Jessica Hische

Lemon Whiskey Cake ft. Root Beer Frosting + Kettlecorn Garland

Never have I ever used a cake to suck up to someone... until now.

Enter Jessica Hische - famed letterer, proclaimed whiskey drinker, and avid procrastiworker - who also has as many side projects on the Internet as I have fingers on my hands. Last year I read a Method & Craft interview w/ Jessica and loved how articulate and well-spoken she came across, and this point is further proven with every interview and design talk I have listened to since then. She is extremely quotable and has penned pieces about everything from freelance compensation to becoming an accidental hipster.

To me, the greatest example of this is her Daily Drop Cap project which she began as she transitioned from a full-time paid position to being a freelance designer. The idea was to have some sort of regular routine during the ups and downs of freelancing, and to also create her own body of inspired work and maybe begin to make a name for herself. And that it did - Jessica herself says this side project 'catapulted' her into the design scene and even if people first heard of her as 'that daily drop cap girl,' they certainly know her by name now.

Well, dig a little deeper and you'll find that Jessica has another 'side project' called The Internet Sends Me Cake. She says it started out as almost a joke among her studiomates, that she was frequently asked to promote other designers' work to her large following and that she could create an equal-opportunity site exchanging portfolio links for homemade cakes.

Which brings us to today's cake remix. Jessica writes that she prefers lemon cake, enjoys Kettlecorn, and has been known to put whiskey in her root beer. BOOM, remix. With the recipe out of the way, the graphics needed to match the graphic designer and just a quick scroll through her portfolio will give you a pretty good idea of her lettering style. The 'J' and 'H' are based on versions of her own Drop Caps and while I myself am not a swirly embellisher, I can curly-cue and loop-di-loop when the occasion calls for it.

So without further ado, the Jessica Hische Remix:

lemon whiskey cake
1 box lemon cake mix
5 eggs
1 c. whiskey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. cold water
1-2 tbsp. squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease pan with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, whiskey, water, and lemon juice until smooth. Slowly add in cake mix, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into greased 8” round pans and bake according to times on the back of the box.

whiskey root beer frosting
1/4 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. whiskey
5-6 tbsp. root beer
Beat butter, root beer, and whiskey on low speed until smooth. Slowly add in sugar and beat on high speed until frosting forms. Add gel food coloring for orange frosting.

kettlecorn garland
Thread needle, knot the end, and string kettlecorn piece by piece, sliding to the end of the thread. Drape around cake as a garland.


Cherry, Lemon & Blue Raspberry Cake ft. Lemonade Frosting + Pop Rocks

The Internet is both inspiring and intimidating. For example, when I first had the idea to make a red-white-and-blue layered cake based on the Firecracker popsicle, I did a cursory Google search (as one does) to see if such a thing had been done (and published online) yet. I couldn't find any record of a cake flavored like that, but I did come across this recipe for another type of Firecracker cake - one involving Pop Rocks.

It was one of those things, like an image burned into your head that you can still see even after you look away - I couldn't pretend I hadn't seen the thing, but I couldn't forget about it either. Pop Rocks on a firecracker cake? Too perfect. Too perfect, in fact, to not incorporate into my own cake, so I cannot claim that idea as my own but that's where proper crediting and the remix come in. Building upon one good thing to bring about more good things.

This cake is relatively simple to make but appropriately flavorful. You basically make the cake according to the box instructions, divide the batter into 3, and add Jello powder to each bowl (blue raspberry, lemon, and cherry). The color will be subtle so I chose to add red and blue food coloring for bolder hues. The flavor is also subtle - you can add more than 1 tablespoon of Jello powder to each bowl of batter but then you risk the final cake being gummy and chewy. Koolaid powder and other drink mixes work just as well and open up the door to even more flavor options.

After cutting each cake layer flat to the same height, I iced and spooned some Pop Rocks between each layer, crumb coated the entire cake, and then topped it off with red sugar crystals and more Pop Rocks for the explosion debris. The concept of FIRECRACKER brought to mind the POW! WHAM! CRASH! graphics found in the Batman comics and animated series, so that's the icing on the cake.

cherry, lemon & blue raspberry cake
1 box white cake mix
4 egg whites
1 c. cold water
1/3 c. oil
1 tbsp. ea. cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry Jello powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and  grease pans with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. Separate egg yolks and white, and beat egg whites in a small bowl until foamy. In large mixing bowl, beat cake mix, water, and oil for 1 minute on low speed, fold in egg whites and then beat for 1 minute on high speed. Divide batter equally into 3 bowls and add 1 tablespoon of flavored Jello powder (cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry) to each bowl, stirring well (powder will not necessarily dissolve).

