Pancakes Made Portable


Several years ago I blogged about my Healthy Oat Pancakes, and those are still a staple breakfast for me.

But I’m about to be travelling abroad for an extended period of time (more about that in another post soon) where I will have a kitchen but not my kitchen with my tools. That matters for anyone used to cooking. Further, I’ll be taking my older daughter around to museums and other places – dragging the one year old around with us – so I’ll have to be up and ready to go many an early morning, all without a car for the most part. Since I’m certifiably allergic to mornings (that is totally a thing, I swear) and since I have a medication I have to take when I get up and then can’t eat for an hour, I’m going to want to grab breakfast while on the train.

Portable food tends to be very high carb, which is bad for me as a diabetic. Protein just doesn’t travel well. I need something that is filling, has minimal refined carbs, won’t spike my blood sugar, and is easy to eat on the go. Oh, and something I’m willing to eat, since I’m generally not keen on food in the morning at all and a fussy eater in general.

I thought, “If only I could take my favourite pancakes without that being gross or weird.” And then it occurred to me that pancakes and muffins are pretty much the same thing other than cooking method (or sometimes a slight adjustment in liquid amounts). So I just tried whipping up my pancakes as muffins, and it worked! Upcoming breakfast issue solved!

muffins

The sprinkled oats on top cancel out the chocolate chips inside. That’s just basic science. Yes.

The best part in terms of blogging is that – just like the original pancakes – you can easily tailor these to your preferences. Check out the chart on the original post for ways to change these to suit your needs.

Healthy Oat Muffins – Base Recipe

Dry Ingredients (can be mixed ahead of time and stored at room temperature)

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Splenda for baking
(See Optional Mix-Ins below)

Wet Ingredients (add just before cooking)

2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a standard muffin pan with baking flour spray or paper liners.

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including any of the Optional Mix-Ins.

In a separate bowl, microwave the butter just enough to melt it. Add the milk to the butter, then microwave again until the butter re-melts (do not overheat!). Add the eggs and beat the liquid mixture together.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and mix with a fork until blended, but do not overmix.

Distribute the batter equally amongst the 12 muffin cups. If desired, sprinkle extra oats on top.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until you can see the edges turning brown in the cups. Cool for a minute or two in the pan, then remove and cool fully on a wire rack (if you can resist eating them all right away, that is).

Optional Mix-Ins (add to dry before adding liquid)

1 tbsp whey protein
1 tbsp ground flax
1/3-1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3-2/3 chopped nuts/seeds of your choice
1/2 cup of blueberries or more
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice

I made mine tonight using a scant handful of mini chocolate chips, a bunch of mini frozen blueberries, and the last of a bag of chopped walnuts (otherwise I would have added more). I don’t even measure those items beyond the “yeah, that looks good” stage.

muffin cut

Moist and tasty without being overly sweet. Perfect for breakfast on the go.

These are super easy, very customizable to your needs, and will make my life a lot easier during our travels! I plan to make big batches ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Then I can just thaw them in the microwave and toss them in a tub in my bag or in the stroller (plus extra for the kiddos who will undoubtedly see me eating and want in on the deal) and eat breakfast on the train from Cambridge to London. Whoops, I just gave it all away, didn’t I? Heh…

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Review of DecoGel With My Flexible, Edible Stained Glass Methodology


When Icing Images gave out small free samples of their new DecoGel product at the Frosting Creators of San Antonio’s Day of Sharing in May, I lost count of how many people came up to me to ask if I knew anything about it. That’s because I’m well known in cake decorating circles for having pioneered the use of gummy as a cake decorating medium, particularly using homemade gummy candy in basic translucent, opaque, or clear varieties.

I first put homemade gummy candy on a cake for the 2010 Austin cake show (the beads around the bottoms of the tiers of my First Place Showcake “Space by Spacewest” entry) and then stumped the judges at the 2011 Austin show when I used panels of it to create a water tank and coatings of it on fondant to simulate an explosion on my Wolverine Fangirl Ultra-Cake. I’ve since received the first ever Innovator’s award at the Austin cake show for my gummy techniques as well as a special Gelatin award at the most recent show (which I still haven’t blogged about yet, sorry…I blame everything on the fact that I have a baby!). Plus my Flexible, Edible Stained Glass ebook has been featured on CakeFu, mentioned in one of Mike McCarey’s Craftsy classes, and sold around the world.

