First Local Fair

Today is the first time l’ve joined a Craft Fair in Vacaville and realize people don’t buy fine art or even cards at an event like this. I am amazed what people do buy, mostly things i would not think to buy. They buy Sensy from the booth on one side, walk by and say “pretty” then buy a net wreath or fake flower arrangement at the next booth.

Okay, I take that back, I just sold five cards It will be interesting to see if I even cover my entry fee! I know intellectually you have to get your art out somehow, but not sure this is the venue. The lady selling cat toys gets a lot more interest than my art!

If nothing else, it is interesting to see this cross-section of Vacaville! And an interesting experiment that I will most likely not repeat! Its for a good cause, but hard in a new town to figure out where to sell your art?

First Local Fair

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

Every time I go to San Francisco, I love to stop at Buena Vista and have an Irish Coffee. I have been doing this since before I was even 21. (Oh no). I only ate there once with my family when my sons were very young. I highly recommend the Irish Coffee, but not so much the food. (Although it may have improved in the last thirty years) The fries were good.

I recently went there with a group of fun women, where we laughed and loved our Irish Coffees. Can’t wait to go there again. It is always perfect, no matter what time of day! I loved the ambiance of the restaurant, even though the view was cut off by a tent outside because of Covet 19.

I painted this a couple of months ago and just kept looking at it, thinking it was just “too light” in color for a bar. I’m hoping to paint a few more bars in the future, as they just seem way too interesting to me.

All my artwork is for sale.

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

So I was asked to paint this adorable girl…

I am not a portrait painter by calling, as I find them challenging. Babies and small children are the hardest. I just spent two days working on a painting from this photo. It was not easy for me, as I do not do portraits very often. The grandmother wanted trees and surf in the background, so I made up a background with Palm Trees and surf and clouds in the sky. She did not want the block in the hand, so I formated the painting without the hand.

The more I have done commissions in my life, the less I want to do them. People either love them or hate them and there is no middle ground. I was told it does not look like her granddaughter and that she had too much “makeup”. I do wonder how you are to have roundness, depth and light without any change in color.

I did a little research before beginning and read that babies (i.e. young children) are the hardest to paint. I watched a few videos on painting babies and felt pretty good about the result. The person I painted it for is coming over tomorrow to see what she thinks. I think I don’t like doing portraits and am really an abstract or impressionistic painter.

Update:

Since the grandmother did not like the painting, I decided to work on it a little more. I thinned the face and lightened the eye. I think the trees in the background more of a distraction, but that was part of the request. The other was to take the toy out of the hand.

Would love to know what you think! I really paint big abstracts and smaller impressionistic paintings. So this was a reach for me. I think we all need to try new things in our life, when opportunity presents itself.
So I was asked to paint this adorable girl…

And the theme is Blue?

And the Ducks Liked the Boat

Lagoon Valley

New to the area, I have been looking for places to show my art. There are only local coops nearby, so I decided to try my hand at two of them. These two pieces go to the Fairfield Suisun Gallery for a show opening later this month. The theme of the show is blue and I would certainly say these two meet that qualification.

They were both painted from local scenes. The boat was derelict in an irrigation ditch and there were quite a few ducks surrounding it, as if looking for a new home out of the water. I loved the photo and think I captured the essence of the scene.

The second photo is area where we often go for walks. It used to be totally dry, but with the rain we had here this winter it is now lush and beautiful. It is a little larger that the first.

Hope you enjoy my blue, blue contributions.

And the theme is Blue?

Going to the zoo!

What is your favorite animal at the zoo? We went a while back and I have always been fascinated by Flamingos as they just seem outrageous! Amazing colors, weird shape, very long strange legs and a strangely beautiful face. I took several photos of them that day and thought I might try my hand at painting them. With their aesthetically pleasing neck and slightly different way of standing on one leg or occasionally two, I found it a bit difficult to capture them perfectly. I decided to give up on perfection and go for fun.

