Thursday, July 31, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Polka Dots ICE CREAM Cake with bonus mini tutorial

Summertime. Hot days, cooler evenings. Mostly. And lots of reasons to cool off with a frosty treat!

This Hidden Polka Dots Ice Cream Cake was made for a segment aired today on one of our local tv stations. 

"Fresh Living" by Channel KUTV 2 features special interest stories from around Utah in this program. I was thrilled to be contacted by them a few weeks ago but was both nervous and excited the closer it came to taping. Things on the homefront are hopping so it's been a little more challenging here but who doesn't love a little upheaval now and again to keep things exciting? You can see how it went here.

Our house is a bit of a wreck while the entire exterior and decks are sandblasted and readied for staining and sealing. The part they forgot to mention was that more than a little of the glass and sawdust would be coming right on through the walls to make the inside an untidy mess. One day last week my keyboard was even covered with a layer of stuff that should be floating around outside. Yuk! The one week estimate for that stage of the project has long since passed and there is still about a fourth of the work left before we move on to the fun part, powerwashing. Perhaps it will wash some of the dust away as it inevitibly finds it's way inside these log walls.

I've all but given up on taping a seperate baking demo (for a different occasion) in my kitchen over the past couple of weeks. After a multitude of attempts, I learned the following: Men in hazmat type gear strolling by the windows every so often doesn't pair well with a baking demo. Better suited for a great reality show. So that taping is now waiting for a camera crew and the local kitchen store or for the promised settling of the dust around here. And did I mention the noise? Fun and funner. I know it's gonna be beautiful when it's done. With lots more time, dust and patience.

So meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . I've been baking polka dots and tucking them in delicious creamy ice cream in preparation for the "Fresh Living" segment. Here they are peeking out from their hiding places before I unmolded and frosted them.

You can watch both me and my fever blister show how to make this cake in 5 minutes or less. Yeah. Fever blister in the middle of the night and right on my lower lip. Is the pouty or puffy look "in" these days? Guess the stress of house demolition has finally exposed itself. Great timing, eh? 

How's your summer going? Hope it's a fun one!


Here are the tutorials for both the ice cream cake and a kid friendly quick and easy mini polka dot cake:

Hidden Polka DotIce Cream Cake


§  5 Ziploc quart bags for tinting batter
§  Cake pop pan (18 cavities 1.75” each or similar)
§  Storage tub (8.5” size from Family Dollar set or plastic wrap lined pan, empty ice cream tub, etc
§  9” Tuff board cake round
§  Large spoon or rubber spatula
§  Scissors
§  Long, sharp serrated knife
§  Small offset spatula


§  1 white cake mix
§  3 whole eggs
§  1/3 cup vegetable oil
§  1 1/4 cups milk
§  1 T clear imitation vanilla
§  1 small box instant vanilla or white chocolate or cheesecake pudding
§  Non-stick baking spray with flour
§  AmeriColor soft gel pastes in Orange 113, Egg Yellow 106, Electric Pink 164, Electric Green 162, & Royal Blue 102
§  1 gallon vanilla ice cream (with some leftover) or homemade
§  Optional: “All White Buttercream” (recipe follows), pre made magic shell ice cream topping or homemade
§  Candy Melts in Orange, Yellow, Pink, Vibrant Green & Blue or optional toppings like M&Ms, Chewy Skittles, Chewy Sprees, Trix cereal or similar, sprinkles or gumballs (Be sure to add at serving time or colors will run on coated candies.)



