Mason Jar Salads & More By Julia Mirabella!


Mason jar salads and more by Julia Mirabella is an innovative cookbook that offers us readers resourceful methods to prepare healthy, make ahead meals.There are  plenty of delectable recipes that focus on salads along with a variety of meals for lunch,dinner and even dessert.This has practical knowledge we can all utilize to produce meals that we can quickly grab,along with making it affordable and time saving.This book is great for everyone because its involves simple ingredients and methods so that we can all enjoy a fresh homemade meal on the go.

I love this idea of making meals ahead of time,especially when you are running late for work/school and you refuse to waste your money on junk.So with these recipes they will actually help you stay on budget,save time and make health priority one.Also, a great bonus to most of these meals is they can stay fresh for up to a week refrigerated giving you the option to make multiple meals at a time.Just think making everyday meals ahead of time for work,school,or even for home.So for me,I always think about what meals I should bring for work and once I saw this cookbook I just knew I had to test out these meals.

So from the first chapter for breakfast meals, I chose to make the Green Smoothie since it seems it would be a good essential meal replacement for on the way to work.It was super simple to prepare,since its basically blending fresh ingredients such as spinach,kiwi,apple and apple juice together to create a very vibrant green smoothie.Its flavor is mostly of sweet apple and has just a touch of smoothness and bitterness of fresh spinach.The kiwi is very hard to detect when overpowered by these stronger flavors;however its seeds are somewhat noticeable in the texture factor.

Overall,Its definitely a healthy smoothie with its high fiber content along with Vitamin A & C;however the taste and texture factor may not please everyone.Its slightly thicker to most smoothies and contains small seeds from the kiwi along with small contents of unblended spinach.For me,I was able to enjoy this drink because apple juice is one of my favorites and has a strong flavor component.Although, it may not be my favorite smoothie, the bonus to this recipe is you can easily experiment and bring your own creativity into the mix.So,I will have to give this Green smoothie an one and half thumbs up and suggest to always taste test your meals.So try out this healthy smoothie for yourself and let me know what you think?

So I hope you enjoy creating mason jar smoothies and be sure to stay tune for my next meal reviews from the chapter Salads.

Green Smoothie

1 kiwi fruit
1/2 apple peeled and cored
1 cup pear or apple juice,plus more as needed
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 pint-sized Mason jar

I cut the kiwi fruit in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.Then I peeled and cored one apple.Using 1/2 apple, I cut it into chunks and placed it in the blender,along with the kiwi.

Then I poured in the 1 cup of apple juice or pear juice and the washed spinach leaves.

Then I blended the ingredients, until very smooth.While taste testing I added more juice for my desire consistency.Then I transfered the smoothie  into the mason jar and seal it tightly.Placing it in the fridge to stay fresh and cold.This recipe can be easily doubled to make more smoothies and even adaptions.

A Cake Lover's Recipe Notebook By Jane Brocket


The Cake Lover's is a beautiful old fashioned note book that is an important essential to every one's kitchen.This little jem encourages readers to save their favorite recipes and features classic cake's to get you started.Its definitely a unique cookbook with its polished photographs and excellent information on baking the perfect cake.It will be my go to booklet for future cake recipes.

So to express my love for this notebook I chose to test out a classic recipe.In the section for "Everyday Cakes" I picked a very tasty Lemon Drizzle Cake.This is a classic favorite cake that pairs so well with afternoon tea or brunch,though it can be enjoyed anytime of the day.The recipe itself is super easy to follow and definitely worth baking.Every morsel is heaven with its mixture of sweetness,tartness,and best of all a strong lemon flavor.However with its layers of flavor it is the incredible moisture and melt in your mouth texture that ties everything together.It is certainly a very special cake and is my favorite lemon cake recipe.It definitely gets two thumbs up from me.

So overall,I highly recommend this cake recipe and this unique notebook.This will be great for beginners for the simple information that is included,as well as the cake lover's that have lots of experience.It's definitely worth picking up and I am thankful to have been given the chance to review.

So I say a big thank you to author Jane Brocket for creating such a wonderful, polished notebook for us cake lover's.Also, to Lisa Trudeau from Quarto Publishing for contacting me.It was a delightful review experience and thank you for your patients.

