Checkerboard Cake How-To

Originally posted April 9, 2012

So, remember that lovely Easter Bunny Cake Topper? I had the cake topper prepared, but I needed a cake for it to top. What I settled on was a checkerboard cake. This was a 3 layer, 9″ round cake that, when cut, looks like a checkerboard on the inside. It looks pretty neat, and is much simpler to make than many would care to believe, so today I’d like to share with you how it’s done!

The first thing you’ll need is cake. I used a simple vanilla cake recipe and then coloured half of it pink, and the other half light yellow, after separating the batter into two separate bowls. You can also use two cake batters, such as vanilla and chocolate, or whatever suits your fancy. Keep in mind, however, that when using two different batters you’ll have to pay attention – not every cake has the same baking temperature or baking time, which could be problematic. For simplicity’s sake, that is why I chose to simply colour my cake batter. Given that it was for Easter, I thought the pastel colours looked nice together and suited the occasion nicely.

The next thing you’ll need is a checkerboard cake pan set. I’m sure that if you can’t find one of these handy sets (I found mine at a local Michael’s), or if you just don’t want to pay for one (I found mine on sale), there is probably a way to do this in some makeshift fashion – I found an alternative to the pan set, which you can see here. Let me know if it works!

Now that you have the batter, and the necessary equipment, what you’re going to do next is actually quite simple:

1. Grease cake pans (or flour them, or prepare them in some way so that the cakes don’t stick)
2. Place the dividing rings in the first cake pan, and fill the center ring with cake batter. I used pink first, and found it was easiest to fill the pans using a large serving spoon.
3. Fill the middle ring next, holding the divider in place, with the second colour of batter (yellow, in my case).
4. Fill the outer ring with the first colour (pink), still holding the divider in place. Once the third and final ring has been filled, pull the dividing ring out of the cake pan, being sure to lift it straight up so as not to disrupt your cake batter.
5. Rinse the dividing ring thoroughly and dry it, before placing it in the next cake pan. Then, proceed to fill the second cake pan in the same way that  you did the first. Use the same colour pattern, which in my case was pink in the center and outer rings, with yellow in the middle. These two layers, which are now the exact same, will be the top and bottom layers of the cake.
6. For the middle layer of the cake, again rinse the divider and then position it in the third pan. This pan is going to be filled in the opposite way of the first two. In my case, I filled the center with yellow, then proceeded to fill the middle with pink batter, and then the outer ring with yellow batter.
7. Bake and cool the cakes as directed according to the recipes.8. Level the layers as necessary, and then frost and layer the cake. Begin with one of your two matching layers, as it will be the bottom. Layer icing over the top (I used vanilla buttercream) and then position the opposite cake layer on top. Again, ice the top and then position the third layer.
9. Now, ice the cake as desired, cut, and serve!

When you cut into the cake, you should find that you have achieved a checkerboard appearance! This cake has always been a hit for me, and it can be done in so many ways! Once  you get the hang of the dividing ring, feel free to change up the colours, add more in, change batters, etc! I have made several checkerboard cakes, and a few of my favourites included:

– A vanilla and chocolate checkerboard cake with raspberry buttercream icing
– A chocolate and banana checkerboard cake with cream cheese icing, and
– A vanilla checkerboard cake that I coloured using red, green, and white for christmas

Try out some of your own combinations and please feel free to share them either in the comments below or on the Facebook and Twitter pages! Feel free to subscribe the blog, and enjoy your checkerboard cakes until next time!

DIY Cake Topper

Originally posted April 5, 2012 (This is an Easter themed post, but the same idea would apply for any cake topper you wanted to make)

Happy Easter! With Easter looming on the horizon, I needed a cake for the big family dinner – and no ordinary cake, mind you. Something special. After seeing a video on Youtube, I knew just what my cake needed – a white chocolate Easter bunny topper.

Not only did this cake topper look great, it was so simple to make! Much simpler than your friends and family will care to believe, trust me! In fact, I’m going to tell you exactly how you can do it yourself (or any other topper you wish, really).  The steps are as easy as can be:

1. The first thing you’ll need to do for this bunny cake topper is find a relatively simple bunny image (Google Images works wonders for this) and print it.
2. Tape the image to a cookie sheet, making sure that it is laying perfectly flat and will not be moving around on you.
3. Tape a layer of waxed paper over the image (this is going to be your working surface, so make sure it’s secure). You’ll want to use waxed paper because you can see through it to see the outline of your image.
4. Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
5. Let the chocolate cool just slightly – you want it to still be liquid, but you don’t want to burn yourself if it’s too hot.
6. Prepare a decorating bag with a small round tip, and then fill the icing bag with the white chocolate.
7. Follow the outline of your bunny, tracing it with the white chocolate.
8. Fill in the remainder of the bunny (once I’d done this, I also used a spoon to smooth out the chocolate a bit. I still wanted some texture, but not quite as much as filling in the bunny left)
9. Decorate if desired – I added some mini marshmallows for a fluffy tail, and a butterscotch chip for an eye
10. Allow to cool and harden (I put it in the freezer – it doesn’t take long, and will keep overnight for use later if desired)
11. Position on the cake, and voila (I stood it up in icing and found that it remained quite stable).

