Dec 09

Happy National Cupcake Day!!!

Today is National Cupcake Day (thanks Helen!) and so in honor of that, a post that combines this holiday with a recent one in our household, my sister Aubrey’s 21st Birthday!


Aubrey is a notorious cupcake fan, both as an eater and a baker. So for her 21st we wanted to bake her a truly special cake. We also wanted to show her one use for one of her gifts, the large cupcake pan.



My mom didn’t put enough batter into the top of the pan initially, but it wasn’t totally unfortunate. The pieces fit together pretty perfectly, and although the decorating required a ton of attention to detail, it was all worth it to see the look on Aubz’s face :)


I also made her small doggie cupcakes in honor of her dog Jasmine (Shitzu). They’re not quite Jasmine lookalikes, but they come pretty close. A bit of clever piping, working with marshmallows and cinnamon red hots. Voila! Pup-Cakes!


These little guys were so fun to make. The frosting has to be a bit stiffer than normal, in order to form the “fur”. I really wanted these guys to be two-toned, which kind of worked, but not quite the way I wanted.


Nov 09

Season for Spice Cake

spice cake and pumpkin ice

When my dad came home with a pint of Dr. Mike’s Pumpkin Ice Cream (YUM!) we needed a complimentary baked good that would pair well with the creamy, nutty, distinct pumpkin flavor. My first thought was gingerbread, but I wasn’t in the mood for cookies, and neither was the family. I settled on this recipe for spice cake from Bon Appetit in December of 1998. The cake is their recipe, but I altered the frosting slightly to be my own, because I wanted more of a maple glaze. What really adds the special flavor to this recipe is the crystallized ginger, with a sweet little kick when you take a bite.

For cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

For Frosting

  • 1 lb confectioners sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3 tsp. maple syrup

spice cake and pumpkin ice 2

Make cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray 10-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; spray paper. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, then 1 cup boiling water. Mix in grated orange peel. Gradually mix in dry ingredients.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to rack and cool 15 minutes. Run knife around pan sides. Turn cake out onto rack; peel off paper. Cool.

Make filling and frosting:
Beat the butter and maple syrup together. Add 2 Tbsp. of milk and beat until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with another tablespoon or two of milk (milk will change the consistency).

Frost the cake once it is cool, and if you would like to create a cool, dripping effect, you can layer frosting on top of the cake and around the top edges while it is still a bit warm, and watch the melting frosting create smooth drops of frosting around the sides of the cake.


Nov 09

I am not a Birthday Cake

I am not a birthday cake 2

This weekend was Nate’s birthday, and he’s not the biggest fan of cake. Nate is, however, in love with George’s Doughnuts. And while I was trying to figure out what kind of birthday cake I should make for him this year, I had an epiphany: A Monkey-Bread-style cake made out of doughnuts from George’s. This is how it happened:

I am not a birthday cake 4

Accomplice 1 (Nate’s Mom) acquired 2 dozen doughnuts from George’s (she pre-ordered them, because they usually sell out by 9am). We used all different kinds of doughnuts, so in any given slice you could have jelly, cream-filled, glazed, cake doughnuts, sprinkles, etc.Using a greased bundt pan, a little home-made glaze (powdered sugar, water, and a hint of vanilla) we chopped up the doughnuts into fours, and then started placing them into the pan, sealing each layer with a little glaze.

I am not a birthday cake 3

The final layer was topped off with a layer of glaze to seal it all in. We then baked the whole thing at 350°F for 5 minutes, just enough time to melt the glaze and have the whole thing meld together. After it came out of the oven, it sat for only a few seconds (we didn’t want it to stick to the pan) and then we inverted it onto a cake plate. After a bit of hand molding to ensure that it wouldn’t fall apart, the cake was ready for candles. We used all different kinds of doughnuts, so in any given slice you could have jelly, cream-filled, glazed, cake doughnuts, sprinkles, etc. We also added a few extra sprinkles, for a bit of birthday flair.

I am not a birthday cake 1

Score for LVKakes.


