This past year has been a little stressful for me. And when I saw a “little” stressful, I mean that sarcastically. In reality, this past year has been MASSIVELY stressful. Which is not good for an emotional eater. What’s crazy is that I didn’t even realize until last month how much emotional eating I had been doing. I mean I knew my clothes were a fitting a little tighter and alL — but when I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office I just about had a heart attack right there. That was it.
I am posting today in honor of my grandmother, Stella Buck. I have many fond memories of visiting her while I was growing up. Her birthday was the day after mine and it always felt special that our birthdays were so close together.
Grandma had six children and they all had large families so I remember lots of cousins at our family gatherings. My favorite memories are of our Christmas Eve party with the entire family. We would always read the nativity story, peel oranges by the fire and of course open gifts. One Christmas that stands out in my mind is the year that she sewed each of the grandchildren a robe. It felt so special that she had selected the fabric for each person and spent so much time to make them.
Grandma was an excellent seamstress which was a very useful talent to have when raising a young family during difficult times. At that time flour came in fabric bags with different patterns on them and she would use them to sew shirts for her boys. Her friends and family would give her old coats and men’s slacks and she would remake them into clothing for her children. She spent many hours teaching my mother to sew and when my mother got married they sewed her wedding dress together.
Grandma also had a talent for baking. She was well known in her church for the pies that she would make and also made great bread and rolls. In addition, she would spend each summer canning fruit so that it could be used the rest of the year.
My grandmother was very active in her church and set a wonderful example of how a person should live. I used to love to stay at her house and go to church with her. She taught the young children for many years and she had a great desire to go on a mission. As soon as she and my grandpa could retire they committed to go. It was while she was in the mission training center that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Grandma insisted that she wanted to continue with her plans even though it meant receiving chemo therapy while being away from home and living in another state. After about six months her health forced her to return home and she died several months later.
I feel like she was cheated out of so much of her life. So many people look forward to the time that they retire and she never got to enjoy that time when it came. I was newly married when she died and so we never got to have that adult relationship and she never got to see my children. I am joining in Frosting for the Cause in the hopes that some day doctors will be able to detect ovarian cancer much earlier so that mothers and grandmothers can be with their families.
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Because I remember my grandmother being such a good seamstress I decided to decorate some cakes with a sewing theme.
Begin by baking two layers of cake in quarter sheet pans. Since my daughter is allergic to milk, I like to use a dairy free cake recipe I got from milkallergymom. The recipe is:
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Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
1.5 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup oil
1 c cold water
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and pour into greased 8″ or 9″ square pan. Bake in oven until done, about 20 minutes.
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While your cake is baking you can prepare your fondant so that it will be all set when you are ready. Recently I’ve been using homemade marshmallow fondant. It has a great taste and is so much cheaper than storebought. The recipe is readily available online but there is a great tutorial by Cookies&Cups here.
After the cake is cooled, put the two layers together with frosting between. Cover the cake with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, make your mini cakes by using a 2″ round cutter and cut out as many rounds of cake as you can. Lightly ice the tops and sides of the mini cakes. Now cut out fondant circles with a large round cutter (about 4-1/2″) and smooth down over each cake, and trimming nicely around the bottom.
To make the lace you can use a fondant mold or use regular lace from the store. I would like to show you how to use store bought lace to make a fondant border.
Purchase real lace the width that you desire. When purchasing the lace, think about what pattern would impress well and not be too difficult to cut. For example, I stayed away from large scalloped edges because I wanted to be able to make a straight cut and still have it look good. If you are just making one large cake then you might not mind cutting a detailed edge but since I was making numerous cakes I wanted to keep it simple.
Roll the fondant out to about 1/4″ thick and lay the lace down on the fondant. I found it was best to cut about three pieces each time I rolled the fondant. Once the lace is in place, roll the fondant roller over the lace, pressing down fairly hard as you roll.
You can pull the lace off at this point or wait until the end to pull it off which actually gives it a little more stability while you are working with it. Make straight cuts along the impressed edge with a pizza cutter.
If you want to add some decoration and make it look even more like lace, use a decorating tip to cut out holes or designs in the lace. Again, this can be quite time consuming so it depends on how much detail you would like. Use a paintbrush to push the small dots out of the tip.
Top the cakes with fondant flowers and buttons. I really enjoyed making these mini cakes and I took them to the Sandra J. Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. This is a wonderful place where cancer patients who travel to Mayo Clinic can stay while receiving treatment.