These Birds are Crazy. 8″ x 10″

It is fun in a kind of crazy way. Going back to landscapes or cityscapes for a while in the future, or maybe some big abstracts. I just need to find a venue where I now live to sell my work. Any ideas are welcome.

Going to the zoo!

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Cooking mussels may seem intimidating, but this recipe is quick and easy. The white beans to turn this classic mussels-in-white-wine-sauce dish into a heartier weeknight meal. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. I found this recipe in Eating Well and it was a big hit in our house.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved ( I forgot to half them initially, so had to go back to the pot and do them one at a time. It is very important for the taste to do this.)
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ( I used four or five as I always say, garlic is yummy and so good for you! No vampires in this house)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see Tip)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to release their liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and stir to combine. Place mussels on top and pour in wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with more thyme, if desired. How easy it that and it was delicious!

Tip: To clean mussels, rinse well under cold running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles or grit from the shell. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any shells that remain open after you tap them lightly. Pull off any fibrous “beard” that might be pinched between the shells; the “beards” of most cultivated mussels are already removed.

We served it with a lovely Pinot Noir.

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

It’s St. Patricks Day

And it is the perfect day for Guinness Irish Beef Stew. We had it last night for dinner, as I get my COVIT 19 second shot today, so did not want to miss cooking an Irish dinner for my very Irish friend. I looked at several different recipes and decided this was the best. Now I could not find Guinness in the can, which is highly recommended, so I used a bottle and a half of the Guinness I could find locally. Now the perfect accompaniment, other than potatoes to pile it on, is a delicious loaf of home-made Irish Soda Bread. The one pictured here was amazingly simple and tasted “Oh so good”. Just dip it in the sauce and smile!

As I was preparing the meat for the stew, I noticed there was a lot of fat and gristle that had to be cut off. At first I started to throw it away, then I thought why not make Beef Stock with all the leftovers, and several herbs from my garden. I had a couple frozen tomatoes and some leftover tomato paste, so threw it all in a nice big pot, filled it water and in a couple of hours had a dreamy rich beef stock that I will freeze and use later. I am starting to try not to have much waste with my cooking.

I read a lot of cooking blogs and they all go into a great deal of detail on how to do the recipe. I find that incredibly mundane if you already know the basics of cooking. Maybe on something like a Beef Wellington or anything as complicated I might venture to look at the instructions, but overall find it unnecessary. So here are the recipes I chose to use:

Guinness Irish Beef Stew

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes ( I cooked mine 2 hours & 45 minutes)
  • Servings 6
  • Calories. 382

Ingredients

  •  6 slices bacon diced
  •  2 pounds stewing meat cut into one-inch pieces ( I cut off all the fat and gristle to use to make Beef Stock)
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( used Gluten-Free Flour and could not distinguish a difference)
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •  2 large yellow onions chopped
  •  4 cloves garlic minced. ( I always add a couple more than it calls for you as garlic is so good for you)
  •  one 14.9 ounce can Guinness ( I used one and a half bottles, as it was all I could find)
  •  ¼ cup tomato paste
  •  1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce ( I used low-sodium)
  •  2 cups beef broth or more as needed to cover ingredients
  •  1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  2 sprigs fresh thyme
  •  3-4 large carrots cut into 1-inch pieces ( l like them cut smaller, but I don’t really love cooked carrots)
  •  2 large stalks celery cut into 1-inch pieces
  •  mashed potatoes ( I used little Yukon Golds and added absolutely nothing to them – I didn’t want to take away from the amazing sauce of the stew – Once in a while we can do away with butter)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the beef cubes until they are completely coated. Set aside.
  2. Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy pot until tender-crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate.
  3. Using the bacon drippings, fry the flour coated beef in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  4. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, around two minutes.
  5. Pour a small amount of the Guinness into the pan, deglazing the bottom of the pot by scraping up the browned bits off of the bottom.
  6. Add in the remaining beer, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, and sugar.
  7. Place the beef. bacon, bay leaves, thyme, and vegetables into the pot. Stir until combined.
  8. Bring the stew to a low boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until the beef and vegetables are tender. Stir every 30 minutes to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  10. I left the lid off for about 20 more minutes, so the sauce was thicker, the meat a tab more tender and it was perfect.
  11. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
  12. Perfect served over mashed potatoes as the stew is thick and perfect for over the potatoes.

