Recipe: Easter Bunny Cake

Easter is just around the corner and this year why not delight the kiddies with this adorable Easter Bunny Cake courtesy of the Food Network Kitchens.  Are you a cupcakster? Food Network can be in your pocket or in the kitchen with the Cupcakes! app for iPad and Android tablets. Cupcakes! has tons of frosting tips, videos, and recipes you can use for projects that are fun to bake with your family and friends.  For more Easter inspiration visit Food Network’s Easter Center (HERE) to get more fun cake and cupcake designs and recipes as well as tips and tricks from Melissa d’Arabian on the perfect hardboiled egg for Easter.


Cake Decorating Class: Second Night

Sweet Peas cake decoratingSo my neighbor tells me she needs to get out of the house from time to time and was thinking of taking a cake decorating class.  When she found a class that fit her schedule and budget turns out it also fit mine as well.  I have always been a savory guy and tend to default to making bread pudding or Key lime pie when asked for a dessert, this would be a chance to upgrade my skills.

So after my success nailing a rose on my very first try in week one the pressure was on to keep up my streak.  Well, humility set in when my instructor had to guide my hand until I got the feel for Sweet Peas.

I was trying to make it too complicated.  It’s just a simple move straight up about inch and then right back down.  Turn about 20 degrees and repeat to make a “V” then do the last one right down the middle making sure it is just a little longer.  Put on your leaf tip and pipe a leaf (they’re insanely easy).

With the writing tip we drew vines.  We then put on the  #104 Rose Tip back on and dropped a few roses on the vines and then a few rose buds.  We put it all together for a mock cake.  Check it out.

cake decorating

We then grabbed another piece of cardboard and started to experiment.  I did a bouquet with a bow.  SEE!

bouquet cake decorating

Cake Decorating Class: First Night

So my neighbor tells me she needs to get out of the house from time to time and was thinking of taking a cake decorating class.  When she found a class that fit her schedule and budget turns out it also fit mine as well.  I have always been a savory guy and tend to default to making bread pudding or Key lime pie when asked for a dessert, this would be a chance to upgrade my skills.

I call this installment “first night” even though it was the second class.  The first class was just administrative stuff – taking roll, paying fees, making shopping lists.  Therefore tonight was the first actual lesson.

This is a basics class so the goal for our 5 meetings is to decorate a full cake with roses, vines, a border and writing.  There will also be a quick crash course in icing the cake.  Since roses are the hardest part of this class they were the first thing we learned and we will repeat them every class to build muscle memory.

We used a #104 Rose Tip, 18″ disposable piping bags with a standard coupler and plain white butter cream.  I used a #13 flower nail and a 5 1/4 in. flower lifter (aka scissors).  Remember that the rose tip is pyramidish in shape and it is important to keep the base of the pyramid at the bottom. Now, I’ll try to do our instructor justice:

  1. Make a pile of icing in the center of the nail building a tower of icing roughly the diameter of a dime and about an inch tall.  The method is similar to filling a cone with soft-serve ice cream.
  2. Build a wall.  With the bottom of the pyramid next to the nail go around the pile by turning the nail with your fingers and make what looks like a wall around the bottom of the pile.
  3. Build a second wall on top of the first.
  4. Using a similar motion build a third wall like thing directly on top of the pile.  This level should be half the diameter of the pile and followed by a second level just outside of the first.  Two concentric rings.
  5. Starting at the base of the top tier, move upwards in a parabolic motion peeking at the same height as the top of the tier and return back to the base, it other words make a rainbow.  Start another rainbow with the base of the new one overlapping the base of the old one.  Repeat until you’ve looped the rose.
  6. Move down a bit and repeat a second, shallower row of rainbows.
  7. Moving to the base of the nail make a final row of rainbows still shallower than the last.
  8. Using the flower lifter act as if you are trying to cut the flower off the head of the nail but only cut halfway through.  At this point you’ll want to twist the nail away from the scissors, uh “flower lifter.”
  9. Lay the rose on the surface of your cake and inverting the nail like an upside down umbrella finish the cut with the scis. . . er “flower lifter” while stabilizing the rose with the nail.

I’ll try to shoot a video of this for next week’s installment.

I tend to learn things very well just from watching someone else do something and then “reverse engineering” it.  Well, this time was no different.  My first ever attempt actually looked like a rose.  See:

Buttercream Rose

Then we did a few more to practice.  When our piping bags were low we refilled them with the roses we had made and put the icing on ice (literally) for about ten minutes.  We then piped another bag full of roses then repeated the refilling and chilling stage before doing one more bag full.  We did about eight roses total.  Here is my last rose:

Buttercream Rose

I know, right?

Next week we’ll practice the rose a few more times and then learn to make vines.  I have set up an album on Facebook so as to document my progress.  So until then, let them eat cake!

7 Questions with Natalie Slater

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

The world of food is filled with many colorful characters, most of whom sport personalities that are bigger than life.  There are ostentatious French chefs, food critics who wear disguises and even the odd food writer turned TV host.  All owe a certain amount of their fame to their inherent quirkiness.  Then there are the bloggers.

