I believe in store bought icing.
I believe in short cuts, as long as they don't skimp on taste or quality.
Some bakers would consider these statements blasphemy. That if you don't make a cake or icing from scratch you are breaking some kind of unspoken baker's code.
I almost always use cake mixes. And every now and then, if a project doesn't call for a sturdy icing*, I use store bought. I work full time and have a toddler and husband to take care of, so some days I don't have time to make something totally from scratch. (I am sure you can relate.) It doesn't make the baking any less special. It still comes from the heart and it still has homemade touches. And I get just as many oooo's and ahhhh's in the end.
A friend of mine had a very special birthday and when I asked what kind of cake he would like, he requested carrot in a simple sheet form. I used Duncan Hines Decadent Classic Carrot Cake Mix. It's not your normal bland carrot cake boxed mix. It comes with actual shredded carrots and raisins. It's most excellent.
Store bought icing can be a little thin, but for a sheet cake it works great. We all know cream cheese icing and carrot cake go together like Kathy Lee and Hoda. I am a fan of Pillsbury cream cheese icing. In fact, when I buy icing it's usually the one I choose. I have even had people request it saying, "Remember that cream cheese icing you used that time? I want that kind." (Take that, baker's code.)
Here's a trick when using store bought icing: whip it with an electric mixer for about a minute. It adds air to the icing which lightens it up, plus it almost doubles what you start with. It's a win win.
Since the cake and icing did not take as long as my usual endeavors, I wanted to do a bit of decorating. I had a carrot cupcake from Caramanda's a while back and there was a tiny carrot piped onto the top of it. It was adorable. I decided to try it out on this cake.
I used two containers of icing for this cake, but reserved about a fourth of it for decorating. I tinted half of that reserved icing orange and the other half green. I put a Wilton 67 leaf tip on the bag of green icing and a 12 tip on the orange.
|Wilton 67 Leaf Tip|
|Wilton 12 Round Tip|
Let me preface all of this by saying, it is TREMENDOUSLY hard to photograph with one hand and pipe with the other. That is why there are not photographs of the whole process in action, AND why the pictures are not the best quality. My next step is to get a tripod and figure out the timer on my camera. I have a whole new appreciation for all my favorite food bloggers after this. You gals must have a third hand you're keeping under wraps.
So first, take the leaf tip and hold it at a 45 degree angle. Squeeze pretty hard and drag slowly so that you get a wide section of icing. Then, slow down the pressure to almost nothing and pull so that the icing forms into a point at the bottom.
Next, using the orange icing with the round tip, place the tip directly over the bottom pointed end of the leaf you just made. Again, apply a good amount of pressure and drag.
It's that easy!! And what a cute addition to a carrot cake.
|I piped that carrot at the wrong end of the leafy greens. The other carrots better not make fun of him.|
Anyone on the receiving end of baked goods is going to feel extra special. He or she is not thinking about whether it took you 3 hours or 45 minutes to make that gift of food. They are simply thrilled that they were thought enough of for someone to go out of their way to cook for them. It really is the thought that counts. When you take the time to mix a batter, bake it and cover it with icing, you are telling someone that they are important and special to you. Ya know, cooking for others just may be the answer to world peace.
*Because store bought icing is a bit on the creamier side, I usually make my own icing for cupcakes or goods where the icing needs to stand up and stay in place. However, I have had luck with pre-made icing for frosting cupcakes by mixing in some powdered sugar to stiffen up the icing a bit.