Menu Banner
  1. Thursday, October 5

    The Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake That Was Beyond Beloved

    Owen’s birthday was last week and I have yet to share his birthday cake with you all. I love making fun birthday cakes for my kids and my kids really look forward to planning out their cake each year. For his 6th birthday, Owen decided he wanted a dinosaur birthday party. He and I sat down and scrolled through Pinterest together to find the perfect dinosaur birthday cake. Owen picked out a few options, kept changing his mind about which cake he wanted, and then learned about chocolate candy that looks like rocks. Once he knew that candy existed he was hooked on making what turned out to be the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever. Thanks, Owen!

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    So, how do you make the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever?

    1. Make a 2-layer round cake. Frost with chocolate frosting. Be generous with the frosting, especially on the top as those dinosaurs need a nice layer of mud to sink their feet into so they can stay standing!
    2. Buy chocolate candy that looks like rocks/pebbles. (I found the candy at Cost Plus World Market. They have pebble candy on Amazon, too, although the candy at Cost Plus were cuter and cheaper.)
    3. Place said candy on top of the cake.
    4. Pick out 3 of your child’s toy dinosaurs, stick them on top of the cake. (Dinosaurs should be relatively small – the big ones tip over.)
    5. YOU ARE DONE. You’re welcome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    I used Matthew Mead’s chocolate cake recipe, which you can find at the end of this blog post. I made a chocolate buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake – recipe below!

    Click here for the the inspiration for this cake!

    Click here for the other easy dinosaur birthday cake idea (hello, cutest fossils ever) that I was totally trying to get Owen to choose. I had him convinced for about 2 hours, but then that rock candy ruined everything. Except it didn’t because Owen’s cake was super awesome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynardThat’s Owen’s “I knew the rock candy cake would be as cute as the fossil cake, Mom” face.

    Here is how I made the chocolate buttercream frosting. Once again, people who usually do not like cake loved my cake. These recipes are winners. Also, use HIGH QUALITY cocoa powder. I’m telling you it makes a difference. Promise.

    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cups cocoa powder
    • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
    • 6-8 tablespoons milk or cream
    Instructions
    1. Beat butter with a mixer (I use my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment).
    2. Using a fine mesh sieve, add the cocoa powder to the butter. (The sieve prevents the cocoa from getting lumpy.)
    3. Gradually work in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk/cream and beating well after each addition. I put a range for the powdered sugar and milk/cream measurements. Start with 6 cups and 6 tablespoons each, then add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more milk/cream if it is too thick. Frosting should be a spreading consistency that still holds its shape.
    Notes
    This makes enough frosting for a 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake, with a little leftover.

     


  2. Sunday, April 9

    If you’re looking for an awesome cake idea…Chocolate M&M Cake

    Here’s the deal with this post. The pictures are not that great. And I’m just linking to recipes. HOWEVER. I must write this post because I must share this cake with you. It is too delicious not to share. Let me introduce you to the most divine Chocolate M&M Cake you will ever eat.

    Chocolate M&M Cake from @janemaynard

    The pictures of this Chocolate M&M Cake are no good because I finished making the cake after the sun went down..and then we ate too much of it for me to take photos the next day. It was that good. Lest you think the Maynards are big ol’ piggies, we were hosting a party so we had a whole group of people helping with the consumption of this cake! (Although…I might be able to put down a good portion of this cake myself.)

    Chocolate M&M Cake from @janemaynard

    Here’s what I did to make this cake:

    1. I used the cake part of the SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake recipe.
    2. I frosted the cake with my M&M frosting recipe.
    3. I broke up a bunch of M&Ms in a zip-top bag with a hammer and then stuck those broken M&Ms on the sides of the frosted cake.
    4. Angels descended from heaven and sang Hallelujah.

    You’re welcome.


