Well, I know I said I would try to post the winner of the giveaway over the weekend...but I didn't get to it. And it's already Thursday. Seriously. (Way to increase - and then subsequently decrease - interest in your blog, Kristen.) Anyway, things have been BUSY with yard work and house work and all kinds of things, so I just haven't had time. But now...thanks to a random online number generator...we have a winner. =)
It's my friend Brittany! Also known as WonderWheat. She and her husband Ian used to live here in Henderson, where they met while attending FHU. They are a very talented couple - he with computers and she with anything creative - here's her etsy shop where she sells her knittings and crochetings...I also think she should sell her paintings! Hint, hint. Besides that, though, they're just good folks. They now live in that state that demands not to be messed with. I enjoy keeping up with those crazy kids via Facebook - and I'm glad that Brittany has also recently started a new blog...here's a link: http://forsuchatimeas-this.blogspot.com/.
Brittany shall win, according to her choice, either some homemade chocolate chip cookies (to be mailed to her) or some homemade plum preserves (which are not homemade quite yet, but the plums are ripening on the trees as we speak) if she happens to travel to Henderson sometime this summer. What say you, Brittany?
So, Brittany voted for lots of things for me to blog about and I'm going to pick one of them. Well, I already have...you saw the title of this blog post, right?
Butterfly cakes. "Now, what does this mean?" you may ask. Is it like hummingbird cake? Are they in the shape of butterflies? No, but you're getting warmer. Sort of. Not really.
You see, my mother recently bought me a pretty cool book called Hello, Cupcake! (It was in my Easter basket, if you must know. I'm an only child, by the way. I call myself spoiled, but NOT spoiled rotten. There IS a difference. ;) The book is completely adorable and sometimes I pick it up just to marvel over all of the amazing creations one more time. Well. I tried one of their designs. But on a cake instead of cupcakes. Is that allowed? Yes, yes, a thousand times, YES. By all means, if it's easier. Which is debatable, but for various reasons (that I honestly can't remember all of now) I decided to go with cake.
It was for our friend Tessa's three-year-old birthday party at my aunt and uncle's house. My friend Jenny, who now lives in Oklahoma (sigh!) for grad school was in town that day and visited me whilst I put the cake together. This Jenny that I speak of is a great baker and cake decorator, and we do love to talk ingredients and technique. (By the way, she's in a book club in OK and they've recently read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. She highly recommended it. Thanks to Amazon, I already have it in my hot little hands, though I haven't started reading it yet.)
I had actually made, with great foresight, all of the little butterflies the night before. They took quite a bit of time and at first I thought there was NO WAY it was going to work like the book said. But I already bought all of these pink and chocolate melting wafers and I had made plans! I was not giving up! It took me right back to the days of being in a Hobby Lobby cake decorating class. (Link to that post here.)
As Jeremy told everyone before we ate the cake, the hardest part was actually dipping the butterflies in the chocolate. They were flapping everywhere!
O.K., just kidding. My husband is a kidder. Did you know that? ;)
What it reeeally involved is melting the wafers (separately, of course) and piping them out of Ziplock bags onto waxed paper with butterfly wing and antennae (or antlers, as Jeremy accidentally called them - I still get tickled about that) templates for guidance underneath. And you had to work fast! And marbleize the two colors together with a toothpick before they set! And sprinkle colored sugar - also before they set! It was all a little stressful. But once I got the hang of it, it was pretty fun...I'm not going to lie. The butterfly wings and antlers (hee hee) got to rest on layers of waxed paper in the fridge all night.
Let's talk cake for a minute. The cupcake book had several recipes in the back for from-scratch OR doctored-up cake mix recipes. I'm not against from-scratch cakes - I've definitely made some that turned out pretty fabulous, but I'm also not against cake mixes. I looove Duncan Hines especially. So I took a butter recipe fudge cake mix (or was it devil's food?) and made some changes according to my guidebook. Here's what happened. And were they some good happenings!!
First of all, you can do this with any flavor mix. In place of whatever amount of water it calls for, substitute 1 c. of buttermilk. (Does it call for 1/2 c. water? Then sub 1 c. buttermilk. Does it call for 7 cups water? Sub 1 c. buttermilk. O.K., that's not gonna happen, but you get my point. Just remember "One cup buttermilk.") Then use the amount of oil (or butter) that's listed on the box. And finish up with 4 large eggs, instead of how many the box tells you. It'll usually be three, so it's an extra egg.
So, we've raised the cholesterol in our cake, which is good for your taste buds and bad for your waistline. Now, why can't our tastebuds and waistline just get along?? (A separate post on THAT later.)
I also did the Pioneer Woman's cream cheese frosting recipe (which you can find here) and tinted it pink with red food coloring. I know it sounds crazy, but that's what happened. True story. Jenny and I enjoyed tastes of the cream cheese frosting as I iced the layers. It's scrumptious. It just is!
Now came the construction of the butterflies. The book said to place two brown candy-coated chocolates (M&M's were in parentheses - why couldn't they say it to begin with??) 1/2 inch apart for supporting the wings. This didn't work. I think it was because I had used fat-free cream cheese for the frosting (hey, I gotta even out the fat grams somehow!) and the frosting was softer than usual. But I'll just go ahead and tell ya, I made this same cake (except for the cake part being a yellow cake) for my cousin Beth's birthday later that same week - and the fat-free cream cheese version of the frosting tasted just as good as the full-fat version. It was just softer and wanted to maybe slide a little too much.
So the "brown candy-coated chocolates" didn't exactly work because they just sunk down into the frosting. I broke out the chocolate chips and did two lines of them 1/2 inch apart. And they worked just great for propping up the wings! Then I placed the antennae at the top and then piped little beads of chocolate (I used bought for this) for the body.
I loved the way this cake turned out! We all really liked the extra specialness of the doctored up cake, by the way, too. I'm planning to do that from now on.
Since I hadn't made cupcakes - and you can just fit so many butterflies on a cake - I had butterflies left over. So my cousin Beth, a thirty-something like me, got some girly butterflies on her cake later that week, too. She was happy. =)
P.S. By the way, THANKS for all of the lovely comments from the last post. If you have not already, you can read my replies to you at the end of the comment section. =) Keep 'em coming!