Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekend Reading

I spent the last week in San Diego for a conference.  The week was full of good food and beautiful sites on top of the emerging work in emissions inventories.  I loved exploring the city and seeing the beaches.  The seals above were lounging on a beach in La Jolla and they were awesome.  I'm pretty sure seals are the grumpy old men of the animal kingdom.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easy Easter Cake Decorating

What dessert screams Easter more than a carrot cake.  I can't think of any, but my love of this cake could make me a little biased. This year mom asked me to bring one to Easter Sunday lunch, and I got a little excited.  I decided to make a few cupcakes as well for the kids.  I followed the carrot cake recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks, and multiplied it by 1.25, to give myself a little extra for the cupcakes.

The frosting is a cream cheese frosting (except for the green carrot tops, which are royal icing).  Both frosting recipes are listed below.  I separated about 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting out and used  about 1/8 teaspoon Wilton gel icing coloring in orange.

For the cupcakes, I allowed them to fully cool, then cut a small cone out of the center of the cupcakes using a paring knife, about 1 inch in diameter.  I filled the cone shaped hole with the orange icing using a large round tip and moving straight up, until the carrot stood about 1/2-3/4 inch over the cupcake. I used the cream cheese icing to cover the rest of the cupcake.  I then used the green royal icing to make the tops. Perfecting the texture of royal icing can be a little difficult.  It shouldn't be anywhere as thick as the cream cheese icing, but you do want it to be able to hold a little bit of a shape for drawing the carrot tops.  I drew the tops on a spare piece of parchment paper and really just scribbled a few lines.  Obviously, I'm no artist, when it comes to icing, and I'm really impatient, so I made extra.  The tops needed to dry about 3-4 hours depending on thickness.  It would do well to leave them overnight if you can. Once they were dry, I very carefully pulled off the parchment and stuck the royal icing tops into the top of the carrot.

Since I was coloring the icing, I thought why not decorate the cake as well.  The carrots were made with a large round tip like this one. The tops were made with the same royal icing.

Royal Icing Recipe


1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted


  1. Beat egg whites, vanilla, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. 
  2. Add additional confectioners sugar or water to reach desired consistency. 

Cream Cheese Frosting


1 stick of butter
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6-7 cups powdered sugar


  1. Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla together in a stand mixer (a much less time consuming task if the cream cheese and butter are closer to room temperature)
  2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until a desired consistency is reached.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter!