Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tips for Sort-of Homemade Cakes

When I first discovered the food blogging world, my main focus was on the dessert blogs.  I was going through a major baking obsession, and loved baking from-scratch cakes and cupcakes for my peeps.  I really did love and still love baking for birthdays, holidays and just for fun, but making a cake and frosting from scratch is so time consuming, and that doesn't even include the decorating!  I finally took a page out of Sandra Lee's book and adopted a semi-homemade baking style.  Here are a few "Sort-of Homemade" baking tips :)

1. Choose only 1 from-scratch element.  If you are going to make the cake from scratch, use store bought frosting, and vice versa.  This will not only be less stressful and time consuming, but it will give you a ton of time to decorate the cake/cupcakes to reflect the recipient's personality or the occasion.

2. Find a great cake/frosting brand.  My top choice is Duncan Hines.  Their boxed cakes and frosting are low-priced and the quality is great.  I tested out each brand to see which one got the best feedback.

3. Determine the "goal" of the cake.  Why are you baking this cake?  Is it a birthday?  Do you just feel like it?  Are chestnuts roasting on an open fire?  Once you figure this out you can start planning the decorations!  I like to choose 2 candy and/or chocolate items that would best fit the occasion, and add them onto the cake for a fun but clean look.

4. Start baking two nights ahead of time.  When I am baking a cake for a birthday or holiday, I usually make the cake two days before.  Once it has completely cooled, I wrap it in at least 3 layers of clear wrap and store it at room temperature.  I find that if you store the cake in the refrigerator overnight the cake can become dry and crumbly, where keeping it wrapped at room temperature helps keep the moisture.  This will allow you (almost) all the time in the world the night before to prep the frosting and decorate.

5. Use your heart and soul!  It may sound cheesy, but I really believe in making food with love.  If you love making food for people, cool!  It will show in the final product, no matter how homemade or not homemade it is.

Here are some of my favorite sort-of homemade goodies :)

Cake for an office birthday.  Duncan Hines cake with homemade Nutella frosting and candy/chocolate decorations
Boxed cake and homemade buttercream frosting

Got a little Pinteresty with these guys!  Boxed cake, but I separated & dyed the batter to create the camo look

Boxed cake (are you sensing the pattern?) with homemade frosting :)

Homemade carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting for Easter!

Tell me your baking secrets!!  I want to knowww!!!