Archive for category Baking

Must Have Cake Decorating Tools

If I had to pick 4 essential must have cake decorating tools – they are the 4 below:

    1. Small offset spatula
    2. Decorating Comb
    3. Serrated Spatula
    4. Jumbo Tip Set

While I love making fondant cakes, all fondant cakes have a buttercream base and getting the buttercream right is the key to a pretty cake. I’ve been cleaning out kitchen drawers and cabinets lately, but these are 4 items that I’ll always hang onto!

essential cake decorating tools

I recently made my mom’s secret carrot cake recipe and had a few friends ask on Instagram about how I did the design and piping. If you forced me to choose one piping tip that I was allowed to keep out of my collection it is the Ateco 826 which I used for the large swirls on this cake. They also make awesome rosettes, swirls and gorgeous cupcakes. The equivalent in Wilton tips (which might be a little easier to find at your local store) is the Wilton 1M tip. buttercream techniques

Steps to get this frosting look –

  • Begin filling and  “crumb coating” the cake using the angled icing spatula (#1 above).
    This means putting the first cake layer down onto your cake board or plate, piling on frosting and smoothing it to an even layer. Repeat with the remaining layers and then do a very thin coat over the entire cake to seal in all the crumbs.
  • To get straight edges, use the smooth side of Ateco Decorating Comb (rectangle)  (#2 above) and spin the cake around until all the gaps are filled in. Chill the cake for a few hours to let the frosting set up.
  • Now you are ready for the final coat of frosting. Generously spread frosting on in about a 1/2 inch layer using the angled spatula first  (#1) and then the flat side of the decorating comb (#2) to get it nice and even. Do the top first and then work your way down to the sides.
  • Once it’s smooth, use the serrated spatula (#3 above) to make the ridges in the top. The exact one I have is discontinued, but Wilton makes a serrated cake spatula that is very similar. To be honest, any serrated bread knife would also do the trick.
  • Now you are ready for the large top swirls using the Ateco 826 or Wilton 1M tip (#4 above). To make this design you use a sideways 9 motion and after each 9, you stop and start the next 9 overlapping the tail of the first until you are all the way around the cake. Kinda like this:Sideways Nine Frosting Pattern
  • For the finishing detail on the base, I use a medium Wilton star tip and make a similar 9 motion, this time horizontally along the bottom of the cake all the way around.

Tada! With just a few simple and inexpensive tools you can create a fun and professional looking cake!

Disclosure – If you choose to purchase any of the items through the links above, I may receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting BakeCakery!

Caramel Soaked Cake with Burnt Caramel French Buttercream

caramel cake


I’ve been baking (and now posting!) again. It’s glorious!  Between a new baby and a major house remodel this year, my kitchen (and energy levels) were a bit out of sorts. I’m happy to say that my new kitchen is gorgeous and 90% finished. I am busy at work breaking it in!

For some reason last year when my daughter (still sounds strange) was born, it didn’t hit me that her and my hubby’s birthdays are 9 days apart…. This year I fit in a decadent cake for Jason while planning baby A’s big first birthday bash. I have all the juicy details of her party to share, but first the caramel-soaked cake that my not-a-day-over-21 (ha!) cutie requested.


Bam! I sat over a hot flame on my new gas oven preparing not one, but 3 batches of caramel for this bad boy. It was my first time making a french buttercream and it was the highlight of the cake for me. Especially the subtle dark caramel notes and the creamy texture. The cake held up in the fridge for the better part of a week, but the caramel sauce began to crystallize a bit after that. The white cake recipe was pretty good, but I expected it to be more moist with the caramel soaked in. You could easily substitute your favorite white or yellow cake recipe. (while you are at it… share the link in the comments!)

We may have eaten a few slices for breakfast with coffee and then had it for dessert that night too… It was seriously a treat and when I make it again, I’ll share with friends – maybe. Keep in mind that this recipe has a good number of steps and you might use all of your saucepans a few times.  You can prepare the cake layers one day and then frost/drizzle on the second day if you are short on time.

Here is the full recipe and instructions if you want to reproduce this tasty treat in your own kitchen. (Trust me you do).

Inspiration from here, here, and here.




Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

These double chocolate hazelnut cookies are the perfect pick-me-up!  A close friend of mine was having a tough week, so I whipped up a batch and mailed them to her.  Apparently more than a few were crushed in transit, but she said they made the perfect topping for ice cream!
Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

If you use the wheat flour, hazelnuts and a high octane dark chocolate, these are super satisfying without making you feel too guilty.

Here is what they should look like going into the oven.  Feel free to eat them when slightly warm. I had to test them as soon as they were done to make sure they were good enough to share!