In other words, for some time now when cake decorators want to know about gummy techniques, I’ve been the go-to person to ask. I’ve even been given the nickname “The Gummy Queen”. So it wasn’t surprising that a new gummy-like product would have people asking me if it works with my techniques.

I contacted Icing Images and they were kind enough to send me some larger samples to test with my stained glass methodology. I had to vary the technique a bit from the ebook because one of the main properties of DecoGel is that it doesn’t dry out, so you can’t make the leathery sheets that I typically recommend for the stained glass technique. But as mentioned in the ebook, you can make fused stained glass pieces with fresh gummy sheets if you’re careful and alter a few steps, so I pretended the DecoGel was fresh gummy for the purposes of testing.

The first thing I noticed about DecoGel before my free samples even arrived is that it is much more expensive than homemade gummy. An 8oz tub of DecoGel (about 1 cup or 236ml) costs $16.99 plus shipping from the US store. You can make about the same volume of homemade basic gummy for the cost of one box of gelatin dessert mix (ie Jell-O or store brand) and four envelopes of unflavoured gelatin, all for about $2 or less depending on brands or local grocery store prices. The other two recipes I provide are similarly inexpensive, using a can of sweetened condensed milk for the opaque recipe and some corn syrup for the clear recipe.

But where DecoGel beats homemade gummy is convenience and shelf stability. The samples I received have an expiry date of February 2016 – that’s almost two years away, even kept at room temperature – and it is expected to stay soft and usable for that entire time. Homemade gummy will get moldy after three or four days at room temperature unless it is dried, but then it is more leathery and over about six months will become brittle.

Homemade gummy needs to be mixed, cooked, and then warmed and cooled repeatedly to get all of the bubbles to rise to the surface. At that point you can either remove the foam or work around it. DecoGel takes care of all of that work for you; a busy decorator could have a stock of every colour, grab what they need quickly, and start working on their actual piece instead of spending time cooking the stuff to begin with.

Some DecoGel tubs have a bit of foam at the top but it dissipates when you heat it up.

Icing Images offered me two colours to test, so I requested the Green and Clear so I could make a floral stained glass piece, using the Green for leaves and the Clear to test as a base for mixing other colours. I whipped up a simple pattern that any reader is welcome to use as well:

floral stained glass pattern

Download this graphic and use your preferred graphics program to resize it to the diameter needed, then print and follow the directions in the Flexible, Edible Stained Glass ebook.

Normally you can microwave DecoGel in the containers it comes in, but my samples were marked as having been compromised in shipping (the tubs had cracks) so they weren’t for consumption or direct microwaving. So I pulled the DecoGel out of the container (it came out really easily) and microwaved it in a bowl for 20 seconds at a time on 60% power until it was mostly liquified. Then I gently mixed it until the remaining lumps melted.

The first thing I noticed was that it was very thin and runny compared to my basic homemade gummy. Then I noticed that it has a slightly unpleasant smell, which plain gelatin has as well. However, the gelatin smell in homemade gummy is completely overridden by the gelatin dessert flavour scent. My husband and I tried a bit of the edible DecoGel sample I got from the Day of Sharing, and agreed that the flavour was “meh”. Not horrible, but nothing we’d seek to eat. Homemade basic gummy is, by contrast, quite tasty.

Because I was unsure how the DecoGel would spread, I placed the pattern (which I resized to 6 inches) under a clear texture mat and simply poured it from the bowl wide enough to cover the parts of the pattern that required that colour, plus a bit extra. I generally recommend using a baster to apply homemade gummy to texture mats and molds because this allows you to get under any floating foam on top and suck up the ultra-clear stuff on the bottom of the pot. It turns out that using the baster also reduces bubbles forming on the texture mat, plus you can readily suck up any bubbles that do appear. So whether you’re using homemade stuff or DecoGel, I recommend using the baster method if you want to get bubble-free sheets.

poured DecoGel

Green DecoGel poured over a lined texture mat over the pattern. Note that the Green colour comes with sparkles in it.

Remember that any warm gelatin medium can be heated beyond what a plastic texture mat or chocolate mold can take. To avoid damage to your mats and molds, be sure to cool homemady gummy or DecoGel enough that it’s mildly warm to touch but not hot!

