Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chicken Empanada

Chicken Empanada is a popular Filipino pastry that is stuffed with chicken meat, potatoes, carrots and peas. It's excellent for lunchboxes and snacks to go served hot or cold.

My mother-in-law gave me a tip in making these yummy delights. It's better to make the filling in advance and freeze it. It will be easier to place in the dough and form that empanada shape.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I have been thinking about what dessert to bring to our first ever Christmas gift exchange this year. I checked out Martha Stewart's website and immediately decided to try making my very first cheesecake. But, what kind? After some soul-searching (right?), I decided on making Red Velvet Cheesecake - perfect color to celebrate Christmas.

I am not a huge cheesecake fan. Actually, I'm not a huge cake fan. Hahaha. Ironic, right? I just love to bake. And nothing's more satisfying for me than to have my creations consumed by people important to me. That's what I love and enjoy about baking - sharing it. But this recipe is amazing that I became a fan! I finished two slices one after the other. It's light and smooth, not too rich - hits you in just the right spots.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Purple Zebra Cake

My niece turned 16 and for her cake she wanted the zebra print incorporated with her favorite color, purple. Her 16th party was just a simple get-together of very close friends and relatives, not that elaborate Sweet 16. Being a Filipino, the big party doesn't get done until our 18th birthday. This is a simple design. I wanted to try my hand in making fondant roses and found a video online on how to make it without tools. I think the cake came out pretty good.

I added 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to my usual Marshmallow Fondant recipe to make brown fondant. And then kneaded in the black icing color to turn it black. You will use up less black icing color that way than turning pure white marshmallow fondant black.

This is a pretty easy cake to make with hardly any tools used. Here's how I put everything together.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whenever we crave for some chocolate and give in, I end up baking Chocolate Muffins, to save us from too much guilt. It's easy to make and what I usually bake before a long road trip. The whole family can eat it for breakfast on the road and for snacks when we get hungry in between meals. I found a great recipe from joyofbaking.com. My son loves it. He would gobble up a couple of muffins right out of the oven.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I'm sure everybody has baked Chocolate Chip Cookies before. My first baking endeavor was Betty Crocker's Chocolate Chip Cookie mix. And my son was satisfied with it for the longest time...until I found this recipe online and after so many attempts and tweaking - have become our almost weekly go-to craving fix. My craving to bake something, anything. My son's craving for sweets.

Every time I bake cookies, my son would say, "Mom, this is the best chocolate chip cookies in the world!" It makes me smile and completes my day. But, you know, he's my son. Of course, he'd say that. Right? He's 5.

But last Saturday, I had a surprise visit from a friend/ex-coworker/churchmate and her family. We had Panda Express to-go for dinner and I baked my cookies. I heard her daughter say, "Mom, this is the best cookies I've ever had!" I pretended not to hear it. My friend asked her daughter to repeat what she said to me. Awww...see? I'm smiling again.

Anyway, so I guess it means it's good enough to share. I love sharing. Gotta spread the love.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crostata! - November '10 Daring Bakers

The last quarter of the year is always the busiest for me. My eldest celebrates his birthday in October, mine's in November and my husband's birthday is in December. So, please forgive me if my blogs has slowed down quite a bit. Aside from the birthdays making me busy, it's the holiday season, too.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

I did my best to squeeze in this month's baking challenge by making it for Thanksgiving. We went to my in-laws' house for the get-together. It was a challenge trying to bake in Mom's busy kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. It was a rush and I didn't get to take a lot of pictures.

Crostata...sounds intimidating. But at the same time, sounds delicious, too, right? Anyway, it's basically Italian tarts. A quick Google search, and I found that it's traditionally made without the tart tin and can be filled with anything you like.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Red, White & Blue Cake

I probably should wait to publish this around the Independence Day holiday. But this was the cake I made after the Flower Pot Cake. And I wanted to follow that sequence until I get updated. Make the cake, then post about it a few days later.