§  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cake ball pan by spraying the outside of the vents and cavities with baking spray.
§  Prepare 1 white cake mix by stirring 1 small box of instant vanilla or white chocolate pudding mix into dry mix. Add eggs or whites, vanilla, vegetable oil and milk to dry mixture and stir with whisk until well combined.               
§  Divide the batter into 5 quart-sized Ziploc bags, about 3/4 c or slightly more per bag. Or you can weigh out the batter at about 7 oz. per color. Tint each bag using about 8 drops orange, 4 drops egg yellow, 3 drops pink, 3-4 drops electric green & 3 drops royal blue gel paste to resemble the Candy Melt colors. Squish the batter around in the sealed bags until colors are evenly distributed.
§  Snip a small corner from each bag and pipe out the tinted batters into the cake ball pan cavities, filling just to rim as shown.
§  The batter makes 8 of each color or 40 total (if using the 18 cavity 1.75” pan) so you’ll need to bake them in batches if you don’t own more than one cake pop pan. Yields for other cake pop pan sizes will vary.
§  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until the cake balls are just done and springy to the touch but not browned. When cooled, trim the tops and edges to remove the ridges using sharp craft scissors.
§  Place the balls in single layer on a small baking sheet and freeze until firm. If storing, place the frozen balls in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag and store until needed or continue with assembly if desired.
§  Remove ice cream from freezer to soften when ready for assembly. Ice cream can be quick thawed by placing in microwave in 45-second intervals at 30% power. Be sure the container is microwave safe and leak proof.


§  Line pan with plastic wrap if not using plastic tub or container.
§  Stir the softened ice cream until it is smooth and creamy. Ice cream should be similar to soft serve or frosting so it’s soft enough to spread or even close to being runny so that it will fill all the nooks and crannies.
§  Place about 2 cups of the softened ice cream or enough to cover the bottom of the prepared plastic container or lined pan and set the cake balls on top. Try to make sure that the same colors aren’t next to each other.
§  Pour the softened ice cream evenly around and on top of the cake balls to fill in any gaps.
§  Add another layer of cake balls and follow up with more ice cream. Smooth the top when finished so that no colors are showing through. Place the lid on and place cake in freezer.
§  Freeze the assembled cake for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.


§  Remove cake from the freezer at least 15 minutes prior to decorating for ease of unmolding.
§  Invert the cake onto a flat plate or Tuff board cake round. Frost or decorate as desired and return to freezer until serving.
§  Recommended: place frozen cake in 40-degree (standard for frig temps) refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving time. Thawing times can very depending on type of ice cream used, other ingredients in your cake and freezer temperature.
§  Alternatively: remove from the freezer about 10 minutes prior to serving and transfer to display plate or cake pedestal if desired.
§  Slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.


All White “Buttercream”

Adapted from Wilton
Makes about 3 cups of frosting

   1 cup solid vegetable shortening
   2 T clear vanilla extract
    4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)

In large bowl, cream shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.


Hidden Polka Dot
MINI Ice Cream  & Cereal Cakes


§  10 count package of round mini food safe containers ($1 at Dollar Tree)
§  Small spoons & mixing bowls
§  Small offset spatula for unmolding


§  Trix cereal or similar
§  Vanilla ice cream
§  Optional: pre made magic shell ice cream topping or DIY
§  Optional toppings like mini M&Ms, sprinkles or jimmies                                


Making the mini cakes

§  Fill mini containers with cereal in advance or let the kiddos sort the colors and count the polka dots as they fill them for you. Make sure you can still put the lids back on without crushing the cereal.
§  Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to thaw until mostly melted. Or quick thaw ice cream by placing in microwave in 45-second intervals at 30% power. Stir the softened ice cream until it is smooth and creamy. Ice cream should be similar to soft serve or frosting so it’s soft enough to spread or even close to being runny so that it will fill all the nooks and crannies.
§  Working one container at a time, dump each mini container of cereal into a small bowl. Add 3-4 small spoons of melted ice cream and stir to coat.
§  Add 2 small spoons of melted ice cream to the mini container and scoop the coated mixture back inside. Top with more ice cream until container is full.
§  Place lids on containers and freeze for 1-2 hours or preferably overnight.

Decorating & Serving

§  Remove mini cakes from the freezer at least 15 minutes prior to decorating for ease of unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a small flat plate.
§  Top with Magic Shell or DIY coating and decorate as desired with sprinkles, jimmies or mini M&Ms. Decorated cakes should be served immediately to prevent candy colors from running.
Serve with disposable mini party forks and spoons in coordinating colors if desired.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Giraffe Pattern

Here's another design I'm perfecting for you. A surprise inside giraffe pattern hidden in a twice baked cake! 