  3. Wednesday, January 11

    Anna’s Hamburger Birthday Cake

    Like most parents, I come up short in lots of ways. But there is one thing I am committed to as a mom that I have yet to fail on: birthday cakes. (I probably should knock on wood after making such a bold statement!) I blame my own mother for this obsession, thanks to the truly memorable birthday cakes she made for me as a child. Each year I let the kids choose whatever they want for their cake and then I tackle it. So far I’ve had pretty good success and I love sharing the cakes with you so you can make them, too!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Anna had her birthday last month and requested a hamburger birthday cake. (This girl has a thing for cakes that look like savory foods, apparently.) It was her “family year,” which means no party, just a fun night with the fam. Rogue One came out on her birthday, so we went and saw the movie together. She could pick anywhere to go out to eat but decided to do takeout hamburgers and come home to eat in the living room while watching old Gilmore girls episodes. Naturally a hamburger birthday cake was in order!

    Anna and I did some searching on Pinterest and found a lot of ugly hamburger cakes as well as a lot of cakes that were just too much work. But then one caught our eye on a blog called Gluesticks. The mom had used unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cakes to make the bun and hamburger patty. Genius!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Here is how I made the cake and a few notes for you if you decide to tackle this project yourself. (Click here for the Gluesticks instructions. She piped frosting for most of the decorating, but I hate washing frosting tips so took a little bit of a different approach.)

    • Make 2 yellow cake rounds and 1 chocolate cake round, all the same size, for the bun and hamburger.
    • For the lettuce: toss shredded coconut in the green liquid food coloring. Tip: I didn’t let the “lettuce” hang off the edges enough, wish I had concentrated more coconut to hang over the edges so you could see the lettuce better.
    • For the mayonnaise: Use white buttercream frosting in between layers 1 and 2 and layers 2 and 3, frosting out to the edge so you can see the “mayo.”
    • For the veggies and cheese: Either use marzipan or white rolled fondant. Separate and make a few different colors – red, green and yellow-orange. Roll the fondant/marzipan flat then cut into the shapes you need. I cut triangles freehand with a knife in the yellow fondant for the cheese. I used a medium-sized, smooth-edge round cookie cutter for the tomatoes. I used a small-sized, ripple-edged round cookie cutter for the pickles.
    • For the seeds: Pipe white frosting on top for the seeds!
    • I recommend using smaller round cake pans. I used my 9-inch cake pans and, well, it was SO MUCH CAKE. Plus I think the dome would have held better if the cake had been smaller. Bottom line: 9 inches was too big, 8 inches probably would have felt too big, too. However, those sizes will work for sure if that’s all you have or if you do in fact need a lot of cake. Otherwise, go with smaller cake pans!
    • Make sure you grease and flower the pans REALLY WELL and use parchment paper on the bottom. My cake ended up sticking to the pan a little too much on the edges in some parts. Those parts did not look pretty and I had to hide them in the back.
    • Do not use cake strips for this cake, at least for the yellow cake rounds. You want the yellow cake to dome so that the top resembles a hamburger bun. Two quick notes: First, you will still want to level one of the yellow layers and the chocolate layer since they will be stacked. Just the top yellow layer should have a dome. Second, my cakes did dome in the oven but for some reason settled down flat after cooling – I think it was the homemade cake recipe I used. I think boxed cake mix may work better in this instance. If your cake does go flat, I recommend putting more frosting between the 2nd and 3rd layers, concentrated in the middle to make the top layer “poof” up a bit more like a bun. (I didn’t do that and you can see that my bun looks flat.)

    Click here for my cake decorating post with TONS of tips for making and decorating cute cakes. That post also includes the buttercream recipe I used.

    Happy hamburger birthday cake making!


  4. Tuesday, September 29

    Another Birthday, Another Cake! Owen’s Anchor Birthday Cake

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!

    At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Here’s how to make an anchor cake!

    • Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
    • Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
    • …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
    • For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cakeClick here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.

