Thanksgiving Baking Bonanza

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada and my contribution to my husband’s family dinner is broccoli, carrots, dinner rolls and dessert. I love and opportunity to bake, especially since hubby doesn’t have a sweet tooth and the little guy and I can only eat so much!

I decided to make cupcakes and pumpkin lollipops for each place setting. I scoured Pinterest for turkey cupcake inspiration and once I found an idea, I went to Bulk Barn to stock up on candy. I may have gotten a little carried away (I had so much leftover that I made candy bags for the boys) but I found everything I needed.

I made two dozen white cupcakes, half iced with vanilla buttercream and the other half with chocolate frosting. The turkey head is a twix bar cut in half, and the face details are attached with a melted candy decorating pen.

I also made 16 pumpkin pops using candy melts and pumpkin molds. It was a test run for Halloween, as I’ll be making the pumpkin pops again for my sons class (but I have to make 25 – eek!).

I’m pleased with how everything turned out, hopefully they taste as good as they look!

Gobble gobble (happy thanksgiving)!!!
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Four Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I saw a yummy looking chocolate mug cake recipe in the latest issue of Walmart Live Better Magazine. I had a chocolate craving tonight and decided to try it!

Ingredients:

4 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tbsp chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda in a large mug. Stir well until dry ingredients are evenly mixed. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, if using, and stir until smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Microwave on high for 1 min 30 sec. (the cake will rise up as it cooks, then sink back down a bit). Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If the toothpick comes out nearly clean, the cake is done. If not, continue cooking in 10-sec. bursts. Exact time will vary depending on your microwave.

Remove mug (use an oven mitt, as the mug will be hot) and let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Switch it up: Swap 1 tbsp chocolate chips for an equal amount of your favourite chopped-up candy bar or crushed cookies.

Review:

This was super easy to make and required only two measuring spoons, a teaspoon to mix and a mug. I had all the ingredients readily available. I did use a fairly big/wide mug, so it cooked a bit faster because the batter was shallow. So I would recommend starting it at 1 min 15 sec so you don’t accidentally overcook it. Mine was a tad dry, but still delish! It would taste great with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream on top. Yum!

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Delicious & Simple Blueberry Muffins

Since I finished the cake decorating class I’ve been preoccupied with projects around the house and making homemade food for our 6 month old. Baking has been pretty limited, mainly due to the lack of holidays and family functions. The only thing I have baked is cupcakes for bbqs, so quick and easy and always a favourite! For the last batch I used canned frosting – boy is it a disaster to work with when you’re used to homemade buttercream! It kept melting and wouldn’t hold any kind of shape.

Yesterday I bought a big container of fresh blueberries. I used half for baby food and decided to make muffins with the rest (I only used 1/3 of what’s left so I may make another batch!). I found a great recipe on allrecipes.com. I’ve learned to read through the comments before trying a recipe both for honest reviews and also for pointers on what to change to make it better.

This one had great reviews and for the most part people left it alone, so I did too! They turned out great – crunchy on the outside and super fluffy inside. Next time I may add other berries or more blueberries! I also didn’t try the topper because I didn’t have cinnamon and didn’t want to add extra sugar, but I bet it tastes yummy!!

What’s your favourite muffin recipe?

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Recipe yields 8 large muffins (with my scoop I made 11 medium sized muffins)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.

Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture.

Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

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Easy Banana Muffins

I love the banana loaf at Starbucks, but I can’t seem to replicate it. After several failed attempts at banana loaf (not cooked properly inside) I decided to try banana muffins. I found this recipe and it works every time. And the upside is I don’t have to cut it into portions (like banana loaf). Enjoy!!

Recipe yields about 12 large muffins, or 18 medium muffins (tins filled at half)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large bananas, mashed

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl (I use a wooden spoon). Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.

Scoop into muffin pans.

Bake in preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I start checking at 25 mins with a toothpick). Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

My Notes:

• These also taste great with a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips added to the batter. I’ve made them this way a few times.
• I used liners bought at Ikea for this batch and they worked nicely. They have a waxy interior so the muffins come out easily. They also look pretty!

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A little Mother’s Day baking

Happy Mother’s Day! We have a family dinner tonight so I used it as an excuse to make some cupcakes. I made Red Velvet and Chocolate Fudge.

