Over the past couple months, I have been working with the talented editors over at Better Homes and Gardens.  They initiated a Pretty Food program, asking some of their favorite bloggers to create decorative food and desserts.  These new party-ready treats are perfect for any spring celebration or birthday and have easy step-by-step tutorials to go with each project.  I am so honored to be a part of this program, and I am excited to share some of my newest designs!

Just in time for Easter, I created this Lamb Cake.  Surely you can make a little lamb cake any time of the year, but how cute would this cake be at your next spring celebration or brunch?  Starting with just a round cake iced in plain buttercream or fondant, this cake tutorial transforms a basic cake into a stunning show-stopper.

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I used a Cornelli lace pattern to give the lamb texture and to resemble fur.  Easy fondant cut-outs create the heart nose and sparkling eyes.  I love how the little eye lashes give the lamb so much personality.  So sweet, right?

Check out all of the other Pretty Food projects and learn how to make this Lamb Cake today!

 

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The weather and light sure are funny things up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I just walked home from sushi with my mom and bro at 8pm and it was still light out.  In April.  It was just pouring over the weekend, and now I can walk all around downtown with just a sweater and jeans, catching peaks of the sun reflecting off the water and glass buildings.  And while I know we have yet to see the last of the rain (we won’t get reliable sunshine until about mid-July), this small glimpse of light has me feeling energized and renewed

For me, I am the most happy when I’m able to work creatively or able to be with my family.  Lately, I’ve had a lot of both if my life.  It’s been busy, not gonna lie, but productive.  Naturally, in my free time, my thoughts go to our Easter menu – the next time both my parents will be in town and a chance to celebrate.  And when we celebrate, that definitely means food.  While my work days are filled with recipe developing and testing, I never get tired of food and always have more ideas of what I want to cook or bake next than I have time for.   It really must be the spring sun lately that has me re-charged,  my creative-juiced flowing, and me dreaming up new, fresh desserts to test and share will all of you.

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As of late, my cakes have been all about the flavor.  From innovative combinations to cakes dripping in caramel and even adorned with donuts, I’ve definitely been having my fun creating multi flavored and textured layer cakes.  For this Easter egg cake, I wanted to focus on the design and make something cute and charming.  This fairly easy DIY cake is the perfect piece to add a bit of whimsy and wonder to your celebration.

This cake might looks complicated, and while it did take a bit of time, it was pretty simple to put together.

1. Start with two 8 inch round layer cakes, trimmed flat.  Place the bottom cake on a cake board and spread with a layer of buttercream.

2. Top buttercream with the second layer of cake.

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3. Trim both layers into the shape of an egg.  Use a template, if desired.

4. With a small serrated knife, go back and round out all of the edges.  Carve the cake into a simple egg shape.

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5. Frost the cake with a thin layer of buttercream before covering with fondant.

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6. Roll out varied widths of colored fondant and trim into long strips.  Use a square cutter to easily create a zig-zag pattern on the bottom of the strip.  Repeat of the other side.

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7. Brush cake with a touch of water or gum glue where you want your stripes to go.  Layer and drape zig-zag fondant horizontally across the egg cake.  Trim to fit.  EasterCake5

8. With a small, round piping tip, pipe royal icing on and in between the zig-zags for extra interest and dimension.EasterCake4

Ta-Dah!!!  Pretty straight forward, right?  Don’t worry about the zig-zags being perfect or you will just give yourself a headache.  You’ll hardly notice this little imperfections in the end.  Enjoy :)

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No, it’s not an illusion.  Instead of your regular horizontal layer cake, I’ve turned this cake upside-down to create this fun and playful vertical stripe cake!  I paired together perfectly spring flavors to make this lemon jelly roll cake with luscious raspberry buttercream.  Silky Swiss meringue buttercream with confetti sprinkles add the finishing touches to the party cake.  Flipped on its side, the cake slices with vertical layers.  Pretty cool, right?

