MEOW MIX! I’ve got lots of cakes to share in the coming weeks, including this furry yellow buttercream cutie cat made for sweet little Rosie, two-year-old Vice President of Collage Collage! Rosie loves cats, she loves yellow. Together, with her namesake flower crown? Flower Crown Cat Cake, headed to the feline version of Burning Man or Coachella or wherever love conquers all flower crowns appear most these days. The last time I wore a flower crown was for my Auntie’s wedding in the 1980s. I wore a powder pink dress, my face was a Chinese chipmunk and I fell asleep at the banquet reception, face on the table, a live band playing Could I Have This Dance. I remember that flower crown being very pokey. I am guessing today’s flower crowns are less pokey, but I will never know, because at 41, my flower crown wearing days are very over, unless I join the local theatre troupe.
Equipment used to make this rosey baby: a large multi-opening grass tip to pipe the fur, fondant for the face, a petal tip for the roses, and a leaf tip for the green leaves.
I made this GORGE pretty in pink cake for my food blogger pal Samantha of My Kitchen Love. Before I tell you more, may I bore you with some life inner monologue?
My “cake career” has had so many ups and downs, and has morphed and changed with the tides over the course of a decade plus. In 2008 it started out as a document of the trials and tribulations of learning how to bake, a newness and excitement to the medium. Then, I started making a few cakes for friends, then clients… documenting it all on my blog. Some of those cakes were pretty cute, which brought more and more traffic to my blog, and then… knock knock on the blog door… outside interest – the lure of paid posts, money?? For making and creating what I loved doing anyway? NOICE… So turning the cake baking and photography and styling into jobs via sponsored work and creating recipes for different brands… chugging away at that for a while (well, you know, amongst prenatal depression and breast cancer treatment)… and then it hit me: INTERNET EXHAUSTION. Seeing sponsored work creep into every crevice, and watching it encroach every orifice of Instagram. Feeling angry and complicit in the capitalist-machine of making work for brands and feeling like a sell-out, loathing the ugly side of the internet… INTERNET DEPRESSION … and trying to find my place of happiness again amongst the madness. Would I quit the internet, finally? What would I do next?? What would my next “career” be, having invested so much time and energy into CAKES for over ten years?
So… after being SO SURE I would never make cakes for people again… I’m finding a soft and gentle comfort in… making cakes for people again. I’ve come full circle back to the tiny cake biz but this time – “JUST CHILLIN’” is my motto. “ZEN CUPCAKE” is my meditation. Making cakes for birthdays … there’s an innocence to it, or a purity somehow – I imagine the sweet little face of the birthday girl or boy as their cake is set before them, glittering candles and Happy Birthday… and that JOY – ahhhhh. And, through finding the gentle joy in baking for the art and enjoyment of it again, I’m feeling re-inspired…
Back to this pretty in pink cake. I made it for Amanda, Sam’s sister-in-law, to celebrate her 40th birthday! I loved every moment of making it, from drawing it out first, to borrowing Teddy’s felts to colour it in, to mixing the batter. The cakes baking in the oven, and that encompassing warmth and comforting smell fills the kitchen. Then, whipping a sticky cloud of meringue for a creamy pink vanilla buttercream, slowly adding pieces of unsalted butter as it whirls around into a creamy thickening soup – and that MAGIC MOMENT when the thick soup beats up into the most dreamy of frostings, the taste of melty vanilla ice cream on a summer day, all ready to be spread and piped onto soft layers of vanilla cake.
I loved building this beauty! Pink and white stripes, ruffles and drop stars and fresh raspberries, filled with Bonne Maman raspberry jam (my fave)! and sprinkled with Sweetapolita sprinkles! White chocolate ganache drips, too.
Although making this lovely cake helped me personally to come back to the world of the living (THE INTERNET)… and to rediscover creating something that I was proud of and excited about – this cake met a very very very sad end. The next day, Sam messaged me saying the waitperson at the restaurant they were eating at DROPPED THE CAKE. Dropped it on the very face of it’s anal-retentively-piped, fretted-over surface!!!!! Not one person got to eat even an iota of cake. The pain, the agony, the INNER TURMOIL!!!!! My immediate reaction was to offer to make another one for the poor birthday girl… but Sam messaged me saying her two lil twin girls were going to bake the make-up cake. Which, is so sweet and special.