    Vanilla Cake
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    This is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
    • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, room temp
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
    5. Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
    6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
    8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
    9. Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
    10. For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
    11. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.

     


  5. Tuesday, September 30

    Kitchen Tip: How To Perfectly Cut the First Slice of Cake

    I am SOOOOO excited about today’s post for two reasons. Reason #1: how gorgeous is my birthday cake? (In case you’re wondering, the cake is from Extraordinary Desserts and is called The Viking. Nate buys this cake for me as a gift every year and it is the reason I live for my birthday.)

    my favorite cake in the WORLD - the viking from extraordinary desserts (from @janemaynard)

    Reason #2 I am excited about today’s post: I have a spectacular new kitchen tip for you.

    When Nate picked my cake up last week at Extraordinary Desserts, they told him to use a hot knife to cut the cake, a tip we already know and love (simply hold the knife under hot water for 45 seconds, dry it off and then cut – smooth as silk!). But they also taught him how to perfectly cut the first slice of cake, and it’s so simple! Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

    “Use two knives to cut the first piece.”

    how to easily and perfectly cut the first slice of cake from @janemaynard

    Why we were never given that tip before I’ll never know, but I’ll tell you what. BEST. TIP. EVER. Nate mentioned their comment as we were about to cut the cake and were both like, “Two knives? Huh?” And then we tried it and WOW. It’s just so easy to slide that first slice right out of the cake when you have two hot knives simultaneously pulling it out. Amazing.

    perfectly cut first slice of cake

    Just one more reason to love Extraordinary Desserts, as if I needed another! I will never be scared to cut into a cake again!

    Side note: You can make this cake, the recipe is included in the book Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne, the pastry chef behind Extraordinary Desserts. The cake involves six recipes…you’ve been warned!


  6. Wednesday, September 26

    An Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love making cakes for my kids’ birthdays. The birthday cakes my mom made for me as a child are cherished memories, so it’s something I want to pass on to my own children.

    When I started making cakes for our kids, they never came out quite how I envisioned, but I’ve gotten better with every cake and finally feel like I have a handle on the process. I suppose I could have just taken a class at some point, but where’s the fun in having someone who actually knows what they’re doing share their wisdom with you? 😉

    Owen’s 1st birthday party was on Saturday. I made a doggie cake for him because, as a 1-year-old, there are only two things in the world he loves: things with wheels and doggies. I spent several hours getting the cakes ready for the party and when I was finally able to show Owen the final product, he got super excited and giggled, just like when he sees a real dog! That excitement made all the hard work totally worth it. The cake ended up being a huge hit at the party, and not just because it was cute (which it was!). It was uber delicious, too, so I will share the recipes at the end of this post!

    After all these years of figuring out how to decorate cakes on my own, I wanted to share my learnings with you. Remember, I’m an amateur…but I think most of us are, so hopefully these tips will be as helpful to you as they are to me!

    1. Make the cake two days in advance and freeze it.
    When you start decorating you want the cake to be frozen, so for time-saving purposes, it’s a good idea to bake the cake at least two days in advance. After baking, let the cakes cool completely on a cooling rack, wrap in plastic then freeze.

    2. Use cake strips!
    Have you tried the cake strip trick yet? I will forever be indebted to my friend Lindsay for sharing this trick with me. I get flat cakes out of the oven EVERY TIME. Click here for all the details.

    3. Decorate the cake the day before you are going to serve the cake.
    The times that I’ve saved the cake decorating for the day of the party were always far more stressful times and the cakes were not as well done. I HIGHLY recommend decorating the cake the day before you need it!

    4. Make a ton of frosting.
    The frosting recipe I will share below is enough to frost a 2-layer cake. When I know I’m going to be making a “cute” cake, I usually triple the recipe to be safe.

