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All I want to eat around here is fruit.  Juicy, ripe, vibrant fruit.  Watermelon, BC cherries, red berries – you name it.  It is actually HOT here in Vancouver, and summer fruit is the only thing I find refreshing.  Okay, you might be thinking – HOT in Canada?  Oh please.  But hey, this California girl knows a thing about heat, and yes, it is toasty up here.  Like sweat-all-day-while-baking hot.  It is most likely because we don’t have A/C and I bake all day, but still.  Bring on the fruit!

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Okay, okay – maybe I am complaining a bit too much.  I mean, it is absolutely GORGEOUS in this city of ours.  Especially compared to the months and months of rain we usually get.  The sun rises high everyday at about 5am, and we get to enjoy all of its glory until literally 10pm.  Last night, we had a picnic on the beach and watched the sun set over the water.  It was probably the most relaxing and beautiful Tuesday I have had in a long time.

Meanwhile, since I can’t stop baking inside, I will keep eating my fruit and carry on.  We currently have the most gorgeous raspberries up here, and I turned them into a glorious buttercream.  Paired with a citrus-scented cake and vibrant glaze, this Raspberry Blood Orange Cake is bright and fresh.  Perfect for summer.

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Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe!

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After receiving such much awesome feedback from my Watermelon Cake, I was s0 jazzed to come up with another tutorial post for you all, specifically:  How to Ice a Cake: Version 2.0 (The Perfect Ombre).

Let’s be honest, I am not totally up on my party trends these days.  I no longer make wedding cakes on a weekly basis and it has been nearly 4 years(!!!) since I planned my own.  Is ombre still a thing?  I made my first ombre cake years ago, but are people still into it theses day?  I know the trend hit weddings and cakes a while ago, but I’ve even seen it more recently with hair and nails, so perhaps ombre still lives on.

So clearly I might not be ahead of the trends, but I do know what is pretty.  And pretty is this lovely, summery ombre cake.  I still love color gradients and the dreamy transitions from pinks to corals to buttery yellow, and I hope you do to.  Reminds you of sherbet, right?  Creating this ombre effect out of buttercream is probably much easier than you think, and this version of How to Ice a Cake will leave you feeling like a pro.  Using the color palette of your choice, a piping bag, and few other basic cake tools, you will be whipping up ombre masterpieces left and right.

Step 1:  Torte and fill a round layer cake.  Make sure everything is trimmed and even before you start icing.

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Step 2:  Give your cake a nice crumb coat with plain vanilla (white) buttercream.

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Step 3:  Select the color you’d like to end your ombre with.  For me, I just used white.  Place a large dollop of buttercream on top of the cake.

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Step 4:  Using a small off-set spatula, smooth out the buttercream on top of the cake (as you would ice a regular cake).  Don’t be afraid of some of the icing hangs over the edge of the cake – it will help with the ombre blend later.

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Step 5:  Select your color palette.  Tint buttercream about 4 different colors (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of buttercream for each color).  Feel free to create a gradual color transition or a bold, contrast-y one!

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Step 6:  Place your first color in a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip.  Starting at the bottom, pipe rings of icing around the cake.  Layer in the next color(s) into the piping bag and continue around until you reach the top of the cake.  You may use the same piping bag to help with some of the color transition.  However, if your colors are bold and are becoming too “streaky,” then feel free to use a clean piping bag in between colors.

This step does not have to be perfect.  Since we are only using a little bit of icing in each color, it might be tricky to pipe a smooth line.  Try aiming to get an even amount of buttercream on all sides.  You do not need a ton of icing, but enough so that when we smooth it out, there will not be cake poking thru.

If you created a lot of icing in each color, remember that you do not need to use it all.  If you find yourself halfway up the cake on your first color, you might want to scale back.

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Step 7:  Once all of the colors are on, begin smoothing out the buttercream.  Start by just using an off-set spatula held perpendicular to your turntable.  Remove any excess frosting, but do not worry about getting things perfect just yet.  Be sure to completely clean of your tools between use.

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Step 8:  Take your icing smoother and continue to even out the icing.  Place the smoother lightly on the cake, with the bottom touching the turntable, and rotate the cake around.  Remember to clean your tools between “swipes.”  If there are any holes, carefully add in a bit of icing in that color.

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Step 9:  Carefully smooth out the top edge with an off-set spatula, as you would with icing a regular cake.  Voila!!

