Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Cupcake Project

Cloud Cakes

This may be one of my favorite cakes to date, even though I haven't even had the opportunity to try them yet (I've heard from others that they are a success). I guess the deciding factor in that is the frosting; it is so fluffy and shiny, and surprisingly not too sweet (because I did have a chance to lick the beater after I was done with them, of course!). The cloud cakes have a special surprise in them, mostly adhering to the recipe but because of my awesome Grandma, mine will be just a little bit better than yours... haha! You'll see. :-)

^Ready to start our newest creation.... Cloud Cakes!

^Your list of ingredients for the whole thing, eggs, softened butter, vanilla, sugar, self-rising flour, milk and one secret ingredient to be revealed soon. I have the food coloring in the shot because I wasn't sure how the frosting would turn out... it was fine so I didn't need my plan B and you won't need the food coloring unless you want some colorful clouds.

^Beat the eggs, milk, flour, sugar, and the softened butter together until just blended on low speed. The amp it up to medium until the mixture pales a bit.

^Slightly paler and smooth. This particular mix seemed a little thick, but it was just fine otherwise.

^Now for my secret ingredient... real strawberry jam. My Grandma Wanda cans this herself, and it's really amazing! The real strawberries in the jam were a PERFECT special touch.

^Drop a dab into each cake (this recipe makes twelve small or six Texas sized cakes).

^As I was really trying to "put my foot in it" as the guys at work say... I tried to get a real strawberry into each cupcake.

^Use a toothpick to swirl the jam and strawberry around. The cakes come out pretty sticky but I think it's definitely worth the special touch.

^While the cakes are baking (20 minutes for small cakes, 30 for large ones), you can start the frosting. One cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water need to be heated together and stirred on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

^Once it is dissolved, bring the pot to boil for 5 minutes or until the temperature hits 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. The 5 minutes worked fine as I didn't have a candy thermometer.

^While the sugar/water is boiling, or cooling (after 5 minutes, you should remove it from the heat to sit until the bubbles subside), you separate two egg whiles and beat them until they cream up, like this!

^Add the sugar/water (still warm) in a thin stream as you continue to beat the egg whites (a two hand job, sorry for no photos of that!). This gets to be tedious because you have to beat the mixture for 10 minutes. It really makes a difference to for that whole time because the frosting really thickens up as it cools. Put the extra time in, it really is worth it!

^By now the cakes should be ready! I made mine a little larger than I should have and they grew out of the baking cups. Because of the sticky jam, they were a lot harder to remove, so try to keep them smaller. You'll get more that way anyways!

^Check out how thick that frosting is! I actually made a double batch of cupcakes and only a single batch of the frosting, which was enough to frost the extra ones twice (and I'm not kidding, I really did go back and refrost them the next day... don't leave your frosted cakes uncovered in the fridge! The frosting gets gummy!).

^The eggs whites keep the frosting looking shiny and fluffy. The recipe showed the cakes with extra frosting. I didn't do quite that much, but because you get so much extra and because it isn't terribley sweet, that would work out find.

^To add some color, sprinkle with decorating sugar. I did some in pick and a couple in red.

Another tastey success! Happy Cupcaking and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Welcoming in 2011

New Designs!

Just in time for engagement season, I've got some new stuff to show you! Nothing new photographically (don't you LOVE winter... *rolls eyes*) but there are some new designs I am excited to show off. Usually around this time of year, I get all anxious to re-brand Jenna Rose Photography. Today, it was done! I'd like to present to you my brand new business cards for 2011, featuring the BEATUFIUL Mrs. Shannon Considine and her fabulous husband, Billy Considine. This is the first time in ages that I've featured photos at the main focus of the cards, what do you guys think?



Also, I've reworked my homepage, featuring a more elegant yet still playful logo as you saw in my business cards. I can't wait for wedding season to start, so obviously I just can't get enough of making Jenna Rose Photography brand new and exciting for all the new brides and grooms out there. If you want to see the new version of my site, click here!

It's been a great year and I'm hoping for another amazing one in 2011! Thanks to all the brides who have already chosen me, and if you haven't yet... I've got a great special with free sessions for all my 2011 couples!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Cupcake Project

Snow Cakes

I wanted to make this one quick. For lots of reasons, but mostly that today was really snowy, which made for bad driving, and I was lacking on a couple ingredients that I would need to make most of the more fun and exciting cakes. Also, it was because I plan on making Christmas cookies this week and I didn't want to overdo it on the sweet stuff... so I chose an easy recipe and did some switching things up and through a different twist on it to fit the ingredients I already had. Not a huge success, but definitely not BAD I would say.

To begin with, this recipe is all sorts of alterable so you can be creative and match it to whatever occasion you'd like to make it for! Also, these cakes are in honor not only of the super snowy weather I had the day I made them, but also of the Detroit Lions who got another elusive win this Sunday. Finally you guys played a nice fourth quarter. FINALLY ;-)

^I gathered up all the necessities, this time around you'll need butter, sugar and powdered sugar, self-rising flour, eggs, vanialla, milk, and food coloring in whatever color you like!

^The sugar, eggs, and butter go together first. I was SURE to let the butter soften this time. It was a BIG HELP, so make sure you follow those directions. Beat them until "light and fluffy".

^After beating the wet mix, you'll sift in the flour and milk in two batches. Why two batches? I'm not sure, but it seemed to work out just fine.

^Stir thoroughly of course!

