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Congratulations Kershaw Cupcakes GO BLUE!

Sometimes, I am a walking, talking stereotype. (1) I love Disney (2) I’m in LA pursuing acting (3) I am a proud Dodger fan (4) Clayton Kershaw is my absolute favorite player. Can you blame me? I mean he is only one of the best pitchers to come out of baseball since…ever. And he comes across as such a genuine and humble person and having personally known my fair share of professional baseball players/athletes in general, I appreciate the rarity of someone like that.

IMG_7603_FotorThis past Sunday was the last game of the regular season and my mom and I sat in her car listening to the radio (damn you Time Warner) just to hear Kershaw break 300 strikeouts. 300 STRIKEOUTS! For you non-baseball fans, that’s a pretty incredible accomplishment. Needless to say we were super excited for him. And the Dodgers in general.

And hence we have these Congratulations Kershaw! baseball cupcakes. I really will take any excuse to bake! This post is all about the story behind the cupcakes–which you just read–and showing a fun way to decorate cupcakes. The recipe is just my basic but delicious vanilla cupcake with basic but delicious vanilla frosting. It’s so easy! Just spread a smooth layer of frosting over the cupcakes and pipe red lines to match the laces on a baseball. I used leftover red frosting in a tube with a Wilton 3 tip.

While I made and photographed these on Sunday, all ready to share them with you because no one should have to wait for cupcakes, my camera decided to take a vacation and I had to borrow my friend’s computer to get this picture to you. Just in time for post-season to start tomorrow! Let’s go Dodgers, let’s go!

And a personal note to Kershaw: Thanks for so much entertainment this season and all the rest :)

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling

When I was a kid, I always loved banana splits. (Hold on Mom, I know I never had banana split, I’m about to clarify.) Or more accurately (see what I did there, Mom?) I loved the idea and the look of banana splits. I’m pretty sure it all had to do with my favorite Curious George book and the massive ice cream sundae that adorable monkey made.

I’ll admit, I still have never had a true banana split. I did finally have banana split flavored ice cream and loved it, so I’m going to assume it’s basically the same thing. It’s the banana split that was the original inspiration for this cake, until I forgot a few of my planned modifications and turned a banana split cake into…Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling. Just goes to show you that sometimes mistakes still result in a delicious cake. (And I’m not giving up on my banana split cake, just you wait.)

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling...ON DISPLAY!

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling…ON DISPLAY!

Fun fact about this cake: This was my first cake sold in the US! I baked and sold a few breakfast cakes in my favorite coffee shop in England, but this is the first time I had a cake on display in a coffee shop here in LA. Steampunk Kitchen and Coffee Bar, of the standout afternoon tea fame, became the home of the Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling, but only for a short while as it was all sold by 2 pm. Thanks for the encouragement and support Steampunk!

This cake does have a fair number of steps when it comes to assembly, but I promise the baking part is nothing more challenging than my found-tried-and-true vanilla cupcake recipe and vanilla buttercream frosting. I’ve put in step-by-step assembly pics for you!

Here it is: a delightful mistake? A twist on a classic flavor combination? Doesn’t matter, just grab a fork and get ready to smile!

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Banana Filling

vanilla cake with strawberry banana filling

ingredients

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE

  • 5 cups (630 grams) cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
  • 3 cups (600 grams) ultrafine baking sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 ¼ cup (540 mL) milk
  • 6 tsp vanilla extract
  • chopped or sliced strawberries
  • 2 sliced bananas
  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips

INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING (makes one batch)

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prep three 8-in round cake pans with shortening spray (nonstick baking spray), parchment paper, and wet cake straps.

Make the cake batter in three batches (trust me). For each batch, whisk 1 2/3 cup (210 grams) cake flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt together in a medium mixing bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter, 1 cup ultrafine baking sugar, 1 egg, ¼ cup yogurt, ¾ cup milk, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides as needed, combining until no lumps remain.

Pour 2 ½ cups cake batter into pan. Repeat with remaining 2/3 of the ingredients. You can use the leftover batter to make a few mini cupcakes. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then place in the refrigerator to cool fully before frosting.

Make the frosting. Beat the softened butter in the stand mixer for 1 minute, until fluffy. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and beat for an additional minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and beat on high for 2 minutes. Add additional cream to thin out this batch of frosting (to frost the entire cake you’ll need a second, thicker batch).

Assemble the cake. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator, turn out onto cutting surface. Trim the tops of the cakes so they will stack evenly and straight. Place one cake layer on a board. Spread a thick layer of the thinned batch of frosting over the cake, then top with half the strawberries and 1 sliced banana. Repeat with a second layer of cake, frosting, and fruit. Top with final cake layer.