Once flavored, the batters will be slightly colored but you can add in more food coloring if bolder colors are desired (I did). Use the same size of cake pan to bake all 3 cakes - pour batter into pans until each is 2/3 of the way  full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box, depending on the types of pans you are using.

lemon frosting
1/2 c. shortening or butter
4 c. confectioner's sugar
4-5 tbsp. lemonade or lemon juice
lemon zest (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and lemonade until blended. Slowly add in sugar and continue to mix on high speed until frosting forms. You can add in grated lemon zest as well, but I would not use this for frosting you are planning to pipe through a tip.

Honey Bee

Lemon Ricotta Cake + Chocolate Honey Cake ft. Agave Nectar Frosting

Last week I made a cake for my co-worker's sister's wedding rehearsal dinner - lemon ricotta flavored, decorated to look like the floral invitation, and the bride is also sweet on bees.

Whilst making her cake and brainstorming the inevitable remix, I decided to add a chocolate honey cake into the mix to alternate with the yellow lemon cake. Unfortunately this Eureka did not occur until after Laura's cake was well underway, so her cake is just lemon ricotta (yummy delicious lemon ricotta) while this little remix actually has a honeybee interior.

Amanda gives a great tutorial on how to make a vertical layer cake over at I Am Baker - so check that out for the full step-by-step version. I, however, am not nearly as patient or methodical, so scroll down for my 'highlights' reel. The gameplan is to bake 2 cakes of the same size - 1 lemon and 1 chocolate - and then cut out concentric circle layers, one's positive becomes the other's negative, and you're left with 2 separate layered cakes.

Cutting cakes becomes very crumby, so it's best to work with cakes that are chilled or almost frozen. After baking the cakes, I sealed each with a light coat of agave nectar and set them in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting out the rings. These cakes are small (6" diameter) so I drew out a template on a 6" cardboard circle and offset the rings 3/4" for 4 separate layers. Depending on the size of pans and desired effect, you can adjust the number or thickness of layers.

Cut off the first cardboard ring and use that shape to cut out both the lemon and chocolate cake. The outer ring of one will end up fitting around the inner ring of the other, and vice versa. Cut the next ring off of the cardboard template and cut out both cakes again. Repeat until you're left with concentric cake circles and a cake 'core' of each flavor.

I chose not to frost between the layers in order to have a cleaner-looking slice at the end - the icing on the top of the final cake should act as a glue to hold the layers together. Once cakes have been assembled, crumb coat and decorate - I used a decorating tip to do the invitation flowers again on top and then a small spatula to texture the edges.

I do like this cake, though I think a taller version would be much more dramatic - this little guy is only 1" high, but imagine one that is 4-5" tall and make up of 9 or 10 layers? That would be, you know, the bee's knees.

agave honey_med.jpg

lemon ricotta cake
1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 c. water
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and  grease pans with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta cheese, eggs, lemon juice, and water until blended. Add cake mix and beat for 1 minute on low  speed and 1 minute on high speed. Pour batter into pans until each is 2/3 of the way  full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box, depending  on the types of pans you are using.  

chocolate honey cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 c. honey
1/2 stick butter
1 c. water
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, eggs, honey, and water until blended. Add cake mix and beat for 1 minute on low speed and 1 minute on high speed. Pour batter into pans until each is 2/3 of the way full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box. Let cool.

Use a serrated knife to level off both cakes so each sits flat and are the same height. Pour agave nectar into a small dish and use a pastry brush or spatula to coat each cake to seal in the crumbs. Set in freezer for 15-20 minutes to let cakes stiffen before cutting, assembling, and frosting.

agave nectar frosting
1/2 c. shortening or butter
2 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. honey
1-2 tbsp. milk
4 c. confectioner's sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, agave nectar, honey, and milk until blended. Slowly add in sugar and continue to mix on high speed until frosting forms.