8/14/15

CoffeeShoppe Bakes: Summer berry layer cake

Overall, I'm much more of a baker than a cook but I find that during the warmer months, I often take a break from anything that involves the oven. However, lately I've had quite the sweet tooth and I have really wanted to bake something. Perhaps it's all the Grey's Anatomy I've been watching (I've been re-watching from the beginning with my mother who I got hooked on the show this past season)...we'll call it the Izzie Stevens effect (loyal watchers of the show will understand this reference) - - because I think I've got the baking bug again! 


I wanted to make something that was sweet, while still being summery and light and this berry cake really fits the bill. I started with a white cake and incorporated three different types of berries (does that qualify this as a health food??) with a whipped cream frosting.





As much as I like to bake, I opted for a box cake mix for this recipe, which makes it all the more easy to whip up for your next summer barbeque or party! I used the Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake mix which contains no colors, preservatives or artificial flavors - not bad for a box mix! 

To make the cake I baked the cake as directed, in two 8 inch round cake pans. Then I used my cake saw to cut each cake in half so I had four layers to work with. I used half the frosting for the layers, which I combined with a different berry for each. Finish frosting the sides and top, garnish with more berries and that's it! 





Summer Berry Cake w/ Whipped Cream Frosting 

  • Strawberries - about one cup diced
  • Blueberries  - about one cup diced
  • Blackberries  -about one cup diced
  • White Cake mix 
  • Almond extract - 1/4 teaspoon - added to the cake mix!
  • Heavy cream - 4 cups 
  • Cream cheese - 8 oz 
  • White sugar - 3/4 cup (I used a little less)
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp 

To prepare frosting: 
  • Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until well blended (I used my KitchenAid mixer).
  • In a separate bowl whip the heavy cream until it is a stiff/thick texture - you want it to hold its shape. 
  • Then fold your whipped cream into the rest of the ingredients until fully incorporated. 
To assemble cake:  
  • After preparing cake as per the box directions, use a cake saw to cut each cake in half (once cooled). 
  • Combine a portion of the frosting with each of your diced berries (I eyeballed this) and use for each layer of the cake. 
  • When all layers are assembled, use remaining frosting to frost the sides and top of your cake. 
  • Garnish with more fresh berries

This is truly a simple cake to make and I was very happy with how it turned out. It's always a great feeling when the idea in your head takes shape how you want it to! The strawberry layer was definitely my favorite as we used local berries that were perfectly ripe and incredibly sweet! I'd love to see your photos if you choose to make this cake! Share them with me here, or on social media - my links are on the right under the "lets get social" heading!
 

8/7/15

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Polish - Review

During the month of July, Nordstrom puts on an EPIC sale known as their anniversary sale. One of the first things I like to do during this sale is browse the beauty section where you can often pick up great deals on your favorite brands and new ones to try out. While I have been a fan of Deborah Lippmann polishes for years, I had never heard of their gel lab products until I browsed the anniversary sale. I thought I'd give them a try because the sale price just couldn't be beat! 


The set came with a base coat, top coat and a polish, which was only available in one color - a reddish pink called sexy back. Luckily I liked the color a lot! You can use the set with any color you choose though, so the base and top coats are quite versatile. 



I liked the way the base and top coats applied and I didn't feel that they had an overly offensive scent to them (at least beyond the typical nail polish smell) which is always a plus. Everything dried rather quickly and the color itself applied very nicely in two coats. 

The shine from this set was fantastic and I really liked how my nails looked afterwards. However, one of the biggest expectations I had going in to using this set was longevity and I don't feel this trio gave me that. While the application was fantastic and my nails looked great when first done, the results did not last very long. I had chipping the second day in, which is not what I would expect from something marketed as a gel polish. I had the polish on for about four days before I just couldn't deal with the chipping anymore. What was even worse though, was how the polish peeled off in some places in large bits! I didn't expect a two week manicure or anything to that degree, but I did hope for longer-lasting results, especially when you consider the cost ($24 for this mini trio). 

Because of how short-lived this manicure was, I unfortunately did not get the greatest of photos of it on my nails. I've included a shot I took with my phone (forgive me) to at least show what the color looked like in the beginning. 



Overall I wouldn't recommend this set for someone looking for a long-lasting manicure. I have found products that perform far better than this set (and often cheaper!). However in terms of application and the color, I did enjoy using this set. I just expect far better results from Deborah Lippmann as I consider the line to be one of the best (usually).

If you have tried their gel lab set, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Tell me your favorite at home gel set - I'm still on the hunt!!