a peachy pink vanilla layer cake - #amyandkelsadventures

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This might just be my favourite blog post of the new year!  Mostly because it's over the top, and made all of my pink cake and floral dreams come true.  Amy (from Constellation Inspiration) and I are celebrating our 2 year friendiversary today!  It's crazy to me, since it feels like we've been friends for so much longer than that.

All of our adventures in case you missed them....and there are more on her blog!

How we met (Lavender macarons & Earl Grey Cake)

Our first cake meltdown (hand-dipped animal crackers and a carnival cake)

A farm adventure (a dessert table in the orchard)

Our 1st friendiversary (4 cake craziness)

a birthday cake for amy

I love this girl, and so appreciate having a crazy blogger friend who "gets" me. 

"Oh, you want to wait 10 minutes before eating breakfast to take a million pictures of our crepes and coffees too?  Great!  And you also spend your weekends buying 100lbs of butter, baking cakes, destroying your kitchen, and washing thousands of dishes?  Same!" 

Ha!  It really is a gift to have someone to bounce ideas off of, rant to, and of course, dream up incredible spreads with.

We are also so so lucky to have been able to work with Kari from Confetti Floral on this!  She's an Abbotsford local, and has a shop less than a 5 minute walk from me.  Her style is so dreamy and effortless, and she puts in so much care and detail to everything she does.  She even did the flowers for my sister's wedding in Summer!  I reached out to see if she wanted to collab with us on a subtle Valentine's day shoot, and was over the moon when she said yes.  

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So let's talk about this cake.  Amy has the recipe over on her blog....so pop over and grab it!  Amy made a divine vanilla cake from Tessa (aka Queen of Cake).  I whipped up a swiss meringue butter cream to pair with it, and we added freeze dried strawberry powder for taste and a natural pinky peach colour.  So lovely.  We had the hardest time deciding which florals to place on top, but we managed. Ha!  I also had brought a few macarons as well, and can't get enough of how cute the mini ones are.

We used a bench scraper to frost the cake, and applied a few thin layers of icing, gently turning the cake and using the bench scraper to smooth the sides each time.  The look we were going for was "almost naked".  You can still see a bit of the cake peeking through, and the icing isn't super thick.  If you choose this method, then you will likely have a bit of icing left over from the recipe below.  I like to store extra icing in the fridge for a few days, or even pop it in the freezer until I need it!  And I know that swiss meringue can be kind of intimidating if you've never made it before.  Heck...it's still intimidating to me!  Tessa from Style Sweet Ca has a wonderful post on everything you need to know, as well as troubleshooting.  I always have trouble with getting my meringue to set up nicely if it's pouring rain outside, so that's a bummer, but I also know that if it's raining to choose a simple butter cream instead.  


strawberry swiss meringue butter cream

base recipe from: Tessa at Style Sweet Ca
yields: about 3 1/2 cups - enough to frost a three layer 6 inch cake- more generously than we frosted ours (double for a three layer 8 inch cake)

ingredients:

1/2 cup egg whites (3 to 4 large eggs)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and must be at room temperature 

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberry powder

directions:

Prepare a double boiler.  Fill a medium-large sauce pan with a few inches of water, and bring to a very gentle boil.  In a metal mixing bowl, add egg whites and sugar, and whisk together until combined.  Place mixing bowl over the simmering water.  Whisk the egg white mixture as you heat, and bring to 155-160 degrees F so that the egg whites are pasteurized and the sugar will have completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and whisk mixture for about 8 minutes.  You're looking for a room temperature mixture that has whipped up into shiny, medium stiff peaks.  Swap the whisk for a paddle attachment (or normal beaters if using a hand mixer), and mix in butter on low, just a couple tablespoons at a time.  Wait for each addition to completely mix in before adding more butter.  Once all the butter has been added, turn mixer up to medium, add in vanilla and strawberrypowder, and mix until the icing is nice and smooth.  This should also knock out air bubbles, so don't bump up your speed to high!

