Star Wars BB8 Cake

IMG_1084I have all of my birthday party supplies organized in large zip bags stored in 2 large totes in a closet. This works great to reuse items, mix n’ match crepe paper, balloons and other small items to save money. I have some favorites, as do the kids (I cannot tell you how many Thomas the Train or John Deere parties we’ve had). So when my 5 year old decided to go with a Star Wars theme for his 6th birthday I was elated. I hadn’t used my Star Wars party supplies in 10 years!! So I happily pulled out all of the saved items and began planning. The party we had 10 years ago was a much bigger party which included a fun menu (Jedi Juice, Leia Lemonade, Yoda Soda, Hoth Dogs, Jabba Jello, Light Saber Pretzel Sticks, Wookie Cookies, Naboo Nuggets), Star Wars games (Jedi Training, pool noodle light sabers), a Darth Vader Piñata and an official Jedi Certificate. This time around was a bit more low key. (We have a big party when they turn 5 with lots of friends etc. and then smaller birthday celebrations with 1 or 2 friends for all other parties as we feel they enjoy it a bit more with less kids and commotion.) Anyway…….

As I was planning I checked with the birthday boy about what he wanted for the menu and what kind of cake he wanted. After much debate about the menu he took no time to decide he wanted a BB8 cake. So I assumed I could just do 2 round cakes (one small and one larger) to look like a BB8 laid down and we were good to go. The birthday boy had other ideas. He explained while that while that would be cool a 3D BB8 cake would be “Even more aaawwwesome!” He then quickly drew up some step by step instructions as to how I could make such a cake.IMG_1083

I explained how I was nervous about it’s structure being sound but he assured me that I could handle it. After a few laughs I decided my 5 year old’s faith in my baking ability was enough to give it a go.

IMG_1013I started out with my Betty Crocker Bake’n Cake Pan. It seemed to be about the same size as the BB8  plush he had. I was stuck on how to make BB8’s head though. While shopping at my favorite dollar store The Dollar Tree I found these small class bowls that were not only perfect for ingredients while baking they were exactly the size I needed to make BB8’s head! And a set of 2 for $1?? -heck yeah!

It took 1 1/2 cake mixes to make half of BB8’s body and his head and then another 1 1/2 cake mixes to make the second half of BB8’s body. All in all the baking was very simple. I hadIMG_1012 to bake 2 rounded cakes, 2 insert pans and then 2 of the small
class bowls. I placed the small glass bowls on a tray incase they overflowed. I followed the instructions from the bake’n fill set and all of the pieces turned out great.

After baking I let them all cool. Once I was able to frost the crumb layer I put the insert cake piece into the rounded pice and then wrapped them in clear wrap before putting them in the fridge to set.

IMG_1016

Left: Insert Cake Right: Round Cake

The next day I was ready to build the cake and do the final later of frosting & decorating. IMG_1071

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1072I started by cutting off a small portion of the top of one of the rounded pans so when inverted it would sit without wanting to roll. I wanted to be sure BB8 wasn’t going to roll away ;).

Then I inverted that base piece, frosted the flat portion to ‘glue’ the two base pieces together. After a nice layer of frosting I placed the IMG_1073second base on top making a nice round cake ball. (This is what I did 10 years ago when my first born asked for a Death Star cake).

I then frosted to fill in the gaps around the ball.

IMG_1074

After trying to get the sides as smooth as I could I was ready to prep for the pipping. I used the lid of a tub of frosting to make 4 initial circles that would later be pipped.

IMG_1075

I decided it would be easier to do the pipping on the base before putting BB8’s head on so I got started right away. I used chocolate frosting with black Wilton coloring to make the black (starting with chocolate saves on the amount of coloring to make black). I used vanilla frosting with a touch of the black Wilton coloring for the gray and then vanilla with some orange Wilton coloring to make the orange color.  I used the plush BB8 as a guide and got started. You can see a round wooden piece under the cake base. This is actually a Lazy Susan I got from Ikea which works great for spinning cakes as I decorate.

IMG_0444As you can see I did all the pipping on the base including writing ‘Happy Birthday’ on the base BEFORE putting the head on. Crazy? Possibly, but it worked for me.

SO then I took a couple plastic straws and cut them to place into the base for additional support. In the past I have used disposable chopsticks from a restaurant but I didn’t have any on hand so I decided to go rouge ;).

I gently placed the head on BB8 which was a messy task butIMG_0446 a simple hand-washing remedied the situation.

IMG_1076Finally I added the details to the BB8’s head. I finished with 2 silver candles. I cut the base of one of those candles to make it look more authentic to BB8’s antennas.

 

Boom, DONE!