Unbaked Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies


Moist Chocolate Cupcakes & Vanilla Bean Buttercream

When I bake for a special occasion, it’s rare that I try out a completely new recipe. Normally I like to play it a little safe and make something I know is going to turn out. But I was still on the hunt for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe after making several that weren’t chocolatey enough or were too dry. Our friend Jill turned 30 this week and that’s definitely an occasion for chocolate if you ask me (I also hit 30 this year)!

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

I found a few recipes that use a combo of buttermilk and hot water to infuse moisture into the cake (inspiration here and here). That, along with some new natural cocoa powder were just the ticket to creating a fluffy moist cupcake with a deep chocolate flavor. The homemade vanilla bean buttercream was also a thing of beauty. I’m normally a chocolate-on-chocolate kinda girl, but a quick Facebook poll said most folks prefer vanilla frosting, who knew? I used my favorite buttercream standby and fancied it up with vanilla bean paste.

The most surprising thing about the cake batter is how thin it is when it goes into the pan. I was concerned that we’d end up with chocolate goo, but now I’m pondering ways to use the hot water technique for other cupcake batters because it was THAT good! These aren’t gluten, fat, sugar or guilt free, but they are just the ticket for a big celebration!

Note: You will see a few special ingredients like coffee extract and vanilla bean paste. I provided Amazon links to the products I use, but I like to purchase them at a major discount from Marshall’s or TJ Maxx!

Fun fact: I also created the scalloped cupcake liners using coordinating scrapbook papers. I traced out a template that I found online and used my Silhouette cutter to get 36 perfect cupcake wrappers! This is a new tool for me, so if you have any other fun project suggestions I’d love to hear them!

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Cranberry Flax Crunch Cookies

Healthy cookies that taste great….it’s a tough challenge.  The key is to balance the ingredients and use just enough of each to give them flavor, without lots of added sugar and carbs.

Oatmeal Cranberry Flax Cookies

If it’s not totally obvious, I have a sweet tooth. Deprive me of goodies completely and I’m not a happy girl – especially pregnant. Browsing through my monthly cooking magazines,  I came across this recipe for Oatmeal, Cranberry and Flax cookies from King Arthur. I’ve had success with many of their recipes in the past, so I decided to give this one a go.

Of course, I always like to put my own touch on things so I added a handful of shredded coconut and some dark chocolate chips.  Can you tell I was afraid it would taste like I tried to make healthy cookies?  I also halved the recipe because, well, then I can’t gobble up 3 dozen. Here’s what they looked like going in the oven:

I love that there is just enough butter to help them brown, a hint of sweetness from the cranberries and brown sugar and the oats really hold it all together. The chocolate and coconut gave it just a touch of richness that made you really feel like it was a treat. Actually, the best part of the recipe is that there are basically 2 steps.  It couldn’t be simpler!


Peach Blueberry Buckle

The only thing that can make great coffee better is an awesome baked good to go alongside it. Jason and I have been huge fans of the caramellato at Octane Coffee in Atlanta since before we moved here. Their main location is walking distance of his office and it’s a fun funky place and these folks have serious brewing skills. Need I say more:

Octane Caramellato

They recently opened a new location (near Grant park) and half of the store is “Little Tart Bake Shop”. One step inside and I fell in love. It’s bright and open, industrial and decorated with common materials but in a chic fun way. Large typography on the wall, huge mirrors-turned-dry erase-menu and lots of coffee alchemy going on. (It inspired us to incorporate more of the industrial look into our house renovation). On our first trip, we ordered several goodies because we couldn’t decide what to try, so many sweet & savory options.

By far our favorite was a golden blueberry buckle. A cross between a blueberry muffin and a scone, it was flecked with huge caramelized blueberries in a fluffy buttery crumb. I’ve been wanting to recreate it at home and I quickly learned that the interpretation of a buckle is widely varied. Some describe it as more of a coffee cake with a streusel on top. Others just a rustic dough baked on parchment into a biscuit shape. I decided to make a very large version of the Little Tart interpretation:

What sold me on this recipe was the addition of peaches or nectarines, a perfect compliment to the blueberries! I nixed the streusel for a wash of milk, sugar and cinnamon that gave the top a beautiful sticky golden covering. I opted to make one large buckle, but you could easily do this in 12 muffin tins for individual portions at a brunch. Enjoy!


Hot Chocolate on a Stick with Homemade Marshmallows

People ask you also sorts of questions when you are pregnant but the recent favorite is about what I’m craving.  I haven’t had too many strange midnight snacks… the weirdest was that I wanted mini marshmallows, uh….frozen.  (You should totally try it, hubby liked them too).  A close second to that is chocolate and anything with cheese or carbs.  I know it sounds like I’m in junk food heaven but I’ve actually been eating tons of leafy greens, lean proteins and fruit for the most part.