    5. Spread a crumb coat on the frozen cake then refrigerate.
    When you’re ready to start icing the cake, do a crumb coat first. This is a thin layer of frosting that goes on before the final layer. If the cake is frozen it is much easier to ice. The crumb coat is an extra step but SO WORTH IT. It’s really wonderful to have a layer of frosting where it doesn’t matter if crumbs show…it makes all the difference. Once the crumb coat is on, refrigerate or freeze the cake again until the frosting firms up (30-60 minutes).

    Also, a quick note on carving. If you need to shape your cake, it’s helpful to carve it when it’s frozen. If it takes a while for you to get it all cut up, you may want to stick in the freezer again for 15-30 minutes before doing the crumb coat. Bottom line – frozen cakes are easier to deal with the whole way through the process!

    6. Don’t let the food coloring dictate the colors.
    I have a set of eight food color gels that I use, which provides me with lots of color options. However, I never use those colors straight up – I used to be a painter, I can’t resist mixing the colors! One of my favorite tricks is using brown to tone down the colors. I find most of the default food colors are a little bright for my taste. Adding a hint of brown makes nice, rich colors. Click here for a chart from Wilton for more color-mixing inspiration.

    This color was made using blue, brown and black.

    7. When you mix a color, make more than you think you need.
    I love making my own colors, but there is one problem…it’s tricky mixing the same exact color more than once. When you create a color, make sure you mix more than you think you need so you don’t run out halfway through the princess’s dress or Superman’s cape!

    8. Seek out inspiration for designs!
    I have a book called “Cakes for Kids” by Matthew Mead that I LOVE. Either get your hands on that book or another similar title and use it for tips and inspiration. Searching the web is a great tool, too. I always do tons of looking around for shapes and ideas when coming up with the design.

    9. Keep it Simple
    A simple design can be powerful and it’s much easier to execute, so the likelihood of success increases dramatically. And remember, cut the cake into the shapes you need when it’s frozen!

    Spiderman ended up being super simple – I just had to shave off the edges of a round cake!

    10. Draw the design ahead of time.
    Draw your design out on paper ahead of time, real-size. You can then lay that over the cake to cut it to the right shape and it’s not quite as scary when you put frosting to cake.

    11. Buy a couple flat spatulas.
    I randomly picked up a couple straight spatulas at Michael’s once, not realizing how awesome they are. They have totally changed my ability to spread icing on cakes – it looks so much more smooth and pretty than when I use a butter knife. I have two angled straight spatulas – one little, one big. They are wonderful!

    12. Buy a set of decorating tips and don’t be afraid to use them.
    You need decorating tips in order to decorate the cake, so make sure you have a set! I recommend using gallon-sized freezer ziploc bags instead of piping bags – it’s just a lot easier for clean-up. Also, I generally spread a flat layer of buttercream over the whole cake and then either use the small round tip to draw on the cake or a flower tip to fill in areas, like Spiderman’s eyes and the doggie’s nose.

    13. Use waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the plate clean.
    I wrote about this trick that my friend Nikki shared with me a few years ago and I still use it every time I frost a cake. Place your cake on the serving platter. Tear up strips of waxed paper, about 2″ – 3″ in length, then tuck them under the edges of the cake all the way around. When the cake is completely iced, carefully remove the paper. I use a thin knife to sort of hold the icing back so it doesn’t stick to the wax paper and pull away from the cake when I remove the paper.

    14. Cake boards are awesome!
    I love these cake boards for displaying the cake. They come in white, which looks cute, but you can always cover them with another color paper if you like (like pink for Hello Kitty). I bought a pack of big, round cake boards a few years ago and they’ve been wonderful to have handy!

    15. Have fun!
    If you don’t have fun doing this, then don’t do it. I really love doing making these cakes, so it is worth the work. Make sure you’re having fun!

    I know it seems like Wilton sponsored this post, but they didn’t (although, I should have thought of that!). They just have great products that work! Wilton also has a page on their site “Cake and Dessert Decorating 101” that is very helpful if you want even more tips.