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So, how’d ya do?  Not too difficult, right?   The color transition does not have to be perfect (mine wasn’t), but still pretty.  There are so many color options to explore!  All pinks or all blues – or get crazy with a tie-dye of purple, red, and yellow!  What colors will you try first?

TIPS:
–  I HIGHLY recommend using a Swiss or French meringue buttercream.  These types of buttercreams are silky, smooth, and blend beautifully.
–  If you are beginner baker, check out this tutorial on How to Ice a Cake.
–  Not confident about getting such a smooth finish or prefer a more rustic looks?  Try this Watercolor Cake version.
–  Place cake on a cake round before icing – it will make transferring the cake from the turntable to a cake stand much easier.  Hate seeing the round itself?  Try using a cake round that is the same size as your cake instead.  It might be a little trickier to move, but better than nothing.  To move, slip a think off-set spatula underneath the cake, and spin and lift it off.

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Happy (first day of) National Ice Cream Month!!  To celebrate, I’ve gathered some of my favorite ice cream recipes from around the web.

From mouth-watering flavors like Sea Salt & Honey and a Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bombe to non-dairy recipes and those that don’t require churning, you will be set all summer long.

Check out The Best Frozen Treats to Beat the Heat!

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

Remember to head over to Foodie.com for more recipes or to make you own collection! What’s your favorite ice cream for summer?

Post sponsored by Foodie, but collection and opinions are my own.

BritCoPopsicle1

It’s summertime in the city, and I am keeping this popsicle train rolling.  Although I will be celebrating Canada Day tomorrow, surely I will still enjoy a hot dog or try to catch part of a baseball game come 4th of July to acknowledge my American roots.  In honor of all the patriotism and celebration this week, I bring you Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles.

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Those Bomb Pops of our youth just got a whole new look! Make the natural, grown-up version of the striped, frozen treats from fresh berries and yogurt instead artificial dyes and extra sugar. These pops are fruity, creamy and super festive — what more could you ask for?! So be sure to make a batch to celebrate July 4th or to beat the heat on any summer day!

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I’m sharing all of the instructions over at Brit + Co.   Go check it out!

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Oh hey!  Did you hear?  It’s POPSICLE WEEK!!  It’s been super sunny here in Vancouver, and I’ve cleared my freezer for a permanent spot for my popsicle molds.  I mean, it was nearly 75 degrees here today!  I know, that’s hardly anything.  But even this California girl can feel it getting pretty toasting up here every now and then.  Definitely warm enough for popsicles.

I really wanted to go tropical with this recipe.  Currently, a big hunk of my family is having a mini reunion in the small village town where my grandfather was born in Hawaii.  Sadly, we could not make it out this year, but I have been so inspired by the flavors.  So for all of us that can’t make it out for an island getaway, I will bring the tropics to you.

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Today, I went with Roasted Pineapple Coconut Popsicles.  With a touch of fresh lime juice and dark brown sugar, the pineapple roasted up super sweet and caramely.  I paired pineapple pieces with a creamy mixture of coconut milk, vanilla yogurt, and a touch of sugar.  Originally, I blended everything together, but the color was not very pleasing (due to the brown sugar and roasted goodness).  They still tasted fantastic, so whether you like you pineapple whole or blended, either way will do.

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Makes about 6 popsicles, depending on the capacity of your mold.

Roasted Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pineapple, cut in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the pineapple chunks, lime juice, and brown sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, on the stove top until the liquids begin to boil.
  4. Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 10 minutes, or until the liquids are syrupy and the pineapple is a bit soft but not mushy.
  5. Remove skillet and transfer pineapple to a heat-safe bowl to cool.
  6. Once cool, either dice into desired size pieces.
  7. Meanwhile, mix together the coconut milk, yogurt, and sugar.
  8. Place a few pineapple pieces in the bottom of the popsicle molds.
  9. Spoon in the coconut mixture over the top.
  10. Continue to work in layers adding in more pineapple and more coconut.
  11. Insert popsicle sticks before freezing.
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Want to learn more about Popsicle Week?  Head on over to Wit and Vinegar to check out over 40 blogger popsicle favorites!!  There are so many amazing flavors to try all summer long.  Some that have made it on my “must try” list so far include:

The Artful Desperado’s Dairy Free Black Forest Popsicles

Coco Cake Land’s Earl Grey Milky Tea Popsicles 

and Shutterbean’s Raspberry Lemon Yogurt Popsicles

Seriously, go check ‘em all out!  And let me know what ones you plan to try!  Don’t forget to look up #popsicleweek to follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

WatermelonCake

Nothing screams “Summer” more than watermelon.  You can find me any day of the week stuffing my face full of fresh, juicy watermelon cubes, and I wanted to make a dessert to mirror my love for this refreshing treat.  Let me introduce you to my Watermelon Cake.