Next I warmed up the Clear DecoGel and put a portion in a separate bowl, and then added a single drop of Americolor Electric Yellow Gel.

gel colour added to DecoGel

Clear DecoGel is not perfectly colour-free for the same reason my Clear Gummy recipe isn’t: gelatin has a natural yellow tone that simply can’t be avoided once either product is more than a few milimeters thick. In this photo you can see the single drop of Americolour Gel I added to the Clear DecoGel, which has not yet been mixed in at all.

As I began to mix the colour, I was extremely impressed with how easily and quickly it blended into the DecoGel, much more easily and uniformly than with my homemade basic recipe, where gel colours sometimes break up into lots of little globs that need to be vigorously mixed to fully blend them in. Of course sometimes when I mix colour into my basic recipe, I’m deliberately trying to create marbled colours (such as the wood grain, water, and plant effects on my Lady of Shalott piece). So if your goal is to mix your own uniform colour, DecoGel makes this easy. If you want to marble with DecoGel, you’ll have to handle it very, very gently.

tinted DecoGel

The single drop of Americolor Gel blended fully into the DecoGel with hardly any mixing at all. This is particularly valuable for minimizing adding bubbles to the product.

The next stage in my typical Flexible, Edible Stained Glass technique usually involves cutting out the pattern pieces, placing them on the dried sheets of gummy, tracing around them with edible ink marker, and then cutting out the pieces with a sharp x-acto blade (see the ebook for details). I know from experience that edible ink bleeds into fresh gummy but does not do so on dried sheets, and I wasn’t sure if it’d bleed on DecoGel or not. I also wasn’t sure if the paper pieces would stick to the DecoGel and/or mar the surface, the way they probably would with fresh gummy. So instead I placed the pattern under a clear cutting board and cut the solidified DecoGel sheets I’d poured on the various texture mats right over the pattern.

yellow petals of DecoGel

Cutting petals from the yellow-tinted Clear DecoGel sheet. Note that the cuts are being made on a clear cutting board, NOT on a texture sheet! This piece was cast on a speckle texture sheet but then moved to this cutting board. Never cut on a texture sheet or you’ll ruin it.

Note that this methodology coupled with the floppier nature of either a fresh gummy sheet or DecoGel can make precice cuts more difficult than with dried sheets. On the flip side, it’s a lot easier on the wrist to let a sharp x-acto blade glide easily through fresh gummy or DecoGel compared to pulling it through a dried gummy sheet. So the net result is faster, easier pieces but with less precision. That’s no big deal for a simple pattern such as this one, but intricate geometric patterns may take an extra degree of caution.

Also note that if you’re cutting directly over the pattern, you still have to leave space for the “leading” portion of the stained glass, as covered in the ebook.

Once I had all the pieces cut, trimmed as necessary, and arranged on another fairly smooth work surface, I tinted some of the Green DecoGel black with some Americolor Super Black gel, and then followed the standard technique laid out in the Flexible, Edible Stained Glass ebook for applying the “lead” portion, including mounting a #4 tip to my baster (which is shown in step-by-step photos in the ebook). The DecoGel stays fluid longer than my homemade gummy, which made it trickier to control during this phase but also meant I didn’t have to keep the tipped baster in a glass of hot water because the DecoGel didn’t solidify and clog the tip at all through the entire assembly. That’s a great feature!

leading applied to DecoGel stained glass piece

The runnier DecoGel needs to be managed more by allowing spillover to flow out to the sides where it can be harmlessly trimmed away later. You must ensure the “glass” pieces are all completely flush with the work surface or the black will flow underneath.

It is then very easy to use an x-acto blade to trim the outer border and voila, a DecoGel version of Flexible, Edible Stained Glass!

Finished DecoGel stained glass piece.

Finished DecoGel stained glass piece.

Unfortunately, there is a significant downside to using DecoGel for this technique: unlike with my homemade version, the DecoGel does not fuse to itself. Simply moving this small piece carefully from the work surface to the white surface for photography produced a tear between sections:

tear in stained glass

In the previous photo I was able to arrange this tear so it was hidden, but every time I moved the piece the tear spread easily.

I poked gently at some other pieces and they started coming out easily as well.

more pieces out

These came out of the “leading” as easily as if it was a mold. Which might in and of itself lead to interesting possibilities, but wasn’t the desired result for this technique.

I set the piece aside for 48 hours and then tried again to see if maybe it just needed some time to fuse. After all, I know that if you accidentally drip some fresh homemade gummy on a dried sheet, the solution is to immediately pop the whole thing in the fridge until it sets up, then carefully remove the fresh bit from the dried bit. It will peel off, although it usually mars the surface a little bit. But if you leave that drip on the sheet overnight, it takes cutting to get it off.

However, even 48 hours later the DecoGel had not fused together and easily came apart. I was able to pop all of the “glass” pieces out of the “lead”, leaving a net behind:

empty net

This too could lead to interesting alternative techniques such as spider webs, but isn’t what I was hoping for here.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do the technique with DecoGel. You absolutely can. You simply need to keep this fragility in mind when planning your design. A design comprised of a few medium-sized pieces that is then placed carefully on the top of a cake should work fine. Mounting on the side of a cake may present more difficulties; I would recommend only applying it to firm fondant with a thorough coat of piping gel, ensuring that the stained glass is supported along the bottom so it doesn’t slide down and tear from its own weight.

But I would not recommend DecoGel for multi-layer stained glass pieces with joining parts such as my Elemental Gummy cake. That piece involved fusing multiple layers together and lifting them around the cake. A DecoGel version would have fallen apart. Large pieces without support may also tear themselves apart.

Another caveat: using dried sheets of homemade gummy prevents colour bleeding, as mentioned above. This allows for drawing with edible ink markers (as with the Lady of Shallot’s face), painting with gels (as with the motifs on the Lady’s blanket), or even airbrushing. Although I didn’t test edible ink markers specifically with DecoGel, I noticed that the black from the “leading” had started to bleed into the “glass” pieces after the 48 hour test:

black leakage

Black Americolor gel from the “leading” portion bled into the adjacent DecoGel within 48 hours.

This means that since DecoGel can’t be dried – which is good for some applications and general longevity of the product – it probably isn’t well suited for markers, painting, and airbrushing. I’ve seen some lovely work with DecoGel applied over Icing Images so I know it works well for that without bleeding, but I would not risk a stained glass piece where painting is required unless it’s going to be delivered and served in less than 24 hours.

Thus you can use DecoGel to make stained glass as long as you keep the above points in mind. Here’s a chart summarizing the various benefits compared to my three homemade gummy recipes:

  DecoGel Basic Gummy Opaque Gummy Clear Gummy
Molding x x x x
Texture Mats x x x x
Easily Re-Melts x x x x
Low Cost   x x x
Shelf Stable x      
Pleasant Scent   x x  
Pleasant Flavour   x x  
Fast Preparation x   x  
Microwaves Well x      
Can Be Dried for Stability/Fusing/Painting   x x x
Easy/Uniform Mixing of Added Colour x   x  
Easy Marbling of Added Colour   x x x
Fuses Well To Itself   x x x
Holds Heat/Stays Liquid Longer x      

Generally speaking, if you’re a busy professional decorator who sells a lot of cakes and you want a flexible medium on hand and ready to dispense in minutes, get yourself some DecoGel. If you’re a home baker who primarily makes cakes for your kids, bake sales, or other casual needs, stick with homemade gummy.

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Yogurt Taste Off


I was invited via Klout to participate in a Yoplait yogurt promotion, but it wasn’t entirely clear at the sign-up point what would be involved. A few weeks later they sent a cardboard box designed to do a blind taste test between their new Greek yogurt and a competitor. The package also included a $4 gift card toward the purchase of the two yogurts.

When it arrived I was swamped with previous commitments so it took me awhile to get to it. Further, my local grocery store didn’t carry the specified competing product (Chobani Greek bluebrry yogurt) except in gigantic multipacks that far exceeded the $4, and given our family’s recent conversion to Noosa yogurt, I was fairly certain if I bought the megapack of Chobani it wouldn’t get eaten.

So instead I opted to taste test the Yoplait Greek blueberry against Wallaby Greek blueberry yogurt since that was the closest style competitor my grocery store carried.

Today I set up the cardboard taste test box with the two samples inside, each taken out of their cups and presented in identical Bento cups. I then had my husband and eight year old daughter – both of whom really like blueberry yogurt – test each type.

The Wallaby Greek Blueberry Yogurt is on the left, the Yoplait Greek Blueberry Yogurt is on the right.

The Wallaby Greek Blueberry Yogurt is on the left, the Yoplait Greek Blueberry Yogurt is on the right.