I am pleased to have a guest posting today over at Frosting for the Cause. The purpose of this site is to raise funds for cancer research and to raise awareness of how we are each touched by cancer. In addition to making a monetary donation each participant bakes something, donates it to a local cancer hospice, and then blogs about what they made.
I just finished baking my first assigned recipe from an awesome cookbook called Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I have joined a group of internet bakers who are all baking the same recipe each week and blogging about their experience. The recipe this week was Chocolate Butter Cupcakes. I was grateful that I was starting out on a somewhat easier recipe because this week has turned into a bit of a challenge for me which resulted in having to cook in a kitchen that is not my own. My husband has Alpha One and needs a liver transplant. This week he was unexpectedly hospitalized for an infection and I have been staying at the Transplant House near the hospital since it is several hours from our home. I was a little worried about having everything I needed and since I left home rather hurriedly, I didn’t have time to bring baking things. I was so happy to see that they had a KitchenAid and they also had muffin pans. The kitchen actually was beautiful and more spacious than my own, but I felt like a fish out of water not being able to find things when I wanted them.
So there were a few “firsts” in cooking this recipe. I don’t know if I am strange or what, but I have never sprayed and floured my cupcake liners before. Most of the time they come right off without a problem but I have had a few times that they didn’t so I figured I’d better follow the instructions and sprayed and floured the liners. I noticed when I was icing the cupcakes later on that the papers pulled away very easily. Another first was using King Arthur cake flour. When I was in the grocery store I saw the King Arthur flour and since I had never used it before I thought I would give it a try (after all, it cost more than the other brand so it must be better, right?) Lastly, since I wasn’t at home with all my decorating equipment, I ended up decorating with some products I have never used before.
I was very impressed with how detailed Rose was about each step of the recipe. I mixed the cocoa in the hot water and let it cool. I mixed the liquid ingredients. Then I combined it all for the batter. The recipe was really quite easy to make. Unfortunately I didn’t have my usual scoop for filling the cupcake liners so I just scooped them in using a regular spoon. Into the oven they went. The first time I checked them they weren’t quite done. You will see a big dent in one of the cupcakes in the photo where I pressed in a little heavily when I checked. I gave them a few more minutes and they were done and looked beautiful.
For the icing I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do so I used one of the recipes recommended by Rose in the introduction to the cupcake section. I started out thinking I would make the Egg White Chocolate Buttercream but somehow got confused and did the shopping for the Golden Neoclassic Buttercream and didn’t realize until I was in the midst of making it that I had switched. I was intrigued with the golden syrup that Rose talks about but wasn’t sure what it was. I’m not sure if it is karo syrup that is golden versus the light or dark syrup or of it is some other brand of syrup, but I couldn’t find any so I went with the light karo. The Golden Neoclassic was very different than any icing I had made before.
The only thing that went a bit different than the instructions was that when I had the corn syrup and sugar in the pan over medium high heat, I was supposed to watch for bubbles at the edge of the pan and let it cook a few more minutes until there were bubbles all over. Mine went from bubbles on the outer edge to bubbling all over and bubbling out of control in a matter of seconds so I pulled it off right away. I think this was probably due to the fact that I was working on a stove that I wasn’t familiar with and it was probably cooking a little hotter than indicated. I was a little worried that it wasn’t going to be the right consistency since we didn’t use a thermometer, but I went ahead and added it to the eggs. I whipped it until the bowl had cooled, about 7 minutes, and then added the butter and vanilla. I then added some chocolate.
Normally I would pipe the frosting onto the cupcake with a large tip, but I didn’t have my equipment and I’m not sure that this icing would have held up well with that. It seems to be an icing that does better for just spreading .
The cupcakes would have been fine without any decoration but I decided that as long as I had all these cupcakes made I would take them to the hospital to give to the nurses as a thank you. So I tried some nifty little squeeze bottles of Wilton icing I got from the grocery store and some plastic decorating tips. (This made me laugh because only a few months ago I got mad at a friend of mine for using these instead of the regular bags and tips.) I was much more limited on what I could do, but for a little bit of quick decorating they were fine. The cupcakes were very good. The texture was more dense than a typical cupcake and they were very chocolatey. My husband really liked the buttercream as it had a little bit of caramel undertone to the flavor. I enjoyed the unique flavor of the buttercream as well. All in all I consider this project a success. I’m really exited about next week’s assignment – Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake. And I’m really looking forward to being home in my own kitchen.