IMG_5717_Fotor_Fotor_CollageUse the remainder of the thinned frosting to crumb coat the cake and fill in any holes. Place assembled cake back into the refrigerator so the crumb coat will harden while you make a second, thicker batch of frosting.

Apply a thick layer of frosting smoothly over the cake. Press mini chocolate chips onto the sides of the cake. Decorate with remaining frosting and fruit as desired!

Oreo Layer Cake with Cookies n’ Cream Frosting

Baking is my go-to stress reliever (shocking, right?). And sometimes simply baking isn’t enough. Sometimes, you just need to bake something unique and time-consuming and multi-stepped and completely of your own recipe ideas. And you need it to work perfectly the first time.

Oreo Layer Cake with Cookies n' Cream Frosting

Oreo Layer Cake with Cookies n’ Cream Frosting

That’s not a tall order, is it?

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel Cookies

Both of my parents learned very important lessons while I was making these cookies. Let’s start with my mother.

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel Cookies

Before commencing the annual Cookie Baking Extravaganza this year, my mom and I sat down together and planned out which cookies we wanted to make. Some were old standby classics. Others were brand new recipes that we had never tried before. We prioritized, scheduled, and planned the cookie baking. We also broke that plan the very first day. But the conflicting importance of scheduling and abandoning the schedule is not the lesson learned. It’s the just long, unnecessary backstory to why we were making Pinwheel Cookies. These were Mom’s first pick for new recipes.

Chocolate Chip Russian Teacakes

There are a lot of cookies coming your way in the next month. Some are the classic holiday cookies straight from my mother’s kitchen, and others are new but soon to be classics, and still others are cookie extravaganzas straight from the weirdly cookie and scone obsessed mind of, well, me! Those cookies and desserts might get a little multi-step on you, so let’s ease our ovens into the cookie season with an easy, breezy twist on a classic.

Chocolate Chip Russian Teacakes

Chocolate Chip Russian Teacakes

Remember our discussion about teacakes? Long time ago, I know.

Apple Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Growing up, apple pie was my favorite dessert. Yeah I’d eat cake or cookies or ice cream, but if you put a slice of apple pie in front of me, you’d be my best friend for life–or at least until someone else gave me a slice of pie. My love even went as far as having an apple pie instead of a birthday cake for my 13th birthday party.

Apple Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I should have made this cake that day, since it is the best of both worlds, a hybrid of apple pie and the best cake I’ve ever tasted. And I make a lot of cakes. If only I had come up with this recipe back then! Alas I wasn’t such a crazy baker back in my tween years so I had to wait a decade to develop the perfect apple pie cake.

Funfetti Cake Batter Scones

Good luck having any dough left to make these scones. I will practically put money on the bet that you will eat all the dough before the scones ever make it on to the baking sheet much less into the oven.

IMG_5201

Funfetti Cake Batter Scones

Oops, don’t I usually start with some fun anecdote or little tie in to introduce a recipe? Sorry, these scones are just too amazing to hold off on telling you. They are like that piece of great news that you intend to keep quiet, subtly dropping little hints to everyone to build fun suspense, but then as soon as you see someone you compulsively blurt it out. Whoopsies! It was just too great and exciting to keep secret! Usually that news is a baby or an engagement or a dream job or successfully doing a backflip on a trampoline. In my case, though, it’s creating and perfecting a scone that tastes SO MUCH like funfetti cake batter that I forgot I wasn’t eating cake/had to make multiple batches because I couldn’t stop eating the dough/have my friends begging for deliveries/almost make me want to give up scone recipe developing because I don’t think I can top these ever.

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Scones

Let’s take a quick break from the banana, shall we? There’s only one more (for now) but it’s officially embarrassingly late to post a photo with Easter decorations so I don’t want things to get any more awkward for me. I don’t want to have to wear a paper bag over my head with ‘I’m Not a Scone Baker Anymore” (is it too late to make that joke too?).

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

One of my first recipes on this blog was Strawberry Vanilla Scones. I went on and on about how amazing Gaviota strawberries were and how I was afraid that my usual scone recipe would be too strong of a flavor to work with the Gaviotas. So I used a mascarpone based scone instead. Well it’s well into strawberry season again, but this time I forgot my earlier qualms and decided, “Hey! I’m going to make strawberry vanilla scones!” also forgetting that I already had a strawberry vanilla scone recipe on the blog. Oops. Shows you how many scones I make. 