My daughter decided both were good, but she preferred the Yoplait because it’s sweeter. My husband tasted the Yoplait first and made a face, then said, “That’s the Yoplait. It’s too sweet.” Then he tried the other one and said, “That’s the Wallaby. It tastes like Greek yogurt should taste.”

I then tried them both, but given the obvious difference in colouring and smell there was no way I could do the test blind. I tried the Yoplait first and found it painfully sweet with an unpleasant chalky after taste. Then I tried the Wallaby and found it much less sweet with a nice tartness but it also had an after taste I didn’t like. I’m not keen on blueberry yogurt anyway, and to be honest, I wouldn’t eat either of these.

So our family conclusion is my daughter likes both with a preference for Yoplait, my husband only likes the Wallaby, but both still prefer Noosa so we won’t be buying anything other than that anyway. And if I was going to eat yogurt it’d be Stonyfield strawberry because I only like strawberry and Noosa doesn’t have strawberry alone.

PS For the baby’s input on the entire thing, see this G+ post for what I’ve been doing with the outer cardboard packaging that the kit came in.

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Noosa Yoghurt Blogger Recipe Contest


Disclosure statement: this post and recipe were created in partnership with Noosa Yoghurt, for which I have received free samples of yogurt, a $50 Visa gift card to cover purchasing other recipe supplies, and they’ll be sending some kitchen tools for both me and for someone who votes for the recipe. The contest itself could yield further prizes. All of the content of this post is my honest opinion unfettered by these gifts.

For this contest, bloggers were challenged to create an original recipe using one or more flavours of Noosa Yoghurt. I actually developed two recipes, a Blueberry Cake with Lemon Frosting and some Hearty Gluten-Free Pumpkin Oat Yogurt Pancakes. Since the recipe contest only shows the cake and frosting, however, I’ll put off the pancakes for another post to come soon.

The voting for the contest is on Noosa’s Facebook page. I don’t use Facebook much myself so I’m probably at a significant disadvantage, but if you’re a Facebook user please vote here. If you enter your email address after you vote (Noosa is collecting the addresses, not Facebook), you could win a free month’s supply of Noosa Yoghurt! And as mentioned above, they said they’re sending a prize pack for me to send out to someone who votes, but I am still waiting for details on that and how to tell who voted.

cake and frosting

Blueberry Cake with Lemon Frosting

I wanted to make a blueberry cake that was moist, flavourful, light enough to not feel like a brick in the tummy, but dense enough to support the blueberries throughout as opposed to having them sink to the bottom. I decided to combine techniques form multiple cake styles to incorporate the dense, rich yogurt flavour but fluff it up by folding in beaten egg whites as opposed to mixing the eggs straight. Using cake flour instead of AP also lightens the overall result.

I also added extra blueberries beyond the yogurt. Ever since we finally got a Trader Joe’s here in Austin, my family has been enjoying their organic frozen wild blueberries. These tiny treasures are the best of the best when it comes to blueberries with nary a sour one in the bunch. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s store near you and/or fresh blueberries are in season, those will work as well, but try to get wild ones if you can because they’re smaller and therefore make for better flavour distribution through the cake.

cake without frosting

Blueberry Cake without frosting: very pretty and also very tasty!

Note that the frosting is optional. The cake itself is very nice, mildly sweet with a lot of blueberry flavour and the tanginess of the yogurt. The frosting adds a snappy lemon punch and more sweetness. I’m generally one to go for less frosting on a cake but I know those with a sweet tooth want more, so the recipe for the frosting makes lots but you don’t have to use it all. I used about half and my daughter loved it that way, but my husband and I would’ve been happy with a bit less. Go for what suits you and your audience best!

An important note regarding the Noosa Yoghurt – which my daughter has declared to be her new favourite, especially the Lemon – is that unlike most yogurts, it comes in an 8 oz container with a lid and a foil top instead of the standard 6 oz pottle with only a foil top. This makes it good for recipes because 8 oz is a full cup and many recipes call for a cup of yogurt. And for smaller amounts it’s neat and easy to put the lid back on and pop it in the fridge for someone to finish up as a snack later.

