Cake Decorating Class with Creativiu

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

This post is sponsored by Creativiu. That said, all thoughts and opinions are my own. So enjoy ūüôā

I recently had the chance to try out Creativiu’s online cake decorating class. Creativiu has online classes on-demand for creatives who want to enhance their baking skills. They offer classes on decorating your first master cake (the one I took), how to sculpt and airbrush cakes, how to creative impressive textures for cakes, and how to make a teddy bear cake.

Decorating your first master cake is taught by Beth Townsend; she recently won The Food Network’s cake Wars . The class is comprised of 7 lessons, each one of which has a video explaining exactly how to do one of the steps: (1) how to get the cake ready for decorating, (2) making the ganache, (3) making the decorative items, (4) working with fondant, (5) using buttercream and stacking the tiers, (6) adding your decorative items, and (7) airbrushing, glitter, and ribbons. My favorite part about these videos is that you can go back and watch them in real time to get all the information right when you need it.

Guys. I really enjoyed this class. Beth explains things really simply. She doesn’t make you feel like an idiot if you don’t know how to do something, for example, she explains how her first days of cake baking went. She also provides some really great tips. Things about what to do if you screw up, the best way to prepare the cake for decorating, and how to store all of your ingredients. I watched all of the videos ahead of time (kind of like my own personal Food Network show) just to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into and felt much better prepared for the outcome.

This class provides you all of the building blocks to make a fantastic cake. I would recommend this course to somebody who has already baked a few cakes, has tried their hand at buttercream frosting once or twice, and is ready to take their skills to the next level. After taking this class I feel prepared to cover a cake in buttercream roses, a decently solid fondant, or even to make gum paste flowers as decorations. That said, I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking this course in order to make somebody bridal shower for the first time. Try it out first, see how it all feels, and then take your skills to the streets.

I went to Michaels on Black Friday to buy all of my cake decorating supplies for my cake decorating class. The video tells you about a¬†lot of different options. My suggestion would be to plan what you want your cake to look like ahead of time so you get exactly what you need and no extra. For example, I decided right up front that I wasn’t going to use the gold leaf powder on this cake, but I could definitely see how it would be something fun to use for the next time.

Also. One of the first things I learned was that you should bake your cakes a few days ahead of time and put them in the freezer so that they’re easier to work with. So many good tips in this course, y’all.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

I prepared my work station and got started on making all of the buttercream frosting. Toni, from Make Bake Celebrate, has an¬†incredible¬†post on buttercream 101. If you’ve ever had a doubt about buttercream frosting, you must read it. And as expected, her buttercream was¬†delicious.

Lucky for me I already had some buttercream made from a few days prior so I only needed to make one extra batch.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Once it was finished I put it all together in the same bowl and set it aside.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Then it came time to make the ganache. Beth is a huge fan of ganache. And I’ve got to tell you. After using it once, I am now too. It adds a little something.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

I made 2 funfetti cakes, one 8″ and one 9″ – and 2 chocolate peppermint cakes, one 8″ and one 9″. That way each layer had half chocolate peppermint and have funfetti in the same slice. I don’t think this is traditional, but it was definitely delicious. I prepared the cakes and buttercreamed the layers together. Then I ganached them. I’m pretty sure ganached isn’t a word.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Once the ganache dried, we added the buttercream. Just having the chance to watch Beth’s spatula techniques in the video definitely made this process feel easier. That said, Beth definitely has a spinning cake turntable in the video, which makes it¬†extra easy to coat these cakes evenly. I decided for my first cake it wasn’t worth buying the turntable, but if this is something I decide to pick up as a serious hobby in the future that’s going to be one of my first purchases.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Then it came time to start with the fondant. Guys. This was my first time doing fondant. Beth had so many good tips about handling it for the first time, how to adhere it, and how to color it.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

It was approximately then that Ben came downstairs and said to me (something along the lines of), “I thought the frosting on those cakes was supposed to be flat so that when the fondant went on it you couldn’t see any of the waves in the frosting.” Well, yes, that’s true. But my patience level isn’t super high. So Ben then took out his unnecessarily long knife from Japan to flatten the icing on these cakes.

Admittedly, they were much flatter when he was done.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

This next photo looks kind of like a cake CSI scene, but I felt like I should include it. Here you go:

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

I definitely ended up adding about 5x that amount of dye to the fondant. Next time I’m going to do blue instead. Then I rolled it out. It’s times like this I wish my cake didn’t have a huge crack down the center (for a leaf). It didn’t mess it up too much though.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Since Ben was downstairs he was able to capture some of the photos of me working with the fondant to cover the cake for the first time. Yes, I did this whole thing while wearing pajamas. Don’t judge.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

It turned out pretty well!

