I went with pears. Eh, what's the diff... I was going to chop up some pecans for the top, but got lazy. Next time!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My sista from anotha mista (or, freaky motha focka)

It all started with this...

which turned into this:

This seemed to be the next logical step....

And, I thought this worked too....

pause for some metal working....
then I added some magic:

SEVEN hours later, a half hour LATE to the party :( I got to share it with my Bestie!

Yes, I blocked out faces. But I realize not everyone wants to be 'out there' and since I don't have permission from either person in the photo besides myself, I felt it was the appropriate thing to do. But, can you see the cake in the background? It made my bestie smile. Promise!
ugh, and now you know how short Sweet Sandy B. really is. Yeah, I'm hobbit sized. lol

Happy Birthday my friend! My sista from anotha mista (seriously, do people say these things? guess so, I just did...)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dear Blog, I've been missing you!

A week away from my manifesto and I have been missing it so...
I have a lot of random thoughts that I'll put in the other normal spot- go look! But, have some quick pictures to get up here.

FIRST, here is a little tease of my bestie's 30th birthday cake:

My camera is M.I.A. and it has the real deal pictures of this cake. Silly Rebel, where did you run off to??

This was a BIG cake. Bottom tier was chocolate banana cake and banana cake w/ a malted chocolate ganache. Middle tier was ALL yellow cake w/ chocolate frosting (Bestie's FAV), and top tier was chocolate and yellow cake with the chocolate frosting.
All covered in Swiss Buttercream frosting and fondant designs. The top decoration was wire with beads on the end.

I drew up the design on a 'break' from my class last week, and got giddy excited to make it. It took quite a bit longer than anticipated- I felt REALLY out of practice, I haven't done a cake in a while... wait... scratch that-I DID make a cake last Tuesday! Yipes, how did I forget!? I had the FAIL with frosting. oooh, more on that in a hot minute...

You know how some people remind you of a color? (lol, remember the move Baby Mama where Amy Poehler says your aura has a color? wow I love that movie). So, my bestie's color is yellow. I don't know why- I think or brighty, sunshine-y yellow when I imagine her 'aura'. So that's how the color theme came about- sunrise colors.

Now, back to the frosting fail. We had a brief spring warm up last week. We got to EIGHTY on Thursday, and starting Tuesday afternoon/evening the house started to warm up. I didn't think it was that warm, but as I was making the buttercream I noticed it wasn't setting up like it normally does. Something was AMISS! But I kept whipping it and slowly it cooperated. hmph... I didn't give it too much thought.
THEN I started to frost the cake (I don't have pictures of this cake EITHER, as it's on the pesky little missing Rebel)... the dirty frost went on ok... It was a chocolate cake which I don't like frosting because it's so messy. But, it seemed to be going ok, and I put it in the fridge to set up.
queue music as I take a break to go and pack for my class for the rest of the week...
I come back downstairs, take the cake out and start to do the second layer of frosting.
THE FROSTING WOULDN"T STICK TO THE CAKE. It became too warm, the house was too warm, it didn't want to cooperate. I freaked out. I thought I did something wrong w/ the frosting. I took a big spoonfull and tasted it. It seemed fine, what was going on?!

I feel bad admitting, I seriously gave up on this cake. We got in a fight, the cake won. I did what I could, but I was in a rush to get it delivered- no excuse, I realize. But it wasn't my best work and not until I was packing it up did it all dawn on me that the temperature in the house played a huge role in the cake fail.

I totally blocked that from my mind. weird.

OK, wait here is something good to end on until I get the Rebel back and can post pictures of the Bestie Birthday cake:

Libby, I <3 you!! Didn't she do a great job? She is the cutest pregnant person I have ever been around, she was so sweet and I can't wait to do more business with her. We are crafting up an evil genius plan to help promote each other, and frankly- the idea is SWEET. PLEASE, go check her out: Elizabeth K Photography and become her fan.