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What is more appropriate to make a watermelon cake out of than Red Velvet Cake?  Well, red velvet with chocolate chip “seeds” of course!  I took my favorite sour cream red velvet cake and dressed it up just like a watermelon.  With green and red buttercream and even chocolate sprinkles, each slice of cake looks just like a slice of watermelon.

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How to Make a Watermelon Cake:

1.   Prepare and bake Red Velvet Cake.  Trim tops of any domed cakes, if necessary.

2.  Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or turntable.

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3.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium, plain piping tip with buttercream.  Pipe a layer of buttercream onto the first layer of cake.  Even out buttercream with a small off-set spatula.

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4.   Place the second layer of cake of top of the buttercream and repeat.

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5.  Place the third cake layer on top, bottom facing up.

6.  Crumb coat the entire cake with a think layer of buttercream.

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7.  Tint about 3/4 cup buttercream watermelon red.

8.  Place a large dollop of red buttercream on top of the cake.

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9.  Carefully smooth out the red frosting on top of the cake with an off set spatula.  Be careful not to let any of the red frosting touch the sides of the cake.

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10.  Tint about 1 1/2 cups buttercream green.  I made a leaf green and a lime green, then swirled them together – keeping the colors slightly under mixed and streaky like the outside of a watermelon.

11.  Fill a pastry bad fitted with a medium, plain round piping tip with the green buttercream.

12.  Starting at the bottom of the cake, begin piping flat rings around the sides of the cake.  This will help control the icing and help keep an even layer.  You do not need to pipe the thickness of the piping tip around the cake, a thinner layer will suffice.

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13.  Be sure not to pipe any green frosting on the top of the cake.  Once the sides are covered, taking an icing smoother to smooth out the sides of the cake.

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14.  Carefully transfer finished cake to a cake stand if desired.

15.  Place any remaining free frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip.   Pipe a bead boarder around the bottom of the cake and the top where the red and green frostings meet.

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16.  Finish off the top with chocolate sprinkles!

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Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • red food coloring or red velvet emulsion
  • chocolate chips
  • For the buttercream - 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red food coloring
  • green food coloring
  • chocolate sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree. Prepare 3 X 6" round baking pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Place butter and coconut oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth.
  4. Add in the sugar and mix until fluffy.
  5. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
  6. Mix together the milk and sour cream in a small mixing bowl.
  7. In alternating batches, add in the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture with the mixer on low.
  8. Stir until just combined.
  9. Add in red food coloring or red velvet emulsion and mix to combine.
  10. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  11. Evenly distribute batter between the pans and bake until done (about 22-24 minutes).
  12. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before inverting.
  13. To make the buttercream, place egg whites and sugar in a clean bowl of an electric mixer.
  14. Whisk to combine.
  15. Fill a medium sauce pan with a couple inches of water and heat over medium.
  16. Place the mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan to create a double boiler.
  17. Heat egg mixture until it is hot to the touch (about 160-165 degrees on a candy thermometer)
  18. Once egg mixture is hot, transfer mixing bowl back to the mixer.
  19. Beat on high until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  20. Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  21. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla and butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
  22. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
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My dad’s all-time favorite dessert is tiramisu.  Unfortunately, for him at least, nobody else in my family is too fond of it.  When ever we go out to eat, particularly at an Italian restaurant, he always suggests splitting a tiramisu for dessert.  The rest of us always pretty reluctant, because – well, you know…. Most tiramisu, in my opinion, are over-soaked in booze and soggy (although I did make dad a rad tiramisu for Father’s Day that was pretty fabulous).

When creating new recipes, one of my favorite things to do is to take a classic treat and give it a new twist.  Since I usually like tiramisu components on their own (heavy cream, coffee, booze, layer of cookie), I thought I’d try to switch ‘em up in honor of dear ol’ dad.

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Last year, I made the most spectacular double chocolate cookies.  They were rich, crisp on the outside, and fudge in the middle.  With an addition of some espresso and cappuccino chips, they became the base of these Tiramisu Sandwich Cookies.  Coffee-spiked mascarpone makes for a creamy filling in this hand-held treat.

FOR THE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE AND ESPRESSO COOKIES:

- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup cappuccino or coffee-flavored chips (use chocolate if unavailable).