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“This Lemon-Raspberry cake gives a new, whimsical twist to the typical layer cake.  Creating vertical layers in each cake slice, this cake is sure to wow and excite anyone lucky enough to share a slice.  The lemon sponge cake and raspberry buttercream filling create vertical stripes when the cake is cut into.  With just a simple buttercream frosting and festive sprinkles, this clever cake will leave you looking like a culinary mastermind once you get a peak at the party going on inside.  But trust me, it is much more simple than you might think.  I won’t tell if you don’t.”

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Check out the complete tutorial and recipe over at Brit + Co.

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I can’t believe we head back up to Vancouver tomorrow and it has taken me this whole time to write a new post.  My husband and I have been back in Cali for the past week or so visiting family and working (for me).  We’ve been down to LA, the Bay Area, and back up to Sacramento to film a new cake tutorial with Brit + Co.  (more on this soon).  Needless to say, it has not been a very relaxing vacation, but very fun and jammed-packed nonetheless.  Just the way I (not so secretly) like it.

While I’ve been away, a couple articles of mine were published beyond Style Sweet CA.  Before we left, I was busy cramming in as many projects as possible.  First up, my debut post for the Crafty Blog!

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Check out the full article on how to make your own fondant bows to add to any cake design!

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I’ve been baking up a storm lately.  Lot’s of layer cakes, donuts, and bundts.  Most of the treats are for a designated project, but my kitchen it still left with cut-into confections everywhere.  I have a super sweet tooth, but my waistline does not appreciate it.  With warmer weather and less bulky sweaters just around the corner, it’s time to get fit.

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I’m not afraid to hit the gym hard, but please don’t take away all of my sweets!  I decided to make three different flavors of Gourmet Meringues as a light and airy alternative to all the buttercream and chocolate that usually floods my fridge.  Made with only egg whites and sugar, they leave you feeling a bit more guilt free.  The crisp yet chewy texture is perfect for snacking.  Check out the recipes for tart Raspberry, nutty Pistachio, and Chocolate-Orange over at Brit + Co.

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Yes, you read that right.  Style Sweet CA’s first (intentionally) vegan recipe.  No, I am not turning vegan.  And no, I did not swap out ingredients to try to make a crowd pleaser.  I made this recipe because the donuts taste amazing and just happen to be vegan.  You feel me?

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I made these babies on a rainy weekend.  Brett was feeling under the weather and I stole some time to myself to bake for pleasure.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like baking and feel blessed every day that I get to do something that I love for work.  I’ve always had to find the right balance between baking for my clients and baking what I want.  Most of the time, I develop recipes with a client or specific project in mind, so when I can steal a moment to bake just for fun I really try to enjoy the whole process – from initial idea to the very last garnish.

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The fridge/freezer of this freelance pastry chef is always full of 3/4 layer cakes and desperate attempts to keep pastries fresh until someone can take them of my hands.  If I kept up eating what I baked every week, I’d make myself sick.  So when it comes time to develop a new recipe to be enjoyed guilt free on a lazy weekend, I went with a healthy version of a chocolate donut.

First of all, these donuts are baked.  They will never have the same characteristics as a real, fried donut, but they are delicious nonetheless.  Using some coconut oil and a jar of apple sauce from the back of the pantry, I created the chocolatey vegan batter.  To bring out the coconut flavor even more, these Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts were given a non-dairy coconut caramel glaze and topped with coconut flakes.  Like most chocolate batters I make, I added a touch of almond extract for depth and for the love of almonds (almond extract just might be my most favorite scent ever).  Sliced almonds were sprinkled on the other half of the donuts for those of us who don’t care for coconut flakes (me, specially – lol).

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The donuts were super moist and crazy flavorful.  And that vegan caramel?!?!?  Incredible.  These donuts turned the whole weekend around.  Brett started to feel better, and by Sunday, we were able to share the leftovers with friends at a sunny puppy play-date. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 batch vegan coconut caramel
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 c almond milk
  • 6 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • coconut flakes
  • sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray wells of a donut pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and uniform.
  4. Place batter into a pastry bag with a large, plain piping tip.
  5. Fill donut pan about 2/3 full with donut batter.
  6. Bake about 10-12 minutes or until done.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Dip donuts into warmed coconut caramel and let drip-dry on a wire rack (with a piece of parchment underneath)
  9. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and/or sliced almonds.
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Coconut Caramel inspired by Heather Christo.