Lemon Drizzle Cake By  A Cake Lover's Recipe Notebook 

Cake Batter

175 grams (3/4 cup) soft butter,plus extra for greasing
175 grams (scant 1 cup) caster (superfine sugar)
3 eggs
175 grams (1 1/4 cup) self raising (self rising) flour
Juice of 1/2 a lemon


100 grams (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
Juice of 2 lemons


8 inch round cake pan,grease and line base with parchment

1. Preheated the oven to 350F (180C or gas mark 4)

2.Beat the butter and sugar in my kitchen aid mixer, until pale and fluffy.Added the eggs one by one,beating well after each addition.

3. Then I sifted in the flour and lemon zest and poured in the juice.With a rubber spatula I gently folded in the ingredients until fully combined.Then I poured the cake batter into the prepared round cake pan.Cake pan must be fully greased and base lined with parchment paper.Then I gently leveled the surface with the back of a spoon.

4. Then I bake it for 25-30 minutes,until a toothpick came out clean and it was risen and golden brown.

5.When the cake was almost done.I made the syrup by placing sugar and lemon juice into a small saucepan and gently heated the pot, until the sugar dissolved without stirring.Then I let it simmer over medium heat without stirring until the mixture became syrupy and runny enough to spread all over the cake.Then I removed the syrup off heat and set aside.

6.Once the cake was done and transfered to a wire rack.I pierced about 12-15 holes in the cake, using a toothpick or metal skewer.Then I poured the syrup over the surface of the cake while it was still in the cake pan.Then I let it cool completely before removing it from the tin.

7.This lemon cake can be stored for a couple days wrapped in grease proof wax paper and foil and store in an airtight tin in a cool place.

Copykat Fan Favorites! The Final Review:)


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Dining Out At Home Two by Stephanie Manley is a charming cookbook that includes unique and simple recipes from well-known American restaurants.I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity from Ulysses Press to review each recipe chapter along with challenging myself in the kitchen.I have come so far in my cooking skill thanks to Stephanie and now I have advanced to the final chapter of her cookbook.This collection includes the most celebrated dishes amongst enthusiasts of Copykat's such as desserts,mains courses,side dishes and even dressings.I am very pleased the author has shared the most popular dishes from her website to share her appreciation towards her fans.

So from the favorites chapter,I decided to test out a simple recipe for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Fried Apples,which can be served as a side dish or topping.This was the first time ever cooking apples on a skillet and even given the opportunity to cook them in bacon fat.Sadly, I had no bacon at the time and had to use butter instead;however that would of a been an unique flavor concept.Something I definitely need to come back to since I was very impressed how delicious these apples were with just butter.It was a very speedy process to fried these apples and very similar to creating apple sauce.It was also very budget-friendly using simple ingredients, along with enriching the fruits flavor simply with cinnamon and nutmeg.These fried apples were mouth-watering on there own and are exquisite as a topping for meat,especially on pork chops.I can see why this would be voted as a favorite and I greatly recommend it.Who wouldn't love tender,sweet and juicy apples!?

This recipe is another favorite of mine amongst many others from Dining Out At Home Two.I have cherished every challenging experience from constructing potato soup,deep-frying chicken , along with assembling casseroles and ice cream bars.I have learned so many new cooking skills along with creating new dishes from restaurants that are only in America.I continue to be so thankful for having the opportunity and time to get really involved in this cookbook ,along with sharing my reviews with my readers.I send a big thank you to Ulysess Press for this great cookbook and I look forward to continuing this relationship.

Also,to Stephanie Manley, I thank you for sharing these impressive recipes with everyone that for a Canadian like me would of never known.I love your passion for restaurant food and I share your enthusiasm for cooking and baking.Keep up the good work and I will continue to support your cookbooks.

Now for my readers,I give this cookbook a big two thumbs up and I highly recommend picking up Dining Out At Home Two and also to pick up the first installment as well.Try out this recipe and the many others I have reviewed to see what I mean.

The Recipe

1/4 cup bacon drippings,or you can use butter
6 tart apples,cored and sliced(peeled if desired)
1 tsp freshly squezzed lemon juice
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Peel and core 6 granny smith apples,then slice.

Then in a skillet over low heat,melt bacon drippings or butter.
Scatter the apples evenly over the skillet bottom and sprinkle on the lemon juice.

Add the brown sugar and salt.Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes,stirring ocassionally,until apples are tender and juicy.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg to serve.Serve on there own or for a topping. 