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

I covered both tiers and set them aside while I cleaned up the kitchen. (Beth was right, there’s seriously so much cleaning in cake decorating.)

(Do you like how I’m talking about me and my new friend Beth? Roll with me here.)

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Then. Guys. You’re going to love this. CAKE DECORATING meets¬†BUBBLE TEA meets ARCHITECTURAL ENGINEERING. If that combination of things doesn’t scream Chrystina, I don’t know what does.¬†Apparently they sell these fancy cake dowel things that are nearly impossible to cut that you’re supposed to stick in a cake to support the bottom layers, but Beth uses bubble tea straws. So yes, a few days before I went to my favorite bubble tea shop and took a handful of straws with me. Mostly because I’m sure I’ve given them enough business in the past few years to be able to take some extra straws.

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

Then I stacked the cakes and used some of Beth’s tricks to make some decorative fondant elements.

(If you’re curious about the water drips down the sides of the cake you actually use water to get fondant to adhere to fondant. I think that because I used so much powdered sugar while rolling out the fondant that it actually caused the fondant to change color when it was hit with water. Before I served the cake I went over the whole outside of the cake with a brush and water. It seemed to help.)

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

I topped off the cake with some buttercream frosting. It was approximately at this point that I realized I should have made a blue cake to begin with because it would have looked better on the tray. Think about what tray you’re going to be serving these cakes on before you decide how you’re decorating it. That’s something else that I would add to the to-do-beforehand list. (That said, Beth used a cake stand. I used a tray because I forgot to buy a wooden cake stand plate thing. But it worked fine – at least for two tiers. Y’all wouldn’t¬†believe how heavy this cake was, man.)

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

The next day I took my cake to the office. (Because that’s where people take extra cake, right?)

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

It turned out well! I was pretty impressed. And one person even asked me if I can make a bridal shower cake. To which I said, “we’ll see.” But. It’s cool to think I might have another side hustle. (Because we all know you can never have too many of those, right?)

Cake Decorating with Creativiu via Chrystina Noel

TA-DA! My first multi-layer, multi-tier, fondant-covered cake. If you’re interested in taking your cake skills to the next level, the cake decorating class at Creativiu is currently on sale for $19.95. Beth has a lot of great instruction and tips that I was able to use throughout the cake decorating process. You can gift it to someone for the holidays (especially if you want them to bake you cake) or you can work on your holiday baking skills. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I’ll answer.

Have you ever made a cake like this? What was your experience? Did your fondant have as many pleats as mine did? I tried to cover them with a “ribbon.” It almost worked I’m sure. Until I told you. And now you’re all going to scroll back up and look at it. Can’t be perfect, right?

Pink and White Anise Cake

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 00

I admit it, this is one of those blog posts that I’m writing so that I can Google the recipe later. Every time I’ve gone to make this recipe in the last 5 years I would pull out all the ingredients, start the recipe, get to the instruction that said “add eggs, one at a time” and¬†then I realize that “eggs” never even made it onto my ingredients list so I would have to call my mother and ask her to go dig the recipe out of her binder to tell me how many eggs were supposed to be in this cake.

What is anise cake you might ask? Well, it’s cake that has a little bit of that Sambuca, black licorice flavor going on. It’s one of my favorites. I also appreciate that it’s one of the few cakes that I like without frosting.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 01

Another fun thing about the cake is that it’s cut in diamonds. Which isn’t as hard as it sounds. It also gives you an excuse to eat a lot of “end” pieces.

How to Cut Cake into Diamond-Shaped Pieces

It’s not as hard as it looks, I promise.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 02

This is one of the staple recipes from growing up. I’ve really enjoyed sharing it with people along the way, although I’ve been sad to find out how many people don’t like the flavor of anise. They’re missing out. (That said, some people who don’t really like it still enjoyed the cake.) And one guy told me it tasted almost as good as his grandmother’s, which sounds like the highest compliment you can ever get.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 03

Pink and White Anise Cake

Pink and White Anise Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cups crisco
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons anise
  • 3 eggs
  • Red food coloring
  • Powdered sugar for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and flour a 17 x 11-inch pan
  3. Sift flour three times
  4. Add sifted flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder to mixing bowl
  5. Mix in crisco, milk, and anise and beat well
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beat until smooth
  7. Pour and spread half of the batter into the prepared pan
  8. Add red food coloring until its a bright shade of pink (approximately 5 drops)
  9. Pour the pink batter on top of the white and spread it evenly with a spoon
  10. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes clean
  11. Cool the cake and cut it into diamonds
  12. Top generously with powdered sugar and serve
http://chrystinanoel.com/2016/08/11/pink-white-anise-cake/

Please let me know if you like it! Or just if you like black licorice. There’s got to be more people out there, right?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Cookies

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 00

This is the second time recently I’m taking a stab at a recipe post. The other one was my (mom’s) manicotti recipe. And now we’re onto my favorite chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world, another recipe courtesy of my mother (and the back of a cereal box in the 90s).