Vegan Coconut Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally
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With today being Pi Day (3/14) and only a few days left until St. Patrick’s Day, I thought of no better way to celebrate than with some Shamrockin’ Mint Whoopie Pies!

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Is it a cookie? Is it a cake?  When they taste this good, who cares what they are called!!

The giant, soft cake-coookies sandwich in creamy mint filling studded with dark chocolate chunks.  Looks a bit like mint chip ice cream, right?  But don’t worry – these treats won’t melt on you.  Perfect for celebrating all weekend long!

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Mint-Whoopie-Pie5Get the recipe over at Best Friends for Frosting.

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Neither my husband nor I like shaved coconut.  In fact, the I despise the texture beyond belief.  However, I am in so love with the look of fluffy coconut flakes that I decided to make this gorgeous 2-tier Raspberry Coconut Layer Cake anyway.  Not every cake needs to tailored to my personal preferences, and I do love the flavor of coconut, so I think we all win with this recipe.

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Coconut usually reminds us white-sand beaches and flavor combinations boosting pineapple and mango.  With such beautiful textures and versatile flavors, I vow not to limit coconut to only tropical palettes ever again.

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For Spring, I wanted to create a whimsical yet classic coconut layer cake.  I developed a velvety butter cake made with rich coconut milk and paired with classic coconut cream cheese frosting.  The tangy red raspberry filling added just the right amount of sweetness and vibrance to the creamy cake.  I chose the largest flakes I could find and left them un-toasted for a light-as-a-feather look.  The two-tiers of heavenly flakes make for a gorgeous center piece for any dessert or brunch spread.

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Find the recipe on The Cake Blog.

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First and foremost, I am excited to share that Style Sweet CA was named one of the Top 10 Baking Blogs for the Better Homes and Gardens Blogger Awards.  I only started seriously blogging in June, and I could not be more honored and excited.  I’m sure all of us bloggers have those moments, especially first starting out, where we think, “Is anybody out there?”  ”Is anybody reading this?”  There are so many amazing writers and photographers out there, and it is so nice to confidently answer “Yes,” people are reading.  People are being inspired by my photos.  Yes, you beautiful readers, are in fact trying my recipes.  Thank you BHG for the recognition and THANK YOU loyal readers for joining me on this sugary ride.

In addition, I am happy to announce that I’ve picked up a few new freelance writing and photography gigs.  I am one of the newest contributors for The Kitchn and will be developing recipes regularly for Brit + Co.  You will even be able to find some new, creative cake tutorials over on Better Homes and Gardens later this spring!  I’ll be sure to let you all know when they are published.

Now, on to these juicy, bubbly, vibrant tarts….

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I made these berry tartlets on a drizzly day last week.  I had spent the weekend prior pouring over some of my favorite cookbooks while I puppy-sat my brother’s pug.  I was inspired to make these tarts by the wonderfully talented Katie Quinn Davies and her book What Katie Ate.  I combined a few of her ideas, rounded up some ingredients that were already in the fridge and got to work.

To contrast the grey skies outside, I went with bright, vibrant fruit for the main ingredient of my berry tartlets.  I used both raspberry preserves and  sliced strawberries.  To mix it up a bit, I added fresh thyme and a bit of tangy goat cheese.  I used store-bought puff pastry, making these desserts quite possibly the easiest and flakiest treats ever made.

