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'Cakes and Cupcakes': Lion House head baker offers easy tips to making cakes, cupcakes

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 29 2011 6:22 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Brenda Hopkin's favorite in the recently released "Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes" (Deseret Book, $19.99) is the Chocolate Krazy Cake.

"It's an eggless cake, but it is so moist and kind of dense and rich," said Hopkin, the head baker at the Lion House. "And it's easy. It sounds like a strange way to make a cake."

There are more than 80 recipes in "Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes," and about 35 of them have cupcake variations (marked with a cupcake icon), from the Fudge Ribbon Cake to the Zucchini Pineapple Cake.

"People don't realize how many cakes that you can go ahead and make cupcakes with them," said Hopkin, who compiled the recipes for the new cookbook.

And it's about making cakes and cupcakes that are easy and delicious.

"My thing is to have recipes that you spent hours and hours on them and really it's a cake mix and few things and a short time to get them done," Hopkin said.

The recipes vary from the traditional "Lion House Cheesecake" and "Lion House White Surprise Cupcakes" to fruity and festive cakes, rolls and tortes and to more unusual cake ingredients like the Popcorn Cake and Chocolate Mashed Potato Cake.

"The mashed potatoes add a lot of moisture and heaviness to the cake," Hopkin said. "It's not one of the feather-light ones."

And the Popcorn Cake "is just fun and different for the kids or at least the kids at heart," Hopkin said.

Although the Lion House doesn't sell wedding cakes, several of the bakers have made those types of cakes. The last cake recipe in the book is for a wedding cake along with a chart for determining the appropriate size of the cake.

Many of the recipes call for cake mixes, which the Lion House bakery does use. Hopkin said that gluten-free cake mixes could be used.

"None of us have enough time to do everything," Hopkin said. "If we can make a beautiful cake and use a cake mix and cut an hour and a half off your time, I'm all for that."

Hopkin and other Lion House bakers went through cake recipes from previous Lion House cookbooks, the ones they currently use in the Lion House, some they've modified through trial and error and then a few other recipes unique to the cookbook for the ones in "Cakes and Cupcakes."

Hopkin checked to be sure ingredients were readily available for the recipes that make it to the cookbook and tested each one. But in the time they sent in the recipes until the cookbook was printed, cake mixes have gone down an ounce to an ounce and half. But the slightly smaller cake mixes should still work.

The book, like last year's "Lion House Pies," includes a DVD with Hopkin giving more than a dozen tips in short videos from prepping pans to icing the cakes.

Here are a few tips:

Practice: "Like everything you learn to do, practice," Hopkin said.

Freezing a cake will help keep crumbs to a minimum while frosting it.

While frosting a cake, put a thin layer of icing on it to seal in the crumbs and then put on a regular layer.

If there is a little hump, then trim if off.

Lion House Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

Cupcakes

4 eggs

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1 1⁄2 cups water

1 (18- to 18.5-ounce) package chocolate cake mix

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