Easy as can be, right? And it looks pretty nice on that cake! (Which I’ll be telling you about in a couple of days, once I have photos of the inside, because there is quite a surprise in there awaiting you! You can subscribe to the RSS feed to find out about that post ASAP) This can be done in smaller versions for cupcakes, and of course you can use any image for any time of year. This process can also be done with buttercream icing to make an icing transfer by simply allowing each colour and layer of buttercream to freeze entirely before moving on to the next layer of colour.

Try out your own cake toppers and leave a comment about how it works!

Gum Paste Molds – For The Lazy Girl In Us All

Originally posted March 27, 2012
With the exception of the past two days, we’ve been blessed with gorgeous spring weather recently! Taking that into consideration, I used the spring as a theme in a recent cake I made for a school celebration. The cake was my favourite chocolate cake, the recipe for which you can find mentioned a million times in various posts!

What I really wanted to talk about was how simple it was to make this cake, though some of the details look quite intricate. What you’ll take away from this post is not only a simple way to make pretty cakes, but also that I’m a bit lazy (well, not lazy per se, but I sure wouldn’t take the time to craft each flower on my own).

To start, I covered the cake in chocolate buttercream, and the followed that with a layer of fondant. This was a simple marshmallow fondant made from green mini-marshmallows.

Next, I divided gum paste into three sections, colouring them blue, pink, and brown respectively. I’ve come to find that gum paste is much nicer to work with than fondant, so I chose it for the decorations as opposed to the fondant that I’d usually used previously.

Now, here’s the real trick – gum paste molds. They are quite possibly the easiest thing to use, honestly. There are several different Wilton ones to choose from, and I chose a spring themed one. Simply dust the molds with corn starch (I’m sure icing sugar would work well too) and then push the gum paste into the molds. Carefully remove the gum paste and trim any areas that may need trimming. Voila, easy peasy.

To attach the gum paste, I used a small brush and sum water but you can of course use gum glue. Once the pieces were attached, I painted sugar dust onto the flowers for some extra dimension. The cake was a hit, and I think (despite my protest that it was much easier than it looked) I was given much more credit than necessary for this quick little cake. It really does look like spring in a cake though, and tasted alright too!

Taste the Rainbow Cake

 

Originally posted Feb 28, 2012

If you’ve met me, you know that I set pretty high standards for myself. You may or may not also know that I don’t like to lose – I’m a little bit competitive and I don’t like to say no to a challenge. Having said that, recently a friend posted an image to my personal Facebook wall. There was a simple caption with the image, which read. “Do you accept the challenge?” The photo can be seen on the right.

I didn’t think twice about it. Of course I accepted, informing him that he’d have to eat the cake once I’d made it. This was to be a six-layer, rainbow cake with white fondant and a meme on top. I created the meme in advance using gum paste. I coloured a portion of it black and left the remainder white to create the meme. Once it was ready, it was set aside to harden while I focused on the cake.I used a basic vanilla cake recipe from Baking With The Cake Boss for this cake. The recipe suggested that it was enough cake batter to make two 9″ round layers. Once I had the batter prepared, I divided it equally among 6 different bowls – this was about 3/4 cup of batter per bowl. Once I had the batter divided, I added a little bit of soft gel paste food colouring to each bowl. This was the first time I’d used these food colours and they were great! The colour was extremely vibrant and stayed vibrant once baked.
Once the batter was coloured, I sprayed the 9″ cake pans with non-stick spray and then

poured in the batter. Since there was very little batter for each colour, the cake layers took significantly less time to bake. I found that each layer only took 12-15 minutes. Because the layers are so thin, you want to be careful not to over bake them or they’ll be dry. I started checking each layer around 10 minutes.While the layers cooled, I prepared a butter cream icing (basic white, to accent the vibrant colours) to use to assemble the cake. As there were so many layers, I used a fine layer of icing between each so as not to have too much. Once the entire cake was iced, I covered the cake in white fondant, and then positioned the pre-made meme on the top.

I was pretty happy with how this cake turned out. Once we cut into it, the inside looked great. This was also much simpler to make than it looked, and was a hit with those who saw it. It would make a great cake for birthdays or other colourful events!

Scrumptious Cream Cheese Frosting

 

The cream cheese frosting I used for the filled Red Velvet cupcakes came from Cupcake Diaries, although I used more vanilla than the recipe suggested. I also used this recipe with the Maple Chocolate Chip Cupcakes by adding 1/4 cup maple syrup to the mixture. It’s such a versatile icing in that you can add so many flavours to it, and it’s not too sweet, too cheesy, or too buttery. It’s that perfect sort of melt-in-your-mouth yumminess.

4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup)
6 oz cream cheese (3/4 brick of cream cheese)
4 cups icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla (I use about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup maple syrup (if making maple cream cheese frosting)

Beat all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer until well combined and smooth. I like to beat my icing on high for a couple of minutes once everything is combined to make the icing lighter (unless I’m covering it with fondant or something where it’s going to be flattened anyway).