I love the Betty Crocker Red Velvet batter but the icing that comes with it sucks. Now that I’m used to working with buttercream, I find it so runny and uncooperative. And as you can see, it was hard to make it look good.

I made a batch of purple buttercream for the chocolate fudge cupcakes and decided to practice my “rose swirl”. For the most part they look good but I need to work on the outer edge and tail. I would love some suggestions on how to fix them if anyone has some!

And just because there’s three boys at the dinner, I made a couple spiderman cupcakes with red icing, black piping gel and leftover sugar decorations from DS1s birthday. I was a little rushed as they were at the end of the baking session and I had to wrap up, but they aren’t bad. I know if I slowed down I could make the “webbing” look better. But I suspect the boys won’t be critiquing my work 🙂

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Final cake project

I can’t believe a week has passed since my final cake decorating class. Life with a 4 month old and 3 year old can be pretty chaotic at times!

During our last class we learned how to make the ribbon rose and wilton rose. After all my icing prep the day before, I was so disappointed when my stiff hot pink icing went runny and became unusable. I’m not sure what went wrong, everything else was fine. Grr!

So the teacher let me use her orange icing, which didn’t match with my cake at all, so that’s why you don’t see any roses on it. They are really finicky and I know I will need to practice them a lot to get them right.

So here’s my final cake. I’m not over the moon about it, but considering where I was before I started the course (I never baked a cake, iced a cake or decorated a cake), I’m very pleased. I know I’ll get better with practice. So a warning to nearby family and friends – I may spontaneously show up with goodies because I had an urge to “play”.

I’m most proud of the “ombré” edge. I saw it on a lot of cakes on Pinterest and it was quite easy! I started with a batch of purple icing, scooped some out and added more colouring, and then repeated it so I had three shades. I like the cakes covered in ombré rose swirls, I think I’ll try that next! It’s also much more forgiving and hides icing blemishes underneath.

I’m considering the next course, but I may actually take it on Craftsy because then I can do it on my own time. The summer is busy and it’s hard to coordinate schedules to get away for two hours. The Wilton piped flowers class on Craftsy looks interesting! I’m not sure I want to go down the path of sugar flowers or fondant until I improve at buttercream. I also don’t want to spend the money on a whole new assortment of tools.

This is a fun hobby but it’s not cheap when you’re starting out. That said, I’ve learned a lot of techniques and recipes that should save me a lot on birthday cakes and pot luck contributions in the future!

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Easter cupcakes (I’ve caught the baking bug!)

Clearly I’ve used Easter as an opportunity to go on a baking rampage. Hubby and DS1 aren’t big sweet eaters so I like I bake for family functions because my Inlaws ARE!

I baked a batch of sprinkle cupcakes yesterday and used a scoop to transfer the batter into the liners – a great tip from a salesperson at Golda’s Kitchen who said it was the best way to ensure they were all the same size. I then put them in the fridge overnight to harden them. They seem easier to work with when they’re cold (plus the icing doesn’t melt as fast when decorating).

As the tops were a bit uneven, I took a sharp knife and sliced the tops off so they would all be even and flat.

Then came the fun part! I still had a lot of icing left in my Wilton bucket so I put it in the stand mixer to work some magic. First I added water to thin it out (it was medium stiffness already but hard from being in the fridge) then whipped it for about 30 seconds. Then I added a small amount of Wilton green colour gel (a little goes a long way) and whipped it for about a minute to make sure it was evenly coloured. In our course book it said to colour more icing than you’ll likely need because if you run out, it’s almost impossible to match.

Then came the decorating! I had a box of Peeps marshmallow rabbits and some extra Eggies from the brownies. I put a toothpick up the rabbits bum (sorry bunny!) to stabilize him on top of the cupcake. And then I piped icing all around the edges and built it up so it looked like he was peeking out from the “grass”. It was a little time consuming but my turntable made it go a lot faster! I also added some green sprinkles to the grass to give it a little *sparkle*.

Then I used the rest of my icing and a different tip to create some simple Eggies cupcakes.

My fridge is now full of sugary goodness and mini works of art. I can’t wait to see how they taste!

I think I’m getting the hang of this!

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