Flamingo Pink Mixer Giveaway!

Flamingo Pink Mixer

Happy, Happy Love Day, friends!

I’m excited to tell you that you will be seeing a lot more of me around here in about 3 weeks, as I finish up the all of the photography for my book. Once the photography has been submitted, I look forward to blogging like a crazy woman. I’ve missed you! It’s been a crazy year, working on this book, but I’m so eager to see it all come together–I can’t wait to share it with you (even a sneak peek!).

So to say thank you for being so patient with my absence, and because it’s the pinkest day of the year, I thought I would give away a  Kitchenaid 4.5 Qt Stand Mixer in this amazing Flamingo Pink shade, to one lucky reader!

Flamingo Pink KitchenAid Mixer

While the giveaway details are the same as always, I’m trying out a new system for managing the giveaway, so it should be as smooth as can be to enter. xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I hope you’re being adored to smithereens today!

Related posts:

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake {and Red Velvet Link Love!}

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

It’s a Red Velvet Cake craze, my friends! I may be a little late to the Red Velvet party, but I’ve arrived, outfitted in a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50′s dress, of course, and with a cake in tow — a Red Velvet Layer Cake with Whipped Cinnamon filling and Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting, no less — just in time for Valentine’s Day. Are you gearing up for the big day? I certainly was, as I had so many fun Valentine’s ideas to share with you, and then, bam!, earlier this past week I became super ill and was out of commission. I didn’t even see it coming — it was kind of crazy. The good news is that I had just made and began to photograph this cake that day, so at least I can share my red velvet love with you now.

As you may likely know, Red Velvet Cake is an old-fashioned, chocolate buttermilk cake, of sorts, that is known for its deep red or red-brown colour, typically achieved by a generous dose of red food colouring, or in many cases, cooked beets, or both. Most traditional versions of this cake are paired with either white cooked flour frostings or classic cream cheese frosting, or slightly tweaked variations of them. I would almost say that this cake keeps us loving and respecting the past more than any other cake out there–it appears that most bakers keep tradition close inside their apron pockets when recreating this red gem (when making it in cake form, that is–there are all sorts of incredible & innovative red velvet desserts out there now!).

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

I haven’t made this ever-popular (again) cake in quite some time, and there’s a reason: I simply couldn’t find a recipe for the cake layers that I loved. To be totally honest, I made 3 different recipes, and it was hard choosing one that I even really liked. I love the idea of the cake, and I love the flavours it’s known for, but when I tried the most popular recipes floating around the web, they were all standard butter cakes that ended up on the dry side once ready to eat. Then I tried a few alternatives that opted for oil-based cakes, which, with chocolate cakes I usually love, but I just found the ones I tried were too oily for the limited amount of cocoa in the Red Velvet Cake. I finally decided that the best recipe out there is likely a butter cake version, so back on the search I went . . .

That’s when I tried this perfectly moist and classically made cake layer recipe from baking911.com, and I loved it! Sarah worked hard to create a recipe that wasn’t dry at all, but rather really flavourful and moist, while staying really true to the traditional version.  I decided to switch it up just slightly, by filling the cake with a whipped cinnamon frosting and then frosting the outside with a fluffy cream cheese frosting — the yummiest.

Since any day is a great day to share pretty and love-y treats, I look forward to sharing my other posts with you next week (and stay tuned for a Love Day Roundup post!). In the meanwhile, let’s make one killer Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake! But first . . .

A few random-but-riveting Red Velvet Cake facts:

  • In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton’s department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an exclusive Eaton’s recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton (source). Incidentally, my mom worked at Eaton’s department store during my childhood; this fact is in no way related to Red Velvet Cake, just thought I’d share that exciting tidbit.
  • It is often said that Red Velvet Cake was first popularized at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York (where Grant and I spent our engagement weekend, but what? never had the cake!) during the 1920s, although, it seems that it had been popular for many years before then throughout the southern states. The famous Waldorf Red Velvet Cake recipe can be found, among other incredible recipes, in the fabulous The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook.
  • Red Velvet Cake makes a special appearance (likely one of the reasons the cake regained popularity!) inside the perfectly unusual armadillo groom’s cake in the 1989 movie, Steel Magnolias.

