Birthdays Make Me Crafty

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you already know how I feel about birthdays. To sum up for the new kids: I like them a lot. (example, example, example)

I had a string of birthdays recently, and it brought out the craftier side of me that apparently had been napping for the past couple of months. I love a good craft project so I sort of ran with it. It started with my gal L’s birthday. I had planned a specific project for her birthday since it was a milestone year and I was going to visit her in San Fran (read about it here). My plan was to make a scrapbook of her birthday weekend. I prepped the book prior to leaving for the trip and the plan was that I would run to the store, print out the pics, glue’em in (I brought some supplies with me) and I would give it to the birthday girl just before we all left. It was a flawed plan. We were jamming in super fun activities until the moment we left for the airport. So I had to finish it when I got home and mail it instead.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

Not too long after that came two back to back birthdays. First was one of my best buds C. Second came my co-worker R. I attempted to try something cool for C that I had seen on the internet, and Pinterest, a millions times. An ombre layer cake in a mason jar. All I can say about this endeavor is that it was horrible lol. EPIC PINTEREST FAIL.

UGH...started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

UGH…started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

Ugh. Just looking at the picture annoys me. I couldn’t possibly give this monstrosity to C. It ended up in a mushed pile on my counter that was later eaten by my roommate.

I ended up admitting defeat on the whole ombre thing and making a mason jar cake instead. I filled it with some nutella as an added perk. To make it extra special (and because I turned into an unstoppable craft machine for like 2 weeks) I printed out tiny pics of us from our years of friendship and made a little photo-tree topper for the cake.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

As you know, I love a good theme. As it happens, my coworker R shares my love of Doctor Who…so it struck me with the idea of making her some Doctor Who cupcakes for her special day. Basically it gave me an excuse to craft and indulge my nerdiness.

The Doctor Who Gang

The Doctor Who Gang

I printed small pictures of each of major characters from the new reboot of the series, including a 3D Tardis so that I could use them as cupcake toppers.

I used my awesome little cupcake screw thingy and filled them with some Tardis blue buttercream icing (recipe from my Gram…thanks Gram).

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago. Icing piped in with my super sophisticated ziplock bag.

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

All in all, the birthday crafting went over really well. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with their birthday surprises.

Also, if you’re interested in making the white cake the recipe is super simple:

-1.5 c flour
-1 c sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 c milk
-1 3/4 tsp baking powder
-vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add everything else. Bake for 20-30 mins at 350.

 

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That Time I Did A Cake Decorating Class

So I like to bake. I frequently stress bake (see proof here and here). So when I saw this deal on LivingSocial back in like November for a cake decorating class I jumped at it. (By jumped at it I mean I told my mom I really wanted to do it so she bought it for me for Christmas).

It was 50% off a class at Amanda Oakleaf Cakes. (check out their website here!). They seem super awesome. They were on the Food Network Cake Challenge and everything…so they’re totes legit.

I was really excited about. Unfortunately, the deal sold out before my lady pals could grab one too…so I had to go it alone. But that’s cool. New adventure time.

There was a hitch though….the bakery is in Winthrop….blerg. My city friends are probably just as horrified as I was when I google mapped it. But whatever, I made it work.

I signed up for the class Buttercream Basics. I figured I could pick up some tricks on how to frost a bitchin’ cake.

And I totally did. Things I learned:

-How to ‘crumb coat’ a cake (turns out…that does  not mean coat the cake in crumbs like I thought)
-How to evenly cut a cake into layers
-How to evenly frost a cake without getting crumbs all up in that biz
-How to use different decorating tips (turns out I mostly suck at that part)
-What tools I need to buy to make some baller cakes

I totally Iced this Beast.

I totally Iced this Beast.

This was my finished product. I was pretty proud of it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so parts of it annoyed the crap out of me…like sucking at decorating.

The class was 3 hours and it was totally cool. Shout out to Krystal and Tim for teaching some awesome skills.

However…my cake decorating night ended in a bit of a tragedy. I had to take public transportation back home (about an hour of T traveling) and this is what I found when I opened the box when I got home.

WOMPWOMP. Way to Kill My Dreams MBTA

WOMPWOMP. Way to Kill My Dreams MBTA

WOMPWOMPWOMP. Sad Face. Oh well….it still tasted delicious.

 

Birthday Cake the Classy Way

So it was recently my college roommates birthday (Happy Birthday Girl!!). My friend C and I decided to make dinner for her, so I offered to make a cake…because as you know, I love birthdays. (Evidence here, here, and here).

I decided to make something from scratch so I searched the interwebs for a recipe I thought was worthy. It didn’t take long to find a good one.

Dry Ingredients

 

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

How you make buttercream

How you make buttercream

Batter

So the batter is a little more liquid than boxed cake, but I think its because its a fudge cake.

I only have one cake pan….and I thought the batter would all fit. Turns out there’s more than I thought….so rather than double the bake time by using the same pan (no thanks) I had an epiphany. I noticed that a bunt pan is the same circumference! I decided to use my one cake pan and the bunt pan…which would make for a fun layer cake.

Funfetti Frosting Layer...Layer of Champions

Funfetti Frosting Layer…Layer of Champions

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

30 Minute Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
3 Tbs cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk***
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. In a sauce pan mix cocoa, butter, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Mix into the dry ingredients. Mix well, once cooled slightly add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

***I made buttermilk by taking just under 1/2 cup milk and adding 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice. Let sit for a couple minutes…and BOOM buttermilk.

