Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hudson's Smash Cake- Part 1

This little cutie pie is turning 1! Time to make a (smash) cake!

So my favorite nephew, Hudson, (okay, so what if he's my *only* nephew... if I had more than one, he'd still be my favorite!) is turning one in a couple of weeks.  When I asked my sister what I could do to help with his party she said I could make his "smash cake".  Now, not having kids of my own or having been to any first birthday parties recently, I had no clue what this was.  So, of course, my next step was to consult "the google". The internet told me that it is now common for the birthday boy (or girl) to be given a small cake to do with it what he pleases (hopefully, smash it all through his fingers and on his face-- makes for good pictures).  This saves the cake set aside for consumption by guests from whatever mayhem befalls the "smash cake". Pretty brilliant idea.

Being that I don't have a tremendous amount of experience in cake decorating... okay, almost none, it's certainly more fitting for me to make the cake intended to be smashed through the fingers of the guest of honor than the official birthday cake. Still, I've been dying to play with fondant recently-- blame it on too many episodes of Cake Boss on Netflix. Since the goal here is for Hudson to get as messy as possible with this cake, covering the whole thing with fondant is out-- too hard for tiny little fingers to break through, not enough messy smeary stuff to create the desired "smash effect", etcetera, etcetera. Instead, I'll do traditional buttercream frosting on the outside of the cake with plenty of buttercream decorations to smoosh.  However, I'm going to top the cake with decorations made out of rice crispy treats covered in fondant.  My idea is to make alphabet blocks that spell out Hudson's name and also to make a "1" to sit in the middle of the cake.

Yesterday I visited my favorite cake decorating store and bought the supplies- two 6" round cake pans, some pre-made white fondant,  a fondant smoother, a rolling pin, blue and black food coloring gel (the theme colors are light blue, gray, white, and black), and rolling pin guides to ensure even thickness for the fondant.   I also made the rice crispy treats.

This morning I cut a tiny block out of rice crispy treats, rolled out a small amount of fondant and covered it to make the alphabet block-- looked pretty good for a first attempt.  Fondant is so cool-- I don't know why I never ventured into this territory before!  I forgot one essential element for adding the food coloring gel to the fondant-- rubber gloves!  Since I didn't want my hands dyed blue for the next several days, I didn't dye the fondant.  I didn't want to waste the fondant or rice crispy treats, so I stopped there today.  Once I make it to the store for some rubber gloves, I'll finish making my alphabet blocks and "1" prototypes.  I also need to invest in some fondant stencils for the letters on the blocks... I tried cutting out a letter "H" by hand... and as you'll see from the picture below, not so pretty!  Stand by for more updates on my adventures with fondant!

Smash Cake Supplies

And this is why I need fondant stencils... raggedy looking "H"

Pecan Pie Bars

So... confession... I've never eaten pecan pie before.  Ever.  Not because I don't like pecans or it doesn't seem appealing, though.  It's just that whenever there's pecan pie around, there's also usually apple pie, which is my favorite, so I default to that.  Anywho, I digress.  Our favorite coffee shop has these delightful little confections they call pecan pie bars.  They're positively delicious-- though I can't speak to their likeness to the traditional pie that no doubt inspired them.  I love how the sugar caramelizes with the pecans to form this deliciously sweet crunchy crust all atop a delicious buttery shortbread-like crust. Seriously awesome.  So, of course, I had to try making them.

I started with the shortbread crust recipe I used for the lemon bars earlier this week and for the topping I found a recipe on the internet, and then tweaked it to my liking.

Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lemon Bars

Too many eggs with no idea what to do with them... what's a girl to do?  Bake, of course!  I considered egg-heavy concoctions like creme brule and angel food cake, but ultimately decided on two types of bars, lemon and pecan pie.  Each recipe calls for 4 eggs, and with 10 eggs to spare, an 8 egg dent in my supply (plus some pretty tasty bars) sounded like a pretty good deal!

I never cease to be amazed by the things I can make with ingredients I already have-- avoiding a trip to the grocery store on a weeknight just makes baking that much more fun!  I had everything I needed for these lemon bars on hand.  The pecan pie bars are another story-- I'm running low on pecans, so I will have to venture out to the grocery store before I can take those on.

Lemon Bars Recipe