IMG_0449

IMG_0448My favorite was when he got home from school and was able to see the finished product. He was pretty excited with how it turned out. I guess mama can follow directions. 😉

IMG_1091

As you can see it’s a lot of cake but it was yummy and he was one happy birthday boy.

 

Happy Baking Friends,

May the force be with you!

~M

 

 

Advertisements

Yummy Fresh Bread (step-by-step)

I love to bake and with a big family we eat a lot of bread. I started making our bread a number of years ago and have tried a few recipes and methods and have settled on this one. For me baking loaves of bread is super cheap, easy and very enjoyable. I promise it’s easier than you think. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked bread?!?!? This just might be your gateway to homemade pizza & cinnamon rolls. 😉

If you are a regular reader you know I am an Aldi shopper. They sell yeast packets which make this super easy. I buy my bread flour in bulk at Sam’s club but it’s also sold at Walmart in large bags. (I have found the cheapest price is at Sam’s though) Aldi also carries sugar, salt and shortening. You can find bread pans at your local thrift store or buy them new at your favorite store. I find the thrift stores have nicer pans and a good selection of size. If you are really ambitious you can order larger bread pans & bread bags online. I have 4 larger pans myself but don’t order bags anymore. (They were great, I’m just too cheap)

Traditional White Bread

What you need:

Bread Flour (If you are curious as to why bread flour here you go: Baking 101)

White Sugar

Salt

Lard/Crisco/Shortening (you may substitute with butter or vegetable oil)

Water

#2 9×5 pans

cooking spray

clear wrap or a light cloth

thermometer

Large bowl

Ingredients

I like to start by measuring out all of my ingredients. I use small custard cups and a couple pyrex liquid measuring cups to hold the ingredients. I also like to line them up in order of use. 

  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 Cups warm water (110 degrees F )
  • 3 Tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons shortening melted
  • 6 1/2 Cups of Bread Flour

Step-by-Step Directions

1. Measure out your ingredients

image image

2. Spray the inside of the large mixing bowl

image

3. Attach a dough hook to your stand mixer (you can use a wooden spoon but I assure you the stand mixer will make this much easier)

4. Empty the 2 packets of yeast into a stand mixing bowl (or large mixing bowl)

5. Pour in the sugar

image

6. Pour in the warm water.

image

7. Start the mixer on ‘stir’ or the lowest setting. Let it mix/stir until the yeast and sugar dissolve.

image

8. Add the shortening and salt

image

9. Add the flour 2 cups at a time until it reaches a ‘dough’ consistency. 

image

10. It takes roughly 6 minutes to kneed in the stand mixer.

image

11. Turn it out onto a floured surface. (I use a large cutting board (18×20 3/4″) I found at Ikea). 

image

12. Kneed it by hand until smooth and elastic. (I tend to do about 4 turns and it’s ready; however, if you are not using a stand mixer you will need to kneed it by hand for about 8 minutes or so)

*You want to be able to push on it with a finger and it bounces back rather than leaving an indent.

 

13. Make the dough into a ball and place it in the greased bowl.

image

14. Cover with clear wrap or a light towel. Let it sit for an hour. It will double in size. 

15. Spray your bread pans with cooking spray (be thorough so the bread doesn’t get stuck)

image

 

16. Punch down the dough.

17. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.

image

18. Cut the dough in half and place one piece in each of the bread pans. 

 

*You can roll it up, tuck it under or just drop it in. The appearance is up to you. I used to make 2 batches (1 white and 1 wheat) and then make a swirled loaf but my kids prefer the plain white bread.

19. Cover the loaves with loosely clear wrap or with a light cloth (you want it to have the space to rise so don’t let the clear wrap get too tight)

image

20. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes

21. Move your oven racks down to allow for room for the bread to rise and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

22. Remove the clear wrap or light cloth and place in the oven. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes

23. Remove from the oven and place them on their sides. As they cool remove the bread from the pan and then place on the other side to cool. (This is so it doesn’t get too moist on the sides)

image

24. Slice and enjoy!

image

This may seem like a long process based on how I laid it out here but I assure you that it gets faster and easier each and every time you make it. I started out taking my time and needing to read everything step by step but now I don’t need a recipe anymore and it goes so fast. Give it a whirl!

Pumpkin Poppers and Jack-O-Latern Cupcakes

Halloween Cupcakes? Heck Yeah! Who doesn’t need an excuse to break out the frosting and food coloring. :)I found these cute lil’ pumpkins in a magazine and knew the kids would love them. What convinced me to make these cuties was the fact that I could make both the jack-o-latern cupcakes AND the pumpkin poppers. How cool is that?

Image

IMG_6455

I did one batch of cupcakes using regular food coloring but they just weren’t orange enough for me and trying to add more coloring was affecting the consistency of the batter. I learned my lesson and ran to Target for orange food coloring gel which proved to work very well.