There are the Julie Powell’s who blog simply to bring the chaos of the modern world into focus and in so doing attain fame and fortune with a book followed by a movie.  Her name is now a verb.  EX: I’m going to start a blog about Popsicles and then I’m going to Julie Powell that sucker.  There are the Kamran Siddiqui’s who’s keen eye for food photography, gentle spirit and taste for exotic flavors have earned him a great deal of international notoriety; not bad for a high school student.  Who knows what the futures holds for this brilliant young man?

Natalie Slater on WannabeTVchef.comThen there is Natalie Slater of Chicago, a marketer by day and blogger by night.  Slater is unique, boisterous and infused with rock & roll intensity.  She owns no bakery, doesn’t work at a restaurant, has no fancy grand deplome from a stuffy French culinary academy.  What she does have, in addition to her sexcentric haircut and sleeves of ink, is an unapologetic sweet tooth.

Slater’s blog, Bake and Destroy, is an extension of her personality.  It is a hot pink and black leopard print of heavy metal cupcakery.  Just as Slater kicks in the door of the starched white world of baking with stiletto heels and fishnet stockings, B&D takes the light and delicate idea of dessert and straps it into the passenger seat of a ’67 Pontiac GTO, forces it to shotgun a Natty Light while outrunning the fuzz as Immortal blasts at an unhealthy volume.  Slater makes cake cool.

B&D is filled with recipes for Goth-themed pies and cupcakes brimming with sexual innuendo.  There is a call to arms to fight diseases, “Do you love cake, but hate cancer?”  And there are plenty of pictures of Slater modeling sexy and sassy aprons for her pals at Cupcake Provocateur.  It’s a horror picture with sprinkles and a chocolate pudding center.

Now that you have learned a little bit about the petit four pocket hottie now it’s time for her to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when your self-proclaimed cake obsession started?

Natalie Slater on WannabeTVchef.comMy grandma bought me an EZ Bake Oven for my birthday one year – I’m guessing I was about four. My birthday is two weeks before Christmas and here was this little kid making everyone stop what they were doing to taste a cake she baked with a light-bulb. My gram suggested I bake one for baby Jesus’ birthday, and when it was done we left it out for him – it disappeared. I really believed he floated down and gobbled up the cake I made him. I guess I impressed myself at that point – Jesus likes my baking! From that point on my mom couldn’t bake so much as a blueberry muffin without me insisting on breaking the eggs or measuring the flour.

2. When did you start your blog, Bake and Destroy?

I started Bake and Destroy over four years ago when my son was newborn and I was working as a nanny. I was home all the time and baked to keep my sanity. The blog was a way for me to keep in touch with my friends – none of which had kids yet. I never imagined anyone besides those few people would read it.

3. You were a judge in the pilot episode of Cupcake Wars.  Can we expect to see you in future episodes?

I really doubt it. Originally they wanted me to compete and I told them they were nuts. 1000 cupcakes? No way dude! Then one night I had my son in the tub and one of the producers called me. She was like, “Natalie, this is boring, we need you.” I flew out the next morning. Unfortunately they felt the need to cover up all my tattoos for the show – no one knows why! One of the contestants had tons of tattoos! Anyway I just felt sweaty and uncomfortable, it was a bummer. I’d do it again if they asked on the condition that I can wear short sleeves. I’m from Chicago – it’s hot in LA!

4. I’m a savory guy so I am a little perplexed by the sheer volume of cake decorating shows on television.  To what do you attribute their phenomenal success?

Natalie Slater on Wannabe TV ChefI think, like tattoo shows, it’s a peek into a world that has existed forever but not many people were involved in. In the same vein, you get to watch people do things that you yourself may never be able to do. I do think they can move on now, though. I’m looking forward to Just Desserts- the pastry competition on Bravo. I’m ready for flavor to matter again.

5. Other than Cupcake Wars what cake shows do you enjoy?

I love Cake Boss. I think Sunshine is an unsung hero on that show, she’s so talented. And I’m Italian, so I can relate to all the yelling and hand waving.
It’s not a cake show, but one of my favorite pastry chefs Ben Roche has a show on Planet Green called Future Food. The stuff they do at Moto blows my mind.

6. So which would you rather have a cake decorated like a tattoo or a tattoo of a cake?

A cake tattoo! I’ve noticed that tattoo artists can render a great looking cake tattoo but cake artists aren’t so hot at tattoo cakes.

7. Your look, your personality and even your blog scream personality; what inspires you?

Well thank you. I have been told I burst from the womb shouting “Hey everyone! Look at me!” I draw from so many places – my beautiful city, my fearless son, all the classy TV shows I grew up on like pro wrestling, Married with Children and Headbangers Ball. My friends and family are a huge inspiration, I’m always looking to make them laugh or to embarrass them. So it’s easy- endless inspiration.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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