Anyway, back to marshmallows.  I have been wanting to make them from scratch for a long time, but I had filed them away as one of those difficult recipes that you should only attempt when you have extra patience.  To my surprise, they are actually relatively easy if you have the right tools!  I came across these cute snowflake shaped ones and thought they would make a perfect topping to Hot Chocolate on a Stick which I first discovered on Pinterest, my new favorite source of inspiration.

We have a recent Christmas tradition of only getting gifts for the kids, so I thought Hot Chocolate on a Stick would be a fun inexpensive surprise for the adults. I wrapped them up in twos in cute gift packaging  and printed up some little personalized labels to go along with them! I also put instructions on the back to heat up 8 oz of milk and stir in the stick for almost instant hot chocolate. Aren’t they fun?!

 Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Here is the recipe if you want to make up a batch yourself!

I learned that you should always make a few extra in case the kids want to enjoy some too….

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows




Banana Bread Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

Banana Bread Cream Cheese Muffins


On Sunday morning I woke up wanting real breakfast, not just some flakes in a bowl.  I hunted around the kitchen and found two very over-ripe bananas.  Not quite enough to make my favorite banana bread recipe, but a good start.

Taking inspiration from a pumpkin cream cheese muffin I had at Starbucks, I decided to stretch the banana bread batter by creating a cream cheesy filling! I just so happened to have pumpkin seeds on hand too, so why not go all out!

I’m using a “vintage” oven that we inherited with our new house.  The appliance guys who delivered our washer & dryer even made fun of it’s two burners and antique look.  I thought I would hate it, but now that I’ve cleaned it up and tested that everything works, I actually kinda like her!

Banana Bread Muffins with Cream Cheese

You can catch a glimpse of the old girl in this photo of the muffins ready to go in the oven.

I also warmed up some hot apple cider and we snuggled on the couch with our breakfast on a 35 degree morning.


Too Busy Baking to Bake Anything

You might have noticed that things are little slow here at The Bake Cakery.  OK, a lot slow.  While I haven’t been baking goods of the sugary variety, there has been something else baking:

For those that know Jason and I, you might have thought this announcement would never come, but with grad school finished up and 8 solid years of marriage to look back on, we decided it was time!

I have been experiencing the joys of pregnancy: namely nausea, exhaustion, and moodiness. Without an appetite, I haven’t had the desire to bake or even think about new recipes for the past few weeks.  Now, with my first trimester about to end, I’m finally starting to feel hungry again.  I did have my first peanut butter craving and whipped up a batch of these cookies to celebrate.

According to the What to Expect When You’re Expecting App, Baby Beaird is in the peach stage of the produce journey at 12 weeks and 3 days.

This will be the first grandbaby on my side and he/she will join 4 other sweeties on the Beaird side.  Between moving to a new city, buying a fixer upper and deciding to start a family, we know we’ll have our hands (& hearts) full for a good long time… and that’s just the way we like it.

Elmo Smash Cake for Baby V!

Coming off a couple of insane weeks of travel, Jason and I made the trek from Atlanta to our sleepy hometown of Vero Beach.  There were lots of reasons to celebrate – new babies, several birthdays, recent engagement and of course the whole reason we had a long weekend – Independence day!

Elmo Cake

When a long weekend and your nephew’s first birthday party coincide, you just don’t miss that! In fact, no matter how exhausted you are, you volunteer to make the smash cake ’cause that little man is only turning 1 once.  Elmo agrees.

We also volunteered to bring an Elmo fruit platter that was inspired by a photo on Pinterest (sorry, after much googling I still can’t find the original source of the photo). While I was helping Elmo paint a masterpiece, hubs meticulously arranged strawberries, mandarin oranges and blueberries into this:

Awesome job right?  My man may let me take over the kitchen most of the time, but he’s got serious skills.

As for the details of the cake, my original goal was to limit the use of food coloring. I also wanted to keep it mostly buttercream (fav recipe here) so little V could smash it easily.  Unfortunately I realized it’s almost impossible to achieve that “Elmo red” any other way.  By making removable marshmallow fondant decorations, he was able to smash it and get more cake than frosting. See?

He even shared the lemon cream cake (1/2 of this recipe) with mom & dad who noticed the subtle lemon & tried to sneak in a few extra bites :).

I express my love through cake and I hope when this little guy gets older he sees the family pictures of his first birthday and knows there are a lot of people who think he’s pretty cool, crown and all!

Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Baby V!