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost five years and still haven’t shared this recipe with you. The key to my favorite chocolate chip cookies of all-time? They have peanut butter and Rice Krispies in them. This is an absolute¬†must try¬†recipe.

Yes, that might sound like cheating, but this is what I’ve¬†always¬†known chocolate chip cookies to be (peanut butter chocolate chip rice krispies cookies that is), which means that all other chocolate chip cookies are sub-par. (Sorry, y’all. I’m willing to be proven wrong though, so feel free to send cookies my way.)

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 01 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 04 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 05 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 06 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 07

Also. I’m reminded over and¬†over again why you’re not supposed to bake in the middle of summer. Admittedly, usually these cookies aren’t quite this flat. This happened even with me putting the dough back in the fridge¬†between scooping each cookie.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 08 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 09

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you. I managed to get some decent shots of this, but for the most part my kitchen counters look like this.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 10

I also have no idea how to write directions (instructions?) yet. So here goes nothing.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups rice krispies
1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend margarine and sugars in a mixer
  3. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter adding ingredients one at a time until fully mixed in
  4. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  5. Add flour mixture to mixer slowly until fulled mixed in
  6. Stir in cereal and chocolate chips by hand
  7. On an ungreased cookie sheet place 12 balls of dough, each approximately 1 inch in diameter
  8. Bake 7-9 minutes

Does anybody else use water displacement to measure things like peanut butter and crisco? If you need 1/2 cup of peanut butter, in a 1 cup glass measuring cup, put 1/2 cup of water and then put enough peanut butter in the measuring cup to fill the water to the 1 cup line. Then drain the water and add the peanut butter. It makes it way easier to scoop out.

Please let me know if you try these, I would love to hear what you think!

P.S. You thought I was kidding about this instructions thing, but Ben just had to inform me that I wouldn’t write “Hand-stir in cereal and chocolate chips”.

5 Easy Ways to Ruin Baked Goods

5-easy-ways-to-ruin-baked-goods

Hi friends, I thought it would be fun to share with you 5 easy ways to ruin baked goods. After spending 8 hours in the kitchen last weekend making scones, muffins, cupcakes, shortcake, and tea sandwiches I was reminded that there’s a heck of a lot of things that can go wrong while you’re baking.

Some of these things may seem obvious, but they definitely all make the list of things that I do wrong over and over again. I’ll learn, one day, really, she said unconvinced.

Forget to set the timer.

Yes, forgetting to set the timer when you put something in the oven can easily make or break the recipe, but that’s not the time I’m talking about. I’m talking about when the first timer has already gone off and you think to yourself, “90¬†seconds¬†more” and then forget until four minutes later. Just set the damn timer, even if it’s only for 90 seconds.

Rush through the recipe.

I remember the first time I made a cake recipe and actually followed the directions. It was junior year of high school. I actually beat the cake mix for the full 3 minutes the box told me I should. IT WAS SO SMOOTH. Unbelivable. And so delicious. I now always follow the directions for the full time it tells me to mix something. I even count to 30 in my head if it says 30 seconds.

Use the oven racks at whatever height they started at.

Made this mistake last weekend. Look at where the oven racks are before you put the food in the oven. Maybe that wording is wrong. How about,¬†consider where the oven racks are before you put the food in the oven. You’re definitely going to¬†look at them, you’re putting them in a hot oven. But if you’re putting two things in the oven and the bottom rack is all the way at the bottom of the oven, those are sure as heck going to burn. Silly extra brown scone edges.

Assume your oven is the temperature you set it to.

Ha. I’m guessing it’s because my stove is so gosh darn old, but if I set my oven to 350 degrees it will range from 325 to 400 degrees during the cooking process. It’s a gas oven so I’m assuming it overshoots the temperature so that it can cool down to the correct one? Unclear, I grew up with an electric stove. That said, I always set the temperature about 30 degrees less than what it should be at – and if I feel like the gas kicks on for too long while it’s cooking I’ll even turn it down mid-bake.

Read the directions while you’re baking.

Don’t wait until you start baking to read the directions. I read the entire ingredient list for the cupcakes I was going to bake and then when I sat down to bake them the first line of the recipe said “make sure all ingreidents are at room termpature unless otherwise noted” – then I had to wait two additional hours to make the cupcakes. Know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time so you’re prepared to make it happen.

What mistakes do you always catch yourself making in the kitchen? Any of the above ones? Any new ones I should be watching out for? I’d love to know before it happens (mainly so after it happens I can say – damnit, I’ll have to tell Jess she was right).