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract?

Making your own vanilla extract is not that daunting task that you might of thought.Its actually super easy to make as along as you have the patience to develop a pure product. Its the most popular extract used in baking and for someone such as I that extensively bakes goes through vanilla very quickly.So when I was finally introduce to homemade given as a gift I made a choice to never go back to store bought.It is so much better in flavor and is quite inexpensive in the long run.So, when I saw that Dining Out At Home Cookbook Two had a recipe I knew I had to learn to make my own.

I learned that making your own vanilla extract is pretty basic with only using two vanilla beans and 8 ounces of vodka.It is so quick to put together and I'm surprised I didn't make my own sooner.Through everyone has to know that this extract does take time to fully develop as I mention before and will darken with age over several weeks.The extract also has a very long shelf life and is constantly replenishable ,meaning that keeping the beans completely submerge in alcohol will lengthen its life.I'm highly impressed with this fact because now I no longer need to purchase vanilla.In the end, we have a superior flavor to store bought and is definitely a better choice for everyone.

If you love to bake then I highly recommend this recipe and to keep this extract handy in your pantry. You will definitely see the difference in flavor and see how much money you save. So try out this recipe for yourself and I'll keep enjoying it in my baking.

The Recipe

Vanilla Extract
Yield 6-8 ounces

2-3 vanilla beans
6 to 8 ounces vodka

I used a sharp paring knife and split open the vanilla beans length wise.

Then I placed the beans in an airtight container with lid and poured in the vodka,enough to fully emerge the beans.

Then I tightly sealed the container.I store it in a room temperature area and shook it every couple of days and up to the next several weeks.

It will darken with age and while using it I can top it off with more vodka which sustains the shelf life.Keeping my vanilla beans submerge in alcohol is the key.

My First Homemade Fondant Cake!!!


It was just my nephews 7th birthday party this passed weekend and I took on the responsibilities of making his themed Mine craft birthday cake. So, with many ideas bouncing in my head prior I knew that this was the best time to take on the challenge of making my very own fondant.

So, for his birthday cake I used a very basic chocolate cake recipe,which I doubled to make two 9 by 13 cakes, along with cutting them into 24 individual squares.Then I made a very simple butter cream frosting to give a light icing on the cakes themselves.Then lastly, to decorate the cakes I used Wilton's Homemade marshmallow fondant to create the mine craft characters.

 The fondant definitely took time to create and was very hands on challenging.For example, my hands were pretty sore after kneading in 8 cups of icing sugar to 1 pounds of melted marshmallow;however it was well worth the effort to get the flawless appearance on these cakes.I put in a lot of hours to create this cake and I definitely learned some brand new skills to put towards my next decorated cake.I am also very excited how well these cakes turned out and it was awesome to see how impressed my nephews friends were when they saw them.It made it all worth it to put my time into!

So I definitely recommend to make homemade fondant for your next birthday cake.Its really easy to make along as you are in for the challenge of kneading.Its supposedly tastes way better then store bought and definitely cheaper.Also, its awesome to use to create figures and characters to match a theme.Its a lot of fun to get involved and create with fondant.So for me I"ll be definitely using my leftover fondant to use for the next birthday cake.It should be exciting! Also,If you have any questions about making this fondant? etc Just comment here on my blog or ask on The Art Of Baking page!

Dining Out At Home Two:Breakfast


We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day;however many of us cut it out, due to our busy lives.So to fix that issue Dining Out At Home Two has shared some special meals that you can easily make on your own that everyone will enjoy.This chapter includes delicious homemade recipes for waffles,omelets,pancakes and even for the popular egg McMuffin.So you better get ready to reintroduce breakfast in your morning because I want you to get your energy back and enjoy a healthy meal.

So for me,I chose to make the unique and creative Banana Bread French Toast that is inspired by the successful IHOP Restaurant.This meal is as simple as making any french toast;however this time its made with your favorite homemade banana bread to create a new flavor and texture.This recipe is very quick to make and the directions are simple to follow.There is tons of room for adaption and creativity that you can easily change the toppings or double the recipe.I just love having this opportunity in recipes to easily change and bring my own ideas to the table.