Blueberry Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
A mildly sweet cake packed with blueberries. By separating the eggs and folding in the whites, the cake is lighter than most blueberry cakes but still dense enough to support the blueberries throughout.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 8oz tub of Noosa Blueberry Yoghurt
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • approximately 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest (from two large lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1⅓ cup frozen organic wild blueberries, divided
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, yolks separated from whites
Method
  1. Bring all ingredients to room temperature. For perishable ingredients like the eggs, milk, and yogurt, be sure not to leave them out too long. For the frozen blueberries, put them out on paper towels to stay dry as they thaw.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9” springform pan (I like my glass-bottomed one with non-stick sides), or use a cooking spray containing flour.
  3. Wash lemons thoroughly before zesting to remove any wax, pesticides, or dirt. I recommend using a microplane grater for zesting to get the maximum amount in a very fine grain. Juice enough of the lemons to get ¼ cup of juice, reserving peels and remainders.
  4. Combine the milk and yogurt thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, oil, and egg yolks. Mix thoroughly.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1 cup of the blueberries and toss in the dry mixture to coat.
  6. Degrease your mixer’s bowl and whisk attachment thoroughly. Use one of the reserved lemon peels to help this by wiping all surfaces with the inside of the peel, then wiping away any lemon residue with a clean paper towel.
  7. Set the egg whites to beat in the mixer at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
  8. While the egg whites beat, combine the wet mixture and the dry mixture until even but do not overmix. The batter will be lumpy.
  9. When the egg whites have finished beating, turn the mixer down to low and gradually add the sugar in small amounts until combined.
  10. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the batter and pour it all into the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining ⅓ cup of blueberries on the top.
  11. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove sides of the pan. If your pan base allows for direct serving as my glass-bottom one does, put it on another wider plate before frosting. If your pan base is non-stick or otherwise can be damaged by serving, carefully remove the cooled cake to another serving platter.
  12. Cool completely before frosting.

 

icing on a cake

Close up of the icing as it drips down the side of a freshly cut slice of cake.

 

Lemon Yogurt Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 cakes
 
A rich and tangy soft frosting/glaze that goes well atop fruity cakes.
Ingredients
  • 300 g/10.6 oz (about 3 cups) powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup (half stick) butter, softened
  • 4 oz Noosa Lemon Yoghurt (half tub)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of one medium lemon
  • juice of one medium lemon
Method
  1. Put the butter in a mixer and beat until fluffy and no lumps remain.
  2. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until thoroughly combined with the butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beater as needed.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar for an extra minute or two on medium speed to whip in some air and to ensure it’s smooth without any unmixed lumps.
  4. Add yogurt, vanilla, zest, and lemon juice. Beat the entire mixture on medium speed for three minutes.
  5. Put a dollop of the frosting on the cake and spread out to the sides, but not down the sides. This icing will flow until it sets up. Once your cake is frosted, put it in the fridge. This frosting contains uncooked yogurt and should be considered a spoiling hazard if warm for more than four hours.

 

I hope you love the recipe as much as my family did, and please remember to vote for it!

Here’s the recipe card Noosa made for the contest, if you’d like a single graphic to print for both recipes together (click for a larger version):

recipe card

Click to embiggen. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

Posted in Cake Decorating, Contests and Giveaways, My Recipes, Products | 4 Comments

Interview at Geek Native


I was recently interviewed about role playing games and baking at Geek Native. My answers feature tips and tricks for successful ventures in both fields. You can read it here: http://www.geeknative.com/44702/half-orc-barbarian-rages-mystery-cakes/ Please note that some of the discussions of RPGs include adult topics, so parents should preview before letting their kids click through.

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Dynamic Fondant Figure Modelling PDF Now Available!


I just posted it for sale! More details here: http://www.eat-the-evidence.com/tutorials/dynamic-figure-modelling/ or go directly to Craftsy or Gumroad to get your copy of the handout from my class for only $4 until next Monday. That’s the special deal I offered if folks helped me get students to sign up in advance of last weekend’s cake show. The regular price will be $10 and I’ll set it to that sometime next Monday, so get it for only $4 while you can!

cover

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Quick Note – Ebook Coming!


I promised if enough people took my class that I’d make an ebook of the handout for sale. The class is going ahead and the handout is ready but it’s got some glitches I need to fix for the ebook side. I promise I will post it for sale after the cake show, and at the discount promised for the number of students that pre-registered. I’ll even extend the sale since I’m posting it late.

Just wanted to let you all know it is coming, but I have to get to bed so I can get up in four hours to go to the show…meep!

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Blow Thine Hunger To Cakey Bits


My older daughter’s best friend asked me last year when her father was diagnosed with a serious illness if I’d make him a Holy Hand Grenade cake for his birthday. Of course I said yes!

