Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You Want A Piece Of Me? Stormtrooper Cake

I like to consider myself a baker. The more I bake the more I feel like I'm honing my skills. I'm learning more about chemistry, art and math and I feel proud of how I've improved over the last year or so. 
I start thinking; Yeah, I can do anything!
Then I see this:

Yup... That's a cake... A 6'4, 300 lb cake... In the shape of a Stormtrooper. 
I've got a long way to go...

But you know what? I want to be able to make stuff like this, maybe not exactly like this, but why not? What's stopping me? Nothing, that's what. Maybe in a few years when you look at this blog, I will be making Stormtroopers or Jabba the Hutt or a replica of the Starship Enterprise. I'm going to work on that.

Anyway, take a look at the awesome process of building a cake like this!

This beautiful cake was created for the hungry patrons at the Arisia Sci-Fi Convention in Boston, MA.  The stormtrooper stands at 6 feet 4 inches tall, weighed at least 300 lbs, and fed nearly 600 hungry conventioneers!

The building of the Stormtrooper cake was an epic event in and of itself.  It took our entire wonderful crew of ten people two full weeks of to put this guy together (although the cake wasn’t added until 2 days before it was to be served).  Along the way we even had to invent completely new cake making methods so it could be put together modularly onsite, hold its fondant over long vertical stretches, and stand on two beautifully sculpted Rice Kripsy legs that supported his 300 lb body –all while keeping every bit of cake tasting light, fluffy, and delicious!

It was a challenge to say the least, but we’re all incredibly proud, as we think it is perhaps the greatest sculpted cake ever created.  A bold statement for sure, but we think think that the photos speak for themselves. - Amanda Oakleaf Cakes

They even made the blaster!!

I wonder if it hurts them to see their creation looking like this or if they just feel a great sense of triumph? I'm going with triumph. What an amazing feat!
Check out more pictures of the progress here.

Thanks to Geekology and Danielle for bringing this to my attention. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some learning to do ;)

Challenge #10: Going Nuts For Coconut

Remember when I made those pineapple cupcakes for that small dinner party I had? Well this past weekend, there was a surprise party for one of those guests. Because my cupcakes have always gone over well at things like parties and I get lots of great feedback, I decided to break out The Icing On The Cupcake and try another challenge. This time Going Nuts For Coconut aka coconut cupcakes.

3/4 pound (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp potato starch (corn starch)
1/2 tsp finely ground salt
1 cup coconut milk
14 oz sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325'. Place 24 paper liners in cupcake tray.
Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat another 2 minutes.

Add vanilla and coconut extracts. Whisk flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Alternating the flour mixture and coconut milk, add them to batter. Start and end with the flour mixture.

Can I just say that coconut milk might be my new favorite thing ever? Seriously, mix some into a glass of milk! Yummy!

Fold in coconut.

Pour batter into paper liners. Fill 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then place on a baking rack.

American Buttercream

3/4 pound (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound of cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 pounds (3 cups) icing sugar, sifted

Cream butter, cream cheese and extracts together with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. 
(Figure out how many cups make up a pound by changing pounds into oz and oz into tsp and then tsp into cups. Them congratulate yourself for still being good at math)
Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
 Frost cupcakes

You may notice that the icing is really white. I added White-White Icing Colour to really brighten up the cupcakes. Just mix it into the icing like you would any food colouring for instant results.
I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but these might be my new favorite recipe. The cupcakes are light and fluffy and the coconut is very understated. The American Buttercream icing is to die for! It's not quite as sweet as a regular buttercream and not as dense as a regular cream cheese frosting, plus the coconut flavour is fantastic!
Usually when I take cupcakes to a party there are at least a few cupcakes left over at the end of the night; not so with these. People didn't eat just one, some had multiple! They were that good. People kept coming up to me all night and telling me how great they were! YAY!
I will totally make these again in the future.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Star Wars Sugar Cookies: Flood Addition

You may recall when I started this blog back in 2010, I goal was to make Star Wars Cookies that looked like this

Well, today I am one step closer to this awesomeness.

This past weekend I learned how to flood cookies! YAY!
What is flooding, you ask? It's a technique that I've been reading on some of may favorite baking blogs like Bake At 350 and have wanted to try for years. It's how you get your icing to looks super smooth; like the picture above.

Here's a video to give you an idea of how it works.

Since my royal icing sucks, I decided to try out her recipe as well, which I have decided that I like much, much better than mine.

4 tbsp meringue powder
scant 1/2 cup water (as in not quite)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)
Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. (I added almond extract)
Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.
(You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.
This "stiff" icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding." - Royal Icing 102
Now, before I show you my flooded cookies, lets take a trip in time to see my Star Wars cookie progress so far.

June 2010

Remember us? Don't you wish you could forget again?

July 2010

A little bit better? I'm not so sure.

Well, this time I wanted to do it right. There are 2 reasons for this;
1) Ron's sister and her girlfriend bought me the only set of Star Wars cookies cutters that I didn't have for Christmas! Now I own all of them!! (Thanks Sam and Rico!!)
2) I had been commissioned to make a Boba Fett bag for this really nice guy to give to his girlfriend for Christmas, but I underestimated the time it would take to get there and it didn't arrive in time! I was horrified, but they were really great about it, so I decided to make and mail them some Star Wars cookies to make it up to them.
So I started off by outlining the cookies

Note: Don't waist time with details that you'll just end up flooding over and having to redo. Learn from my mistake. Let that fully dry before adding the flooded icing.

As you can see, most of the detail is hidden, and what isn't didn't turn out as well as I wanted.
You may also notice that some of the scalloped cookies seem to have stuff on them. Well, Sam and Rico also got me the Star Wars Cupcake Stencil Set so I decided now was the perfect time to try them out.
These bad boys are curved slightly for cupcakes, so they didn't quite sit flat, which made them a little hard to use. Also, coloured sanding sugar is a little too coarse to work properly, a shimmer dust would've worked much better. As it were, I went wit icing sugar and it worked pretty well. Since I was already using the sifter, I sifted the sugar to get a nice soft, even coat.

Finally, once all the flood icing is dry, you can add the detail back on and voila, your cookies are done!

Tie fighters are hard to decorate... Oh and that weird Death Star was me trying out some food colour markers that I got for Christmas

I like the black outlined Darth Vader's better that the white

Is it just me or does this picture remind you of KISS?

So, I know I'm not up to professional quality yet, but I do totally think that I'm on my way. Practice makes perfect, right?
Now, all that was left was to package some of them up and mail them. I used this guide from Allrecipes and I think I did pretty good. I can't wait til they receive them! Hopefully they'll all be in one piece. They seem like such a nice Star Wars couple. He even sent me pictures of her with her new bag!

isn't she adorable? What a great Christmas gift ;p

Speaking of Christmas, check out some of the awesome things I got!

My mom got me heart measuring cups and spoons!!! YAY!

Ron got me a really kick-ass pasta maker with a ravioli attachment! (don't worry, more on that to come)

Oh yeah! Stormtrooper Mug!!!

My Mother also got me this amazing apron!

I love cherries!!!

Look at the cute checkered ruffle around the bottom!!

And, as mentioned above, Food Writers!! Darth Vader has never looked so colourful!