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

Yield: One 4-layer (or two thicker layers), 9″ round cake. Serves 12-16

*August 2013 Update: Since I’ve written this post, baking911.com is structured differently–you must be a member to view the recipes. If you aren’t a member, you can try my more recent Red Velvet Cake recipe here.

I paired the fabulously moist & yummy Red Velvet Cake layers from my friends over at baking911.com with my own frosting and filling to create an old-fashioned favourite with a bit of a twist. My Whipped Cinnamon Filling/Frosting and Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting recipes are below, and you can find the fabulous baking911.com Red Velvet Cake recipe, HERE (if you are a member of baking911.com).

Whipped Cinnamon Filling/Frosting

Yield: enough to fill a 9″ round, 4-layer cake

Ingredients

3 sticks + 2 tablespoon (370 g/13 oz) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3 cups sifted (480 g/1 lb + 1 oz) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)

3 tablespoons (45 mL) whipping cream (heavy cream 35%)

2 teaspoon (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract)

2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cinnamon, or to taste

pinch of salt

Method

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

3. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency) and stirred occasionally during the cake-frosting process.

Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: enough to frost (only frost, not fill) a 9″ round cake, with piped decorations (above)

Ingredients

1/3 cup  (75 g/2.5 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 lbs (5 1/2 cups/685 g) confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 packages (8 oz packages) cream cheese (12 oz/345 g), cut into cubes, cold

1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream 35%)

2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract)

pinch of salt

Method

1. Using electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend butter and icing sugar on medium low speed, until just combined, about 2 minutes.

2. Add cold cream cheese, all at once, and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

3. Add whipping cream and vanilla, and beat at medium high speed for about 1 minute. Frosting will be fluffy. Be sure to not overbeat, or the frosting will start to become too thin.

Assembly of the Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake

1. With a long, sharp serrated knife, slice both cooled cake layers in half horizontally, so you now have 4 cake layers (this is optional–you can certainly leave it as 2 thicker layers with one layer of filling).

2. Spread a small dollop of either frosting onto desired cake plate or cake board (this keeps cake from shifting).

3. Place 1 cake layer on it, cut-side up. Place ~1 cup of cinnamon frosting on top, and spread evenly with a Medium Sized Offset Spatula
leaving about a 1″ rim unfrosted (around the edges).

4. Repeat step 3 until you come to your final layer, which you will place cut side down.

5. Pile a generous amount of Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting on top of the cake and using a clean Medium Sized Offset Spatula
working outward from the top center, adding more frosting to the sides and smooth, using a Medium Sized Straight Spatula, until cake is covered and smooth.

6. Place remaining Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in a large Pastry Bag fitted with your preferred large decorating tip. For this cake I used Ateco Decorating Tip 887, and swirl rosettes around the top of the cake. Top with candy heart or anything your little heart desires!

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • This cake is best enjoyed day 1 or 2. Because of the cream cheese frosting, you will need to refrigerate the cake, but it should always be served at room temperature.
  • For Red Velvet & Cinnamon Cupcakes, you could bake in cupcake liners (24-36) and top with a swirl of each frosting, or even just one or the other.
  • Ready to rock your cake baking? Check out my 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes post.
  • To learn more about my favourite baking tools, check out Baking Supplies I Love.

As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences and results making this cake, so come on back and let me know!

Does Red Velvet excite you? Here is a serious dose of Red Velvet love from friends around the web:

Happy Weekend!

 

P.S. No, I’m not really wearing a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50′s dress.

PPS. I don’t even own a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50′s dress, but ooh I wish I did!


Related posts:

Love, Cake & Sprinkles {Pink Vanilla & Sprinkles Cake}

Love, Cake & Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

When I first met my husband, Grant, by chance while I was living in Grand Cayman in 1999, well, let’s just say that our meeting was a tad untimely. Sure, his gorgeous hazel eyes, true-blue demeanor, sincere compassion, and a few other remarkable (and seemingly rare) characteristics (that may or may not include a Calvin Klein model’s physique…if you don’t believe me, check him out in this previous post, here), were all striking and impossible to ignore, but it simply wasn’t the right time for us. After several years (4 to be precise), a move back to Canada, and a fresh start and move-in with a mutual friend in Toronto, he landed on our doorstep, almost literally. At that point, the timing was better, but still not perfect. A few weeks, and a bit of spring cleaning later, the timing was suddenly, well, perfect. We started to “date,” and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was finally home.

