Holidays wouldn’t be special occasions without festive desserts, and Christmas certainly is the time of sweet treats for the sweet season!
This is the time of year for your imagination to run wild with flavors, toppings, and decorations like with the two sets of cakes I’ve made this week.
Today’s post by The Daily Artisan is the fifth in a series on creative holiday projects leading up to Christmas Day tomorrow. Links to the earlier posts are included at the bottom of each day’s new post.
Maple Buttermilk Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Decorated with Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary Sprigs
Today on Christmas Eve I made this cake as a gift for my hosts on Christmas Day. Actually, the process started 24 hours ago when raw cranberries were placed in a warm simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water), covered, and placed in the refrigerator until today. The cranberries are infused with the simple syrup to remove some of their tartness.
The layer cake is made with dark maple syrup and buttermilk, along with other ingredients. My house smelled heavenly while it was baking!
I made my usual small tester cake to be sure it turned out well before sharing the big cake with others, especially on Christmas Day. There also was enough batter for a small loaf cake that’s frosted and decorated like the big cake.
When the cakes finished baking, they cooled in the pans for 15 minutes, and then after removal, each was brushed with the remaining dark maple syrup to soak in even more deliciousness. After this, the cakes were placed in the refrigerator to prepare them for the cream cheese frosting, which is one of my “go to” toppings for cakes. I thought the slight tartness of the cream cheese would be a good complement to the sweeter maple cake and the tart-to-sugared cranberries.
Next I removed the refrigerated sauce pan of cranberries in the simple syrup. They were drained, and then each cranberry – one by one – was carefully rolled in super fine sugar and set aside to harden. Tasting one of the raw cranberries yesterday – as compared to tasting one today after the simple syrup infusion and the sugar topping – was like night and day, or salt and sugar. Tasty!
Removing the cakes from the refrigerator was followed by a crumb coat of frosting to prepare the canvas for the true frosting application after the cakes set up again in the refrigerator. After about an hour, I did the final frosting and then it was time for my favorite part – decorating the cakes.
Rosemary sprigs were cut to even sizes and arranged on the top of the cake, followed by carefully placing each sugared cranberry on top, and also around the base of the cake. Finally, walnut halves were placed on the top of the cake.
I made up my small tester cake with a bit of cream cheese frosting and topped with a few sugared cranberries and walnuts – and let me just say it was a tasty treat! It hopefully bodes well for tomorrow’s gift of the big cake on Christmas Day.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Decorated with Christmas M&Ms and Chocolate Kisses
A double batch of batter gave me what I needed for this big cake, as well as cupcakes and several small loaf cakes (plus my small tester cake).
The big cake and some cupcakes were for a friend whose birthday falls on the day after Christmas, and she asked for a Christmas-themed cake instead of a traditional birthday cake. And the other cupcakes and small loaf cakes were given to friends as holiday treats.
The vanilla buttermilk cake is one of my favorites to bake and eat. It’s a delicate cake – even when someone eats a big serving! I don’t care for buttermilk straight up, but it’s wonderful in baked goods, giving a subtle tang to offset sweetness.
Cream cheese frosting is so delicious on a cake, and its extra smooth texture is perfect for spreading (after the important crumb coat).
Festive cakes call for fun decorations, and what better than Christmas-themed red and green M&Ms! I used a tiny pair of tweezers to gently place each one in a pattern on the top of the cake, making sure all of the logo “M” letters were turned face down.
And, to pump up the festivities even further, Christmas Kisses wrapped in green, red, and silver foil were placed at the base of the cake.
The cupcakes received M&Ms for decoration, and the small loaf cakes have M&Ms and Kisses like the big cake.
Both big cakes, as well as the cupcakes and loaf cakes, were a lot of fun to make during this week of holiday festivities!
What’s your favorite dessert to make for the holidays? Please comment below!
Christmas Week Posts
December 20, 2021: The Making of an Angel
December 21, 2021: Crafting Christmas Ornaments with Alcohol Inks
December 22, 2021: Let’s Uphold this Timeless Holiday Tradition
December 23, 2021: Creating for the Holiday Season