May 09

Baked and Wired


I’ll say it now: I was not impressed. 

The atmosphere at Baked and Wired seemed very promising when I first walked in. The store is divided in half–on one side you go to get your drinks and morning pastries, and the other side is dedicated solely to the sale of baked goods, your cupcakes, your brownies, different types of sweet bars, etc. The iced green tea that I had was refreshing, and I drank most of it while trying to decide which flavors of cupcakes to buy. 


I let the girl at the baked goods counter know that I wanted a box of four, and asked her for her recommendations. Her first one was the carrot cake, but I had to say no to that when she told me that it has nuts in it (I really don’t do actual nuts in cake…it’s one of my weird quirks). She also recommended their strawberry and their red velvet, so I said yes to those. I saw that they had a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake, so naturally I had to try one to compare it to those of the other cupcakeries I have recently visited. My final choice was along the same lines: the chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting. For my own personal enjoyment, and for the sake of comparison.

When I first opened the different and interesting wrapper to the red velvet cupcake, I was taken aback at first. Instead of a consistent red coloring throughout the cake, there were dark brown splotches. It made the red seem less vibrant, and, to me, this is a sign that someone in the back wasn’t paying attention when the mixer was going. The cake itself tasted like red velvet, but the frosting seemed to be more buttercream than it was cream cheese. There were hints that the flavor was hiding in there somewhere, but I had to go looking for it. 

I had really been looking forward to the strawberry cupcake, since the girl at the counter had recommended it to me on the basis that it had real, whole strawberry pieces in the cake. I tried a bit of the frosting before even biting into the cupcake, and was immediately thrown back to my hometown and my family’s favorite place to get breakfast and coffee: Dunkin’ Donuts. The frosting reminded me of the strawberry icing you find on a Dunkin’ Donuts donut. It was sugary, grainy, and tasted artificial. The cake itself was dense with little flavor besides the strawberry pieces. It was almost as if they were trying to go for a shortcake-like cake, but failed to produce the buttery rich flavors that are usually a part of that experience. There was also too much frosting on this one. I took most of it off.

The peanut butter chocolate was also a let down. When I held it in my hand, it was heavy, like i was holding a large cup of water.  Before I could even remove the excess frosting, it did it for me. Half of the frosting slid off of the cupcake the moment the wrapper came off. The flavor of the frosting did not compensate–it tasted more like dry roasted peanuts tossed into buttercream frosting instead of smooth creamy peanut butter frosting. The chocolate cake was moist and had a good chocolate flavor to it, but I was surprised to find small granules of some unknown substance in the cupcake–I think that it might have been ground up peanut pieces. I told the girl at the counter that I did not like nuts in my cake, so I was particularly miffed. If they’re not nuts, I have no idea what I was eating.

I will update the entry once I’ve tried the chocolate one, but I don’t think that I would be going back to Baked and Wired even if the chocolate cupcake blew me half way to China.


Apr 09

Clash of Cake

About two years ago for one of my classes, I read Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations. The basis for this theory is the idea that cultural and religious identities will unite people and be the source of conflict among these differing groups. Huntington theorized that the world would be divided as follows: 


At the time, my speciality among my peers in this class was cake making. So I created a “Clash of Civilizations Cake”: 


Asia and Oceania

Asia and Oceania

 I made two bundt cakes and used home-made frosting to seal them together. The bundt worked out well because the top is not completely rounded, so proved a good base to hold the other half. 

Africa and Europe

Africa and Europe

 Frosting the cake turned out to be not as difficult as originally intended. Once the countries were outlined, all that was left was to pipe in different colored frostings based on Huntington’s new civilizations map.     



While I did not make the actual cake mix myself, the fun in this project was the decorating, and Betty Crocker makes great yellow and chocolate cakes. I made the cake half yellow cake and half chocolate cake so everyone in my class would have something to enjoy. This cake was especially frosting heavy, so some loved it and others peeled some off to enjoy the cake. Everyone loved how it looked though!