Anyway, I made this for my brother-in-law to welcome him home from Iraq. He was gone for almost 5 whole months and we were so glad to have him back safe in our arms. Thus, the patriotic theme and the "Welcome Home". This is quite simple and very easy to make.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chocolate Crinkles

When I was in High School, a classmate would bring Chocolate Crinkles and all of us will try to get our hands on it. I'd be lucky if I could get a bite. So, I felt deprived. When I saw this recipe online, I knew I just have to do it - all those years of deprivation! *tears* Hehehe

I took step-by-step pictures. But unfortunately, my ever efficient husband thought I've already saved them on our computer that he has deleted all of the pictures. But it's really very easy. What's hard is trying to resist the urge of devouring them all in one sitting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's Go Nuts for Doughnuts! - October '10 Daring Bakers

Talk about photo-finish. I've been busy trying to get ready for a vacation and then going on vacation that it took me til deadline to actually make the challenge this month.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

We were also given a choice to make cake doughnuts or yeast doughnuts. I decided to go with Alton Brown's yeast doughnut - one which my son is more familiar with. He would be the one consuming the sinful goodies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

White Bread

We always have bread and usually buy the double loaf sold at Costco. But we ran out and we didn't want to buy another pair of loaves because we are going on vacation real soon. Anyway, I decided it's time I try to bake a loaf of bread.

I found a great recipe from Allrecipes.com with almost 2,000 5-star reviews - can't go wrong with that, right? I started at around 8:30pm, it was ready by 11pm. And yes, my son smelled the freshly baked bread and wanted to eat that late. I, of course, restrained myself.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flower Pot Cake

Here's a really nice cake for Mother's Day or for a garden-theme party or for whatever occasion a flower pot cake would be a perfect fit. You can change the kind of fondant flowers you can put on the flower pot depending on the flower cutters you have or if you can pipe your flowers directly on the cake, even better. But since I've confessed that I'm not really good with piping anything, I'd stick with fondant flowers. In this case, daisies. I just made a few flowers in advance. I think about 12 or 15. Then on the day of serving the cake, I just placed them on top of the cake.

I made this cake for my mother-in-law's birthday. To create the pot shape,  I just baked my cake on a Pyrex 2-Cup measuring cup. I didn't think I'd be writing a blog when I made my first cakes. I wish I  took step-by-step photos. But I'll try to be descriptive as possible.

Here's how I did it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Decorated Sugar Cookies - September 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge

It's that time of the month again. Not THAT time of the month. The Daring Bakers Challenge time of the month.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Disney Fairies Cake

My god-daughter was turning 3 years old. She has been one of the few people who taste-tested my first fondant cake and she loved it. So, for her birthday party, I made this birthday cake for her. I had a month to prepare and plan for it. Her parents (my friends) were very supportive and really believed in me that I was both excited and anxious about it. They give me this Disney Fairies figurine set to put on the cake.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Baked Alaska and Petit Fours - August 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge

August was my first month as a Daring Baker. The Daring Kitchen is the home of The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks. The premise of both groups is to create one recipe each month, given to us by a monthly host. We all create the same exact recipe and then post about it on our personal blogs on a designated date. And so here I am on my first challenge and already a week late

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I have to admit that I was nervous about this first challenge. Ice cream from scratch? Torch? Meringue? Petit Fours? Brown Butter? What??!? I got so close to foregoing the whole thing but then the weather got so hot that I decided...hmmm...maybe I can try making Ice Cream.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fondant Baby Converse Shoes

This is my finale cake for my Wilton Class. I made Fondant Baby Converse shoes as a topper and gave this cake to my husband's coworker for her son's baptism.

My first encounter with a fondant cake was in a baby shower where the mother-to-be brought this beautiful cake with Pink Converse Shoes as topper. I've been thinking about it ever since and hoped to make something like it someday.

Here's the fruit of my research. I found the template from cakecentral. Thanks to stellarchild for sharing this.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

After coming home from a quick weekend getaway, I realize that we have almost a full bag of buttermilk bread about to go stale. I wanted to avoid the inevitable waste, so I figured that I should whip up something to make it useful.

I found this recipe for pudding that had good reviews online and just tweaked it up a little bit to make it not too sweet. This is so yummy! My husband and son inhaled it. It's really good for using up old bread and over ripe bananas which is always the case in our house.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cream Cheese Spirals

I wanted to try baking something different but had no idea what to do. So, I grabbed this Baking book I picked up from Barnes & Noble for $5 and looked for something that's simple and easy to do.

