How ya doing? … I know. It’s the most innocuous, casual times question in the normal world. But we’re not in the normal world right now. I thought I’d post a cake from many months ago… just to post something pretty. Something to gaze at, something colourful! I hope you are all doing ok!
A combination of abstract painted buttercream and “put it in your bag and pipe it” buttercream piping, a birthday cake I made for my mom’s good friend, back when you could celebrate birthdays and be together with no invisible threat of illness. Carefree cake-eating days, they were…
Sending lots of love to all of you, and a hope that all of this may be better soon… xo Lyndsay
Kawaii Chewbacca cake!!! I made this cake for my newest nephew, baby Elliott, future Star Wars mega fan, ha. Cute right?? Well lemme tell you… this Chewbacca cake started off the opposite of cute. In fact, he started off as a big old cake-stuck-in-the-pan mess. I forgot to spray my cake pans with my usual vegetable oil spritz. Just dumped the old batter into the pans… and of course it baked right on to it. It took some woman power to wedge the round cake out, but in doing so, a whole chunk of it broke apart. But, if at first your cake looks like a piece o’ poo, persevere! Push through! And you may end up with this guy:
Kawaii Chewbacca cake is essentially my Wilton sports ball cake pan baked up with two other layers of chocolate cake, crumb coated in chocolate buttercream then piped in Chewbacca’s frontal cowlick hair growth pattern. Teensy white teeth, and a black strip of fondant with white fondant rectangles on top to mimic his bandolier strap (I obviously googled the strap name, I am not that Star Wars deep-nerd.)
Ah, my old friend Jabba the Hutt cake, from May the 4th be with you!
So who’s next in the Coco Cake Land Star Wars kawaii cake series?? Kawaii Bib Fortuna?? Lol. (I googled Bib Fortuna cake actually and found nothing. NOTHING! But I totally get it. No one wants to eat that sadistic, ill-skinned face with red eyes and his extended gooey duck penile head wrap-around feature. Or more specifically – “He is a member of the Twi’lek species, humanoids distinguished by the pair of long tentacular appendages that protrude from the back of their heads.” xo Lyndsay
Happy 2020! I’ve been hibernating in a deep January funk, but clawing my way out as teensy signs of Spring appear in our neighborhood. Back in November, my favourite Donna emailed me asking me if I would like to create something for Cherry Bombe Jubilee Seattle. After telling her that I was feeling a bit scared of America, she assured me Trump wouldn’t be at Seattle Jubilee and that I must come! Hehe. The first idea I had in mind was for a giant beautiful buttercream-piped sheet cake. But, I had to test that idea out at home first before building it across the border… buttercream sheet cake testing began! I settled on vanilla cream cake with a vanilla milk soak, topped with swiss meringue buttercream piped in rosettes, drop stars and leaves dotted with cherries and raspberries. CUTE!
When you work from home, sometimes you end up baking in your jam-jams. This cake weighed quite a bit, so lifting it several times meant I could skip the gym.
BUT HOW TO PLATE IT?? I needed it to look modern, colourful and beautiful – it was Cherry Bombe Jubilee, after all – the food is always gorgeous and delicious so I was definitely feeling the pressure. The cake had to be chilled so I could get a clean buttercream cut – but not TOO chilled as I didn’t want the cake to dry out. Hence, the vanilla milk soak.
Option one: clean and simple.
Option two: raspberry for tang factor, and sprinkled freeze dried raspberry for texture and tang.
I sliced many little pieces of cake to test… man I have a lot of cute plates!! I decided on the single raspberry and freeze dried sprinkles… it had such a nice flavour blast. So off I went to Seattle! For the week prior I had been blasting a whole lotta Hole, Nirvana and … the Singles movie soundtrack, hehe, to mentally get in that Seattle headspace. I also wore my Doc Martens to Seattle because – GRUNGE.
My awesome helpers in Seattle – Sid and Chloe!!
All set up at my table, ready to sling cake! I met so many cool, kind folks!
