Busy Bees

Is exactly what I have been feeling like!  Between various jobs, projects, volunteering, and squeezing in some summertime fun, it has been a very hectic couple of months– and they have flown by!

One recent project I really enjoyed was making some bees for a baby shower.  They were inspired by the original Busy Bee Cake:

They were basically smaller versions of the bee to adorn the top of the cake at the shower. The bees are made out of a mixture of gumpaste and fondant, black floral wire for the wings, antennas, feet, and stinger, and painted with black gel food coloring.  This bee topper order will help provide 50 meals to the children at The Ebongalethu Educare Center!


For delivery, they were each packed into their own boxes taped with wax paper at the bottom.  Below the bees sits a small piece of anti-skid mat (which you can find at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in the kitchen area) which keeps them from flying around during the delivery.

And don’t forget a bit of blush before heading out the door :)

If you make some bees for yourself, keep in mind that the gel food coloring takes a long time to dry and the gumpaste/fondant will keep so you can definitely make this ahead of time.  Even if the coloring is still wet day of, just be careful when placing and it should be fine!

Congrats to the soon-to-be mommy on her little boy who is on his way!

A Chocolate-y Mad Libs Cake

If you know anyone who reaaaally loves Mad Libs, you should totally make them a Mad Libs cake!  As a friend of mine said, “It’s an activity…then you can eat it!”

I also think this would be a fun theme for a little kid’s birthday party or even a groom’s cake!  Check out these Mad Lib themed guestbook and Mad Lib themed thank you cards for weddings!

So below are instructions for a very easy chocolate cake as well as tips on decorating the cake.  You may want to read through it first to gather all the tools you may need and also don’t forget to pick up some edible markers to fill in the Mad Libs with (you can purchase at Michael’s or Joann’s.)

Enjoy!

PS:  For those of you who didn’t know Mad Libs still existed, you can find Mad Libs at the bookstore (I went to Barnes + Nobles) in the kids section, or you can order online from Amazon or Target if you have more time.  There are soooo many different themes from slumber parties to zombies to animals.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

This recipe is a veganized version of shirleyo’s recipe posted on allrecipes.com.

For the filling, I used non-dairy whipped cream, such as Soyatoo (found at Whole Food’s) or Pastry Pride (found at Smart and Final) as well as fresh strawberries.  For a super chocolate-y cake, you can make a chocolate ganache filling.

I used a 9×13″ pan for the Mad Libs cake.  This recipe should also fill two 9″ rounds.

You will need an electric mixer for this recipe.

– 2 cups white sugar
– 1 cup AP flour
– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the higher quality, the better)
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp salt
– 2 egg replacers
– 1 cup non-dairy milk
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup boiling water

To Make the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.  If using the rectangle pan, lay a sheet of parchment paper across the wide side of the pan to line the bottom/sides and grease remaining unlined sides.  If using a round pan, line bottom with parchment and grease sides.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the egg replacers, non-dairy milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes until everything is well mixed.  Stir in the boiling water.

The batter will be thin.  (I tried to take a picture of the beaters to show consistency– right after I lifted the whisks out of the bowl basically all the batter came off besides a very thin coat.)

Pour into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake is firm and toothpick pricked in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan, then remove from pan, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze (do not remove parchment paper).  This helps lock in the moisture and once the cake is frozen or half way defrosted, it is much easier to slice in half to fill.  If you are making a carved shaped cake, this will also help when you are carving it into the desired shape.

Assembling the Cake:

After the cake has partially defrosted but still firm, remove plastic wrap and place on a turn table with the parchment side down.

Using a knife, score the sides of the cake at the center to make a guideline.  Then go back and make the cut so you split the cake in half lengthwise.

Put some frosting on your cake board to help the cake stick and place the top layer of the cake (the side without the parchment) on your cake board with the cut side up.

Fill the cake.

If my filling/frosting is the same, I skip making a dam around the edges.  But if you are using something different (like vegan buttercream frosting on the outside and vegan cream cheese filling on the inside) I would make a dam with the frosting you are coating the outside with.  All you need to do is fill a piping bag with a round tip and pipe a line of frosting  on around the edge.  Then add your filling(s) inside the dam.