I picked Cream Cheese Spirals. I had all the ingredients and it will allow me to learn something new. It looked like it would be good with coffee for breakfast or dessert.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Decorating Basics: Wilton Method Course

I did a couple of cakes before I finally enrolled myself in a cake decorating class. Last April, I took Wilton Course 1: Discover Cake Decorating at our local Michael's store. The class cost $45 but they had a  50% off promo so I ended up just paying $22.50. We met once a week for 4 weeks.

I know Wilton recently revised the courses effective June 2010. They've removed the course numbering system that confused people into thinking they have to take the courses in sequence. And also removed duplicate topics between courses. But looking at the curriculum they posted online, it looks like the old Course 1 is so much like the new Decorating Basics class.

Here's what you should expect for the new class - DECORATING BASICS and links to the Wilton website of the How-tos.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gift Box Cake

After the success of my first fondant cake served in a party, I was excited to make some more. So, when my friend asked me to make the cake for her daughter's birthday coming up a week later...I was thrilled! And, after all, her daughter is my god daughter, too.

The cake was planned to be served to just a small get-together and not a real party. Since, I didn't have a theme to work around on, I decided to just use this opportunity to practice!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Heavy Cream Substitute

Heavy Cream is something I almost always don't have on my refrigerator. I found a really cheap and easy recipe to substitute for heavy cream so you don't have to buy any. Note that this recipe doesn't whip, though. So, please don't forget that.

  • Bowl
  • Microwave Oven
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 1/3 cup Butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon Flour (if  you're using low-fat Milk)
  • Stil all ingredients together.
Use this recipe in place of one (1) cup heavy cream. And again, this is not for whipping.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fondant Ribbon Cutter and Embosser Set Giveaway

UPDATED 08/03/10: I'm having trouble with my comments box. To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is "like" and leave a comment on the Facebook page saying "I ♥ baking" (equal to 2 entries). Also, leave a comment on there if you've done any of the extra entries (see below).

It's August and this is my 3rd month of blogging! Yey! To celebrate I'm giving away two small items to my very special readers (mostly my Facebook friends, right? You know who you are).

So, I'm giving away a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser set plus Round Cut-outs about $20 value. This are must-have items for us beginners who are just starting out decorating cakes with Fondant.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Circus Cake

From the moment I first set my eyes on a fondant cake I knew that if I can afford it, that's the cake I want for my son's first birthday! But...I couldn't! The oven intimidated me. I remember the first time I baked out of the box - brownies hard as rocks came out. In the Philippines, we had this saying "Kapag binato ka ng bato, batuhin mo ng tinapay" (If a rock is thrown at you, throw a bread back). Basically, it means always avenge yourself using kindness. But, if I used those brownies?! It's like getting even, man!

After a couple of practice cakes, the moment has arrived for me to make my official first birthday cake for public consumption! How nerve-wracking!

I didn't want just a pretty cake. I also want one that people will actually eat. So, after gaining 5 pounds from eating all my practice cakes, I finally found a great recipe.

When the cake part was covered I started contemplating on a design. I found a Circus-themed photo cake topper at Michael's and wanted to make sure my cake colors complement the topper.

Here's my initial sketch and the Photoshop version with the Wilton cake topper.
The fun part begins...Here's how I did it.

My First Fondant Cake

This is what started it all. My youngest son was turning one and I couldn't really find cakes at Safeway or cake toppers that will work to match his birthday party theme. So, I thought of maybe baking the cake myself. But, I have to practice first.

Here's my first cake. Yes..this is what a novice's cake looks like. I did everything from scratch. It's chocolate with chocolate buttercream and marshmallow fondant. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube then just attacked with no plan whatsoever.

What I learned right after I finished the cake:
  • Sift, sift, sift
  • Wear an apron
  • Pre-made fondant is looking so convenient
  • Should spend more time playing with my sons and their Play-Doh
  • YouTube every step of the way
I like the cake recipe I found. Not too sweet, very moist. My fondant is lumpy. I didn't sift plus I started making it at 10pm and it demanded a lot of kneading which I didn't have the strength for so I gave up. My husband came to the rescue. So, next time, I will sift. But I haven't tasted it with the marshmallow fondant.