Frost cake as desired.


floral arrangement: Confetti Floral // cake and table styling: Amy from Constellation Inspiration & myself

one bowl chocolate sheet cake with chocolate butter cream

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Oh hey there!  Now I know that sometimes you don't want to fuss with layered cakes (most of the time probably...), and you definitely don't want to fuss with a million dirty dishes and complicated instructions.  I know this.  You know this.  Everyone knows this.

So here's the solution.  A no-fuss, one bowl, sheet cake.  It's the easiest cake in the world, and turns out perfectly every time.  It's actually the first cake that I learned how to bake by myself, and always my go-to cake for any occasion.  It's not heavy, and it's always moist.  Seriously the best, and so so fast to whip up.  Pair that with the ease of a sheet cake, and this makes for a perfect, no stress dessert time.

Oh...and also, I put heart sprinkle on it because it's February.  But you do you. Ha!

This is the cake I use for 99% of the layered cakes I make, and then I play around with icing flavours.  I hadn't made a sheet cake in forever, and I have to say....why haven't I been doing this more?!  Very little effort for a very big pay off.  I'm thinking you'll be seeing a few more sheet cakes from me in the future!


one bowl chocolate sheet cake

(adapted from Our Treasured Recipes by Central Heights MB Church)

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 TBSP vanilla extract

2 TBSP vinegar

3/4 cup oil 

2 cups warm water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13 sheet pan and set aside.

Mix together all dry ingredients; then pour all wet ingredients over top and mix until moist.  That's it!

Pour batter into 9x13 pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes for cake, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes, and then gently invert it onto the cooling rack. (*I often tip it onto a cookie sheet, and then flip back onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, and then slide the parchment off the cookie sheet with the cake on it onto the cooling rack since it can be hard to handle without breaking).

Allow to cool completely before icing.  Add sprinkles, topping as desired.  Pop iced cake in the fridge 15 minutes before cutting for a clean cut.

Store in an airtight container.  Freezes very well.


chocolate butter cream

yields: icing for one 9x13 cake

ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups icing sugar

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla

2-4 tablespoons cream

directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together butter and icing sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Mix in melted chocolate, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of cream, and beat on medium until nice and smooth.  You want the icing to be light and easily spreadable.  Add additional cream if needed.

*Make this icing directly before icing cake.  You can keep in the fridge as well, but it will need to be very carefully warmed up before using again, as butter and chocolate within the icing will have helped the icing set firm.


Happy sheet cake baking!

-Kelsey

peppermint mocha cheesecake

Have you ever been in a situation where you set a deadline for yourself, and then when you miss it you're like.....nahhhh, guess I won't do that thing at all then.  Am I the only one?  Ha!  Because....that was what happened with this cheesecake.  To be completely honest, this recipe was meant to be ready for you mid-December.  But you know how life goes, and here we at the end of January already.  I debated waiting until next December to post it, and then thought, SCREW IT.  So what if there are candy canes on this cake?  It's still delicious, and deserves to be out in the world.  And don't lie to me...I know you all have a few candy canes still kicking around.

Anyway, if you're still sticking to a New Year's Resolution that involves not eating cheesecake, then apologies.  Also, life is all about balance, so go ahead and eat a (small) piece.  

The base of this cheesecake is my all time favourite mocha cheesecake recipe.  I added some peppermint to it, and then chopped up some candy canes to stir into the whipped cream that I topped the cheesecake with.  It's not overbearingly peppermint-y, but just enough to feel a bit festive....ahem, I mean winter-y?  Since ya know, it's not really holiday season anymore.