I can recall one cold Sunday afternoon date in particular. We went for lunch to what soon became our favourite and most frequented greasy spoon, The New York Cafe, or as we like to call it, “The New Yorker” on “The Danforth” in Toronto. After that lunch date, for some reason (and yes, I’m in denial and swear it wasn’t our beloved New Yorker’s fault), I felt so ill. I managed to get the 40 paces home, but barely, and I could keep my eyes open no longer; I had to rest. I did feel a little weird about the whole needing-to-pass-out-or-die thing, considering we were on a date and really didn’t know each other that well (yes, I sure know how to wow a man, don’t I?), but it was really life or death, or so it felt. Grant asked me, in his sweet and famously compassionate manner, if there was anything he could get me, and I jokingly replied, “I’d give anything for cherry chip birthday cake with pink frosting and sprinkles.” Although this may seem logical, considering, I really cannot explain any of the following: A. Why I would crave cake when I was sicker than sick. B. What I thought he was going to do about it, even if I was joking, considering he’d never baked a cake in his life. C. If this was actually some kind of pseudo-subconscious dater’s test on my behalf. I can tell you, though, that if it was indeed a test of any kind, he passed; he rocked it, actually. While I was sleeping, he walked to the grocery store in the blistery-cold, came back armed with the provisions for making my cake wishes come true, and before I could say “father my children,” he presented me with what was possibly the loveliest-but-most-dilapidated cherry chip, pink frosting, and sprinkle-happy cake–talk about a serious kiss-ass romantic, but I was genuinely impressed and touched. It was such a fun and thoughtful thing to do, and, of course, the visual of this science-minded newly-graduated Chiropractor swirling pink icing and sprinkles all over his first-ever cake attempt, well, it definitely got us off to a sweet start.

If we fast forward 2 years from that day, and 6 years ago this exact moment, the night before our wedding, I was about to return alone to the quaint little single-cottage honeymoon suite at The Waring House in the beautiful countryside of Picton, Ontario. We had just finished up our rehearsal dinner at Grant’s father’s home on the farm property on which Grant was raised, and I was most ready for a good night’s sleep (back when I knew what that was) before our “big day” the next day. When I walked into the cottage suite room, there on the table was the cake I remembered so well, and could never forget: cherry chip layer cake smothered in fluffy pink frosting and covered in colourful sprinkles. And a card. An impeccably written but candid and heartfelt card, in which he expressed that if he has it his way, he will spend the rest of his days making sure my days were filled with such cakes and sprinkles. And, although we know that marriage and life are never filled solely with such literal and figurative loveliness, it sure helps. ♥

This week, to celebrate our anniversary, I made us a classic 3-layer vanilla bean cake with pink vanilla buttercream, and heaps of colourful sprinkles. Before we talk more about that cake, I thought it would be fun to share some snippets of my night-before-the-wedding cake surprise, and our wedding day, June 4th, 2005:

Sweetapolita

Not bad, right? Grant explained that he was so proud of his second attempt (yes, he did indeed wait the full 2 years to make this cake, but we’ll go easy on him), and I think he should be. He confessed that the back right portion of the first cake he made me, years before, had fallen off and the rest was held together strictly by strategically-placed gobs of frosting. I decided that night that I should wait until the wedding day morning to cut into this cake, and so I did. Seeing as this was long before my budding food photography days or, well, even my Sweetapolita days, I’m particularly pleased that the wedding photographer thought to take these photos. And, yes, that’s me on the morning of my wedding day, hovering over a table eating cake before going to the church. To think that the Sweetapolita in me had not yet been born; she would have been so proud! Looking back, it was a respectable and ironic way to start one of the best days of my life, and I love that Grant knew me well enough to come up with such a surprise. Here are a few more sprinkles from our wedding day (best I could do without digital files, but I still wanted to share):

Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Yes, we’re both drinking wine on the loose, but the good news is that the entire bridal party was doing the same. More good news is that we had a handy (and huge) limo bus to carry our insanely large and possibly tipsy bridal party back to the reception. And even more good news is that we were on the gorgeous Chadsey’s Winery property, in Prince Edward County, doing wine tastings and getting rustic country photos taken, so it all made sense at the time. Wait, there really is no bad news in this story.