Giraffe patterns are everywhere on the exteriors of cakes.  But on the inside? Not so much. And never in a round cake that I've been able to find so far.

A little trickier but you'll be able to do it with no problem. Promise.

Hope you can add this to your collection of DIY surprise inside animal prints one day soon! I'm SO excited to show you how!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Chevrons

I started working on this surprise inside twice baked chevron cake ages ago.
After MANY failed attempts, I finally came up with this one. Even though it had possibilities, it still isn't good enough to share. Almost but not quite.

But compared to even earlier experiments like this one, it's gotten much better. Poor little Charlie Brown chevron cake. : (

Please don't laugh at this one. It was meant to be a gluten free version.

In any event, I've tried this design at least a dozen different ways now and while I've learned what DOESN'T work, I've also learned what does. So I'm saving the best and tried and true methods for my book. After all, I only want what's best for you.

I hope that you'll still love chevrons by then but even if that's not the case, the methods I'll share with you can be used to put nearly any design you come up with inside a cake.

Patience is a virtue (but not my strength for sure) so please be virtuous and patient with me as I continue messing up my kitchen over and over so that you won't have to.

Confectionately yours,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Bunnies!

Just finished this fun Easter cake with hidden bunnies inside. I took the extra step of adding white cotton tails to the hidden shapes this time. Worked like a charm!

The bunny shapes were made using 48 cupcakes tinted to match the exterior. Although the colors were a bit more vivid than I'd planned, I'm happy with it overall. Next time I'd go a little easier on the colors to get a softer look. Seems no matter how many times I tint batters and frostings and plan for the colors to deepen, they develop into even brighter versions than I'd hoped for.

This cutter started the whole idea. The little floppy ears have such personality!

First were the fondant bunnies in graduated spring tones.


Then came the white fondant letters placed on a parchment circle the same size as the cake top for planning.


The letters were made from fondant using this mold from N.Y. Cake.
You can get one on sale here for $6.99.

Before I spent any more time or wasted the frosting and decorations, I HAD to take a peek to make sure that the ears weren't a complete flop.

And then I took a second peek to make sure the colors would show. Totally worked! YAY! The bunny shapes on the inside of the cake are done in the same color palette as the exterior bunnies. Each cut reveals another color so each guest should get a unique slice.

And here it is all decorated up. You can always take a slice or two of your cake to peek inside before you decorate it. Just to be sure.

The cake was partially frozen when I cut it and very moist. I simply replaced the slices and went about frosting it. Since I most likely won't be present when this one goes under the knife, peeking was mandatory. Okay. Maybe not mandatory, but necessary. Let's face it, I just couldn't wait!

Here's the lettering. I was so worried that they wouldn't fit properly but the placement seemed to work and reminded me a bit of bunnies hopping down a trail. Especially if they were side tracked with carrots and things.

Hope these little characters made you smile!

UPDATE: Here's a shot taken by the staff at Orson Gygi after the Cake Wrecks-like trip from the airport. The cake was still in fairly good shape but the winters are tough on the roads and the pot holes nearly won out. Hello little pink and purple bunnies!

Happy Easter!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden DIVERGENT Factions with Template

An old friend was visiting recently and shared that her daughter Lauren was longing for a DIVERGENT cake for her birthday. The party was scheduled for the opening day of the movie. 

Although Lauren was hoping for a cake for each of the five factions, I made a suggestion to incorporate all the colors into one cake. Seemed more manageable and practical since it was a small party and the idea of five separate cakes seemed daunting to her Mommy.

Since I couldn't be there to make the cake for her, I fashioned a plan for her to take back home & bake/decorate in stages. Keeping it simple was the goal since my friend is not a Dauntless baker.
Here's the plan I came up with:

This is NOT however the plan I used. The bottom tier ended up half white, half black. I used clear piping gel rather than white buttercream between the layers. And I added a core of Sixlets candies in all the faction colors to symbolize the DIVERGENT or bits of factions in most all of us.

The layers were made from one Betty Crocker white cake mix per directions on the package. The batter was divided into 6 colors with the black and white layer using half as much batter as the other layers since they were combined to equal one layer. Does that make sense? Candor is both white and black in the book.