So, here lies Pretty In Pink cake – a special cake that helped along one person’s mental health (MINE), made another person’s night hell (WAITRESS) and propelled two sweet little twin girls to make probably the BESTEST cake ever for their awesome Auntie. Rest In Peace, cakey… and Happy Birthday Amanda! xo Lyndsay
“IT’S the most … wonderful time… of the YEAR!” Yep, that’s right – TOTORO WEEK! Where a coupla kooky fun loving blogger buddies get together and make some Totoro stuff to flood the internet, including my main blog squeeze, Steph of I Am A Food Blog! This year, I decided to combine a Halloween kawaii-spooky vibe with Totoro, inspired by cookie queen Vickie… and since I was going for an “undead” green vibe, it seemed right to make a Matcha Frankenstein Totoro cake! Also: SQUARE Totoro equals extra cute Totoro!
For this cake, you will need two piping bags both fitted with either a multi-opening/grass tip, or you can use drop-star tips if you have that on hand. If you only have one piping tip, no problem! Just rinse the matcha buttercream out before piping the plain vanilla buttercream for Totoro’s signature tummy. Of course, you can always omit the decoration and just have yourself a matcha cake with matcha buttercream – but you wouldn’t do that to me, would you?? :P
Matcha Green Tea Cake
For The Matcha Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1 cup whole milk
For The Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For The Matcha Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
Fondant or Candy or Chocolate buttercream for decorating
You can also use paper to make the ears – cut the shape and tape onto wooden skewers!
Make The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 inch square cake pan by spritzing with vegetable oil and lining with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha powder.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry mixture to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Gently mix until incorporated, about one minute.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and use offset spatula to level the batter.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes for doneness, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cool completely on wire rack.
Make The Buttercream(s)
Make both buttercreams at once! We’ll make the entire batch of buttercream ingredients called for above, remove half of the buttercream from the bowl, then add the matcha powder for the second half. Matcha more efficient! :P
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 2 cups of unsalted butter on high speed until fluffy, about two minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar and two teaspoons pure vanilla. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and turn the mixer on low speed to incorporate ingredients.
Once ingredients have melded somewhat, turn the mixer on to high speed, beating until light and fluffy and doubled in volume.
Remove half of the buttercream and place into a medium bowl.
Add the matcha green tea powder to the stand mixer bowl, cover with towel, and beat again to incorporate.
1. Once the cake is completely cooled, use a serrated knife to carefully level the cake.
2. Place a dab of buttercream on a square cake board or appropriately sized plate. Place the single layer matcha cake on top, pressing down slightly to adhere.
3. Using an offset spatula, frost the matcha cake with a layer of vanilla buttercream, smoothing the sides as you go.
4. Chill the cake briefly in the fridge or freezer, about 10 minutes.
5. Fill the first piping bag fitted with a multi-opening grass tip with the matcha buttercream. Pipe the sides of the cake with “fur” – hold the piping bag at a 90 degree angle against the sides of the cake and squeeze piping bag, creating fur. Cover the sides with fur!
6. Looking down at the top of the cake, pipe a semi-circle of matcha buttercream fur, basically leaving a half-circle for Totoro’s vanilla tummy.
7. Pipe the entire top of the cake with the matcha buttercream:
8. Using the vanilla buttercream, fill in the tummy with fur. Store any leftover buttercream in the fridge, covered, for another use, for up to 1 week.
9. Now onto the fondant! Make 3 inch long pointy white ears. Cut a wooden BBQ skewer in two and insert each piece into an ear. Roll out the fondant. Using the clean edge of a piping tip, cut out circle shapes for the eyes in both white and black. Use a tiny drop of water to adhere the black circle to the white circle for the eyes. Hand shape a nose, and using a sharp paring knife, cut out the shapes for whiskers and the “stitches.” Punch out semi-circle shapes for the tummy markings.