    A word about the cake:
    For years I used cake mixes and I encourage you to do the same. They’re easy and taste good. However, I have started making my cakes from scratch just because I found some recipes that I love…and I guess I like to make things harder on myself than I need to. The chocolate cake recipe below is seriously AWESOME. Just sayin’.

    And a word about the frosting:
    I love homemade buttercream and use it for almost all of my cakes (recipe below). I hate store-bought frosting. Making buttercream is in fact super easy so you should just bite the bullet and do it! The recipe below is perfect – my frosting comes out right every time.

    I have used swiss meringue buttercream at times – it tastes fabulous and you can play around with how the surface of the frosting looks a bit more (for example, on the elephant cake I could create texture that I would not be able to do with regular buttercream). It’s a bit more work to make, so if I don’t need the flexibility of texture, I just stick with regular buttercream.

    I’ve also used 7-minute frosting because I needed to (you have to check out Anna’s ghost birthday cake…so funny), but I HATE HOW IT TASTES, so I will only ever use it again if I have need to pipe little ghosts.

    Feel free to chime in with your own cake decorating tips and tricks!

    Chocolate Cake
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • From Matthew Mead's Cakes for Kids
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for the pans
    • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¾ cup unsalted butter (Jane note: mine was salted, it was fine), at room temp
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs, at room temp
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1½ cups whole milk (Jane note: mine was 1%, it was fine)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Lightly grease two 8-inch rounds OR two 9-inch rounds OR one 10-inch round. Line bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment paper, grease again, then coat pan with thin layer of flour. If doing cupcakes, line 24 cups with liners.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using an electric mixer, on medium to high speed beat the butter in a large bowl for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar ¼ cup at a time at medium speed and then beat 3-4 minutes more or until well combined. Scraped down sides of bowl. Beat 2 minutes more at medium. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
    5. With the mixer on low, add flour in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed for 20 seconds more.
    6. Spread batter in prepared pans - fill pans ⅔ full. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (make sure you don't undercook! You want no jiggling in the middle and a clean toothpick).
    7. Place cake on wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto the rack, lift of the pan, remove waxed paper and let cool completely on rack. Cupcakes should cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing.

    Buttercream Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 6 tablespoons cream or milk (cream is better)
    Instructions
    1. Beat butter with a mixer (I use my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment). Gradually work in the sugar, alternating with the cream and beating well after each addition. If the frosting is too thick to spread, add a little more cream, a teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin (which is unlikely), refrigerate for a few minutes; it will thicken as butter hardens. You can add up to 2 teaspoons of vanilla, but if you need white frosting leave the vanilla out!

     


  7. Tuesday, March 20

    Tres Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman

    This giveaway is now closed, but you really should keep reading because this cake is DELISH.

    It’s no secret I love Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I am very grateful to know her. She is lovely. And she deserves every bit of success she is having. I like it when good karma just works like that. Plus, her food is yummy.

    I am delighted to share Ree’s latest cookbook with you! The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier just came out and it is every bit as scrumptious as her last cookbook and her delicious website. This book is also brimming with cream. LOTS of cream, people. Like, you might need to buy a cow or at least some stock in your local dairy.

    I needed a dessert the other night because, well, I just needed one, okay? I flipped open Ree’s book and discovered Tres Leches Cake, which I am tempted to rename Patience Cake. Seriously, you need some patience for this recipe. There is a lot of waiting. But it is worth the wait. Believe me.

    Tres Leches Cake is my daughter Anna’s dream dessert. She’s not big on dessert or chocolate. (I am still wondering if she’s really my child.) But she loves milk. And she loves whipped cream even more than milk. She ate THE ENTIRE PIECE OF CAKE. I don’t think she’s ever eaten all of her dessert.

    Before we get to the recipe, how about a giveaway? I love giving away great cookbooks!