Hehe. Yes I did call it Holy Sheet Cake.
Amazon Home Lounge!! With my sweet pal Antonia, holding a pair of cherry dingle balls.
The wonderful Book Larder was there too and they had my books for sale along with many other incredible cookbooks by the powerhouse crew of authors at Jubilee.
And look at this friendship!! I think Kerry must have 6,000 in real life friends, everyone wants to hang out with her and know her – I always feel lucky when she shines her beautiful light my way, cause she’s the coolest and such a huge supporter of little people big world cake people like me.
The upside down!!! Look at those tiny compostable plates! And I went with the juicy berry blast with a sprinkling of crisp freeze dried raspberries.
I also got to attend a very delicious dinner hosted by Open Table at Rene Erickson’s Bar Melusine. Look at those beautiful tile floors!! I mostly gabbed it up with my main cutie pal Donna, who feels like one of my American cousins, and my cool pal Antonia from Amazon. Rolllled out of dinner, got dropped off at my hotel and snoozed the night away. Twilight was playing on the telly as I packed up all of my goodies from Cherry Bombe Jubilee Seattle – pots and pans from Amazon, silver wrapped sticks of precious Kerrygold butter, beautiful cookbooks purchased from Book Larder and a bag ‘o swag. Another super duper fun Cherry Bombe event…! Chinese pumpkin is blessed once again.
Oh deer – I’ve let another few months slip by without posting a single thing to my blog. I had a very busy November and early December – three trips!! And a very busy Coco Cake Land Autumn. Mix that all up with some existential cake career angst. And now here we are, practically deep December as soon as we blink our eyes into tomorrow. Our Christmas tree is up and sparkling and accidentally extra tall. I laced the Christmas lights around the beautiful-scented thing myself – and when I got to the very bottom, all proud of myself, I realized there was no plug-stickie-things to plug into the extension cord, just the… female side (ugh, I do not know electrical plug terminology) of the string of lights?? I make no sense but neither do these Christmas lights. So I haphazardly jammed another string of random lights from maybe the early 2000s into one of the upper strings, dangling down the back of the tree, trying to achieve plug-in status. I achieved it! The whole time Teddy kept saying “just let DAD do it” haha… nope. I PERSEVERED! Then, we played “Night Club” (Teddy’s idea) and at “Night Club” you get to do whatever you want (ok…??) so we had nachos for dinner and watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. If you’re at all feeling the Christmas Blues this season, watch a little Snoopy Flash Beagle to cheer up your mind.
I made this sweet faced little pink deer cake friend for one of my sweet faced little friends – adorable Saya who turned nine years old in September. It’s funny, right now I feel like the Sahara Desert in terms of cake designs and ideas. Like painfully dry of any cake creativity. I wonder if my cake mojo will return? It always has in the past… a surreal and mildly stupid story: I was in San Francisco with my dear mom last weekend, it was her 75th! birthday wish to see Hamilton The Musical – and I was in the hotel room mindlessly watching the Food Network (I don’t have cable so flipping through garbage-goodness TV like Say Yes to the Dress is a real treat) and there’s yet another holiday baking challenge of some kind on the food channel, but this time it’s for cupcake pull-apart cakes. And the example they chose to show for what a cupcake pull-apart cake was somebody’s version of my cake, the very hungry caterpillar cupcakes party train from 2009!!! I laughed out loud and Home-Aloned my face with my hands – bizarre that I should be watching this random show and see my cake design cited like that. I’m sure some lowly paid production assistant just did a quick google and grabbed the image off the internet.