Place the second layer of the cake on top with the parchment side up, then remove the parchment paper.  Usually this is the flattest and smoothest side so I recommend putting this side up on top to be the face of the cake.

Frost the outside of the cake.

Now you can start decorating!

Decorating the Cake:

Here are the steps I took to make the Mad Libs Cake.

Before you start, figure out what you want to write on it (you can take a page from an actual Mad Libs or make your own) and also who/what you want to put in the little image box.

First, roll out fondant to be the Mad Libs “page”.  This can be 1/4″ to 1/2″ larger rectangle than your cake.  (It’s better to be a little bit bigger vs. a little smaller because you can use the edge of the fondant as a guide to add more frosting and make smooth sides by resting your spatula against it when you frost the sides.)

It should be about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.  Cut the fondant into a rectangle.  A pizza roller is my favorite tool and you can use a ruler as a guide or you can eyeball it if you are good at that. It’s good to let this dry a little so while it is doing that, you can make the item that will go in the box with the image.

I decided to make the birthday boy and basically used the Mad Libs people as a guide.

Start with a ball of colored (whatever the skin color you want is) fondant. (I use Wilton’s gel food coloring– there are no animal products in that and a toothpick to get a little bit of color at a time onto the fondant.  You don’t need a lot because you aren’t working with a large amount.)  Roll into a disk about 1/8″ thick.  That’s your head.  Make 2 smaller white circles for the eyes, then colored dots for the eyeballs.  Roll out a thin snake shape for the mouth.  Depending on what your person looks like, make the hair accordingly.

{ A Mad Libs man! }

Once you have these shapes, brush a little bit of water to the areas you will be sticking together.  To the head, add the eyes, eyeballs, and the mouth; curve the mouth as you stick it on into a smiley– using the back end of the brush to help can make it easier.  The hair sticks to the fondant “page”, so you will be putting that on last.

Now make anything else you want to add for the image– for me, it was the Birthday Boy’s cat, and a balloon.  Set all these pieces aside to dry.

Now back to your page.  Using a thin bamboo skewer, make indentations for the horizontal and vertical line at the top of the page.  Place it on and make sure it’s straight, then press lightly into the fondant until you feel it sinking a little.  Remove the skewer.

The next step is to get all that writing onto the “page”.  OK, I am not going to lie, this part is hard and it’s key to not smear anything!  I did that a few times and had to use q-tips and water to clean up.  You will need a paintbrush with a good tip (cut the brush with scissors to shape the tip if needed) and food coloring with water added to it for the “ink”.  Test on some fondant scraps first, to get an idea of how much water you need to add to the ink.  Have 2 small bowls of water ready by you– one to clean the brush and one with clean water to help wipe any mistakes.  Also keep some q-tips and small pieces of paper towl by you.

*I didn’t write “adjective” or “noun” etc. below the empty spaces because that was just too much lol.  If you are doing the same, make sure you have a sheet that lists what you need to call out when filling out the cake.

You can do everything freehand, or you can use a toothpick to write out everything first so you have an indented guide.  The top part I did not use a toothpick, just eyed it.

{ Investing in a Mad Libs book is a must for this project!}

But for the actual “page” I did freehand it with a toothpick first.  After every few letters I would stop to make sure it was straight and not slowly starting to go up or down.

After making the indentations, go back over them with your brush and “ink”.

When you are done, pat yourself on the back because that part was pretty tedious and hard!  Take a break too if needed lol.

Then add your image to the page, and stick everything on, including the hair, with a little bit of water.

Fill in the lines you made with the bamboo skewer with black ink.

Place the fondant “page” on top of your frosted cake.  Add frosting to the sides and smooth out if needed.

Don’t forget your food pens, candles, your sheet to help fill out the Mad Libs, and have a fun party! Yay!

{ Yes, the candles are on the side because 1) It wouldn’t go through the fondant 2) We didn’t want to ruin the Mad Libs with wax since we didn’t fill it out yet! }

Pumpkin + Beer Movember Cupcakes!

Have you been out and about this month and seen several men sporting ridiculous looking facial hair or trying to grow molester-like mustaches?  Have you wondered to yourself why? It’s because it’s the month of Movember! (Or at least I hope that is why!)