You can use a white cake recipe and make cupcakes from scratch or use a white cake mix.

(After making my first batch from scratch I decided to cheat the second time around and used a white cake mix). Color the batter with the orange food coloring gel. It doesn’t take much and the color ‘pops’.

After letting the cupcakes cool using a serrated knife cut the rounded tops off of the cupcakes and put them in the freezer to prep them for frosting. While they are chillin’ mix up the frosting. You’ll need  a small amount of green and plenty of orange. Again the gel food coloring works much better than the regular liquid food coloring to allow the frosting to maintain a thicker consistency. Once your frosting is ready and the cupcakes are nice and cold you’ll frost!Image

Pumpkin Poppers

Frost  the bottoms of half of the the rounded tops. (This can be a pain to frost which is why putting them in the freezer helps.) Then place another rounded top. The stem is a Tootsie Roll and in order to make it stay up I used a Wilton filling tip to gently great a hole for the Tootsie Roll. Finally using the Wilton leaf tip and green frosting I made the leaves and ta da! Pumpkin poppers ready to eat!

ImageJack-O-Latern Cupcakes

These require a bit more work. This time you’ll frost the tops of half of the cupcakes and then place them together connecting tops to tops. There is no right way to connect them as the irregularity helps for creating cool faces. Use plenty of frosting to ensure the teeth have something to ‘stick’ to. 🙂 Once they are all frosted you can make fun faces using white mint Tic-Tacs for teeth, and Wilton candy eyes. Again, I made a hole using the Wilton filling tip to place the Tootsie Rolls for the stems and then finished it off with the Wilton leaf tip and green frosting to create the leaves.

Image

1 box White Cake Mix

(ingrediants listed on the box)

2 cans of white frosting

orange food coloring gel

green food coloring gel

1 pckg white mint Tic Tacs

1 small bag of Tootsie Rolls

1 pckg Wilton Candy Eyes

Monster High DIY

My one and only little girl turned 8 on Valentine’s Day. Lucky me to have a little princess on such a lovely holiday right? 😉 Well every year I ask her what kind of celebration she would like and if she would like me to make her cake or buy it. It seems for many of my kids the actual birthday cake is a large part of the birthday present. I like to surprise them with it sometimes but other times I let them select it and then help make it.

We’ll in this case she requested a ‘Monster High’ birthday and asked that I make her cake. She was nice enough to tell me that although I used to teach Home Ec I am not a professional and she is okay with the cake not being perfect. (S0 glad she had her expectations in check)IMG_3242

After searching the web for various Monster High cakes I selected three I thought I could pull off and let her choose from there. She picked the one with the doll in it and told me we could use one of the dolls she already owns. She brought me ‘Draculaura’ who apparently has the same birth date. Being this was my first time making this type of cake I decided to document it.

IMG_3240

1. I didn’t want to buy a new cake pan so I used the Betty Crocker bake & fillpan which I already had.

2. I baked according to directions but added an 8″ round pan base to help give it more height. (Those dolls are tall!!)IMG_0760

3. I used a long knife to hollow out a section for the doll to stand although she was still a bit too tall so I bent her legs to make it work. 🙂

4. Per request I used black and pink frosting. (FYI: If you start with chocolate  frosting it’s much easier to make black frosting)

IMG_08015. I followed the pattern on her actual dress to make it look as if it was one  large dress.

6. I used a piece of styrofoam cut in a circle as a base which I then wrapped with tinfoil. I didn’t want to put candles on the actual cake so I used the tips of my frosting tools to make holes in the foam base to push the candles in.

7. Ta da! Perfect? – No. But she loved it and that’s all that matters. 🙂

Kids and the Comments…

I haven’t had a chance to keep up on the cute and funny things my kids have been saying. Amazing how life gets in the way. 😉

My three-year-old sneezed recently aMy Kidsnd then in a panic waving his arms and stomping his feet began to yell and scream at whoever would listen as he demanded a ‘Bless you.’ I was kind of confused but I said, “bless you honey. Would you like a Kleenex?” He got upset and told me, “NO! I need a bless you!!” I explained to him I just gave him one after which he stomped off to the bathroom and got a Kleenex. After a bit of a discussion I figured out the tissue vs Kleenex debate combined with the common phrase of ‘bless you’ after sneezing had really got him confused. When someone sneezes we usually say “Bless you,” and then they get a Kleenex. Sometimes they are referLaurenred to as a tissue which he felt sounded the same as ‘Bless you.’ I got a good laugh out of that one! Too funny.

It must be something about that age because that is the same age my daughter was when she thought I was going to cut up pretty flowers and put them in my mixing bowl when we were baking cookies. I said we needed flour and she was terrified I was going to put a nice flower in there. Now that she is 7 I love to tell her that story.