Colors were from AmeriColor in Royal Blue 202, Super Red 220, Super Black 201, Bright White 226, Egg Yellow 206 and Ivory, 208. The ivory was added to the Egg Yellow and Super Red layers in an attempt to more closely match the colors of the faction symbols I'd found online.

Not sure if these are the true faction colors since the book doesn't mention all of them. Haven't seen the movie. Yet.

The symbols on the first cake plan were changed to add banners with the name of the faction and the meaning. They were all printed to card stock then cut out and punched with a 1.5" round paper punch.

I added a black circle punched from black card stock and attached it to the back of the plastic coffee stirrer to finish off the back side and hide the tape. Not so fond memories of Kerry Vincent yelling at Food Network
contestants for not finishing the back of their cakes came to mind.

I decided to use disposable aluminum pans since I'm not sure I had enough real pans of the right size. And why would I? I'm not a bakery.

The dimensions of the aluminum pans were not as listed on the package. Actual size was 5.5" at the bottom of the pan and 6.25" at the top.

The plastic bowl I used as a mold for the black exterior frosting of the cake and to assemble the layers was part of this set I'd found at Home Goods. The one I used for this project was 7" across and 3.25" tall.

You are gonna LOVE the way this one gets frosted! Invest in a set of these for future use for cakes of all sizes. Trust me.

While the cakes were baking, I cut and punched the outside decorations out from card stock. Cheating, I know. But this is meant to be a simple project and making all of these elements edible didn't meet the criteria.

The banners and symbols were taped to black plastic coffee stirrers using double stick tape.

You can download a copy of the template HERE.

As soon as the cakes were done baking, the damp paper towel method of flattening was used to smooth out the tops.

Another advantage to the paper towel method is that it pulls off the topmost crumb layer that almost always has a slightly browned appearance. No need to trim!

Once the cakes were cooled, they were wrapped and frozen. The frozen layers were stacked with clear piping gel between.

A core for the Sixlets candies was cut in a ring around the cake so that each cut would reveal the candies. A center core would work as well. Be sure the layers are quite firm before cutting the core or stacking them.

Return them to the freezer before the "frosting" step which should really be called the "Not Frosting" step. Just pour and chill. No smoothing. It's that easy!

I don't have great photos to show you : ( but here are the directions:

Spray the inside of the plastic cake shaped bowl with butter flavored Pam and wipe out excess. Make ganache from 2 packages of black Candy Melts and 2 sticks or 1 cup of butter melted together and cooled. I added a bit of black AmeriColor to deepen the color.

Pour a bit of warm ganache inside the plastic bowl and swirl around to coat the bottom and sides. Let the excess stay in the bottom and set the bowl in the frig to cool for a few minutes.

Remove from frig and place the frozen and cored layers inside. Be sure to put the gray layer against the bottom of the bowl so it will be on top when inverted later on.

Fill the core with Sixlets candies.  I didn't love the blue but it was all I had on hand. I'm sure you could match the color better if you'd like.

Pour the remaining ganache around the sides and on top (which will really be the cake bottom) and gently tap on counter to level and remove any trapped air bubbles. Place the filled bowl in the freezer until ganache is firm.

Unmold to cake plate or pedestal. To unmold, simply turn the bowl upside down on the plate and it will slide right out.

The texture isn't completely smooth but I rather liked the finish for this project. So it was left exactly as is.

The faction symbols with banners were stuck in the top in an evenly spaced row. Well, not really evenly spaced if you look closely but, "good enough for government work" as Grandma used to say.

The DIVERGENT logo stuck to the cake with no "glue" since it was tacky from it's trip from the freezer. You may want to use a small amount of piping gel or corn syrup if needed.

Here's the finished cake! Clean and simple. And so very easy to make.

Surprise!!! I added more Sixlets for the photo just to make it more purty but there is already a generous amount in each serving.

The ganache is easy to cut even when frozen and sort of feels like cutting a layer of fudge. Delish!

Happy Birthday Lauren! Hope it was fabulous.