Each November, men are grooming the hairs on their face into well crafted mustaches to raise funds and awareness for men’s health– specifically prostate cancer as well as other cancers that affect men.  To join the movement, donate, or just get more info, visit the Official Movember Site.

It’s clever, it’s fun, and it’s for a great cause!  The least I can do is make some cupcakes in honor of all the efforts and hard work men around the world are putting into their carefully crafted facial creations.  These cupcakes are a mash up of 2 parts of this event: pumpkin (for November) and beer (for men)!

{Pumpkin puree + vegan double chocolate stout = yummy + fluffy cupcake!}

Pumpkin Beer Cupcakes

Yields 21 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
– 2 cup AP flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– pinch of salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1 1/2 sticks of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks **LINK**
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 3 egg replacers
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup beer, I used — which is vegan (beware, some beers aren’t!)
– 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin, I used TJ’s organic…

For the topping (take your pick or do a mix of both which is what I did):
– cream cheese frosting (recipe here)
- Soyatoo soy or rice whip, extra creamy, ready made in the dispenser (so you don’t have to pull out a pastry bag)
– ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare muffin tins by lining with paper or greasing.

In a medium bowl, cream BUTTER and sugar with a electric hand mixer or a stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, 1/3 at a time.  Then add the vanilla, beer, and pumpkin puree.  Beat until well combined, making sure the scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Gradually add the flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.  Beat well.

{I used a TBS to spoon the batter, it was about 1 and a half TBS per muffin cup}

Fill the prepared muffin pan about 2/3 of the way, dividing the batter evenly.  I have seen people put batter in pastry bags or use ice cream scoops– use the method that is easiest for you!

Bake for about 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting if you are using.

{Thin mustaches, thick mustaches, neatly trimmed mustaches, curly-at-the-ends mustaches…}

For a Movember touch, I decided to draw little mustache images to be inserted into the center of each cupcake.  Use some type of cardstock (index paper weight is good) and draw as many mustaches as you can think of!  I used my pigma micron pen (I’ve loved these pens since I started using them in fashion school!) but you can also use markers to give it some more color.  Tape to toothpicks at the back and insert.  Have fun and don’t forget to raise some awareness this month for men’s health in honor of all the manly mustached– or not– men in our lives!

{Don’t forget to visit the Official Movember site!}

{Who doesn’t want to learn more about prostate cancer?}

Moon + Stars Baby Shower Cake

Sorry for the lack of posting!  This has been due to the making of two cakes this past week- a baby shower cake using the strawberry cake recipe and a dummy styrofoam wedding cake (photos of that one to come!)

The 3-tiered baby shower cake features fluffy clouds and stars topped with a moon and a dreaming baby :)

The strawberry cake is delicious as is because it is so moist but it’s EXTRA yummy with a thin layer of strawberry preserves and topped with a dollop of vegan cream cheese frosting.

Congratulations to Brittany and her honey– I can’t wait to see photos of their baby girl!

Proceeds from both cakes will be added to this months funds!

P is for Pretty Pastels!

These pretty cupcakes were inspired by my friend Parker, who loves all things pastels!  The two recipes I used are good basics to know– they are easy to whip up and delicious.  I have searched far and wide and come across a few different recipes and this is one of the best.  With a little food coloring and sanding sugar, these cupcakes can be dressed up for any occasion!  I had a lot of fun making these– Happy Birthday Parker!

White Cake/Cupcake Recipe

This recipe was posted by cornfairy on allrecipes.com

One recipe yields 12 regular sized cupcakes, I filled my cups almost all the way to the top, refer to photo below.

– 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
– 1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond– you can use soy, coconut, rice…)
– 2 cups AP flour
– 1 cup sugar
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed until it is in liquid form
– 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or paste
– food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with baking cups.

Measure the apple cider vinegar into a measuring cup.  Fill with non-dairy milk to make 1 1/2 cups.  Let stand for about 5 minutes until mixture has curdled.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add non-dairy milk mixture, coconut oil, and vanilla.

Whisk by hand until ingredients are just blended.  I wanted the cupcakes to be pastel colored as well so I added some red food coloring to make the batter pink :)

Spoon the batter into prepared cups.