Fast & Easy Irish Soda Bread

Soda bread is traditionally not a light bread, but a heavier bread and it somewhere between a biscuit, a scone and bread in texture and density. It is tasty when cooked appropriately. I have bought it in the past and it was dry and dull. This recipe is rich and you will be lucky if you have any for your stew if you make it earlier in the day. Warm and rich with a tiny bit of good butter, it is hard to resist when it comes out of the oven. I don’t usually eat bread, but this I loved.

What is Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread similar to a biscuit or scone that uses baking soda as the leavener, not yeast. When you use baking soda or powder in a baked good you lose that inherently light texture that is achieved by using yeast. Irish Soda Bread is a coarse, thick-textured bread that is more like a huge biscuit. Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread has four basic ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. Modern versions add butter, raisins, sugar, and occasionally egg. The traditional Irish Soda Bread is fairly bland, but anything slathered in butter and dipped in a stew can be amazing!

Prep Time15 minutesCook Time40 minutesTotal Time55 minutesCourseSide DishCuisineIrishServings8Calories436AuthorKarlynn Johnston

Ingredients

  •  4 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1/4 cup white sugar
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup butter softened
  •  1 cup buttermilk ( If you don’t have Buttermilk, just add a tsp of white vinegar to your milk & make sure it curdles)
  •  1 egg beaten
  •  1/4 cup salted butter melted ( never used salted butter, so added a tiny bit of salt to the bowl)
  •  1/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or your medium-sized cast-iron skillet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and butter. The butter should be pea-sized worked through the dough.  
  3. Stir in the buttermilk and beaten egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form the dough into a round shape and place it on your prepared baking sheet or cast-iron pan. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk, Take a brush and then brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf. (Save the rest to put on the loaf during the cooking process)
  5. Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean,  anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes. Continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes, every 15 minutes.
  6. Remove and cool slightly. Eat while warm and fresh.

Jump in and enjoy! This is really a simple meal. We served it with a lovely Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon and thought it was “heavenly”. It was even better (well almost) for lunch the next day!!

It’s St. Patricks Day

Tarte Tatin

The Tarte Tatin was created accidentally at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, 169 km (105 mi) south of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake, regardless she served her guests the unusual dish. Whatever the veracity of either story, the concept of the upside down tart was not a new one.

The tarte became a signature dish of the Hôtel Tatin. Historians and gourmets have argued whether it is a genuine creation of the Demoiselles (Misses) Tatin, or the branding of an improved version of the “tarte solognote”, a traditional dish named after the Sologne region which surrounds Lamotte-Beuvron. Research suggests that, while the tarte became a specialty of the Hôtel Tatin, the sisters did not set out to create a “signature dish”; they never wrote a cookbook or published their recipe; they never even called it tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them  after the sisters’ deaths.

Originally, the tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinete Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them. When choosing apples for a tarte Tatin, it is important to pick some that will hold their shape while cooking, and not melt into apple sauce.

So here is my story: Years ago (42) when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Chadwyck Montford Bennett Wirtz, who is now 41, I went to a cooking school in San Diego. I went once a week for a couple of years. I was working on my MA in Interior Design back in the time when everything was done on an actual drafting table, not CADD. I could no longer fit behind my drafting table to do my homework, so a I took a leave from school and needed something to do, so I went to cooking school and cooked and ate. I started my pregnancy at 110 pounds and gave birth at 185 pounds. Yes, I liked to eat what I cooked. No, I no longer weigh 185, but I still love to cook.

