Monday, April 27, 2009

Dresses and Cakes

My latest project was decorating dresses and cake cookies for a bridal shower. I had so much fun, especially with the decorating part! I was a fashion and cake designer for the day but on a much smaller scale. I thought I would share the process for those of you who would like to give it a try. You don't have to stick to cakes and dresses, you can use any cookie cutters you prefer.

Here is the cookie recipe I like to use:
This recipe is a little more buttery than sweet which is perfect once the cookies have been iced.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup firm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

You can use a food processor or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whichever you have. Put the flour in the processor or mixer and add the butter. Whiz until the mixtures looks like fine bread crumbs.

Add the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until the dough is smooth. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

When you're read to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out shapes using the cookie cutters.

Place them on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until pale golden. I like to check the cookies around 12 minutes to make sure they don't get overdone. Then let them cool. This recipe makes about 20 cookies but if are using larger cookie cutters, you will need to double the recipe.

For the decorating part, you will need to make a batch of royal icing.

Meringue Powder Royal Icing
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water
1lb confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, add meringue powder to the cold water. Beat till soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar one cup at a time. Beat between each cup. Add the lemon juice. Beat for an additional 3-5 minutes on medium-high until the icing forms medium to stiff peaks. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the icing until ready to use.

Flood Icing
You will use this to "flood" your cookies.
1 cup meringue powder royal icing
1/8 to 1/4 cup water

Carefully stir the water into the royal icing a little at a time. Add water until you have achieved a flow consistency. Draw a knife through the icing. When the icing completely comes bake to together after you count to 10 seconds, you have achieved a flow consistency. Store the icing in a glass container/bowl with the plastic wrap directly on the icing.

Next you will need a piping bag and piping tips. You can make your own bags out of parchment paper or use plastic piping bags. If you've never used a piping bag, there are lots of tutorials online that will show you the beginning steps for decorating with one. Or if you don't want to get as fancy, there's always the good old butter knife or offset spatula you can use to spread the icing on the cookies.

The first step is to pipe an edge of icing around the cookie. This will hold the flood icing in so it doesn't run off the cookie.

Next step is to add the flood icing onto the cookie. I use a small offset spatula to move the icing around and fill to the edges.

After you have done this, its time to decorate. The best part! You can use all kinds of edible decorations, sprinkles, dragees, anything you can find that you think will work. I made a bunch of small blossoms using rolled fondant. Also, you can pipe most of your decorating using different piping tips. Don't forget to use food coloring to tint and color your royal icing. The possiblities are endless!

Voila...the finished project!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fun with Sweets

Are those really earrings? You betcha! I found these fun dessert themed items by KungFuCowgirl. There's all kinds of fun stuff like magnets, pins, earrings and rings. Super Sweet!

Boniere Bakery, Alameda

Boniere Bakery
1417 Park Street
Alameda, CA 94501

Baked goods tried: vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream, pecan tart and apple pandowdy

Overall reaction: This is definitely an old school bakery

I happened to be in downtown Alameda and a bakery caught my eye so I decided to go check it out. The bakery was called Boniere Bakery and it was established in 1876. Holy long time ago! They mostly sell pastries, pies, cakes and cookies.

They obviously don't specialize in cupcakes because there was only two types to choose from, a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream or a vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream. I choose the latter. I have to say that it was actually pretty good. The cupcake was fluffy and the frosting was really fudgy.

I really had a hard time choosing what to try next because there was so many baked goods to choose from. I went with the pecan tart since I'm a sucker for pecan pies. The crust on this tart was a shortbread cookie with a wall of vanilla frosting covered in chocolate. It definitely was not the best shortbread cookie I've ever had but the frosting part was yummy. I was disappointed in the pecan center, it was not gooey enough, and that is a quality that all great pecan type pies should have.

Lastly, I tried the Apple Pandowdy. This is an old time southern bread pudding type of deep dish dessert. There was so many delicious layers of goodness – apple chunks, bread, raisins, cinnamon, and raspberry jam topped with a crumb topping. Ooh-la-la. I could have eaten this all day! I will be looking up how to make one of these real soon.

My words of advice: If you like morning or anytime pastries, this is your place to go.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love At First Bite, Berkeley

Love At First Bite
1510 Walnut Street, Suite G
Berkeley, Ca 94709

Cupcakes tried: pretty in pink, lemon pistachio, mud pie, and matcha green tea

Overall reaction: Like at first bite

Along with my taste buds, I had another taster with me to help rate these lovely cupcakes. Thanks Shannon Linquist!

Let's start with the pretty in pink cupcake which was soooo pinkalicious! This cupcake consisted of strawberry cake and pink strawberry buttercream. It had a nice balance of tart and sweetness and tasted just like strawberries. The cake was baked perfectly. Strawberry Shortcake herself would be proud.

The lemon pistachio cupcake was a little disappointing. The cake was dry and you could hardly taste the lemon. It might as well have just been vanilla. The pistachio buttercream had the same problem with not enough of a distinct pistachio flavor. I love pistachio and lemon, so I was quite sad that this cupcake claimed to be both.

The mudpie was a yummy devil's food cake with mocha frosting and Oreo crumbs. The cake was nice and fudgy, a chocolate lover's delight. The Oreos were slightly smashed in the buttercream making them soft and I think it would have been better if they had a little crunch to them. I also would have liked a little more buttercream on top. Still, it was quite yummy.

The disaster of the afternoon fell upon the matcha green tea cupcake. First off, the color of the cupcake was hardly desirable. In the photo I took, it looks like a nice mint green color but in real life it looked like green puke/green pea baby food. Not good. The cake was dry and the icing was horrible tasting. I have to quote Shannon on this one, "Keep the green tea to mochi balls!"

My words of advice: It seems the cupcakes might be hit or miss here but definitely worth a try. The pretty in pink cupcake is for surely going down in my book of favorites.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


What could be better than Easter cupcakes...lots and lots of Easter cupcakes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

So Sweet!

So my favorite San Francisco bake shop has a new location. If you have not yet been to Miette's, you should. It's as cute and as sweet as can be!
You can find the recently new shop in the Marina at 2109 Chestnut Street.