I can make cupcakes galore. I can even rock a cheesecake. But pretty sure that age 30, I am just now learning how to bake a layer cake.
But look out, world. I am now a cake-baking fan. :)
I mean, seriously, why did no one tell me how fun it is to bake an enormous cake? And lather it with delicious frosting (or even rose petals)? And hear the ooohs and ahhhs from friends as you cut a big slices from those gorgeous layers of deliciousness?
Although (ahem), why did no one else tell me how hard it can be to keep those layers even? Or spread with said delicious frosting? Or even get the darn cakes out of the pan??
Yeah, there’s a reason that I used to stick to cupcakes.
But still, I am on a layer-cake-baking roll lately. And thanks to some great tips from bloggers and food stylists I work with, and thanks to lots of good ol’ fashioned trial and error, I am loving it and learning more with each cake! So I thought it might be fun to share a few little tips with you that have been helpful for me, especially on the equipment side.
Below are 5 of my new favorite “essentials” for making a layer cake, all between $5-$16. Now granted, I am fully aware that the way our grandmothers made layer cakes still works today. No fancy equipment is needed. However, I have found these 5 tools to be super helpful — especially when it comes to saving time, and just ensuring that all of the time and effort you put into a cake results in a success. So I’m hoping they might prove helpful for some of you too! Enjoy!
I know, it was news to me too. I have been hearing everyone rave about the edible flowers trend right now, so decided to do some investigating. And it turns out that so many of my favorite flowers can be enjoyed in a vase on the table as well as your dinner plate — roses included! Apparently the more vibrant the rose petals — such as deep red or pink varieties — the stronger the flavor. Whereas the lighter or white roses are a little more mild.
So I decided to go red and experiment with a rose cake recipe. I began with a classic 3-level white cake, accented with a hint of rose water (see notes below for where to buy). Then I (gasp!) chopped up a single red rose and incorporated it into a yummy vanilla rose buttercream. And then for the grand finale, I layered some beautiful red rose petals along the outside. And the photos hardly do it justice. This cake was beautiful.
Still, I have to admit I was a little nervous about taste-testing a cake with all of these “edible” flowers. So I invited a bunch of friends over to join me. To my surprise, everyone loved it!!! Granted, we all are very familiar with the smell of roses, so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a surprise that we enjoyed tasting them too. But I think what was so fun was the entire experience of admiring and eating such a lovely cake. Every single layer — from the moist white cake, to the mild hints of rose in the buttercream, to the decorative roses on the cake — made for great conversation. So fun to try together!
I’m sure there will be all sorts of questions about this rose cake recipe, from what kind of roses to buy, to where you find rose water, to whether to coat the rose petals, etc. So I’ve included a brief Q&A below, but also encourage you to do your own research on edible flowers if you’re interested, since I’m no expert. But this was definitely a really fun one! So if you love roses and are feeling brave, I completely recommend giving it a try. (And if you do, you must send me a picture!) :)
At my most recent book club, my friend Kerry served a delicious tomato basil bruschetta. And I have been craving all things caprese ever since. So this weekend, I gathered some fresh ingredients from the market and decided to create a new appetizer — Caprese Phyllo Cups!
These simple little phyllo cup appetizer could not be easier. All you need are five ingredients — any kind of tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and of course, my favorite little phyllo cups (or you can make baked cups with wonton wrappers). And less than ten minutes later, you can have an entire batch ready to serve and enjoy. So quick and easy. And so fresh and delicious!
Last Saturday, my delightful book club spent an entire evening talking all things Gatsby and Fitzgerald (which led to a 90′s hits dance party…of course). Then on Monday night, three of us Gimme Some writers had the chance to attend an early screening of Baz Luhrmann’s new film at our favorite movie theater downtown. But people, this wasn’t just any screening. Full-on 20′s costumes were required, vintage cars were parked up and down Main Street, old movie posters lined the theater, and everyone came ready to have a roaring good time. Our friend Malina, a remarkably talented and gracious costume designer, was to thank for most of our group’s amazing costumes (including some great hats!). Our own Sarah from Gimme Some Film gave a rockin’ interview after the screening. And the movie — well, you must experience it for yourself. It’s epic Luhrmann, and a given must-see.
Last week, I received a random afternoon text from one of my neighbors who is just learning to cook. He had walked across the street to our neighborhood market and picked up a fresh pineapple for a whopping $0.50. (Oh yes – one of the many reasons I moved to live next door to this market!) But when he arrived home, apparently he was a little unsure about how to cut a fresh pineapple. So he called the resident food blogger in the building. And being that I am obsessed a big fan of pineapple, I was more than happy to give him a little tutorial.
And then it reminded me of the other handful of friends over the years who have asked me the same question. So as I was making my fresh pineapple margaritas this week, I decided to whip up a quick tutorial on how to cut up a pineapple. It’s definitely not rocket science, but it can be a little confusing the first time.
Ok, I have officially updated my list of food that is hard to photograph: quesadillas, popsicles, soups with clear broths, and taquitos!!!
Gah. For some reason, I could not seem to take a remotely satisfying photo of these yesterday. The lighting was all wonky, the shrimp looked weird, and I could not seem to find the right angle to save my life. So finally after way too many failed photo attempts, I did what any good food blogger should do…and just ate them. :)