So now we all want to know how this unique french toast tastes? Right? Well when I took my first bite I was really surprised how moist and fluffy the bread was.It was still crisp on the outside as french toast should be;however it was completely different to any french toast I have experienced. The texture was heavy,chewy and very moist, along with having a buttery, banana flavor.It was also quite sweet and this kind of french toast soaks up the topping flavors very quickly creating a very aromatic meal.Its definitely a french toast you have to try for yourself and see exactly what I mean for yourself.Overall,I give this recipe and flavor experience a two thumbs up.

So now I challenge you to make yourself breakfast tomorrow or at least this weekend. Or right now you can share and let me know what your favorite go to breakfast meal is? Comment below or share on my Facebook page.I would love to hear about your unique and simple meals for breakfast.

The Recipe

Banana Bread French Toast
Adapted By Dining Out At Home Two
Makes 2 servings or double ingredients for 4 servings

2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
4 slices banana bread
1 banana,sliced
4 tsp butter
4 tbsp caramel sauce
Whipped cream
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

In a medium bowl,I whisked the eggs and milk together.

Then heated my nonstick skillet over medium heat and added 1 tsp of butter for each slice of banana bread being cooked.

I dipped the banana slice in the egg mixture and coated both sides evenly.

Then I placed the slice on the skillet and cook it for about 1 minute each side,until browned and the egg was fully cooked.

Then I plated my french toast with slices of bananas, drizzle of butter syrup and a sprinkle of nutmeg to serve.

IHOP Version: Bananas,caramel sauce,whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.
My Version:Bananas,butter syrup and nutmeg.

Sensational Buttercream Decorating:50 projects for luscious cakes,mini-cakes and cupcakes By Carey Madden

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Sensational Butter Cream Decorating Cookbook is full of insightful knowledge on every question you may have about cakes and decorating.Carey Madden has created her very own go to cake bible that consists of step by step directions, along with beautiful detail photographs to create impressive cakes.This hard cover, includes delicious cake recipes,a highly flexible meringue butter cream and great tips to handle decorating challenges.So once anyone opens this recipe book they will see how much information it really consist of and will be overwhelmed with how much knowledge they will take away from it.

This cookbook starts off as beginners basic and continues to challenge the reader.For me I love that aspect of starting over and learning brand new ideas.It has given me great tips and hints to create future cakes and how to decorate at my best. I have already bettered myself in the field of cake decorating,especially in piping designs.I am still in major practice mode in this aspect of baking;however I am pretty impressed with myself that I was able to pull off a basket weave cake.

The basket weave design is one of the beginner cakes of the Sensational Butter cream Decorating Cookbook, which consists of a rich chocolate cake decorated with a Swiss Meringue butter cream.The manner of preparing this impressive cake is a lengthy one because it is basically three recipes in one.It also can be quite an costly cake to achieve since it includes an extensive list of ingredients along with equipment to be utilized.Lastly, the recipes do include extensive information and will acquire time to understand completely on what to do. Although recognizing these challenges this It stills has been a very rewarding and exciting process to create the basket weave design.

For me I accept that there are is always going to be encounters to be confronted in every cake that  I decorate and this one has had its challenges.There has been frequent steps to follow before the final recipe stages such as leveling the cake, creating a crumb coating and even learning a smooth icing technique.Although mentioning these challenges.Carey Madden has still done a wonderful job with her explanations and I took away a lot of knowledge from this guide book.

Now the recipe itself,the rich chocolate cake and Swiss Meringue butter cream were pretty simple to follow and had easy to understand directions.The both had great tips to help during the recipe process and in the beginning of the book it included tons of information about equipment,ingredients and techniques that are involved in the recipe. I love this aspect of this cookbook because it doesn't leave you clueless or questioning the process. 

There is wonderful photographs and detailed directions for each process the cake goes though such as the crumb coat and the smooth icing technique.The basket weave how to recipe has the same basic step although it is more challenging because its actually learning how to pipe a design.This takes practice and it took me some time to even reach this level and I am pretty happy with what I accomplished.I made sure to use the directions, photos and read about the piping techniques,which I have included in the recipe below.

So for the final result,I am pretty impressed with how well I did and no where thought I reach this close to the original appearance.I ended up with a beautiful impressive cake along with a spur of the moment improvisation of rosettes and chocolate sprinkles.It was well worth the length of time to create this cake and very rewarding.