Holy Hand Grenade Cake

Mmm, irreverence.

Part of why I was able to say yes is because this is a reasonably simple cake. I baked a vanilla cake in the Wilton Sports Ball Pan (and this is the closest I’ve ever come to making a sports ball in it, for values of very nerdy sports), then covered each half with my dark chocolate buttercream.

I then popped the halves in the fridge to firm up the buttercream, and meanwhile rolled out some red fondant to lay roughly on the board to look like cloth, taking care to tuck all of the edges underneath because that prevents any cracked edges from ruining the cloth look.

Then I rolled out some dark chocolate fondant and put that over each half. It’s a tricky thing to cover a sphere in fondant without ending up with a pleat somewhere, so since this design has a bar that goes around the middle anyway, I made life easy on myself and did it in halves. I put the bottom in place on the red “cloth”, then put more dark chocolate buttercream in the middle, placed the top half on, and cut a long strip of the dark chocolate fondant to go around the middle and hold it all together. Then I added the upper strips in the same dark chocolate fondant.

Holy Hand Grenade Cake close up

It may look gold, but it’s all chocolate and tastes heavenly.

To complete the chocolate theme – in part because dark colours show metallic airbrush better than light ones – I also made a cross out of semi-sweet modelling chocolate. After I’d put a big wooden dowel down through the whole cake, I affixed the cross in place with two toothpicks on either side of the center dowel. I also made sure there was a note with the cake mentioning these supports so nobody would hurt themselves.

Then I placed some plastic wrap all over the red cloth and the cake board, tucking it down as much as possible between the chocolate-covered cake and the red part. I then airbrushed gold all over and let it dry for a few minutes to ensure that it wouldn’t make a mess when I removed the plastic. This is another reason why a dark fondant covering works better: if there were any parts along the very bottom that got missed by the airbrush because of the plastic, they simply look like shadows. If I’d used white fondant, they’d have shown.

Next were the dragees. I used two sizes because that’s what I had on hand. If this had been a competition cake I’d have carefully measured out the spacing, but since it was for a friend for free and they know I have a seven-month-old baby, I just eyeballed the spacing. I worked my way along the still-soft strips with a small ball tool, then put a dragee in each dent with some piping gel.

I had originally planned to do some kind of edible banner around it with quotations from the Book of Armaments, but see the above note about the baby. I was tired and decided it looked good like this. But I added this cheeky altered quotation to the note about supports:

cake text

In case you can’t read the silly font, it says: “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out, and Pi is just silly. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it. Alternatively, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch into thine mouth, that thy hunger shall snuff it. And have as the Lord commands, a most Happy of Birthdays.”

I heard a rumour that the recipient loved it so much he spent his whole birthday party smiling and that it may even top his favourite childhood cake. His older daughter read the silly passage above in an English accent for the party.

Required viewing for the uninitiated:

Posted in Cake Decorating, Fancy cakes, My Recipes, Severe Nerdery | 1 Comment

New Class – Dynamic Figure Modeling (No More Dead-Eye Static Figures!)


At this year’s Austin cake show I will be teaching a hands-on version of my popular beginner Fondant Figure Modelling 101 tutorial (register here) as well as an intermediate class on how to make your figures look like they were frozen in the middle of actually doing something. I see too many wonderfully done cakes with figures sitting there, staring into space vacantly. No more, I say! Let’s get those sweet little people up and moving!

In my new Dynamic Figure Modeling (No More Dead-Eye Static Figures!) class, I’ll show you how to make wire armatures, tips for getting the fondant on the armature, and many more tips and tricks for adding poses and facial expressions. Each student can pick between a walker, a runner, and a jumper to work on in class but will receive a booklet on how to do all three.

fondant figures moving

The walker and jumper in front with the runner in back.

fondant figures

The runner in front and the others in back.

All students for this class should be comfortable with basic figure modelling and may wish to take the 101 class first. It’s pretty much the same figure, but we’re making it get up and move around.

walking fondant figure

The walker will be the easiest because it has two feet attached to the base. Choose this if you’re still pretty new to figure making.

running fondant figure

The runner only has one foot on the ground so takes more skill. Choose this one if you are confident in your figure modelling and want to start pushing your skills. Also note that the runner is an excellent discussion point for how the face tells the story: here, this runner is scared and fleeing, but we’ll talk about how a different expression makes the same figure a happy jogger, a menacing chaser, etc.

jumper fondant figure

The jumper is the most advanced of the three. It only has one foot on the ground and the posing, facial expression, and movement details are what sell the motion as jumping versus dancing. We’ll also talk about how you can use other elements of the cake to enhance the figure’s story: this would look even more “jumpy” posed on a trampoline that is indented from the force of the jump.