10. Insert the ears into the top of the cake, and add all of the fondant bits!
When my little tired guy T came home from his longo bongo day at Kindergarten and saw the Totoro cake, he started crying, he was so sad that Totoro had a cut!! “I wanted to see the WHOLE Totoro, mom!!!” (gulp… I ate that piece, son… :P )
Now slice in to a little square piece of earthy matcha-tea buttercream heaven. Happy Totoro week, my friends! xo Lyndsay
Sometimes in life you just want to look at a freaking cute picture of a rainbow caticorn cake, you know? Yes, that’s right. A majestic unicorn and a very cute chill cat got together one extra-sparkly afternoon and decided to make a baby. I’m not even going to say who was the male and who was the female. I’m hoping the cat was the male. Let’s go with that, based on animal size and general hopefulness. I guess what happened was, the union between cat and ‘corn was just SO MAGIC that the baby turned out to have rainbow buttercream fur. That is ok by me. I am also very into this idea of cross-breeding, it’s like the inter-racial dating of the animal kingdom. Thumbs up over here.
JK, JK! Sorry I’m so weird. I made a rainbow caticorn cake for my good friend Miko‘s daughter’s birthday!! And it was a real hit, and she loved it, and there will be an adorable picture of her with the cake if you scroll down just a scooch more…
This banana bundt cake recipe comes from my pal “Call Me Cupcake.” I’ve known sweet Linda Lomelino for almost a decade now – we’ve both been on the damn internet that long, and I’ve watched her popularity explode, and rightly so: she is so crazily talented, baking and photographing everything in her home in the tiny town of Halmstad in Sweden. Her beautiful “through a glass, darkly” flush-with-romance-yet-modern photography style has been emulated the world over, times infinity – and she shares both recipes and gives away some of her styling and photography secrets in her book third (!) book My Sweet Kitchen. Back when I was feeling more ambitious with my blog (LOL) I interviewed Linda, which you can read here – I still love her answers!
The cool thing about My Sweet Kitchen is that Linda shows her work in progress. There are “before and after” pics of a cake first photographed, then styled differently, then with more bits and bobs added, then edited on the computer to fix white balance or contrast or further saturate colours. It shows the same photograph with different depths of fields, showing how you can make an image with that coveted blurry background, or have everything in focus. My initial idea for this post was to do some before and afters – but dammit, the befores were just SO ugly I couldn’t bear to stink up my precious blog with the pics! Haha. Thank goodness the light changed in my kitchen, creating some interesting shadows, and that I added some pretty edible flowers and berries to my cake. Photographing BROWN ON BROWN is very difficult to make appealing, hehe.
Linda’s book got me thinking about my own photography and styling idiosyncrasies – I have tried and tried to expand out of my “white minimal” background and “lots of white space” vibes but IT IS HARD! Ha. I need more practice in getting outta my photography comfort zone. Anyhow… this banana bundt number is simple and good. Perfect dunked in coffee or alongside a milky tea, and taken to the next level by that bourbon caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I put little slices of the cake in Teddy’s bento box school lunch for the week and he came home with his sandwich half eaten but the cake all gobbled up.
Banana Bundt Cake With Bourbon Caramel Sauce
For The Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 very ripe medium bananas
For The Bourbon Caramel Sauce
2/3 cup light Muscavado sugar (I used light brown sugar) firmly packed
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
Make The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large Bundt cake pan that holds about 2 1/2 quarts.
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Sift the dry ingredients over the butter mixture and add the sour cream. Mash the bananas and add them. Stir until the batter is smooth and holds it shape. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Use a spoon or offset spatula to level the top of the batter, and tap the bottom of the pan against the tabletop to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake in the lower part of the oven for 40 minutes, checking for doneness, and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs.
Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and leave out overnight to develop the flavours.
Make The Caramel
Heat the sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium-high to high heat, stirring occasionally, until everything has melted.
Add the cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and bourbon.
Drizzle some of the sauce over the cake and serve the rest on the side while the sauce is still warm.
Add decorative edible flowers and berries for colour, if desired.
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to serve, to take it over the top!