Although not as rewarding as taking a bite of a piece.This chocolate cake was deliciously moist and rich with just a hint of coffee flavor.The Swiss meringue butter cream was sweet like butter with a very creamy and light texture.It paired so well with the rich chocolate cake and held the basket weave design perfectly.Its a top notch recipe and I definitely recommend cake enthusiasts to experience it for themselves.So go on and try out this recipe and then after pick this book up.The price is definitely worth with it when you learned how much it includes.It will definitely help strengthen your cake decorating.Trust me!

So for Sensational Butter Cream Decorating Cookbook with just one recipe review, I give this book an A+ with two thumbs up.This is definitely a winner for me and I will use it as my go to guide book for cake decorating.I send a thank you to the Rose Inc and a big thank you to Martine for sending me this book for review.I will cherish this generosity and will continue to say positive comments.Thanks you!

The Recipe

Rich Chocolate Cake

For 6inch (15 cm) cake layers

1 tsp instant coffee granules
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate,coarsely chopped
1 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter,softened
2 large eggs

For 8inch cake (20cm) cake layers

2 tsp instant coffee granules
1 cup boiling water
3 oz unsweetened chocolate,coarsely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1tsp white vinegar
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cups unsalted butter,softened
3 large eggs

 1.Prepared my 8 inch nonstick cake pans.Greasing the bottom and sides.Placing only parchment paper on the bottom and flouring the sides.Then I preheated my oven to 350F.

(Cookbook Tip: With nonstick pans take off 25F to the temperature. Ex: 350 goes to 325F.)

2.Then without using a double boiler. I filled a medium pot with water,less then half fill on low-medium heat and placed a large glass bowl over top,without touching the water.I then poured in the coffee granules and boiling water into the glass bowl,whisking, until the coffee was dissolved.Then I added the chocolate and heated it gently,whisking often,until completely melted.Then I removed it from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.

 Tip:Be sure to use a kettle to create boiling water.
Cookbook Tip: Can replace boiling water and instant granules with 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee.
Tip:You can coarsely chop the chocolate or let it melt slowly.
Tip:Use a double boiler, if you have it and if not use the glass bowl technique.

3.I then sifted my flour,cocoa,baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.

4.Then in a second medium bowl,I whisked together the sour cream,vanilla and vinegar.From there, I whisked in the cooled coffee mixture,then placed it to the side.

5.Then with my kitchen aid stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed,I alternately began beating in the flour mixture and sour cream mixture.Three additions for the flour and two for the sour cream,beating until blended.Then I divided my batter by weight to my prepared cake pans and smoothing the tops.

6.Baked in the oven for about 40 minutes for the 8 inch's and 6 inches for 35 minutes.Use the toothpick test.If inserted into center of cake and comes out clean,its done.Then I let the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes and then slowly removed the cake to cool completely on racks before slicing and filling.

(My experience:Batter may begin going off the sides a bit, if so,keep baking just place a pan on the second rack.This can be easily fixed in the process of slicing)

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

The Recipe

Swiss Meringue Butter Cream Icing
 Yields about 5 cups

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup large egg whites ( 7 eggs)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted butter

1.Without using a double boiler.I filled a medium pot with water,less then half fill on low-medium heat and placed a large glass bowl over top,without touching the water.

2.I then whisked in together the sugar,salt, and egg whites.Then I began constantly whisking, until the sugar dissolved and the mixture reached 140 F on my candy thermometer or uncomfortable hot to the touch.

3.Then once the egg mixture reach the right consistency. I poured the mixture into my stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks formed and the mixture was cooled to room temp.Then I beat in the vanilla.

4.Then I weighed and cut my butter into small cubes about 1/4 inch in size.Then I slowly added two-three cubes of butter at a time to the cooled egg mixture,while beating.I did this until the butter was fully incorporated and the icing was smooth and satiny.I did have to turn up the power slightly at the end to help the icing come together.

5.Then I used the icing immediately;however it can be covered in plastic wrap and store at a cool room temperature for up to 24 hours.Then re beating to the right consistency when ready to use.

6. After the filling and crumb coat process in this recipe,I made a second batch of icing realizing one batch wouldn't be enough for the whole project. Doubling the recipe might be a good idea for next time.

Cookbook Tips:

Use a double boiler if you have it and if not use the glass bowl technique
If you don't have a stand mixer you can use a heavy duty handheld mixer,It will just take longer.