Photo by Jenn Sheehan :)

Photo by Jenn Sheehan 🙂

See….it’s a cool effect. If there had been a little more time I would have filled the whole with something…a cupcake, fruit…something. But for this time I left it open.

I did make a fun decorative banner to top the cake though. Here’s how you do it.

What You’ll Need:

fun paper (I used scrapbook paper
skewers
dental floss

Cut out some triangles

Cut out some triangles

I started by folding the edge of the paper over, and cut small triangles.

Then I cut a length of dental floss and tried it to the skewers.

To attach the triangles, I put a dab of glue and placed them over the floss (the glue makes it so they stay). Let it dry and BOOM classy cake decor.

A Birthday Surprise…The Easy Way

So you may recall from some of my earlier posts that I love birthdays. I love making birthday treats. Sometimes though, it can be a pain in the a**. For the most part I like things simple. Which is why I really don’t mind using boxed cake mix and store bought frosting as a base (with some exceptions obviously) because you can do lots of things to make your biz unique.

This time around, I was even lazier (and a little bit poorer) than usual. Two of my co-worker pals happen to have the same birthday. So clearly I was going to make them a treat. Things I did not have/ did not feel like buying: eggs and oil. Usually those two guys are pretty essential for a box mix. Not anymore.

All this cake needs is the mix from the box and 10 oz of soda! BOOM. Stupid easy right?! Eggs Schmeggs man.

It looks really cool when you mix in the soda. NOTE: I used Sprite because I was making a white/yellow cake. If you’re making a chocolate or dark cake you can use a darker soda. Or be cool kid and mix like orange soda with a light cake. It also is a big cut to the calories of the cake.

It bakes up nice and fluffy…and you cook it per box instructions…so like 30 mins on 350.

Now my friend T is real into Nutella. She loves it. So since it is part her birthday I decided to make a Nutella frosting. I didn’t really have the time or funds to buys the ingredients for a butter cream from scratch so I checked the interwebs and found a cheat option. Mix a store bought white frosting with an equal part nutella. Its a little thick so I also added some milk to make it smoother. Eye ball that because it will vary based on amount of frosting and the consistency you’re looking for.

Then all that’s left is to frost your biz. The frosting is a little different consistency wise because of the Nutella so its a little thicker, but more durable than regular frosting. When I say durable I mean that should you say.. accidentally slide the finished cake into your electric kettle it really doesn’t even make a dent.

So I wanted to write on the cake. In the end I remembered that I had icing for this exact purpose. However, before my brain started working I attempted to whip up some colored icing to write on the cake…and totally failed and made a big mess lol. I attached a photo so we can all laugh and judge me together lol.

Long story short: Happy Birthday Louis and Tessa (who unfortunately ended up calling in sick and won’t get to eat cake with us 😦  )

Happy Birthday America!

So yesterday was America’s birthday and man oh man was it a good one. A friend of mine had a BBQ in her backyard so that we could celebrate this grand ole country of ours.

I made some macaroni salad (thanks Auntie Merri) but I obviously forgot to snap a picture of it and a cool firework cake that I saw on Pinterest.

ImageImage

WARNING: this cake tastes like Freedom.

Hope you all had a great 4th of July!

Things I Love: Celebrating Birthdays

Lately, I’ve found that I’m super into birthdays….not my own birthday really, but helping others celebrate theirs. I don’t really know why that is, but I’m ok with it. So when party plans for my friend Dana’s birthday started taking shape I got got really pumped. My other friend C and her roommate J have a special talent for party throwing, so I figured the best way for me to contribute to the festivities was to make the cake. Plus, I the only thing better than baking is baking for an occasion 🙂

So I tried to sneak some cake preferences out of Dana but I’m just not smooth like that. My go to line is: “So if on you’re birthday your mom told you she got your favorite cake, what kind of cake is she talking about?”–I know, I know…reallllll smooth. Turns out Dana’s mom would be referring to a vanilla cake with rainbow chip icing. NOTE: I said rainbow chip NOT funfetti. There is a difference.

The best news came a few days later when Dana told me that her favorite color is…wait for it…RAINBOW. BOOM. Best.News.Ever. You guys may remember my previous post about tie dye cupcakes. I decided that I absolutely needed to make a tie dye layer cake with rainbow chip icing.

My brain wasn’t ready to stop at just rainbow cake. It was Dana’s birthday after all, I could do more. I decided that I needed to add rainbow sprinkles to the sides. I have no idea how to go about doing that so I YouTube tutorialed it (do it) and leaned how. Turns out its actually a really doable thing. You kind of just throw the sprinkles at the sides. It makes a complete mess but its really fun.

While I was learning how to do the sprinkle thing I saw a cool video on how to make this funky tie dye frosting too! Which made for a cool edge to the cake. A while back I bought this cool frosting pump/cake decorator thing from the Target Dollar Spot, so in my mind I had everything I needed to complete this cake. So I used my cool new frosting technique and set it all up in the pump and then FAIL. The thing EXPLODES and covers my hands with purple frosting. I totally froze…there was just frosting all over me. Luckily I had a friend with me who could 1. take a commemorative photo and 2. hand me a zip lock bag so I could make my own pastry bag and finish the cake. The end result was pretty cool though.

Everyone at the party loved the cake. Another of Dana’s friend’s brought that CRAZY candle that starts off like a big sparkler and then upfolds into this lily type flower covered in birthday candles. It was really cool (and at first really startling) the watch.

All in all, everyone had a blast at the party. We ate some rainbow cake, drank some Smash Juice, played a little tambourine, and danced the night away! Kudos to C and J for throwing an epic bash 🙂