Bake in preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cupcakes cool completely before you frost.  While cupcakes are baking or cooling, prepare the frosting.

Basic White Frosting

This recipe is from about.com and is great because you can adjust the consistency by adding non-dairy milk to it.

This recipe yields the perfect amount of frosting for 12 regular sized cupcakes.  Refer to photos for the amount of frosting I used.

– 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
– 6 TBS vegan butter, softened (but not liquid) I used Earth Balance,
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– non-dairy milk
– food coloring (I read that Wilton food colors whether liquid or gel form do not contain animal products– if anyone has come across something different, please let me know!)
– 1 or 2 dried fettuccine noodles (you will see what they are for :)
– sanding sugar (optional)

With an electric mixer, cream powdered sugar and vegan butter in a large bowl until fluffy and well incorporated.

Add vinegar and vanilla extract.  Beat until frosting holds stiff peaks.  I found this consistency to be very thick and stiff, I wanted something softer to work with.  I beat in 1 tsp of non-dairy milk at a time until I came to a creamier consistency.

If tinting frosting- spoon frosting into separate bowls, one for each color.  I use Wilton gel food colors and found the best way to scoop them out is to break off a small piece of fettuccine or spaghetti noodles to use as a “spoon”.  I get a good amount of coloring but not too much (a little goes a long way) and the noodles are cheap, biodegradable, and edible!  (I like to use all edible things when dealing with food.)

Start with just a few dabs of food coloring, mix, and continue until you are happy with your colors!  A few tips:

  • If you are making pastel colors, keep some white frosting reserved in case frosting becomes too dark, that way you can lighten it.
  • Once this frosting dries, the colors become darker, keep this in mind when mixing.
  • This frosting seemed to have a bit of a cream tone to it and when I made purple, it came out looking green instead.  I ended up making purple by mixing the pink and blue.
  • To make swirled or tie dye looking frosting, put all colors in a bowl.  Give it one or two stirs (do not keep stirring or colors will blend) and start frosting your cupcake. This gives the below effect:

Here are the finished iced cupcakes.  I like this style of frosting– not perfect but not messy either.  Just dollop or place a generous amount of frosting on the cupcake.

Press down on the icing to make sure it covers the edges.

Holding your angled spatula in one hand and cupcake in the other, turn cupcake as you place your angled spatulavertically against the side.  This makes a clean edge.

Continue to turn the cupcake and hold your spatula diagonally, to flatten out the frosting and take the excess off.  Once you are happy with the amount, using the tip of the spatula make a swirl on top.

Light pink cupcakes:

Light purple cupcakes:

After all cupcakes were frosted, they were topped with sanding sugar.  I also like placing the finished cakes into another baking cup, it makes it prettier and cleaner looking i think.

Mega-pastel cupcake with sanding sugar:

Both these recipes are very versatile– there are so many variations you can make with diferent colors and decorations for all the holidays coming up!  Get inspired, get creative, and happy baking + decorating!  (And don’t forget to try one…or two when you are done!)

Chandra + Tony’s Wedding Cake!

I had the pleasure of making Chandra + Tony’s wedding cake for their gorgeous celebration yesterday!  Chandra is a fellow Shoe Drop Alumni and talented florist (ChandraAbelDesigns) — we met almost 4 years ago on our way to South Africa.  I am honored she asked me to create something for her special day and was able to be a part of it.

The cake was 3 tiered with gumpaste peonies and garden roses cascading down the cake.  Vikki, Shannon, and Molly from All You Need Is Love Event Planning made the delivery easy and even helped to carry the cake!   You can read more about the cake and check out other ones I have made at my other blog, Sweet Catastrophe.  Sometimes when I am not cooking up vegan dishes, you can find me making custom cakes :) Coming up is a baby shower cake as well as a dummy wedding cake, will share those once they are completed as well!

A portion of proceeds from this cake will be going to Food4Africa and helping to feed the kids at the Ebongalethu Educare Center.  Thank you to the beautiful couple for their contribution!

{9.10.11}
Congratulations Chandra + Tony!  Wishing you both a lifetime of love, happiness, and laughter!

PS: I am obsessed with All You Need Is Love’s blog!  There are so many awesome ideas, even if I am not getting married anytime soon lol