Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rainbow Cupcakes

Inspired by a photo a friend found online, I made rainbow cupcakes for a party this summer. I was aiming to have about 30 cupcakes so I used two boxes of cake mix and made two batches of frosting. I probably could have gotten away with one batch of frosting, but I haven't made them again to be sure. Anyway, here are some notes about the process.


I promise, it's not as hard as it sounds!

Follow the directions for a regular old yellow cake mix BUT however long it says to mix it (mine said on low until combined, then medium for 2 minutes) you want to short it. If you overmix cake batter you get tunnels in the cake, and since this cake batter was going to be dyed and you have to mix in the dye I didn't want to push it. So I mixed on medium for 1min 30sec. Then I poured cake batter into 5 cereal bowls for red, orange, green, blue, and purple - the batter is yellow so you don't have to dye that one. Don't fill them all the way because you need room to stir.


I used Wilton Icing gel dyes. They can be purchased just about anywhere in the cake decorating section of a store. I used:

Christmas Red
Leaf Green
Sky Blue

You can use any food coloring, but this is what I had. If you go this route you'll also need toothpicks. You dip a toothpick into the bottle and the gel sticks to it, then you stir it into the batter and discard it. I only used one dip for each of the colors you see here, and of course you never ever double dip the toothpicks! Ew!

I used white baking cups in my muffin pan, because that's what I had. I do a quick spray with Pam or similar nonstick spray on the baking cups.

I baked an entire test batch a few days beforehand to learn the hard way that you only need a little of each color. The spoons in these photos are the bigger size spoon that comes with a standard place setting, and a spoonful of each color in a cup is too much. So use less than that, really!

I'd also recommend doing all 6 colors into a couple cups first to get a feel for how much batter will wind up in the cups. Then you can switch to doing all the red, then orange, etc. assembly-line style.

Like this.


I put each new color in the center of the cup, so it ends up looking like this.



Then you bake as directed - for me this was 20-25 minutes and they needed about 23. Once they cool, and YES WAIT UNTIL THEY COOL, you can frost them. I made my own buttercream using this recipe from Bakerella:

Easy Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream

* Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
* Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more.
* If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
* Then, just use icing colors to tint the frosting the color of your choice.

I used a #21 Wilton star tip to frost them in a spiral. I cooled them on a cooling rack over a dish, so when I put on the sprinkles I could collect the escapees underneath to cut down on the mess.

I *think* that one batch of frosting would have frosted the 30 but I had some from the day before and used it too.




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mom and Daughter Headbands


As part of a trade for some cloth diapers with my friend Mel I agreed to make her daughter some headbands. She hinted that a mother-daughter matching set would be nice, and after getting feedback on a couple patterns I got to work. I liked the look of pepperknit's Lace Headband but the lace pattern itself just wasn't lacy enough. I liked the lace from Persnickity Knitter's Arrowhead Headband but not that it was just grafted together into a fixed circumference. So I used the i-cord and increases from the Lace Headband and the lace chart from the Arrowhead Headband.


Sorry Zee. You can work this out in therapy in thirty years if you need to.

For the daughter version, I altered the arrowhead lace chart by removing the two stitches on each side of the center. This made it 7 stitches wide instead of 11, so it was appropriately daughter-sized.


A little closer on the lace here.


My Ravelry project page is here: Mom and Daughter Headbands.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So Pretty

I spent all day with this yarn.


The colors are represented best here in the first photo. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in Covelite. I bought it at Rhinebeck back in 2007 and have been afraid to touch it!

It was a long day; Spike had a decently high fever as these things go so he wasn't up to his usual antics, but of course I worried about him and things I can do nothing about. Winding up some yarn cakes turned out to be just interesting enough to keep him from glazing over but not fall asleep standing up.

Here is is, Mom.


Did someone say yarn cake?


There's been an unfortunate lack of real cake lately, although there has been blueberry pie. But more on that later.

I started swatching the yarn for something special.


Nope - not telling what it is yet! I think I know what to do now, but I've got to finish up some works in progress first. Other than taking up needles, time, space, and brainpower, current WIPs now are linked over on the sidebar to their Ravelry pages and I don't want the blog to get cluttered!

I blocked the Daughter headband today in the Mother/Daughter set. Photos soon!