Love, Cake & Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

So, as I mentioned, in honour of our 6th wedding anniversary this weekend, I wanted to make a cake reminiscent of Grant’s pink cake with sprinkles. I made his favourite flavour, vanilla bean, with a version of pink vanilla buttercream that I’d never tried before: it’s a white sugar and meringue base buttercream, similar to Italian Meringue Buttercream, but much quicker. The main difference technique-wise is that it doesn’t require a candy thermometer; the main difference ingredient-wise is that it uses light corn syrup. I found the texture to be incredibly fluffy, satiny, and stable; and the taste to be very similar to the meringue buttercreams. I will admit, that although this is a fabulously quick and easy classic buttercream, I still adore the corn-syrup-free Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don’t get me wrong, this one is gorgeous, and I love that it doesn’t have powdered sugar. On a sidenote, I thought I’d point out that I bought so much pink ribbon for our wedding that I am still trying to come with ways to use it, such as above! You’ll likely see, and may have already seen, it make its way into my photos often; let’s think of it as the “Where’s Waldo” of food photography.

Love, Cake & Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is one of my favourites, the Vanilla Bean Layer Cake from the previous Vanilla Bean Latte Layer Cake post. A fairly dense, but stable, moist, and wonderfully vanilla cake (it’s also a great option for cakes that will be covered in buttercream and fondant).

Love, Cake & Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

Wishing you a weekend (and more) of love, cake & sprinkles!

*Wedding photos by Click Photo Co.

Pink Vanilla & Sprinkles Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Layer Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups (341 g)(3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2-2/3 cups (540 g) granulated sugar
  • 9 (275 g) egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups (575 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 2 cups (480 mL) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract, best quality
  • For the Vanilla Buttercream:
  • 5 large (150 g) egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (213 g) light corn syrup
  • 2 cups (454 g) (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 drops pink gel food colour

Instructions

    For the Vanilla Layer Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8" x 2" round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg whites gradually, mixing until fully incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Mix vanilla extract and vanilla paste (or contents of vanilla bean) into buttermilk.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. (If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan on a digital kitchen scale to ensure even layers.) Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes clean.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Vanilla Buttercream:
  8. Wipe a mixer bowl with dampened with some lemon juice to remove any traces of grease.
  9. Place the egg whites in the mixer bowl and, in the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until foamy.
  10. Gradually add 6 tablespoons (72 g) of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little).
  11. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil; there should be bubbles covering the entire surface, and no pockets of sugar undissolved on the surface.
  12. Promptly remove the syrup from the heat and, with the mixer set on medium-high speed, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream between the bowl and whisk, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk (otherwise you end up with sticky hot syrup splatters stuck to the sides of the bowl).
  13. Set the mixer to medium speed and whisk until the bottom of the mixer bowl feels neutral to the touch. Add the butter in, 1 tablespoon at a time (doesn't have to be precise, just in small chunks), until it has all been incorporated.
  14. Add vanilla extract, pinch of salt, and a few drops of any food colouring gel you want to use, and beat until thickened and smooth.
  15. Assembly of the Pink Vanilla Cake:
  16. Place bottom layer face-up on a cake stand, plate, or thin cake board. Spread and smooth ~ 1 cup frosting using a small palette knife. Repeat with second cake layer.
  17. Gently place third cake layer, face-down, on top.
  18. Spread a thin layer (also known as a crumb coat) all over cake using an the offset palette knife for the top and straight palette knife for the sides. Then, using a bench scraper, gently scrape off excess frosting from the cake, for a smooth finish. This works best while slowly spinning your rotating cake stand with one hand and holding the bench scraper with the other.
  19. Refrigerate your cake for at least 30-60 minutes.
  20. Use remaining frosting to decorate your cake.
  21. Add sprinkles or any other decorations that make you happy!
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2011/06/love-cake-sprinkles/

