San Fran…. Frisco…

Tis the season of birthdays! I love it, more excuses for cake! This guy was a little tough conjure up- from idea to execution, when you have a friend who loves everything. Lauren, Megan, and I have been like the “three amigas” ever since moving out here to the Valley of the Sun- and we took a trip together to San Francisco in May. Hence, a San Francisco-themed birthday cake for Miss Lauren!

We’ve got the famous twisted Lombard Street that people will wait an hour and a half just to ride down for 90 seconds in their cars, Muir Woods with the impressive 1000+ ft. tall trees, some funky colored houses, and the Powell-Mason cable car, of course. All this plus a giant mint-chocolate flavored cupcake, and topped off with a fondant-impersonation of my red-haired friend (which I can’t take credit for, it was done by our budding fondant expert, Nick). NOMnomNOM!

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 Lombard and the Trolley (Powell/Mason).

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 Muir Woods (Redwood trees) and funky houses, plus an overly-happy version of Laur.

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Just another random shot.

I finally busted out the fondant on mister cable car (should be practicing for more cake love to come). I think the difficult part for the entire look of the cake was getting the right colors! I guess you can’t do too much with four food colors in terms of brightness and hue. The entire cake was, therefore, a bit duller in color than I would’ve liked. Perhaps I’ll invest in the magenta/lime/cerulean/neon yellow set of food colors. Or a color wheel.

Lastly, we presented the cake at my community pool- in the dark! So details were difficult to make out. Always a funny back story, isn’t there? So my hour of hard work piping might’ve been in vain. But all is good, as long as everyone had a good time, some good cake, and I got my photos!

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Next challenge… tackling the mess in the kitchen.

messy kitchen

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giant cupcake time!

I’ve had my eye on Wilton’s giant cupcake pan for quite a while (ever since I got sucked into the craze almost a year ago) but could never justify spending 30 dollars on a giant cupcake pan. I caved recently when one of my friends expressed interest in having a giant  cupcake for her groom’s cake at her wedding… plus it was on sale at Sur La Table for 20 dollars, what a steal! I couldn’t resist.

This is my blurb on Sur La Table as a side note: I LOVE THIS PLACE! I originally shied away from it because it looked so very classy and on the same level as Williams Sonoma. I follow the same rule of thumb for most shopping: never try on anything that you can’t afford. So I tend to avoid those more expensive places for wholesale supplies shops and one-off deals in discount stores. Howeverrrr…. I was pleasantly surprised by Sur, and will probably go back every time I’m in a grumpy mood, just because it’s full of reasonably priced goods with a nice, comfortable atmosphere. Not to mention, it’s in walking distance…. (A+++)

Just this past Friday was a friend’s birthday… Lucky Me! A reason for cake (and not a made-up one). Equipped with my new pan, my first-ever giant cupcakae was created:

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I had to take photos both stand alone and in the fridge, just for a size comparison. (and yes, thanks to you observant ones, I now realize the overwhelming number of eggs that I have in the fridge.)

I was pleasantly surprised by the way the chocolate shell for the lining of the cupcake turned out (a friend directed me to another blog for this idea…Oh Sugar!) I love this idea, it’s so fun and there are a lot of ways to play around with it.  I’ll be practicing with this technique in the future, probably more on the actual cake and it’s flavors, along with decorating techniques.

It was also my first time using a buttercream frosting recipe that wasn’t simply butter-powdered sugar-milk-flavor (I’ve seen it referred to as American style and also ‘simple’ buttercream). I tried a meringue-style buttercream, where you start with a base of egg whites, add boiling sugar, and then butter. Despite my apprehensions, it turned out really well! I was pleased for a first go-round, and actually enjoyed tasting it on some of the cake crust trimmings. It’s much smoother, lighter, and less sweet than simple buttercream; plus- it doesn’t crust over! Fabulous, I’m sold.

The only major dilemma was delivering the surprise cake. I called the restaurant while I was making the cake, intending on showing up near the end of dinner with it as a surprise, only to find out that they only allow store bought cakes as part of health regulations! Though heartbroken, it all ended well, as we surprised her post dinner at the apartments. Another near miss for the super cupcake… 🙂