Ah, to be as casual-smiley as this pink deer cake! I should take a page from its pink buttercream emblazoned face. Zen Christmas, everyone!! xo Lyndsay
It’s #TOTOROWEEK – also known as the week leading up to Halloween, as created by my blog bestie Steph of I Am A Food Blog! For the past several years, we’ve been making Totoro themed food and cakes just for the Totoro heck of it. Phewf, I got in just under the wire with this kawaii Jiji The Cat furry buttercream cake! I’ve been wanting to make a black cat cake ever since we got our sweet beloved kitty, Rex. Rex is five years old, and he’s from the local SPCA. He was a mangy skinny thing when we first met him – and he was ravaged with fleas and patches of missing fur all over him. Now he’s a slightly plump, sleek little panther who is almost brutally loving. Like he sleeps on my neck, or on the top of my head like a hat, or on top of my legs like a leg prison, and he’s always purring. You can scoop him up like a rag doll and he never complains! He is a sweetheart. Teddy made him a perch out of cardboard boxes and a glue gun – Rex loves it, though I am scared that it may not be the sturdiest, lol… Jiji the cat is not from Totoro, but Jiji is from Kiki’s Delivery Service, another Miyazaki film – so I gave myself some creative license! :P (I could also have made this into a soot sprite!)
Have you ever made black buttercream? The secret is to use black cocoa powder. It has a slightly bitter and licorice-y taste in my opinion – so make sure to counter it with either melted, cooled chocolate and enough sugar. I also used maybe half a teaspoon of black gel colour – way less than I would normally have to use if I didn’t do the black cocoa powder! Another tip for getting your buttercream black is to let it sit for an hour or so to darken, even overnight. When I started piping Jiji he was a dark greyish shade, but he was a pleasant shiny black by the time I was finished photographing him! I didn’t really have a total plan for this Jiji the cat cake – the face I kind of made up on the fly, and I gave him DILATED PUPILS simply because I was worried you wouldn’t be able to see the black fondant eyes on top of the black buttercream! The bowtie was my albatross – I made it a few different times out of fondant, but then I thought it looked weird just perched on Jiji’s chin, like a red beard-bow goatee mashup:
I dunno, what do you think?? So I ditched the fondant attempts… I thought about making a fondant topper to insert into the cake, but the size of the bow would’ve been too heavy and wouldn’t have anchored into the cake very well. CRAFT PAPER TO THE RESCUE!
I cut out a long strip of paper, folded both sides to meet in the center, used scotch tape to adhere and punched out a little red circle using my trusty craft circle punch for the center. I taped it onto a thin straw (I will never buy plastic straws again in my life – GO GREEN – but I had these leftover from my wedding from 2007!)
I inserted the red bow topper into the front of my kitty cake.
SUPER CUTE! I love how this furry Jiji the cat cake turned out! And LONG LIVE TOTORO WEEK!!!! (click on the “totoro week” tag below to see all the past Totoro week cakes!) xo Lyndsay
Have you ever baked with your child? AKA, have you ever BLOWN YOUR TOP in the kitchen because of the flour and sugar sandstorm, the cracked eggs all over the counter, the spilled milk… hehe. Ahhh but thank goodness for this awesome Kickstarter project: the cutest new cookbook for kids – KIDDOZ! It’s an interactive cookbook and colourful measuring cup set, featuring hilarious cartoon characters and illustrated step-by-step instructions, just for kids! Teddy and I had a blast making a buried treasure cake from the book.
The book’s instructions are all adorable step-by-step illustrations, using the faces of the characters as the measurements – so for example, Carlton the cat = 1/3 cup of sugar – but Teddy would read it as “one Carlton of sugar, mom!!” There’s also QR codes (I had to google what those were called, it’s that black and white square thingie that you point your phone at “for more information”, haha) on each page so you can watch VIDEOS of each project being made! Interactive, indeed!
I winced in a little bit of mental pain as Teddy cracked the eggs for this (DELICIOUS!!) cake – lots of eggshell bits, but we fished them all out – the buried treasure cake itself is a very simple recipe, and it bakes up like an angel food cake. Our cake rose up beautifully in the oven but then slumped as it cooled – I think we should’ve baked it for longer, which we will do next time – but it gave us some creative problem solving to do!!
I helped Teddy cut away the centre of the cake to make room for the $38 worth of chocolate gold coins I bought for this project, ha… (more on this later…!) He had a blast dumping the coins in and packing the top pieces of cake back onto it.
