Wimpy Kids and Waves

The process of closing Lavender Box, my brick and mortar bakery, and switching back to a cottage bakery has been, in all reality, very smooth; in the practical sense anyway.   I am, however, discovering that my psyche is having a bit more trouble grasping the concept.

For one thing, I am not up at the ass butt crack of dawn everyday.  Some days I actually get to sleep until 5am, woohoo.

The other major adjustment I am having to make is that I can take my time; I don’t have to have 4 different pastries, croissants, kouign amann and at least 2 cookie flavors baked and in the cases by 6:30am.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it…Every minute of it.  And the satisfaction I got from seeing a customer’s reaction to a flaky pastry made it all worth it.

But being at home now, without the hectic pace of running a made-from-scratch, every thing fresh, every day  bakery with only myself and (the ever amazing) #1 daughter, I have come to realize the value of time.  Time to dedicate to the tiniest of details, without worry that something, or someone, will walk through door and take away my focus.  Time to set a work timeline and be able to adhere to it.  Time to not have to rush to get the finishing touches on a cake.  Time.

Now don’t get me wrong, I put every bit of myself into each and every thing I make; the simplest cookie or a 4 tier wedding cake with a ton of gum paste flowers, there is no difference in the dedication I put into each.  But knowing that I have the time to dedicate to each task individually makes me a lot less crazy.

It is that time that made the 2 cakes I did this weekend seem almost easy.  I was able to plan each step of each tier, and actually execute according to that plan.  I even had each one ready to deliver with time to spare.

Cake #1 was for a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”birthday party.  There was some stress involved because I got the referral from another decorator who was unable to take the job.  No pressure there right?  Now I am somewhat familiar with the book series by Jeff Kinney, but let’s face it, my baby is 25 now, so I am a bit out of the loop.  The only kids books I have in my house now are the vintage Dr. Seuss and Peanuts books that hold a place of honor in the book case.  But with a lot of planning and preparation, I was able to get this beauty made, decorated and delivered for a very happy 7 year old.


And another angle, just because I canimg_1262-2

Cake #2 was a customer from the bakery whose little one was turning 4 and LOOOVES Disney’s Moana.  While #3 daughter has been dying to see Moana, we haven’t had the time, so I was flying blind here.  Miss Lennie Lou (birthday girl) had the figurines (thank goodness, ’cause sculpting figurines is still a dicey proposition for me), so should be simple enough right?  Oh, but no fondant for 4 year olds because they are picky about their cake.

Let me see now, have to put together a Hawaiian themed cake with waves and sand and flowers (oh my), and make it out of butter cream.  Okay, confession time, the flowers and sea shells and turtles are fondant, but the waves are chocolate and buttercream.  I was feeling so good about my timeline for this cake, I decided to make the little pig Pua from fondant, just because.  img_2255-2

Well all in all, I think it turned out pretty good.  I know, I know we have a pretty good lean here, but Lennie Lou’s Mom was very pleased.

There is always room for improvement, always something that could be better, and I don’t delude myself into thinking that I am any where near a cake artist.  I am simply someone who loves to be in the kitchen.  I love to bake and I love to see people smile when the idea for a cake becomes reality.

And for me, that is when time stands still.

Orange Fudge Cake


I am a New England Patriots Fan!!!  Not just a fan, but a FAN.  So it is fitting that my first official blog post is the recipe for the New England Patriots cake I made for our small Super Bowl party tomorrow.

But I digress…This is really about the cake; the dark chocolate fudge cake with just the essence of orange.  Chocolate and orange are such an amazing combination that I didn’t even know I enjoyed until number 1 daughter introduced me to those wonderful chocolate oranges that you smack on the counter.  One velvety chocolate orange section and I was hooked.

img_3184I started making a (pretty good) orange fudge cake shortly after.  People liked it, it was good.  It just wasn’t OMG good.  So I kept tweaking recipes and trying different things until I got it perfect.