Cookbook Egg White Tips:

Heating the egg whites will help pasteurize and if particles of cook egg do appear in the mixture at the end of step 1,run them through a fine mesh sieves before continuing to step 2
Be sure to clean any equipment that will come in contact with the egg whites.Any small trace of grease will ruin a batch of meringue.Easy trick is to dampen a paper towel or cloth with lemon juice or vinegar to wipe down all equipment.
Once you add the butter to the meringue it will begin to separate and curdle,this is common and just keep beating.

Cookbook Tips

For larger cakes or project its best to double the ingredients to make 10 cups of butter cream.
(My Tip: Can make two batches separately so the icing isn't sitting out to long and you have a fresh batch.,you will end up with some leftover.

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Prepping the Cake

1.With my cooled cake rounds placed on a flat surface or turntable,I began leveling each one by placing a serrated knife on the east side and putting light pressure on the cake with my free hand and proceeding to slice to create a level top on each.

(There are great step by step diagrams and directions in the cookbook for more information) 


Important Recipe Note: At first I thought the basket weave cake recipe included butter cream icing for the whole project including the filling and crumb coat.It actually only includes what you need for the final icing along with the piping.So after I filled and crumbed coated this cake I made a second batch of icing while it chilled. This was not a problem since I was lucky enough to have more ingredients.

This is one batch of butter cream icing.
1.Using this one batch of ivory butter cream icing.I spread a good size dollop of icing gently from the middle to the edge of the bottom cake layer and then I placed the second cake layer on top.

The amount of filling used will vary on how much the person desires and if you choose the spiral filling that the cookbook instructs.The spiral filling will most likely use more butter cream and create more height. This can be done by filling a piping bag with or without a tip and then slowly start 1/4 inch from the outside edge and place firm pressure on the bag to create a tight spiral filling into the center of the cake.Then gently placing the second cake layer on top.Also if any icing is leftover from the piping bag it should be placed back in the icing bowl for the crumb coat.

(Tip:The filling can easily be colored before use,I just kept it ivory since I didn't know how much I planned on using for the filling)

(There are great step by step diagrams and directions in the cookbook for more information) 

Crumb Coat

A very important aspect to decorating a cake is the crumb coat.This helps in preventing crumbs from interfering with the final icing.

1.So when I completed the filling. I used the leftover icing and dye it a medium brown with my food coloring gel. I used a toothpick to add my gel coloring and used my stand mixer with a whisk attachment to slowly mix in the coloring,until it reached my desired color.

(Tip: The icing may separate due to room temperature of the butter.I just kept beating the mixture, until it reached the right consistency)

2.Once it reached the right color and consistency, I use an offset spatula and gently spread a thin layer of icing across the top and around the sides.This is when its perfectly fine to have crumbs release from the cake and mix into the icing.Then I placed the cake rounds in the fridge and let the icing firm up.

 (My Tip:If there is any leftover icing without crumbs in the mixture.Keep this aside to use for the smooth icing technique)

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Smooth Icing

While waiting for the crumb coat to firm up I made a second batch of icing.In this batch I reserved 2 cups of ivory butter cream to create a light brown icing for the basket weave piping and the rest to create a medium brown for icing and piping.

1.Once the cake was chilled I kept the cake on the center of my turntable.I then stirred the medium brown icing with a rubber spatula, until smooth.While keeping the reserve icing in the fridge for later use.

2.Then I placed a large dollop of icing on top of the cake and used my straight blade spatula to spread the icing from the middle to the outside.

3. I then placed my metal spatula tip at the center of the cake while having the back edge resting horizontally on the surface and the front edge at 45 degree angle.Then I began spinning my turntable counterclockwise with my free hand and gently applying pressure to the surface,until smooth.

(There are great step by step diagrams and directions in the cookbook for more information) 

 4.Then I scooped another dollop of icing and spread it onto the side of the cake.I spread the icing while spinning my turntable.Once I could longer cover anymore area.I spread another dollop of icing to the bare side and continue to spread the icing until I covered the sides.

5.Then I smoothed the sides by holding the spatula vertically with the tip touching the turntable and the back edge touching the surface at a 30 degree angle.Then I span the turntable clockwise and applied gently pressure with my spatula,continuing until smooth and when the icing created a lip higher then the top surface.