The chocolate mascarpone frosting was SCRUMPDIDDLYUMPTIOUS – I helped Teddy smooth out the frosting a bit, as the cake was somewhat fragile and we worried it would tear a little. (It didn’t!)
Teddy had a blast dumping (literally) the Oreo crumbs onto the cake for dirt! He chose two Playmobil characters as “diggers” and then added a big old pile of sprinkles, and sticks of Pocky. I had to restrain myself from doing any of the cake decorating – but I also loved seeing Teddy’s very liberated “freedom of decoration” mindset!! I am jealous of his ease in the casual dumping of Oreo crumbs and random placement of sprinkle piles and Pocky sticks…
Proud of his cake!!!
And the final product! It was so much fun cutting into this cake and seeing the sparkly gold coins inside!
We brought the cake to my sister’s for her birthday, and Teddy’s cousins went wild over the cake, and the Kiddoz cookbook! The amount of coins we used ended up being a little bit of overkill, I think bought seventy or so in the bulk bins at a grocery store – BUTTTTT, I brought the leftover cake and any untouched coins home, carefully wiped each gold coin free of cake debris, and have set them aside for use for another cake! SMART MOVE, ME!!
The KIDDOZ cookbook not only has a whole sweets section, but also a savoury section too! We’ve got PIZZA CAT, the ladybug quiche, magic butterfly cake, and the waffle castle on our to-do list! I was kind of cutely amazed how excited Teddy was about his new set, and he was chuckling his way through the cookbook at all of the little cartoon antics on each page, and marvelling at all the recipes he wanted to make.
Thank you so much KIDDOZ for sending Teddy and I this awesome set! He loved it, and we can’t wait to make more of the recipes! You can learn all about the KIDDOZ interactive cookbook and measuring cups set Kickstarter campaign here! Purchase it now for the Kickstarter price of 32 euros (about $25 USD). Happy baking with kids, my friends! xo Lyndsay This post was sponsored by Kiddoz, but all enthusiastic opinions are all my own!
Some days I feel so STUCK in my own aesthetic. While I love creating animal cakes and piping buttercream and coming up with super duper kawaii faced creature cakes, I also long to bust outta my cake box. This is what I love about Instagram – coming across new cake decorating techniques and being awe-inspired by fellow cake designers! When I first came across Amanda’s cakes, I fell in loooove with her clean, vibrant and artful style, and immediately hit the Follow button. Then when I saw her recent online Abstract Buttercream Painting Course I bought it IMMEDIATELY. (I also happened to catch it at 50% off – she often has discount sales so follow her for announcements!) This was perfect timing, as I was doing a sponsored Insta post with iDeal of Sweden (a cool phone accessories company!) and wanted to try and make one of their phone case designs into an abstract buttercream painted cake.
The abstract-y painterly phone case I chose, and the quick drawing I made!
Mixing swiss meringue buttercream colours!
This really felt like painting – I used a plastic easy-to-clean placemat for my palette. For tools, I used my offset spatula, palette knives in a few sizes and paintbrushes designated only for cakes.
The phone case, and the finished product! Fluffy vanilla cake layers and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I don’t want to give away all of Amanda’s lovely secrets from her class, so I recommend taking it and supporting her with your dollars if you can – but I will say, as I tell my son Teddy, making art or drawing things or creating is always a work in progress. It’s never too late to learn new things! So, initially when you add the first stroke of colour you might think you’re making a big old mess. But hang in there, keep painting and being thoughtful with your buttercream painting placement – and I think it’s helpful to start with a drawing, too!
I added tiny sprinkles to the cake too, to emulate the splatter marks of the phone case.