    THREE of you lucky, randomly-selected people will each win a copy of Ree’s new book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. Simply leave a comment on this post by Midnight PT on Monday, March 26. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 27. Good luck!

    And, to help quench any whipped cream and/or milk and/or cake cravings you may be having, here is the Tres Leches Cake recipe, with my notes. Enjoy!

    Tres Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 5 large eggs, separated
    • 1 cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp, divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ⅓ cup whole milk (Jane note: I used 2%, everything came out fine)
    • 1 pint plus ¼ cup heavy cream, divided
    • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
    • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.
    2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
    3. Mix egg yolks and ¾ cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until very light in color (Jane note: I used my hand mixer, you can also use a stand mixer). Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. Pour this over the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.
    4. In a separate mixing bowl beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add ¼ cup of sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but not dry.
    5. Gently fold the egg whites into the other ingredients. Don’t over mix, stop stirring just before everything is mixed together.
    6. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Jane note: Mine was definitely done by 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it!)
    7. Let cake cool completely. (Jane note: Here is the first part requiring waiting and patience…) When the cake is cool, invert onto a platter and poke holes in the surface with a fork. (Jane note: I just left it in the pan because we weren’t serving it to guests and didn’t need it fancy on a platter. Also, I used a steak knife to poke the holes – my fork was sticking to the cake too much, the sharp, thin knife worked better.)
    8. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and ¼ cup cream. Slowly pour milk mixture over the cake, getting it all around the edges and evenly coating the surface. It will puddle, which is fine. Let cake sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the milk. (Jane note: more waiting!)
    9. Whip 1 pint of cream with 3 tablespoons sugar (Jane note: I use powdered sugar here because that’s what I like in whipped cream) until thick. Spread over top and sides of cake (Jane note: or just the top if you left the cake in the pan).
    10. Jane note: Here’s the last bit of waiting…the cake was good at this point, but it was REALLY good the next day after being refrigerated. I highly recommend eating after it is cold! Totally worth all the waiting and your patience skills will be well-honed! Regardless of when you eat the cake, leftovers need to be refrigerated.


  8. Thursday, April 8

    Chocolate Cake with Raspberry White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

    As good as the cake I shared with you yesterday was (and it was mighty good), I simply could not resist pairing that heavenly white chocolate cream cheese frosting with some real chocolate. And since two cakes are certainly better than one, only a week after I made the raspberry cake I went ahead and threw this puppy together. I used the recipe that my friend Lindsay uses for her chocolate ganache cake and it worked beautifully.

    raspberry cake chocolate uncut web

    The frosting tasted just as good on this chocolate cake as it did on the raspberry cake. The subtle flavor of raspberry in the frosting complemented the richness of this classic chocolate cake very nicely. I can’t decide which cake I liked better.  Nate voted for the raspberry cake, although he had to really think about it. The jury’s still out for me. What I do know is I need to stop making cakes pronto. This is downright reckless behavior!

    raspberry cake chocolate real web

    Chocolate Cake
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • ¾ cup boiling water
    • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
    • 1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder (I didn’t have any on hand, so I left it out – I’m certain it would deepen the chocolate flavor, though…so if you’ve got it, use it!)
    • ½ cup whole milk (I only had 2% milk, and things worked out just fine)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 (7- or 8-inch, 2-inch-deep) round cake pans and line bottoms with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess. (My oven is too small to bake three cakes at once, plus I don’t have three of any one size. I used 2 9-inch cake pans.)
    2. Whisk together water, cocoa, and espresso powder until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla.
    3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
    4. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour and mixing at low speed until just combined. (This batter is TASTY. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
    5. Divide batter among pans (about 2⅓ cups per pan for 3 pans), smoothing tops. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes for 7-inch pans or 20 to 25 minutes for 8-inch. Cool in pans on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.