^Next, you'll need to divide the mixture into however many bowls as you want colors. The original recipe was for "Neopolitan Cakes" which had you adding a little bit of cocoa powder and milk to one of the mixtures, in addition to a plain one and a pink one. I chose to do blue and white, for both some chilly snow cakes and the Detroit Lions who just finished winning as I started my baking.

^Since the butter batter is a little yellow, I had to use a LOT of blue to overpower the green I was getting from mixing the blue in. It worked out pretty well, just a few extra drops.

^Layer the two batters. I put the blue on the bottom and a small dab on top of the plain mixture. If I were to do it again, I think I would try to make it so the blue and the plain were more side by side so...

^...when you run the toothpick through to marble the cakes, it's an even better and more dramatic mix. That extra dab on top did the trick well enough though! Pop these in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

^While the cakes are baking, it's time to make the frosting. A whole stick of butter was called for, which I did. This is a butter cream frosting but there was WAY too much liquid for the powdered sugar that wasled for. So... beat a HALF a stick of butter to start with, sift in the powdered sugar and milk (again with two batches... hmmm...) and if you need more, make another batch with the other half of the stick of butter. The first batch of frosting was just too soupy.

^Once you get the buttercream to a good consistency, choose your food coloring colors to decorate.

^Timing was perfect while making the frosting, the cakes were ready by the time I had the frosting whipped up.

^I went for the white and blue color scheme again. This needed a little extra powdered sugar to get it a thick enough consistency to use in my frosting pump. Bought it at a dollar store, and this was the first time I got to use it. The thicker the frosting, the better it works too.

^So we have our white frosted cakes (if you were going with the Neopolitan Cakes recipe, you would again divide the frostings into threes, leave on plain, one pink via red food coloring, and one chocolate with a little milk and cocoa powder). Of course, any number of color combinations are fine, so do whatever you want to make your cupcakes your own.

^I used my frosting pump to make little snowflakes (not beautiful but you get the idea ;) and finished with just a touch of sprinkles. After the fact, I wish I would have dusted them just a tiny bit with extra powdered sugar, but they still tasted just fine!

Happy Cupcaking!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chris & Kacie: A Wedding Portrait

December 4, 2010

I attended a wedding this weekend, the first in a long time that I just got to enjoy. However, I couldn't resist toting my D300 along (sans SB600 speedlight to keep it small enough to fit in my purse!) just for some snapping. I ended up doing quite a few portraits of the wedding party and then a couple of just the bride and groom, Chris and Kacie. Thought I would share it with my fans since I'm having a few wedding withdrawls lately!

Congratulations to the two of you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cupcake Project

Banana Carmel Cakes

For my second cupcake creation, I chose a much more complicated recipe. I made a few modifications (mostly because I was tired, was making a big mess, and had been baking for TOO LONG) but in the end, this one was definitely a winner in the taste department. I will show you all what I did and what I was supposed to, and give a few of my own suggestions as well!

^A quick shot of the completed cupcake as it is "supposed" to look. As I said, it was a very tricky recipe and the decorations are the trickiest! Mine version is a little shorter, but just as tasty, I'm sure!

^Banana Carmel Cakes requires lots of ingredients, shown above, you will need, softened butter, firmly packed brown sugar, eggs, self-rising and all-purpose flour, baking soda, allspice, bananas, sour cream milk, carmel sauce, heavy cream (whipped), dark chocolate.

^First you need to mix the eggs, butter, and brown sugar. Make sure the butter is softened before you do it, that would have made it easier for me (didn't read the directions ahead of time, oops!) and also, make sure you have the beaters for your hand mixer before you start or you'll have to run out to Meijer in the middle of the first big snow of the season to buy a new one like I had to ;-)

^After mixing the wet ingredients (and brown sugar), you'll need to put together both the flours, baking soda, and allspice. I doubled the recipe and I think I may have put in too much of the allspice. It's very potent, but really adds flavor to the finished cakes, so don't forget it!

^Last, mash up the bananas (the recipe calls for overripe ones, but mine weren't too ripe and they worked fine, just would have been easier to mash I think), sour cream and milk.

^Sift (bought a sifter when I was out purchasing the mixer :) in the dry ingredients with the first mixture, stirring as you go, and then add the banana mush mixture.

^Divide into baking cups. A normal recipe makes 12, or 6 of the Texas sized versions. I made 24 so I could share with everyone at work.

^As the cakes are baking (25 minutes for large cakes and 20 for the small ones), whip the heavy cream with your mixer and get your carmel ready.

^Fold 3 tablespoons of carmel in with 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. This ends up being pretty liquid-y, so I think I would also suggest buying the cream pre-whipped. The carmel makes it pretty sweet, and since whipped cream is already sugary, if you go that route, add a little less carmel!

^Let the cakes cool when they come out of the oven, and then you are ready to decorate!!!

^Slice up two medium sized bananas, very thin slices.

^Since this was getting late and I had made a double batch and had less bananas, instead of cutting the cakes in to three sections, I chose only to cut them in half. This worked nicely for the small sized cakes. If you go with the Texas sized ones, definitely do the three slices. Layer carmel (on the bottom!) and top with bananas before replacing the top of the cake.

^Top with the carmel cream mixture. As you can see, I couldn't put much on because it was very runny! It's really good, so if you can thicken that up, make sure to put more on. The recipe also calls for dark chocolate shavings. I used a Hersey bar, but that's really hard to shave because it melts as you are holding it. Get a bigger piece, that will work much better!

These babies again weren't that pretty but MAN! They taste fabulous! All those flavors together really blend well and make for a tasty treat. Enjoy!

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