Recipe: Vanilla Dream Scones

When I first made these scones and posted the recipe on my previous blog, I was briefly considering opening up a bakery after my college graduation. This was to be my vanilla scone recipe, but they needed a cute name. After all, the bakery was going to called The Cream Tea Bakery or something cutesy and British, therefore scones needed cutesy names as well. I had already made Almond Bliss scones and Butter-Me-Up scones, Peanut Butter Coma Cupcakes (which I promise to eventually make/photograph/post), and Wistful Pom cupcakes (also an eventual post) must-dos on my future menu and they had appropriate names.

IMG_3733So I reached out to my Facebook friends and former dance partner/fellow baker for name ideas. I loved the idea of calling them Antique Scones because of the old-fashioned style of my photos, but after being told that no one would want to eat scones whose name suggested they might be stale, we decided on Vanilla Dream scones to complement Almond Bliss.

IMG_3726Alas the bakery idea was short lived, but these scones and their Vanilla Dreams will live on in home bakers’ ovens everywhere. They are wonderfully creamy and melt in your mouth like sugar on your tongue, yet they are not overly sweet. The vanilla bean makes these perfect for a special occasion, or maybe just a day that needs a little extra dreaming.

Vanilla Dream Scones

Vanilla Dream Scones

Vanilla Dream Scones

Ingredients

  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 50 g ultrafine sugar or vanilla sugar if you happen to have some on hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 scraped vanilla bean
  • 200 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 220°C (450°F). Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla and mascarpone. Rub the mascarpone into the dry ingredients until evenly clumped. Add the water a little bit at a time and then knead into the dough.
Place dough on a very floured surface and knead a few more times. Pat out to 1 cm thick. Cut 5 cm rounds from the dough with biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reform and continue until there is no more dough. Dough may disappear from being eaten by baker and/or baker’s mother. Bake for 6-8 minutes (8) until lightly browned and cooked through.
Serve with whipped cream and strawberries or clotted cream and strawberry jam.
These scones are very delicate, so you may want to make them thicker and bigger so they can better hold up their toppings. I just always make my scones the same height and width for consistency in baking times as well as comparisons between recipes. Feel free to change either and adjust the baking time as needed. IMG_3728

Recipe: Strawberry Vanilla Scones

My favorite fruit is strawberries, but this comes with a problem. When strawberries are bad, they are terrible, tart, and tasteless. Luckily, the strawberries sold at my local farmer’s market are the best strawberries you will ever taste. Gaviotas they are called by the farmers at Harry’s Berries, but they should be called Perfection. These are the most incredible strawberries I have ever tasted.

So naturally, I had to turn them into scones. Only logical progression, right?

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Gaviotas are incredibly sweet on their own and have a very strong flavor, so I felt that my usual scone recipe would have a too marked taste itself to meld with the strawberries. The two would be battling for supremacy, not enhancing each other’s deliciousness. Instead, I chose to mellow the scone’s flavor using a mascarpone cheese base and adding vanilla bean paste for supporting the Gaviotas.

Mascarpone is a mild Italian cream cheese reminiscent of butter or British clotted cream (that wonderful spread that improves almost any scone); using it as the binding agent and fat source in the dough made for a wonderfully creamy and delicate scone. The scone’s interior will literally melt in your mouth as the essence of the strawberries permeates every bite.

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberries–or at least this variety–are an interesting fruit to bake with. Most berries seem to become almost more tart and brightened once heated, but these strawberries seemed to mellow. Maybe it was the mascarpone and vanilla’s influences, but these strawberry scones were not strawberry-candy-esque, but rather the summer British dessert of Strawberries and Cream turned into a scone.

These are perfect for a sophisticated, feminine occasion like a baby shower tea party. Do not top with anything other than the thinnest layer of clotted cream. The scones are moist enough to not need a topping, and an additional flavor will overwhelm the soft strawberries.

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

Ingredients

  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50 g ultrafine baking sugar
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 scraped vanilla bean
  • 200 g mascarpone
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 220°C or 450°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix until well blended. Toss in strawberries until they are well dispersed.
Work in the vanilla paste and mascarpone until the dough has formed even sized clumps. Sprinkle water over dough and knead until clumps come together. This is an extremely wet dough.
Place on a heavily floured work surface and pat down to desired thickness (1 cm). Cut out scones with a cutter (5 cm) dipped in more flour and place on baking sheet. Knead scraps back together and repeat until the majority of the dough has been used. In between kneading rounds, replenish the work surface’s flour coating.
Bake for 7-9 minutes until lightly browned on top. These will rise only a little bit.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Savor.
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