I hope everyone is enjoying the long Memorial weekend and observing the holiday. I’d like to thank all the troops who have given their time, and some, their lives, in the military for my freedom. On behalf of Winston, I’d also like to thank the military dogs who have served our country. Unfortunately, it is windy and overcast here in Fargo. I was hoping to be outside most of the day, but it looks like it is a good day to catch up on laundry and recipe ideas instead. Winston and I did go on our usual 2-mile walk, but it wasn’t all that fun because he got really dirty and I got really sticky with the humidity. They are calling for t-storms and possible tornadoes tonight. I hope they are wrong.
Mr. FeistyEats left this morning to set up his new home, the camper, in the Hazen City Park where he will be living for now. I miss him already. I am just so used to having him here. I really hope this house sells so I can join him soon. Luckily, I do have the cat and dog to keep me company. They are quite comical – when they are awake that is. Brinklie has been watching Sex and the City all morning and Winston has been laying on his back with his feet up in the air. Our neighbors gave Winston a piece of ham the other day and now he just wants to go outside and visit them every time I open the door. I am trying to keep him inside though so he stays clean. We have laminate flooring throughout our main living area of the living room, kitchen and dining room. This, plus wet dog feet does not equal fun at all. To top it off, he is starting to shed so I foresee a lot of mopping and vacuuming in my future.
Anyway, enough chit chat. Onto the food! Memorial weekend is also usually known for high school graduations. We were lucky enough to be included to attend Mark’s nephews high school graduation at Barnesville, MN which is about a half hour from Fargo. I was also asked the bring the cake!
Initially, I was very excited to make a cake and said yes right away. Just a few hours later, I started questioning my ability and wondering why I agreed to this? I have only made small cakes for fun. The cake I was going to make would be enough to feed 100 people. A lot of people would see it! How is this logistically going to work in my normal-sized home kitchen? Oh, then we throw in putting our house up for sale and the husband being gone. I figured the cake logistics and how I’d decorate it would be good to keep my mind off that small fact that I won’t have a job in a few weeks. Eeks.
I took a cake decorating class through Moorhead Community Education last spring at Moorhead High School. It was a few hours a night each week for a few weeks and was taught by Cynthia who used to own her own cake decorating business and is a total pro. She shared this recipe with us. This make enough frosting to decorate a double layer cake. I’ll throw in my notes as well.
Classic White Buttercream Frosting (one with no butter)
I thought it was funny that this recipe she gave us contained no butter. At all. The reason being is this stands up better in a variety of weather situations – particularly heat and humidity. I wanted to start making the frosting early and I didn’t know how the weather would be on graduation day. I have used this frosting on many other occasions so I figured this was the safest thing to do.
- 1 1/2 cups of Crisco shortening (white, not the butter flavor stuff) Cynthia told us she often uses store brand items but Crisco is one where she is brand loyal. The store brand stuff separates and just isn’t the same. I agree!
- 1 tsp. vanilla – clear or dark. If you want stark white frosting; use clear vanilla.
- 2 tsp. lemon juice – this can be out of the bottle or real. The lemon will help cut the sweetness of the powdered sugar this recipe calls for.
- 1/2 tsp. salt – adds so much to the recipe.
- 4 Tbsp. clear corn syrup
- 4 Tbsp. – 1 cup of water – this depends on the time of year and the weather. This day I used almost 1/2 cup.
- 2 tsp. meringue powder – this is dehydrated egg whites and they add volume, stabilize and cut down the sweetness as well. You can purchase this at Michael’s Craft store.
- 2 lbs. (1 bag or about 7 1/2 cups) of powdered sugar.
- A nice thing to add is a dash of almond extract. Cynthia told us this tip and I think it makes for a very good frosting. You don’t have to add it if you don’t want to though.
I usually whip the Crisco first on its own and get it fluffed up a bit. Add the rest of the ingredients except you need to add the water and p. sugar alternately so you get the correct consistency. It should be too stiff so it won’t spread but not too loose either. Add water very slowly as a little goes a long way. Make sure to scrape down the side of the bowl as you go. You definitely need a mixer or hand mixer for this. Unless you have forearms of steel.
I bought a huge 7lb bag of powdered sugar at Sam’s Club for this decorating job. I also use the wire whisk attachment for this recipe.
The sticks of Crisco are very handy. One cup per stick and you can use what you need and what you don’t, put it back in nice little container. You can also buy a huge tub at Sam’s Club which I did. But remember; Crisco will eventually go bad. I can testify to that. Bad experience there.
A few pictures of mixing the frosting along the way. The meringue powder is just white powder. The pic on the bottom right I took to show you that this definitely needs more water. The frosting shouldn’t be that stiff and in a huge lump like that.
One batch of frosting down. Two more to go. I put this next to a regular 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar so you can get the idea of the amount of frosting this makes. Quite a bit.
Not cake related, but I went out with some girlfriends and had some buffalo wings leftover to bring home with me. I wanted to share my amazing drawing SKILLZ with you all. That would be me on a bike with two cats (mine and my sister’s) and an extra furry Winston as he is shedding. Nice!
Next up, I had to get ready and working on the cakes. I finally decided I would make the equivalent of a 1/2 sheet cake and 48 cupcakes. Ain’t no shame, I’m not afraid to admit, I used some box mixes to help me through this process. Chocolate cake flavor was requested and I wanted to deliver. I used the same recipe I used for the peanut butter cup cupcakes as the cake mix.
In the meantime, I took the frosting out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. This makes the cakes easier to decorate, in my opinion.
I wanted to make SURE this cake would not stick when I went to flip it out. I used a non-stick pan and also greased it with Crisco. I mixed up the cake mix – this recipe make a nice and fluffy, thick cake mix.
I bought these cut little cupcake wrappers for the graduate at Cake and Candy World – a great cake decorating store on University by Great Harvest Bread Co.
Here’s a picture of the finished product. I didn’t take any pictures while decorating because I was nervous and dedicated to getting this done. I purchased the grad hat, small diploma and the cupcake sticks from Cake and Candy World, the rest was done by me. I used a cupcake tip for the purple cupcakes and another one for the purple and white frosted cakes. BHS Congrats Jeremy, Class of 2011. I really need to work on my small writing.
Another view in my dark kitchen. A big thanks to Mr. FeistyEats who made that board for me to hold the cakes and cupcakes. The cakes are two regular cake pans baked separately and put together and trimmed to line up nicely.
A closer view of the cake trim and the cupcake frosting. I really liked the purple and white frosting.
I was doing laundry at the same time and when I came back to finish folding I saw that FeistyCat found a nice warm place to relax! How funny. Winston barked at her to get out of there!
Here is the graduate and I with his cake. We are so excited for him to continue his education and grow up and experience so many more fun things on his way. I think he liked the cake and I had a few comments it tasted really well. I never know if people are being nice or not. After frosting all those cupcakes (there is more than what is pictured) I had eaten so much frosting it basically tasted gross to me. I did try a piece of cake just to make sure it wasn’t horrible or anything.
The garage was decorated so nice for his reception. It was such a fun night! I’ll be back tomorrow with a very easy dessert recipe. I put it together in about 5 minutes for real. I know cake decorating isn’t for everyone – but it can be fun. Each time I decorate a cake I say never again…and I’ve made a few now…I’ll probably make another one some day! Back to normal size though!