This recipe is it…the perfectly dark chocolate cake with enough orange to compliment the chocolate, but not be overpowered by the dark chocolate.  This cake has a tender crumb that is sturdy enough to use in a tiered cake.

As with any recipe, quality ingredients are essential.  I know, I know that’s what everyone says about their recipes, “Mine is so much better because I only use the best ingredient” : )

Well, this is true.  This recipe, unlike many chocolate cake recipes, used melted butter instead of oil.  For many years, I was a firm believer that in order to get a moist chocolate cake, you had to use oil.  The biggest problem with oil based cakes, is that they are a bit fragile in my opinion.  I have had too many cakes crumble under the weight of a good buttercream, not to mention having to tell brides that chocolate cakes were a no go for fondant covered cakes.  That is not fun!!

The next tricky ingredient in this cake is the cocoa powder.  There is a lot of confusion over Dutch processed cocoa powder vs natural.  Here is a great post written by Sally’s Baking Addiction that explains it wonderfully.    Take a minute to read it, it is worth it.


In this recipe I use natural cocoa powder, Hershey’s to be precise.  I have also used Ghirardelli and to my taste, both are great.

So, through trial and (a lot of) error, I now have my go to chocolate cake base.


The next piece of advise I can give you is invest in a kitchen scale.  The old saying “Cooking is an art, Baking is a science” is 100% true.  To get perfect results you need to have precise amounts of ingredients; and scaling them is the most precise method.  BUY A SCALE, IT IS WORTH IT.

Okay, rant over.  (But seriously, get a scale.)  Back to our recipe.  Once you have scaled out your ingredients it’s time to get mixing.

Start with our eggs and melted butter in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Make sure your butter is not too hot, we don’t want scrambled eggs.  Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium (#5 on Kitchen Aid mixer) for about 3 minutes to aerate the mixture.

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Add in sugar and whisk another 3 minutes.  Next mix in buttermilk and dry ingredients.  Scrape down the sides on bottom of the mixer bowl and mix for another minute.  Slowly pour in the hot coffee and whisk to combine, scraping the bowl to fully incorporate.  Ignore the chocolate on the mixer head, I simply cannot work with cocoa powder without getting it everywhere.

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This recipe will make a 9″ 3 layer cake.  Now I absolutely detest torting cakes, I can never get them level, so I bake 3 separate layers.  Voila, 3 beautiful cake layers and I don’t have a pile of cake crumbles and horribly thin cake layers.


Give these babies 23-27 minutes in a 350 oven, cool on a wire rack, fill, frost and decorate any way you like.

For this cake, I used a vanilla bean buttercream.  But it is amazeballs with an orange scented Swiss Meringue buttercream.

I hope you enjoy this inKredible orange fudge cake.

inKredible Orange Fudge Cake

Makes a 9″ 3 layer cake


  • 382 grams pastry flour
  • 180 grams natural cocoa powder
  • 6 grams baking powder
  • 6 grams baking soda
  • 3 grams kosher salt
  • 225 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 360 ml buttermilk, room temp
  • 10 ml vanilla bean paste
  • 675 grams granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 360 ml brewed hot coffee


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line 3 nine inch cake pans with parchment circles and spray with baking spray.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl, set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer combine eggs and melted butter.  Using whisk attachment, whisk on medium speed (5 on kitchen aid) for 3 minutes.
  4. Add in sugar and zest, whisk for another 3 minutes.
  5. Mix in buttermilk and dry ingredients.   Mix to combine, scraping down sides of mixer bowl as needed.
  6. Slowly pour in hot coffee and mix to fully combine.  Scrape sides of bowl and mix until batter has a smooth consistency.
  7. Pour 760 grams of batter into each prepared pan.
  8. Bake 22-27 minutes until tester comes out clean.
  9. Remove to rack to cool.  After about 15 minutes, remove cakes from pan to cooling each.
  10. Once fully cool, fill and decorate.
  11. Enjoy