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Head on over to Best Friends for Frosting for the full recipe.

RosetteCrown96

Now that is is (almost) officially summer, flowers are popping up everywhere! Florals in your gardens, tucked in your hair and even on your plate.  Glorious peonies have been gracing my city of Vancouver lately, and now I want to put flowers on everything.

Whether they are made from fondant, buttercream or royal icing, edible sugar flowers are the perfect accessories for sweets and pastries. Arranged in a wreath, these mini rosettes instantly dress up any cake to create this DIY Flower Crown Cake.

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With just some royal icing, a pastry bag, and a star tip, these rosettes are so easy and quick to create.  Make dozens ahead of time, and you’ll be set to decorate anything that comes your way this summer.

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Check out the full tutorial over on the Craftsy Blog.

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It’s been pretty crazy over here.  After a busy week of houseguests, birthday celebrations, and other grown-up things that come with turning 30, I’ve been a bit quite here on the blog.  Now that things are getting back to normal and the weather has been a bit grey out, I knew I had to get back down to business.

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I’ve been hoarding summer berries over here like a mad woman.  A couple weeks ago it was these raspberry gems, but today it is all about strawberries.  I honestly can’t seem to get enough of ‘em.  Every time I go to the grocery store and see ripe, organic strawberries on sale, I must buy some.

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After my week long “stay-cation” while we had friends visiting, I’ve been itching to get back to baking.  I wanted to make something simple and conventional to share with you all.  I chose this oldie but goodie, a cake roll recipe.  A Berries and Cream Cake Roll, to be exact.  It’s fun, whimsical, nostalgic – literally all wrapped up in one.  With a combination of freshly chopped strawberries and a bit of strawberry preserves, the berries and cream filling is just what summer needs.  Skip all the fancy tricks and decorated with nothing other than more beautiful, fresh berries.

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Berries and Cream Cake Roll

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red food coloring
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
  • about 8-10 fresh strawberries

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a jelly roll pan or sheet pan and line with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Whip eggs for about 5 minutes until pale in color.
  5. Add in the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
  6. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir in the red food coloring until combined.
  7. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Tilt pan or use a spatula to even out the batter.
  8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until cake springs back when touched with a finger tip.
  9. While baking, spread a clean kitchen towel on work surface. Dust with powdered sugar.
  10. After baking, invert the warm cake onto the prepared kitchen towel.
  11. Pull back the parchment paper from the cake, and dust the cake with powdered sugar.
  12. Starting on the long side of the cake, tuck end of the kitchen towel over the top of the cake.
  13. Gently roll the warm cake inside of the kitchen towel to form a log. Keep rolled until cake cools.
  14. Meanwhile, make the buttercream.
  15. Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
  16. Add a couple inches of water to a medium sauce pan and place over medium heat.
  17. Place the mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan to create a double-boiler.
  18. Heat, whisking occasionally, until the egg mixture is hot to the touch.
  19. Once hot, transfer bowl back to the mixer.
  20. Whisk on high speed until the mixing bowl returns to room temperature.
  21. Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  22. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla paste and butter.
  23. Turn mixer up and beat until smooth.
  24. Reserves about 1/2 of the buttercream and set aside.
  25. Add the strawberry preserves and about 3 diced strawberries to the remaining buttercream. Mix to combine.
  26. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread strawberry buttercream on the cake and re-roll. Trim to desired length with a serrated knife.
  27. Use the remaining vanilla buttercream to frost the outside of the cake.
  28. Use a mandoline or sharp paring knife to thinly slice whole strawberries and place on the sides of the frosted cake.
  29. Top each slice with halved berries to serve, if desired.
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Not all sculpted cakes require advanced carving skills, special supports, or a trip to the hardware store.  In fact, sometimes the more simple designs are that much more charming and fun.

Personally, I think cakes that looks like other food are oddly humorous.  I tend to get a bit giddy trying to recreate food with, well, food.  Years and years ago, I made both a cake “cherry pie” and full on, fondant-covered turkey for Thanksgiving.  My husband can also confirm my affinity towards food cakes after his donut groom’s cake and towering hamburger birthday cake.

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For summer, I decided to create this DIY popsicle cake.  This version was inspired by an Orange Creamsicle- but feel free to use whatever color or “flavor” combination you wish.  With just a few cuts and slices here and there, you can make this whimsical summer treat too!

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Head over the the Crafsty Blog for a  FULL step-by-step tutorial.