You may enjoy this previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

My Heart Belongs To U: Neapolitan Milk & Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Neapolitan Cookies via Sweetapolita

I hope you are having a great Saturday! So far, I’ve had a great day. I was able to drive into the city (Toronto) this morning (all alone!) for a much-needed trip to the hair salon, a leisurely shop at the most fabulous gourmet grocer, Pusateri’s, and, naturally, a quick stop to Starbucks for my drive home. I hope you’re also having a fabulous weekend, and that you’re able to fill it full of love-y treats and projects.

If you read my last post, you’ll remember that I just can’t get enough of the Valentine’s Day treats this year (and just love-inspired sweets all-around). I really wanted to get one more love-themed treat in before the weekend was over, so although this will be a short & sweet post, I’m so happy I was able to share these cookies with you. You know what else I can’t get enough of? Neapolitan! Strawberry, Chocolate & Vanilla–is there anything better? It makes me so happy with its fun colours and flavours combined; it really is the perfect trio.

Here’s the photo that was a big part of the inspiration for this Neapolitan Milk & Chocolate Sugar Cookie collection, from the Real Simple website. Don’t you just love these little milk bottles? I also love the little plate the bottles are on, because I have & adore the silk pillow and pencil case from this amazing collection from thomaspaul. Adorable. I also used my own Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake as inspiration, because I thought it really needed some matching cookies!

Neapolitan Cookies via Sweetapolita

These really are fun to make–they’re kind of like little fondant puzzles, and I would say that in the grand scheme of confection design, they’re pretty quick and easy! As you’ve probably noticed, I love using fondant for cookie decorating. I personally love the sweet vanilla taste of Satin Ice brand fondant, the beautiful texture, and lovely porcelain finish it creates for my cookies. Since I love not just the visual appeal of Neapolitan, but also the flavours, I couldn’t resist using the corresponding flavours for each cookie. I used a dark chocolate fondant for the chocolate bar and chocolate milk bottles; I flavoured the “strawberry” milk bottle/hearts fondant with LorAnn’s strawberry flavour oil (I haven’t done this before, and it is SO yummy!); and, of course, I used the vanilla fondant for the vanilla milk bottles/hearts.

Neapolitan Cookies via Sweetapolita

If you would like to make these cookies, here is the how-to:

Neapolitan Milk & Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Milk Bottles:

1. Cut out/bake/cool milk bottle sugar cookies  (or the cookies of your choice).

2. Dye white fondant strawberry pink (I used AmeriColor “electric pink”) and add a few drops (to taste) of LorAnn Strawberry Oil.

3. Roll pink, white, and chocolate fondant about 1/8″ thick, cut out milk bottle shape using cookie cutter, and cut out heart/hearts using small heart cutter.

4. Spread very thin layer of royal icing on cooled cookie and gently place fondant shape on cookie.

5. You will use the cut out chocolate bar heart to fill in your “puzzle” milk bottle heart (confused yet?).

Chocolate Bars:

1. Cut out/bake/cool rectangular sugar cookies (or the cookies of your choice).

2. Roll chocolate fondant (I use Satin Ice dark chocolate fondant and mix 50/50 with white fondant for milk chocolate colour) 1/8″ thick.

3. Using ruler edge, create a bar grid. Then, using same ruler, create diagonal lines across entire bar.

4. Cut out heart using same small heart cutter from bottles and place inside the missing heart in milk bottles.

5. Roll, cut, and insert a pink heart into the missing heart on chocolate bar.

6. Cut out an “I” and “U” using small letter fondant cutters and fill in with white fondant.

7. Spread a small amount of royal icing on cookie, and gently place the fondant on top.

This may sound confusing, but it’s so simple. Like I mentioned, it’s just like a fondant cookie love puzzle! Although they do make for ideal Valentine’s Cookies, I think they would also be gorgeous for wedding showers, weddings, birthday parties, and pretty much any celebration. Love seems to be the perfect theme for any party. Don’t you think?

I want to wish you all an amazing Valentine’s Day filled with love & cookies!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts: