Category Archives: cake

Engagement cake

I looked at the calendar the other day and I realized it had been a few months since I last posted anything here. I sincerely apologize to anyone who checks in here regularly…I really do want to get to this more frequently, but it’s just so much work sometimes!

As usual, lack of posts does not mean lack of activity in the kitchen. One of the projects I was most excited about recently was an engagement cake I did for some friends of ours. I only have pictures of the final product because…well, honestly, I don’t know why. I remember taking a few process shots, but they seemed to have evaporated from the camera. I was particularly interested in the process of this cake because I was trying a different technique for icing the cake prior to covering it in fondant. Oh well.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures, too. These were taken on my phone. I know, I know. I’m so lazy. The inside of the cake was a devil’s food cake filled with chocolate ganache. The difference I mentioned earlier was covering the cake in a ganache (rather than buttercream) prior to putting the fondant on. The goal was to create a smoother surface, thus allowing crisper edges – which I think I mostly achieved.

Sorry, more bad photography. Please ignore all distracting background. The leaves are hand-cut fondant and attached with royal icing. It was a fun cake. =)



Summer 2010

So I’ve gotten a couple complaints from the three people who apparently are checking this blog that I haven’t  been updating. And guess what. They’re right. I really suck at updating. I probably really have no business having a blog if I can’t keep it up to date, but it’s just  so much easier to post pictures on Facebook. So for more consistent updates, check out my Facebook page – Denise Does Desserts!

But I guess that’s still no excuse…so here are some pictures of a few of the things I’ve worked on this summer…

This was a wedding cake I did for a wedding in San Jose…I was just casual acquaintances with the bride and groom, but it turned out I knew about a third of the guests at the wedding!

The bride actually asked me to do 2 cakes – a 2-tier red velvet cake and a single carrot cake. As I recall, the cakes were for the family and the rest of the guests were served another dessert.

The bride made the cake toppers – they were sooo cute!

The carrot cake

I believe the day I was making these cakes was actually National Donut day. I think I must have had too many cake scraps because I decided that while I was making a wedding cake, I had to make donuts, too!

That was really probably not the smartest choice I could’ve made that day. But those donuts were pretty darn good!

And then awhile later, I was trolling the food blogs and saw that Smitten Kitchen had made root beer cupcakes – something that I had been meaning to do for about a year…So I HAD to jump on that bandwagon…

And then there were the baby shower cakes and a wedding cake that I had to make for the same weekend…my apologies for the quality of the picture…my phone was all I could manage as far as documenting. I think each of those was a different flavor: red velvet with cream cheese, carrot cake with cream cheese, chocolate with mocha buttercream, and a vanilla cake with a mango curd…maybe…I actually don’t remember now.

So while I was making those 4 individual cakes, I was also working on a 3-tier wedding cake…this cake in fact:

That’s 3 tiers of a vanilla cake with a fresh strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting. But the best part was the cake topper…

Especially the Lego “bride”…

So that takes us up to the end of July…I did one more major cake, but I promise to do a full post on that one in the near future.

Wedding! (part 2)

Okay…so where did we leave off? That’s right, baking done and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. That was the end of the San Francisco portion of the project. The next part was probably the most stressful part of the whole weekend – transporting everything to Sacramento. We borrowed my parents’ minivan and loaded it up with the 360 cupcakes, the 14-inch square cake, the 2 foam tiers, my KitchenAid mixer, and about 5 gallons of buttercream. Oh yes, and all of our personal things for the wedding. Once we got to Sacramento, things were a bit more relaxed for me, cake-wise. I didn’t really have much to do until the morning of the wedding, when I planned to frost all the cupcakes.

So Saturday morning, after staying up nearly all night, I got up early and started reconstituting the buttercream. With the help of my wonderful wonderful friends, we frosted and decorated the cupcakes, delivered them to the reception site, and set everything up. I don’t think things could have gone better.