This class will focus on the construction and how to alter details to create different poses and moods, but also how to save time to spend on the details that matter versus those that don’t. For instance, these samples don’t have the smoothest, cleanest clothes, but their clothing is modelled to suggest movement. Hand details are more important for some poses than others. We’ll talk about how to focus your time to get the maximum effect on your figures, when it’s important to go crazy with detail, and when it’s okay to simply suggest elements in a less refined way.

fondant hands

Mounting hands on a wire armature is tricky and the method varies by how much detail you need. Here, a mitten-hand is stuck on and then fingers suggested with simple lines because the hands on this figure aren’t as important as they may be on a figure with hands as a focal point.

All supplies will be provided, including wire so you can learn to make armatures and cover them. This class isn’t about a specific figure, it’s about learning techniques so you can go out and make any figure you need.

wire armature

The runner’s wire armature. This is very sturdy for construction.

runner partly covered

The runner partly covered. We won’t fuss with perfect pants and shirts in this class, but we’ll talk about how to do that for when it counts, and how to position the clothing to enhance the appearance of movement.

But I hear many of you crying out, “KIM! I don’t live close enough to Austin to come to your fabulous cake show! I want this class so badly but I can’t get there! What about me?”

There are two answers: 1) if you’re involved with another cake show/club and want me to come to you, I may be able to do that. Get your show/club to invite me out to teach there. I do require that travel costs be covered and keep in mind I have a small infant so I need lots of advance warning. 2) I will make the handout for this class available for sale on this blog starting a day or two before the show. It will be $10 for a PDF of the same thing I’ll be giving out in the class, showing how to make all three figures with lots of tips and tricks to empower you to go forth and bring life into your figures.

But to incentivize you all to help urge your friends who are coming to the Austin show to take the actual class, here’s a deal: for every person signed up for this class by the close of online registration, I will lower the price of the PDF by a dollar during the show to a minimum of $2. So while the PDF will be $10 most of the time, during the show weekend it could be as little as $2 if eight people sign up for the class. If you want that to happen, post a link to this blog and/or the class registration link on your social media platforms and tell your friends to take the class. Then you can get the PDF cheap and get your friend to tell you all about what they learned hands-on with an expert. Win-win.

Plus if enough people don’t sign up the class will get cancelled, and then who knows when I’ll get around to making the PDF. So really really, help me promote this if you want the instructions for yourself!

UPDATE: The class happened, here’s the ebook discounted to $4 for the first week of sale: http://www.eat-the-evidence.com/tutorials/dynamic-figure-modelling/

Posted in Cake Decorating, Classes, Figures | Leave a comment

Double Dark Chocolate Sandwich Cookies


Does that mean that they are doubly dark, or that there are two dark components? YES.

dark chocolate buttercream filled sandwich cookies

Because chocolate, that’s why.

Step 1: Bake some dark chocolate rolled cookies in a shape that can be mirrored so you can put two cookie bottoms together evenly. Rounds are easiest.

Step 2: Make some dark chocolate buttercream.

Step 3: Pipe or spread some of the buttercream between cookies, using the flat bottoms on the inside.

Step 4: Love your life because you have double dark chocolate sandwich cookies.

In lieu of converting to a religion that worships me as a goddess for bringing this goodness into your life, buy one of my books listed in the sidebar. I recommend sitting down to read “Finding Gaia” with your favourite beverage and a plate of these cookies. You’re welcome.

coffee plus cookies plus Finding Gaia equals happiness

Should you be a generous sort who wishes to share these cookies, leave them out for a few hours for the buttercream to crust over on the edges. If you need the buttercream to firm up fast, you can put them in the fridge.

If you feel like living dangerously, you could also add dark chocolate chips to the dark chocolate rolled cookies and then they’d be TRIPLE DARK CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES. Note that this blog, its author, and her dependents are not responsible for any severe drool damage caused by such tomfoolery.

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Posted in Cookies, Experimental Techniques, General Freakishness, My Recipes | Leave a comment