I started on the decorations without a real plan in mind. I just took my cookie cutters out. I saw something like this on The Ultimate Cake Off. I'm so glad that I'm married to a guy who is so supportive of my crafty ventures.  He finished up on the decorations when I had to tend to the little ones.

I'm so positive that there are others who had way better first fondant cakes than me. If you are one of them, please share pictures! It will inspire and motivate other knowing and seeing what they might able to achieve if they just go ahead and take the leap to try baking and caking.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fondant for Beginners: How to Make a Fondant Bow

The easiest and simplest way to add "wow" to your fondant cake is by adding a fondant bow. It is so versatile and is the perfect touch for elegant wedding cakes, baby shower cakes, wrapped gift-box cake and basically, any design needing that "celebration" feel.

Wilton Gum- TexThe bow can be done by using fondant or gumpaste. I always use fondant and add just a little bit of Gum Tex to help my fondant to dry quicker.

You can always color your fondant or gumpaste to the shade you want. Just roll fondant or gumpaste into a ball, kneading until it's soft and pliable. Using a toothpick, add dots of icing color in several spots.Knead color into your ball until it is evenly bleaded.

I was about to throw out this leftover chocolate fondant I made weeks ago but decided to play with it before I do. So, please pardon the cracks that you see on the photos.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Betty Crocker Bake N' Fill

Mountain House had a community garage sale last month. Out of all the houses who opened up their garages to sell their unwanted possessions, I only got one item. This Betty Crocker Bake N Fill set. Our neighbor said she got it as a wedding gift and have only used it once. So, I bought it for $5. It's really cool. The set includes:
  • A round layer pan
  • A dome shaped insert pan
  • A tall base pan
  • A dome shaped pan
It also came with a booklet complete with instructions and simple recipes as well as decorating ideas. Each pan is non-stick. I just sprayed it with my PAM baking spray when I used it. I forgot to line the pan with parchment paper like I always do and got worried. The cake came off easily after I cooled it in the pan for 10 minutes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fondant for Beginners: Covering Cakes with Rolled Fondant

So you got your tools, baked your cake and now ready to cover it with fondant. I recommend that you use pre-made rolled fondant for your first fondant cake. I've used two brands, so far. Satin Ice Rolled Fondant which I bought on eBay and Wilton Ready-made Fondant.

Satin Ice Rolled Fondant - White - Vanilla - 10 kg

 20 lb bucket I got online

Wilton Primary Colors Fondant, Multi Pack 
Wilton brand I bought online for decorations

I also make my own home-made marshmallow fondant when I need a big batch of the same color.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fondant for Beginners: Preparing your Cake to be Covered

Before you start covering cakes with fondant, you gotta make sure that you've got the filling and layering and icing down. Otherwise, any imperfections of the cake will show. So, I decided to add this to the series on Fondant for Beginners.

You need a solid cake and a crumb-free environment. Last May, I attended Wilton Course 1 at a Michael's near us. Here are a few tips I've learned:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffin

There's this one, lone banana on our counter top staring me down for days now. It is getting brown and ugly but I didn't want to throw it away. I thought about baking a banana bread but ONE banana would not be enough. Then it struck me...Muffins! I can make banana muffins!

I thought about it some more. I didn't want ordinary looking banana muffins that's actually just banana bread in a cuter package so I went to my ever dependable best friend - Google. And found this one from Allrecipes.com which had over 5,000 reviews and had 5 stars.

Here's my modified version and some tips to remember. Please don't get confused with my photos. I only had one banana so I had to adjust the recipe accordingly.

Servings: 10-12

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (brown with age is the best)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (and cooled)
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

OPTIONAL (if adding nuts): Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or  until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coursely.

In a large bowl, mix together 1-1/2 cups flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, white sugar, egg and melted butter.

Beat the mashed bananas mixture. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.

OPTIONAL: Fold in the chopped nuts. Leave a few nuts to be used as topping - about 2-3 tablespoons.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop to do this. And also put water on the unused muffin cups/spaces for even baking). Sprinkle the brown sugar topping over muffins. 

OPTIONAL: Top with the remaining nuts.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.  

Banana Crumb Muffin                                                            
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