I also tried putting candy cane bits in the crust.  Kind of mixed feelings on that.  It was dang delicious, but also made the crust a bit chewy.  And seemed to get a bit soggier than normal after the first day.  So.  If you're really into candy canes, then go for it, otherwise a plain chocolate crust is just fine.


peppermint mocha cheesecake

adapted from: Jean Pare - Company's Coming: Chocolate Everything

yieds: one round 9-inch springform pan

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 1/3 cups chocolate crumbs

Filling:

3 oz semisweet chocolate chips

3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened to room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup milk

1 tbsp instant coffee granules

1 tsp peppermint extract

*whipped cream for topping (optional)

candy canes for garnish

optional: chocolate for drizzling
Β 

Directions:

Crust:

1)  In a small bowl, stir together butter and crumbs.

2)  Press into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

Filling:

Melt chocolate using a double boiler (or in the microwave if you're very careful not to burn it!).  Set aside and let cool to room temperature once melted.

Beat cream cheese, both sugars, flour and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Add in melted chocolate and beat until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, until just mixed. Stir together milk and instant coffee until granules are completely dissolved.  Add to the batter, mixing until just combined. Pour over crust.

 Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours until the center is almost set.

When you've removed the cake from the oven, run a knife around the edges to help the cake settle without cracking.

Chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Top with whipped cream, crushed candy canes and a drizzle of chocolate.  Or, however you'd like!


Happy cheesecake baking!

-Kelsey

cranberry orange mini bundt cakes

Hey friends!  I had one of those moments in the grocery store where you impulse buy a bunch of things because they're on sale...and then realize that you're not quite sure what to do with them.  Hello cranberries forever and ever. 

I'm kind of completely in love with their tart, unique flavour, but they're not always the easiest thing in the world to use.  (I've put them in a pie with apples here, and in a savoury butternut squash situation here).

I picked up a gorgeous (gold!) mini bundt pan a few weeks ago, and thought it would be fun to bake them into a cake.  Of course, orange was an obvious choice to pair with the cranberries, and I decided to try out Laura from Tutti Dolci's recipe!

I made some simple sugared cranberries to decorate the tops, and think they turned out so stinkin' cute.

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cranberry orange mini bundt cakes

cake recipe from: Laura - Tutti Dolci
yields: one 10-cup bundt cake, or about 10 mini bundt cakes
Β 

Cake

ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 Tbsp fresh orange zest

10 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup low-fat buttermilk, (I used 1 tablespoon vinegar + 1 cup milk)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
Β 

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of this mixture to toss cranberries in (*this will keep them from sinking in the batter.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and orange zest at a medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Reduce the speed to low, and add in the eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition.

In a large measuring cup, combine buttermilk, orange juice, and vanilla.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture - start and end with the flour mixture.  Mix until just incorporated.  Toss cranberries with reserved 1 tablespoon of flour mixture, and gently fold them into the batter.

Carefully spoon the batter into your bundt pan, and smooth the top of the batter to ensure a flat bottom of each cake.  Whether you're making one large cake, or minis, you'll want the batter to fill about 3/4 of the pan.  Tap pan firmly on a tabletop to get rid of bubbles in the batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is golden, and a tester (I used a toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then carefully invert and tap cakes out onto a cooling rack.

Allow cakes to cool completely before glazing


Sugared Cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/ cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup sugar (or more) - for rolling

directions:

In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and water and bring to a boil.  Allow mixture to boil for a minute or two.  Remove from heat and stir cranberries in.  Use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer cranberries to a wire rack, or onto parchment paper.  Separate cranberries from each other so that they don't dry in clumps.  Allow cranberries to dry for half an hour or more.

Roll cranberries in sugar until completely coated.  Store in a airtight container in the fridge.


Glaze

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

directions:

In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, icing sugar, and vanilla.  Add in 2 tablespoons of milk and mix until combined.  If mixture is too thick to pour, and more milk.  How thick or thin you want it is up to you - I like it just thin enough to pour and settle nicely, but thick enough that it doesn't just run off the cake.  Top with sugared cranberries if desired.

*The glaze will firm up and become more solid quite quickly as the melted butter cools - you can always glaze cakes and quickly pop them in the fridge to help the glaze set firmly.


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Happy bundt cake baking!

-Kelsey