That concludes my first experience baking solo (almost) for a wedding. It was exhausting, but I loved every minute of it. It was a great experience, and I’m grateful that my friends had enough confidence in me to trust me to do this for them. I also want to thank my friends who took pictures to document everything for me; my brain was somewhat overloaded and I certainly didn’t have the presence of mind to even think about taking pictures. Thanks to everyone who helped! Couldn’t have done it without you!

PS – the final shopping stats for all of this:

9 pounds of cake flour

71 eggs

84 sticks of butter

20 pounds of sugar

70 egg whites

10 cups of oil

2 quarts of buttermilk

3 pounds of carrots

3 pounds of cream cheese

Wedding! (part 1)

Whew! What a holiday season! It’s been a little hectic in these parts over the last six weeks or so…as I’m sure it is for most people this time of year. However, I chose to make it even more interesting for myself for agreeing to make a wedding cake/cupcakes for our friends’ wedding the week of Thanksgiving. I know, I know, Thanksgiving was totally over a month ago, but between work and Christmas, I haven’t had a chance to find pictures and post about the wedding craziness. And quite frankly, since my friends were posting pictures on Facebook (in almost real time), I didn’t feel super motivated to post on this blog. Oh well.

My mission: Create a 3 tier wedding cake and cupcakes for 250 guests. The wedding was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Sacramento. I basically had two days (Wednesday and Thursday before the wedding) to complete everything.

On Wednesday, I focused on the actual wedding cake – a vanilla buttermilk cake with mocha buttercream filling. In the interest of full disclosure, I really only had to bake one tier of the three tier cake. Since the bride and groom were only interested in having a cake for pictures, they opted to have the top two tiers made of foam and only have the bottom tier be real cake. So as far as baking cake, I only had to make one 14-inch square tier. But when I say “only” one 14-inch tier, that single tier needed to be four inches high, which meant three individual layers of cake…and since I only have one 14 inch square pan that meant I had to do each layer one at a time.  And actually, despite all the months of very very careful calculations, I somehow miscalculated the volume of cake batter I would need for each layer of cake and they ended up too short…which meant that I needed to bake an additional layer of cake to reach the required four-inch height requirement. While I baked and cooled each layer of cake, I worked on the mocha buttercream. After filling and constructing the cake, I needed to cover the darn thing in white fondant. That nearly made me cry. I felt like I needed at least 4 additional hands to help me lift the fondant over the cake. Unfortunately, it was just me and the two hands God gave me, so we did our best. That’s why some of the sides are less than perfect.

Thursday (actually Thanksgiving day), I got to work on the cupcakes for the wedding. The bride and groom had decided on 4 different flavors of cupcake: red velvet with cream cheese frosting, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, and vanilla buttermilk cake with mocha buttercream. For 250 guests, I had calculated that I would need about 70 of each type of cupcake, for a total of 280 cupcakes. Somehow, despite, all my careful math, I ended up with 360 cupcakes. Oh well. Math was really never one of my strengths, and better to have too many than not enough, right?

Thankfully, my lovely sister pitched in that morning and helped me with the cupcakes. She deserves a huge prize.

By early afternoon, nearly every surface in our apartment was covered in cupcakes. It was either beautiful or terrifying, depending on how you looked at it.

After all the cake was baked, I started on the rest of the frosting. I ended up making 6 batches of swiss meringue buttercream, and each of them nearly gave me a heart attack. No matter how many times I make that stuff (and I’d done it dozens of times of prior to this), I always freak out that it’s not going to come together. Thankfully, there were no problems with the buttercream, but I was a little worried that my poor mixer was going to give up on me after the third batch.

When all the buttercream was done, and after I stopped in at work for about an hour, I was finally done with the baking portion of this project and went off to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

Yellow cake with Chocolate Frosting


A few of you might remember that I had some issues with the yellow cupcakes we made for our cupcake party a few weeks ago. What with the crazy lemon bars and the hole-y cupcakes, I was starting to feel like somewhat of a fraud and a failure. Despite all the reassurances from my friends that the cupcakes were fine, the fact that they were less than ideal was really bugging me. In order to prove to myself that I can make a good basic yellow cake without the assistance of the Pillsbury Doughboy, Betty Crocker, or Duncan Hines I felt the need to try again.

a much better yellow cake


My plan had been to fill it with the leftover coffee buttercream I had from the party, but I quickly nixed that idea when I failed miserably at reconstituting it.

gross coffee buttercream


I quickly changed plans and filled and frosted the cake with chocolate mousse buttercream…much better idea.


