Monday, July 20, 2015

Galaxy Cake Tutorial

My son chose Star Wars as his theme for his 6th birthday celebration, so I wanted to make a special cake to go with that theme. When he requested marble cake, the idea of a Galaxy cake swirled with bright colors like fun galaxy print fabric I've seen recently instantly popped in my head. I couldn't find anything quite like it online though, so I created my own technique and am excited to share it with you! 

My inspiration pic was this gorgeous nebula, the Eagle Nebula, photographed by Sid Leach, who has lots of other absolutely stunning pictures on his site that I highly recommend checking out. You may even find a nebula you like better for your cake inspiration!

And here's how the cake turned out:

What you need
Your favorite white cake recipe (minus a 1/4 cup of flour). I used this one from Joy of Baking, one of my favorite recipe blogs!
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
Food coloring (I used red, yellow, blue, and green liquid food coloring, but I'm sure gel food coloring would work too, and black food coloring would probably be a good addition, especially if you want your cake to be darker than mine!)
Sprinkles (I recommend star shaped ones, and I also used silver ones!)

What you do 
First, preheat your oven and make the cake batter according to your recipe, but leave out 1/2 cup of flour. 
Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. 
Add 1/4 cup flour to the batter that will be vanilla
Add 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder to the batter that will be chocolate

Take a few 1/4 to 1/2 cup portions of batter from the vanilla half and place in separate bowls. 
Add blue food coloring to the main vanilla batter (or whatever color you want the main part of your nebula to be!), and color the smaller portions as desired. I did purple, lime, and a tiny bit of orange. I also added a few drops of blue and red to the chocolate portion. 

Line round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray
Drop batter a bit at a time, alternating colors, like you would for a zebra cake. I did about 1/3 cup chocolate and blue, and a few spoonfuls of the other colors at a time. I mostly dropped each bit right on top of the part below, but for the accent colors like orange I did just put them out on the edge randomly a couple times. 
Shake the pan a little to level out the batter and use a knife to swirl the batter. I made one big swirl and then a couple side swirls on mine. Here's how they looked after swirling:

Bake according to recipe directions. For the recipe I used, that was 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This is how they looked fresh out of the oven: 

To frost, I used fudgey dark chocolate buttercream frosting between the two layers and on top. I recommend adding a generous portion of star sprinkles to the middle layer--this time I put most of my star sprinkles directly in the batter and they were no longer recognizable after baking. Then frost the top as desired, and enjoy! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lalaloopsy Tinies Review

What they are
Lalaloopsy Tinies are adorable dolls about 1.5" tall. Series 3, which is what we got to check out, includes curly plastic hair!

Who makes them
Lalaloopsy is part of the MGA family of brands. You can connect with Lalaloopsy on FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle +Instagram, and Pinterest to stay up to date on the latest products and news!

Our impressions
They are so cute!! I love the cheerful colors, the whimsical styling, and the wild curly hair. I enlisted the aid of my 4 year old niece to review them, and she too tends towards wild curly hair and whimsical styling, so I knew they'd be a big hit. The size of them makes them easily portable and perfect as car toys or for Church, or anywhere else that small toys you can play with discretely in your lap might be desired. I do like that they are much larger than the old school Polly Pockets I played with in the 90's because they'd be much harder to lose and much easier to see that they're in the path of a younger sibling in time to grab it and move it! They are small enough to be a choking hazard though so I definitely agree with the manufacturers recomendation of 4&up. 
One of the things I checked was whether the hair is braidable and it defintely is, which is a huge plus because braiding doll hair was one of my favorite things when I was in elementary school. Here's a braid I did quickly:
And I'm pretty sure you could do an even better job if you went a little more slowly and carefully!

My niece said her favorite part is "that they are so cute". She likes how small Lalaloopsy Tinies are, and that they fit in with her other dolls and dollhouse furniture.. She also likes that they have curly hair like she does! Her favorite one is the fairy one, of course!

Stylable hair
Good size for little hands and pockets

Choking hazard

Get it

You can find Lalaloopsy Tinies at a variety of brick and mortar and online toy retailers. They are $10.99 for a set on Amazon at time of posting this review. 

The bottom line
Adorable dolls for preschoolers and elementary age kids; they especially shine for travel and other times small quiet toys are best!

Thank you to MGA for sending a sample set of the dolls for review purposes! I received no other compensation for this review.