6. Then I removed the lip of the icing by placing the back edge of the straight metal spatula horizontally at the south-southwest position on the top of the cake with the front edge at a 30 degree angle towards the center of the cake.Then I swiped the spatula towards the center of the cake,smoothing down the lip.Then I span the turntable slightly and made another swipe from the edge to the center,until all lips were removed.Then I placed the iced cake in the refrigerator until well chilled and placed any leftover icing in the fridge to keep cold,including the 2 cups of reserve.

(There are great step by step diagrams and directions on how to create the smooth icing technique in this cookbook)

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Basket Weave Chocolate Cake

8 inch cake,sliced,filled and crumb coated
5 cups of medium brown icing
2 cups of light brown icing(Reserved from the 5 cup batch of icing before the dying process)
2 pastry bags
2 couplers
2 #6 tips
# 48 basket weave tip
Metal ruler and toothpicks

Technique used in the cookbook:
Smooth icing
Transferring the cake
Lines and Smooth scallop border

1.Once the cake was fully chilled.I took out the remaining medium brown icing and beat it using my stand mixer until it reached the right consistency again.

 2.I then transferred the remaining medium brown icing into a pastry bag with a #6 tip.Its best to have a coupler with your piping bag to make piping easier.There is also many tips and tricks about piping in this recipe book such as how to pipe and hold a pastry bag,along with what equipment to use.

Cookbook Hints For Using A Pastry Bag:
  •  Cutting off the tip: I snipped about 1 inch off the tip.When inserting the coupler it extended about half of the thread of the coupler.
  • Placing the tip and coupler:I placed the decorating tip over the part with the extended threads,secured and twisted the coupler ring over top of the tip, until secure.
  •  Filling a pastry bag:With my left hand I folded the top of the bag down over my hand and then proceeded to scoop icing from the bowl using a rubber spatula and carefully dropping it into the bag
  • Closing bag:With my right hand I held the pastry bag and with my left hand I twisted the empty top portion.Then I slipped the twisted portion in between my thumb and index finger.
  • How to Hold a Pastry Bag:With my right hand,I held the twisted off portion in between my thumb and index finger while the excess bag drapes over the back of my hand.Then I placed my index finger of my left hand near the narrow opening and use it to guide the bag and keep steady.

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

 3. I kept my chilled cake on the center of my turntable.Then I used a ruler to create imprints on the side of the cake to have a guide line for piping.The space between each line is about 1/2 inches all around.

4.Then using my medium brown icing in a pastry bag.I piped over the imprints making vertical lines. I held the pastry bag at a 45 degree angle to the cake with the tip gently touching the starting point and with moderate pressure squeezed to create an anchor of icing and then lifting slightly while moving my hand to create a even line.Then touching the end point with the tip and then releasing the pressure. Continue until all imprints are filled.If any leftovers used for icing decoration.

Cookbook Tip:Gravity will help create straight even lines

5.Then I beat the reserved ivory butter cream icing and added brown food coloring gel to create a light brown icing for a basket weave pattern.Once it reached the right consistency and color. I placed the icing in a new pastry bag with a coupler and basket weave # 48 tip.

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission. 

6.Then I held the pastry bag perpendicular to the cake and the tip aligned vertically.I place the tip against one of the vertical lines at the top edge of the cake.I then squeezed the bag with even pressure and moved the tip towards the next vertical line,lifting gently away from the side of the cake whiling passing the second line.Then I released pressure when the tip meet the edge

7.I proceeded to leave a blank spot under the piped line that is the same width as the basket weave,then I continued to make another band of icing below the first one,until I reached the bottom.

8.Then I repeated step 4 by creating bands on the gaps by the start point being the line in the middle and overlapping the second line to the meet the third line.I continued adding bands with equal space between them down the side of the cake to the bottom edge.I continued until all the spaces were filled.

(Cookbook Tip: I worked as quickly as I could since the warmth from my hands can change the consistency of the icing)

9. Then I changed my piping tip to the #6 on the light brown icing and piped a smooth scallop border around the bottom.

 (There are great step by step diagrams and directions in the cookbook for more information on smooth scallop border )

10.Then I used whatever icing was leftover  and improvised by creating a rosette decorations on the top of the cake along with chocolate sprinkles.

(There are great step by step diagrams and directions in the cookbook for more information on Rosettes )

Courtesy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating: 50 Projects for Cakes, Mini-Cakes & Cupcakes by Carey Madden, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

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