And finally…ta-da! Much better than the cupcakes!


IMG_4105Sorry, no pictures of the interior. Despite my intentions, I forgot to bring the camera with me to our friends’ house where we ate it. Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, all of this was done a couple days after the cupcake party…I just haven’t had a chance to post in since then. So the coffee buttercream didn’t go bad due to age…more like user-error.

Sweet Almond Cake with Lemon Curd & Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

This was an awesome new cake I tried from my awesome new book, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, which I recently purchased from the awesome Powell’s Bookstore in Portland! Whoo-hoo! Tax free! This is another book that was written by the owner of a bakery (Sweet Melissa Patisseries) in Brooklyn, New York. Again, it is a book that has been out awhile and has gotten rave reviews – I am just really slow to jump on the bandwagon.

This cake immediately caught my eye and I knew I was going to have to try it. I mean, really, what’s not to love? Almond cake (made with browned butter!), lemon curd and lemon frosting. The original recipe is actually  for a lemon mascarpone frosting, but I was a bit lazy and didn’t feel like going out for mascarpone cheese. I also adapted the lemon curd a little bit and used my favorite lemon cream recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

Because they are much easier to share and disperse out of my kitchen, I decided to make cupcakes rather than a huge layered cake…and here they are:


It’s a little difficult to see, but I filled some of them with the luscious lemon cream mentioned above. I say “some” because apparently I missed a few when my husband called me while I was working. Oops!


I also topped a few of them with sugar pearls…I was told that they are surprisingly crunchy, but cute, no?


I’m still here!

Hi there! Sorry for my seriously long absence from all of you; I’m beginning to feel like a broken record, but life has been really busy, and it just all gets in the way of blogging. However, this does not mean my oven and mixer have been neglected. On the contrary – they have been getting as much attention as they ever did. Sweets have been flowing out my kitchen…at least one cake a week! Unfortunately, aside from some lovely memories, there is little record of them. As I have said before, I am terrible, horrible, at documenting what I do. This blog was supposed to help me get better at that, but, alas, that has not really happened. 

My most recent project was a purse cake that one of the nurses asked me to make for her birthday. Apparently, she is quite the bag lady (the good kind), and she really wanted a cake that represented her. This was my first attempt at a sculpted cake, and I have to say, it was a good learning experience.

The cake is based off a purse the birthday girl owned…it is a lovely chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream. Mmmmm…yummmy…

As I said, it was a learning experience…in many ways. Something I discovered is that I am not good at learning from my previous mistakes. One of the biggest challenges I have had with fondant is that I do not let the base layer of buttercream to sufficiently firm up, thus, creating a lumpy cake! Lumps! Gak! 

So here is the finished purse cake:


and from the side (you can see where one side started to slump…)


The handles are made from gumpaste painted with silver luster dust. They looked pretty good, but were quite fragile. Upon delivering the cake, they actually fell off and we had to make some less than ideal repairs. I was grateful that I remembered to take pictures before the whole thing fell apart.

One of the best part of making a sculpted cake, though, is all the scraps! Yummy cake scraps that I can snack on while I work. With this particular cake, I had so many scraps that I decided to make some cake pops to accompany the purse to the party.


Apparently, these were a huge hit at the party. I was unable to attend the party because I had to work, but people told me lots of nice things about the cake. (The people I work with are so nice and polite.)

Here are a couple pictures of a cake I made a few weeks back – not great pictures, but proof that I have not been neglecting my oven.

chocolate cake with salted caramel and chocolate ganache


completely forgot to take pictures before the sun went down, which makes for less than ideal pictures


didn’t taste too bad