My middle son Kyle Michael Bennett Wirtz never loved chocolate, which seems totally foreign to me. He loved this Tarte Tatin and I would make it holidays for him, when everyone else wanted chocolate. It is still one of my favorites and Kyle is now 37, so when I made this today it made smile and think of him.

And yes it is much better with bourbon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The cooking school was in San Diego and called “The Gibson Girl”. It was a great concept as two people shared a cooking station, we all cooked part of the meal and we all shared it at the end of the evening. I have great memories of that time.

At about eight months the class was featured on TV and they loved that a “very” pregnant woman was taking the class. I continued the class well after Chadwyck, my first of three sons was born. We had a dinner where all the spouses were invited and Chadwyck’s father was thrilled to attend as he loved to eat and loved showing off his six month old son.

I will never forget, Chadwyck was sitting on Fred’s (Chadwyck’s Dad) shoulders and I looked over to see my quite cholicky son start to leave a deposit on my husband’s head. I looked over in horror to see it run off his head over his face and ears and down the sides of his custom-made suit, Fred being totally unaware. I started laughing and everyone, much to his dismay looked his way and broke out laughing. Luckily Fred was always a great spirit, so he started laughing as someone handed him a nearby towel.

This recipe was from The Cordon Bleu of Paris and to this day is one of my favorites. It is an easy recipe if you remember to cover the handle and can flip the tarte.

I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust Recipe, which I will add at the end. I change the recipe a bit and will add the changes I make to the original recipe:

TARTE TATIN

The amazing thing about Tarte Tatin is how the caramelized apples are somehow transformed into something entirely new while still retaining their distinct apple taste. It’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted it make, but a little challenging. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down, which means there is no need for special decorations or even beautiful rolling of the dough. The real challenge is finding the right balance when caramelizing the apples. Julia Child captures the essence of the dessert in this quote.

“To be sure, a Tarte Tatin should be brown and sweet, but it needs to be more. The apples need to be cooked in sugar and butter long enough that they are not only coated in buttery caramel but also permeated with sweetness. Like what happens in jam-making, where some of the water in the fruit is replaced by sugar.”

The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994.

Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients for Pastry Dough
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Ingredients for Tart Tatin
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved ( I use 9 to 10)
1 lemon, zested and juiced ( I just add lemon juice to apples as I peel and slice them)
1 1/2 cups sugar. ( I used 3/4 cup )
6 tablespoons unsalted butter. ( I use 8 tablespoons)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment ( I like a bit of Gran Marnier in my whipped cream.

Directions
Preparing the dough. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar. (I let the butter and sugar blend and then add in the apples)

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook. ( As you can see from my photo I do them in a circle, then add some extra in between, so it is tight.)

Preliminary stove-top cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. ( I do not press on the apples or put a lid, as the apples are up and over the rim of the pan). Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough. ( I do not let cool and have the dough ready to go)

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan. ( I roll the dough around my rolling pen and gently unroll on the top of the apples)

Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. ( I was taught to start at 475 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes or until it starts to look done and the liquid is sizzling, then turn to 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crust is a lovely medium brown)

Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Now the fun part!
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test to see whether it’s ready be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan. If a few apples stick to the pan, rearrange the slices as necessary.

(I run a knife around the pan, put a protective cover on the handle, as once I sort of forgot it was really, really hot and had a lovely burn for quite a while. Make sure you have a nice flat beautiful plate to flip the tarte on). Eat and enjoy!

Italian Joe’s Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a food processor
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and give it a few pulses until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
    (Use cold utensils if not using a food processor to not melt butter)
    3) Add egg and milk mixture to the processor while pulsing a few more times until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  4. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture
    (do not knead)
  5. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  6. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  7. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  8. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  9. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!
Tarte Tatin

Back in the Studio at last

It has taken quite a while to sort through everything and organize it, but I am there and was able to paint this week. My friend, Reed and I went on a drive last week to Brinnon where we took a very short hike to find the Rocky Brook Falls. I will admit we drove more back and forth trying to find the falls, than we did hiking, but it was worth the trip.