I cannot wait to try more buttercream painted cakes! Other techniques I’d love to try but haven’t – chocolate spheres, gold leaf, GALAXY CAKE, watercolour cake, Katherine Sabbath classic ice cream dripping cake, Katherine’s rainbow marshmallow blob covered cake… ! I’d also love to learn about chocolate making, French pastries, bread making… I better get started. Life is flying by! xo Lyndsay
It’s HALLOWEEEEEEEEN month!! Hooray! To celebrate, I made this kawaii ghost graveyard cake to get everyone in the Halloween mood, hehe.
Wilton Halloween is chock full of awesome cake and cookie decorating supplies to help you get your trick-or-treat on! As soon as I saw the ghost cookie cutter set and the tombstone cookie cutter set, a lightbulb went off – I wanted to make an extra cute ghost graveyard cake with floating ghostie sugar cookies! PLUS… I added Halloween coloured stripes, and used a grass piping tip to make the grassy green ground of a graveyard! I know Halloween cakes are often black, with blood ‘n stuff. But I wanted to keep it Rated G cuteness with this cake! Hey, it still has the goth factor though – little ghosties mixing and mingling above their gravestones.
I also used Wilton lollipop sticks to make cookie lollipops in order to anchor the cookies into the cake! Once you cut out the cookie dough into your desired shape, gently press the stick down into the cookie and bake as normal. You can also “glue” the cookie stick on once the cookies are baked and cooled using royal icing! To ice the cookies, I used Wilton meringue powder to make a very easy and quick royal icing – here’s a good Wilton video showing you how to do it! I always eyeball the consistency – you will want to have two different icing consistencies, one stiffer consistency for outlining the cookie, and one looser consistency for flooding the cookie. All you do is add tiny amounts of water until a looser consistency is achieved. TINY is the operative word here!
I baked my favourite chocolate cake recipe into four 7 x 2 inch round cake layers, then filled the cake with orange, grey and white vanilla buttercream to match the exterior of the cake. I used Wilton’s Color Right system to colour my buttercream!
TIPS FOR YOUR SUGAR COOKIES:
1. Your sugar cookie dough should always be cold – most recipes call for it to be refrigerated at least a few hours before using. After you cut out your shapes, freeze the shapes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to firm up again for about 15-20 minutes before popping in the oven. This step will help the cookies keep their shape!
2. Royal icing dries out quickly! Always cover royal icing bowls and piping bags filed with royal icing with damp paper towels to keep it moist when you’re working! For piping outlines and for the ghost faces and tombstone lettering, I used a very small open circle tip – Wilton #2. To flood the icing, I used a spoon to dollop the looser icing into the centers of the cookies and I used a toothpick to spread the icing to the edges!
3. Once the cookies are iced, sometimes you want to POWER DRY them! I found that my oven was still somewhat warm (but cool enough that I could touch the racks) so I placed the cookies in the barely-warm oven to dry up a little quicker. I also put the oven light on too to try and dry them.
TIPS FOR BUTTERCREAM STRIPES:
1. After you’ve crumb-coated your cake, make sure you add a lot of buttercream to the second layer! You will be pulling away much of the buttercream with your striped cake comb, but if you don’t have a thick enough layer on there, you won’t achieve smooth stripe lines. Once you’ve scraped the striped comb around your cake a few times, freeze your cake for 15 minutes to set.
2. Use piping bags fitted with small open circle tips to fill the coloured stripes. Scrape with a cake bench scraper, and then HEAT UP your bench scraper (place under hot water then dry it) and scrape a few mores times for a very smooth layer. Be careful not to scrape TOO deeply and too much, as you will eventually hit the crumb coat (this has happened to me MANY times!).
3. Practice! My first striped cake was a total fail, and I questioned my whole profession, haha. But, like any new technique, you gotta practice. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Watch VIDEOS of how to do it – here’s a good one, How To Create A Buttercream Striped Cake by Whitney of Sugar + Sparrow Cakes!
Thank you Wilton Cakes for sponsoring this post! Although I’ve been compensated, all opinions are my own, and those who know and love Coco Cake Land know how much I love to use Wilton products in my cake decorating! Happy Halloween cake decorating, my friends! xo Lyndsay