Sad ghost cake! Hallowiener is upon us so I thought I’d post this ghosty guy I made in the hot drippy heat of July, for no reason at all, except, whoops it’s October and I have an accidental ghost cake to post. I’ve been lite-googling “dinosaur mask paper mache” because I was thinking of being a silver-themed Ultraman-ish villain this year. Mostly because I feel like wearing silver, because I am jealous of Teddy’s silver gloves. Also, I love the kids’ space costumes in this post from Tell Love and Party – SILVER! GLOBE HEADS! Last year I attempted to be Grapes but I messed up my costume – after pinning on a whole bunch of purple balloons onto my purple silk vintage shirt, I couldn’t get the damn shirt on afterward, an engineering fail. The year prior, I went as CAKEHEAD which was pretty cool – “cake in a box!” This year Teddy is so pumped to decorate our house all Halloween-ish. So far we have a fake bloody hand given to us by our old neighbours, hehe. Side note: this ghost cake made me think of none other than Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in the racey penile wet pottery scene in Ghost. This movie came out in 1990 and I totally saw it in the theatres (mom?? I think I was too young). I was such a little innocent that I don’t remember much about the “scenes of a sexual nature” but the final scene where the BAD GUY IS GUTTED BY A VERY LARGE AND INSANELY SHARP SHARD OF BROKEN GLASS and his soul is dragged to hell by rather terrifying black shadows is emblazoned upon my memory. I also remember thinking, when the credits rolled: when Demi sees Patrick again she is going to be an old lady (although she has proven she does not really age!) and he will still be a handsome young man.Time to watch GHOST again, 27 years later!! xo Lyndsay
You Are So Beautiful To Me: For The Love Of Buttercream Cakes
Back in June, we had a cake walk tragedy… and it came to pass that we would have a CAKE WALK BIRTHDAY PARTY this year for Teddy’s fifth birthday. Does the world generally know what a cake walk is?? Or is it a Canadian thing, or a carnival game of yesteryear? It’s like a cake-version of musical chairs, where you walk in a circle, jumping from number to number, and when the music stops, a number is drawn from a hat, and if that number is the one you’re standing upon, you win the cake.
I made nine mini cakes for Teddy’s family birthday party – one for each cousin, plus my sister had two Japanese exchange students visiting. Before you think I’m completely crazy, know this: I love that shit, plus, baking nine cakes wasn’t too bad – I used the ol’ sheet pan method, baking two sheets of cake then punching out layers with a four inch round silver cutter! I whipped up a huge ass batch of vanilla buttercream, filled some piping bags and away I went!
Ground control to Major Ted!! Birthday present astronaut suit. Jealous of those silver gloves.
A happy and excited cake walk winner!! (um, everyone won.) No fork, no problem. Teddy’s squeals of excitement and the cheering of when his number was called and seeing him and his cousins BOOGYING to the music… all worth it! xo Lyndsay
Look at that dreamy fluffy adorable face! It’s so hard not to just snuggle the daylights out of this Rilakkuma cake face. I made this lil guy as a secret surprise for my blog bestie Steph! Three years ago now, I received an email from her saying “hi” and seeing if I wanted to meet up for coffee, since we both live in Vancouver. I love that – blogger blind date! I am a legitimate huge fan of I Am A Food Blog - her and Mike make the most delicious recipes and I love their crisp, stylized photography and overall sense of design. Plus, their Friday Finds are also always some of my favourite reads of the week!
Dark chocolate cake, coffee buttercream and almond toffee crunch – I got the toffee recipe from Erin of Erin Bakes! She has a sweet new book out, and it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure style cake recipe book jammed with cakes, frostings and textural fillings, plus easy decorating ideas and Erin’s comedic writing style. The toffee recipe is dangerously legitimate. Buttery, sweet and salty, and I added toasted salted almonds, making it crazily addictive. The toffee set up like a charm, and I snacked HARD on the leftovers while watching Broad City on Saturday night… oops. Looking forward to making more from Erin’s book!
Oh buddy!!! So sorry for the lobotomy! Steph and I had a fun afternoon power walking in the sun, eating Japanese rice bowls at a cute little cafe and then, cutting into little brownie bear Rilakkuma cake.
I’ve really been enjoying just slowly working on cakes these days. It feels simple and pure, with good intentions. I’ve needed that lately, as I’ve been feeling so crotchety and lite-cynical about the blogging machine. Getting flour-dusted and meditatively piping cakes feels like the right move at the moment. Happy birthday Steph! So glad I finally got to make you a cake, hehe! xo Lyndsay