Layered Red Velvet Cake - Why This Recipe Was A Total Disaster

Hello lovely,

Since I started the tradition of making an annual Christmas cake, I decided to extend it to all other holidays. I already make themed drinks and other recipes, but a signature Valentine’s Day Cake sounded ideal this year! Hopefully next year I'm not so last minute with it. And I should probably choose to make it during a less stressful time in my life. I definitely rushed to make this because I anticipated having to travel for a trip that never happened. That's the unfortunate part of when you’re not the one making the plans, so your plans have to accommodate theirs.

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That's why there’s no recipe for this. To start an annual Valentine's day cake, I cared more about how it looked, so I actually used a boxed red velvet cake recipe. There was just one problem: The cake mix was too moist. I couldn’t get around the cake with any frosting because parts of the cake would come off on the spatula. Then the frosting turned out to be REALLY hot pink, which was an absolute nightmare for what I had in mind. I’m already a complete amateur at cake decorating so I actually panicked for a few minutes. (Side note: If anyone is hosting cake decorating classes please sign me up 🙏)

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After my mini panic session, I decided to melt the frosting in the microwave just a bit and pour it over the cake. Trust me, it was as messy as you’re imagining. The clean up sucked and took multiple people, but at least I had two little people (kids) to assist (and by assist, I mean lick the plate).

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So what did I learn from this experience? First: I definitely need to invest in the right pans to make a layered cake of different sizes. I used a Bundt pan for the bottom because it was the only thing deep enough for the base and I actually baked the top smaller cake in a saucepan. It worked but when I say that’s probably one of the most ghetto things I had ever done…🤦‍♀️ Second, I really need to plan better because I stress way too easily. I thought everything was perfectly planned, but its probably not a good idea to shoot a complex cake like this when you’re shooting like 50 other things in the same day. Third, filters really save the day!

Have you ever had a recipe fail? What was your kitchen nightmare. Share your memories in the comment section below. Hopefully your Valentine’s Day treats don’t turn out like mine 😅

Cinnamon Mini Cakes with Peach Wine Compote

Hello Lovely,

I made these mini cakes in early August for a party with some friends. Once it was time for dessert, these went so quickly, I didn't even get to have one! My friends LOVED them! I love cinnamon. It's used in so many things because it just compliments EVERYTHING! This recipe comes from the Cakes By Melissa cookbook, but I came up with the topping all on my own! I started by making a cinnamon sheet cake and I cut out the mini cakes with a round cutter. While all of this was happening, I had some canned peaches soaking in red wine. You could have a cinnamon cake with cinnamon icing, but how basic is that? Go deeper into flavour profiles and see how you can related them to people or to other delicious foods that you love. For example, cinnamon cake with a peach wine compote topping - yum!

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Cinnamon Mini Cakes with Peach Wine Compote

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup diced peaches
  • 1 cup red wine (any kind)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
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Directions

  1. Have all your ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the pan of your choice or line the pan with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Before you start mixing, soak the peaches in the wine.
  3. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Add the sugar to the butter and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla; then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through.
  6. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt in a separate bowl.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture. When it's mostly incorporated, add half the milk. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press your finger against it (30-35 minutes).
  9. Let cake cool completely before cutting with round cutter.
  10. Top each cake with peaches and a little powdered sugar.
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The only thing about this recipe I changed was the amount of sugar in it. The original recipe calls for 2 cups. I can't imagine why anyone would need 2 whole cups of sugar; that's waaaaaaay too much. So I shortened it. Truthfully I may have only used 1 cup of sugar. Adjust it according to your taste and dietary needs.

The Tye Dye Mini Cake

Hello Lovely,

The day of The Elevation Awards, I was pretty nervous. Depiste covering it last year, I didn't know what to expect this year because instead of being media, I was now a nominee. Win or lose, I couldn't believe I am now Elevation Award Nominee Life By Olivia. And if I had won....OMG! I don't know what I would do with myself. So to fill the seemingly endless hours before show time I tried to relax in front of the TV. Problem was, none of my usual shows were on. I ended up watching an hour of Antiques Roadshow (super boring could not get into it) before stumbling upon a show on The Food Network called, The Kitchen. I had never heard of the show before (I don't know where I've been) but I AM HOOKED!!!! I happened to catch the birthday episode with a ton of birthday recipes. Even though I don't eat steak, I was really impressed with the Cast-Iron Skillet Porterhouse Steak but what really blew me away was the The Tie Dye Cake .

I instantly looked up Melissa's cookbook on Amazon and just had to try the tye dye cake. Now I've never been good with decorating cakes because icing confuses the hell out of me, so I decided to make a two layered mini cake instead (even though the batter was enough for four layers). If this didn't work out, it wouldn't hurt me as much because it wasn't a lot of batter wasted.

Bear in mind I was nervous AF so I was randomly throwing together ingredients. My thought process was literally whatever I could get my hands on (hence the combination of coffee and orange zest). But you couldn't tell me I wasn't a celebrity chef while I combined everything. While mixing the food colouring to get just the right colour, I felt like a chemist! It was just so much fun! I was so nervous I forgot to spray the pans before pouring the batter and then I had to pull the pans out of the oven because I forgot to take a skewer to the middle to create a pattern with the colors.

Then it was time for the moment of truth. This is where I always mess up, but I learned where I was going wrong. I found an old bread knife in the drawer that we never use and that was perfect for levelling the cake. For once, I had an even layered cake. Decorating was starting to look, well, like a piece of cake! (Sorry I just had to do it). When I was done, I had finally successfully frosted a cake! I swear this is one of the biggest accomplishments of my baking career thus far! I was a little disappointed in how the colours inside the cake turned out, but now I know better for next time how to make pink to brighten up the mix. The orange zest is brilliant and you really can't taste the coffee, which I was afraid would overpower or compete with the zest. Here's the recipe!

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The Tye Dye Mini Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chilled coffee
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup diary free milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Red, yellow, blue and green food colouring

Cake Decorating

  • 4 tablespoons vanilla frosting
  • pastel coloured sprinkles
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 5 inch baking pans. Set aside.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the cake except the cake colouring. Do not overmix.
  3. Divide cake batter evenly amongst four ramekin dishes. Add food coloring to each bowl--1 drop at a time--until the desired intensity of each color is reached. Scoop each color into a disposable pastry bag and snip the tip of the bag. I didn't want to waste pastry bags so I carefully scooped it into the prepared pans.
  4. Pipe the batter into the first pan, one color at a time, one over the next. (Remember you could also use a spoon, but the pastry bags might make this much easier.) Repeat until all the batter is gone.
  5. To make the tie dye effect, carefully drag a skewer completely through the batter from the center out to create a pattern with the colors. Don't overmix the colors.
  6. Bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press your finger against it, 15 to 20 minutes. Set the cakes aside to cool completely before icing.
  7. Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Place one layer on a cake turntable and frost the top with the Vanilla Icing. Add the second cake layer and frost the top. From watching the show, I learned how to fully frost the cake. Continue to pipe icing in between the layers, then with the knife, go around the cake, smoothing out the frosting until the cake is completely covered.
  8. Mix the glaze (combine the powdered sugar and milk) then add pink food colouring or only two drops of red (it will make pink). Working with an offset spatula, spread pink glaze over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Work quickly before the glaze starts to dry. Then top with sprinkles and serve!

The last time I made something so complex was my Cookies n Milk Cake (boy that was stressful). I usually shy away from recipes with too many steps, but I'm glad I challenged myself to this one. I ate my slice with a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream (because cake and ice cream are the perfect couple) and it didn't feel too sweet. 

Lemon, Lavender and Earl Grey Mini Cakes

Hello Lovely,

I feel like it's been forever since I made a dessert. I really don't remember the last time I baked dessert so I feel that this recipe is long overdue. For the past few weeks I have been consumed by photo shoots, investing in my food photography and planning my European summer trip, so this dessert has really helped me to unwind and actually enjoy Spring. Let's face it, April is over and Summer is soon here! So I've definitely got to take some time to stop and smell the roses (literally)!

I was planning on serving these cakes at a Spring gathering with some friends over the Easter holiday, but the gathering was cancelled. I was disappointed that the cake cracked; I didn't realise it was finished until about 5 minutes too late so it dried out. I was left feeling completely uninspired when I looked at my cakes. To this day I still regret not levelling them so they could be the same height and have flat tops (See what stress does to you). I stared at these cakes for an hour trying to figure out how to make them pretty. The coconut glaze-icing didn't turn out well and I definitely did not have the energy to whip up buttercream frosting.  I eventually decided to use some store-bought Betty Crocker Whipped Strawberry frosting I had but even though didn't know what to do.

After a few more moments of head scratching and failed icing, I decided to make a "rose" shape on top of each cake. But I still wasn't satisfied. So I took a walk outside and found some flowers that I thought really complimented the mini cakes. After that I felt like I was at high tea! The flowers really brought out the best in the cakes and hid the imperfections that were bothering me. I made a little bouquet and rest it in a jar in the middle of the cakes and let creativity take care of the rest.

What I love about the cakes is that no flavour is too strong or overpowering. It's not too sweet, and doesn't even taste dry. You should definitely try this recipe the next time you have friends or family over or if it’s your turn to donate some sweets. The best part is you can cut these cakes in half to make more. The recipe yields 14 when baked in a 9” shallow pan and a small circle cutter is used to cut each out.

Lemon, Lavender and Earl Grey Mini Cakes

Ingredients

·        2 cups flour

·        ½ cup earl grey tea, strong brew with ½ teaspoon lavender

·        ½ cup sour cream

·        ½ cup nonfat milk

·        ½ cup sugar

·        ½ cup plain applesauce

·        1 egg

·        1 teaspoon baking soda

·        1 teaspoon baking powder

·        1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9” baking pan and set aside.

2.      Brew a cup of Earl Grey Tea and steep for 5 minutes. I used Harney & Sons.

3.      Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and soda together. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

4.      Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 18 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

5.      Allow to cool completely. Then using a small circle cake cutter, cut out the mini cakes. Decorate with icing of your choice and enjoy.

Birthday Cake Shots

Birthday Cake Shots

Turn two bottles of booze into these beeeautiful sprinkle-rimmed birthday cake shots with this super quick cocktail idea. Cake vodka is splashed together with Baileys™ Irish Cream and tinted bright pink. Because, Birthday You. You deserve a one sweet boozy toast—you’re just so easy to celebrate like that!

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