This is the photo that I used for the painting. As you can see I took a little “artists license” with the painting.

I’m not sure if I will attempt to paint this, but it surely was breathtaking.

Back in the Studio at last

Explosion Cake

 

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My granddaughter and I saw this in a magazine, not knowing how “famous” it was and decided to make one.   If you have a collection of sprinkles you might like to use, it is a great way to use them all, or at least most of them.   It is a really fun cake to make, with all the different colors and layers.  It looks like a regular cake (with lots of sprinkles) till you cut the first piece.

1.jpg

It is a very simple recipe and easy to make, but you do need six six-inch cake pans.  I actually only had five but had a springform, the right size for the sixth.  The only thing I did notice is that the springform, which was dark took about 2-3 minutes longer to cook, so that is something to aware of if you are using different colored pans.  I may just buy a sixth six-inch pan today.

The basic recipe is a simple white cake and if you are not a “baker”, you could use a boxed white cake.  I baked the cakes two at a time, so I did not crowd the cakes.  Luckily I have two ovens, so it did not take long.

FROSTING

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces cream cheese, cold

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

32 ounces powdered sugar

CAKE

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1⅓ cups milk

Food coloring

Nonstick cooking spray

 

Preparation

Cake:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and put the oven rack in the middle of the oven (if you are using a convection oven, set it to 325°F).

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. You have to mix all the dry ingredients together first so that there are no clumps in your batter, which will create white spots. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in from the sides.  Be sure all the butter is blended, so there are no lumps of butter.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the vanilla to the milk and set it aside.

6. Mix about 1/3 of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed.

7. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture.

8. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t overmix it so stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.

9. Divide the batter evenly into six portions. They don’t have to be exactly identical, but you want them to be close: You can use any small bowls that are all the same size: Just slowly pour the batter into each of the bowls a little at a time until they are all at the same height (it’s about 1 cup of batter per bowl).

10. Color the batter individually in rainbow colors: I used purple, turquoise, green, yellow, orange, and pink for our six-layer cakes. Start with a tiny drop of food coloring, stir it in completely, then add more until it is your desired color (the baked cake will come out pretty close to what you see the outside will be a little brown, but that gets covered with frosting).

11. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the colored batter into the greased pans.

12. Bake the cakes two at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door. Then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake (cakes are very sensitive. The less you open your oven, the better your cake will come out! I don’t know exactly why, but I know it).

13. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes (when they’re warm, they’re really fragile, and that’s when they tend to break.) Then flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.

Frosting:

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed otherwise, it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Be sure it is all perfectly blended or you may lumps when you go to frost the cake.  It is a fun project.  We used the cutouts in the middle to make what I called the “The Leaning Tower of Caka.”

Assembling:

This is the fun part:  Cut a circle using a 2 inch or so biscuit cutter on five of the six layers.  Put a little frosting on the plate, so the first layer will adhere.  I use commercial cake cardboard available at Walmart, Joanns or Michaels.  Add the first layer, then frost it with nothing in the middle.  Continue to the top layer.  I do a thin coat of frosting over the entire cake, then put in the refrigerator till it is hard.  That makes it easier to put on the final layer of frosting.  There are several YouTubes online that walk you through how to do it.

The outside is a little tricky.  I put the entire cake in a big bowl in my kitchen sink and handful by handful, from the bottom up, added the sprinkles.  It was amazingly easy this way and quick.  Add a little touch-up and you are done.  The fun part is cutting the first piece of this cake.

Be ready as it can make a mess!  I think I am still cleaning up sprinkles!   I put ours in a tray with higher edges, so it would not go all over the floor. We photographed and delivered it to our local Fire Department.

Explosion Cake