    Raspberry White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 6 ounces white chocolate (melt as directed on package, then cool 5 mins)
    • 8 ounces cream cheese
    • ¼ cup butter (softened)
    • 2 teaspoons raspberry extract (I’m thinking of leaving this out sometime to use with other cakes/rolls/etc)
    • 2 cup confectioners sugar
    Instructions
    1. Beat cream cheese and buter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium (I used my KitchenAid) until well blended. Add cooled white chocolate and raspberry extract. Mix well. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy (I let the KitchenAid go for several minutes and the frosting truly got light and fluffy).


  9. Wednesday, April 7

    White Chocolate Raspberry Cake

    A few months ago, my friend Rachel’s babysitter, Maria, made a cake for Rachel’s birthday. I couldn’t stay for the whole party, so Rachel sent me home with a generous amount of cake (that’s a good friend, eh?). The cake was white, the frosting was white…I knew it would be good, but I wasn’t that excited since there was no chocolate involved. Then we ate the cake. Oh. My. Goodness. It was wonderful, and the frosting was amazing…and completely mysterious. We couldn’t quite figure out what it was made of.  As soon as we finished our cake, I emailed Rachel asking her to beg Maria for the recipe.

    raspberry white chocolate cake web

    Thankfully Maria likes to share. Below is the recipe for the most wonderful White Chocolate Raspberry Cake this side of anywhere. I hope you love it as much as I do. (Sorry, no picture of a cut slice…we had friends over that night to enjoy this cake with us and the whole thing was gone by the end of the evening, no joke!)

    P.S. – I will have a follow-up cake recipe tomorrow. You won’t want to miss that one either.

    White Chocolate Raspberry Cake
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 3 oz White chocolate; chopped
    • ¾ cup Milk; divided
    • 1¾ cup All-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp Baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon Salt
    • ⅓ cup Butter; at room temperature
    • 1 cup Granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon Raspberry Extract
    • 4 Eggs
    • White Chocolate and Cream Cheese Frosting {Recipe Follows}
    • ⅛ tsp Red Food Color
    • 1 cup Raspberries
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round baking pans.
    2. Melt white chocolate with about half of the milk in a small, heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate starts to melt. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Stir in remaining milk. Let cool.
    3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until soft and smooth. Add sugar and raspberry extract; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well-combined. Alternately add flour mixture and white chocolate mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
    4. Jane Note: Several people have commented that their cake did not rise when using this recipe. This recipe has worked for me and for the woman who gave me the recipe, as well as for other commenters. Cakes are sensitive in terms of the mixing process and, when not mixed properly, can collapse when cooking. Butter and sugar should be well mixed, eggs semi-mixed, and flour barely mixed at all. I would recommend the following technique when mixing in the ingredients in the above paragraph. Beat the butter for 30 seconds alone on medium-high speed. Add sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating for 3 minutes between each addition, at medium-high speed. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds after each egg. When adding the flour and chocolate mixtures (alternating as directed), beat on low speed and mix until just combined. Beat for 10-20 seconds at medium-high speed at the end for one final mix. Following this technique should increase the chances that your cake will NOT collapse in the oven.
    5. Spread batter in pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely.
    6. Stir food color into ⅔ cup of the frosting until well blended (I actually didn't do this part...I just kept all the icing white, mostly because I didn't read the recipe carefully 😉 ). Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Spread with the tinted frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and side of cake with remaining frosting. Top with raspberries just before serving. Store cake in the refrigerator.

    White Chocolate and Cream Cheese Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 6 oz white chocolate (melt as directed on package, then cool 5 mins)
    • 8 oz cream cheese
    • ¼ cup butter (softened)
    • 2 tsp raspberry extract (I'm thinking of leaving this out sometime to use with other cakes/rolls/etc)
    • 2 cup confectioners sugar
    Instructions
    1. Beat cream cheese and buter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium (I used my KitchenAid) until well blended. Add cooled white chocolate and raspberry extract. Mix well. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy (I let the KitchenAid go for several minutes and the frosting truly got light and fluffy).