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Berry Tarts with Thyme and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • puff pastry
  • raspberry preserves
  • about 8-10 strawberries, sliced
  • about 6 tablespoons goat cheese
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 egg
  • splash milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. Gently roll out puff pastry to about 1/4" thick on a clean work bench lightly dusted with flour.
  3. Cut pastry with a 4 inch pastry ring into about 6 tarts and transfer to parchment.
  4. Score the rounds about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch in from the edge, but do not cut all the way thru. Prick within the inner circle about 3-4 times.
  5. Working within the inner circle, spread on raspberry jam and top with sliced strawberries.
  6. Top each tart with a tablespoon of goat cheese and a sprinkle of thyme.
  7. Mix egg with a splash of milk. Carefully brush egg wash around the outer ring, being careful to keep the wash on just the top edge.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until edges are puffed and golden.
  9. Serve warm.
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BlueberryLavenderCake8 For the most part, I try to give off a sense of normalcy.  You know, just a girl who likes to bake and play with her camera.  If you ever got a glimpse into my brain, you might think otherwise.  I don’t think I am totally crazy, but I definitely have my share of quirks.  Any given day you might find me dancing around the living room trying to make Brett look up from his programming homework or speaking in “Remy voice.”  Yes, my dog has her own voice, doesn’t yours?  Anyways, one quirk in particular that might make me seem nutty is my recipe development process.

At any given moment, I usually have about 3-8 notebooks circulating around my apartment, purse, computer bag, car, etc.  No mater where I am, I want to be able to write down any idea that might come to mind.   And since I spend an absurd amount of time thinking about flavors and adding on to my baking “To Do” list, each one is covered in notes, ideas, and scribbles.  They hardly make any sense.  The inspiration behind this recipe in particular was started at a local diner almost a whole year ago.  I remember flipping through the specials menu that sat on top of the table when a flavor combination caught my eye.  There was a list of house-made jams that incorporated local fruit with herbs and teas.  Genius!  I jotted down “Blueberry” and “Lavender” and then finished my breakfast.  About a year later, I found those notes and turned them into this fabulous Blueberry Lavender Cake. BlueberryLavenderCake6 Not only was I inspired to make my own version of a blueberry lavender jam, I challenged myself to find a way to really incorporate the lavender.  To balance the vibrant jam, I created a silky lavender ganache.  And where there is ganache, there is chocolate…. White chocolate cake!  Yes, that will tie it all together.  You starting to see where my crazy mind goes yet?  LOL.  The whole cake was iced in a plain vanilla buttercream, as to not compete with the other flavors.  I used a whimsical blue and lavender watercolor effect for the buttercream and finished it with a sprinkling of sugar pearls.

BlueberryLavenderCake7 You can find the White Chocolate Cake recipe over at The Cake Blog.  Use this Vanilla Buttercream Recipe, minus the sprinkles.

Lavender Ganache

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons culinary lavender
  • about 10-14 ounces heavy cream
  • 16 ounce white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Place lavender and 8 ounces of cream in a small saucepan. Heat on low until cream starts to steam and slightly simmer.
  2. Remove from heat and place in a heat-safe container. Cover and refrigerate for about 8-12 hours.
  3. Strain cream with a fine sieve into a measure cup. Top off cream so that there are 8 ounces total in the measuring cup. Pour into a small saucepan. Place chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.
  4. Heat over low until the cream starts to simmer.
  5. Pour cream over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds.
  6. Add butter and stir to combine.
  7. Let come back to room temperature before use.
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Blueberry Lavender Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon culinary lavender
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups blueberries, chopped
  • 1 cups blueberries, whole
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Place lavender in a heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling water over lavender and let steep 10 minutes.
  2. Place chopped blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium pot. Heat over medium-high.
  3. Stain out lavender buds and add in half of the lavender "tea" to the blueberries.
  4. Stirring occasionally, let come to a boil.
  5. Cook down the blueberries for about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and strain into a large heat-safe bowl. Discard blueberry skins.
  7. Whisk in the cornstarch into the hot liquid.
  8. Return berry sauce to the pot. Add in the whole blueberries and heat over medium for an additional 5-8 minutes or until thickened.
  9. Removed from heat and stir in the remain lavender tea.
  10. Let cool before use.
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When assembling, use a buttercream damn before layering the ganache and jam between the layers of cake.