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

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 7:35 p.m. MDT

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes" includes about 85 recipes for cakes, and about 35 of them have cupcake variations. It also includes a DVD with Brenda Hopkin, Lion House head baker, showing some tricks and tips to successfully make cakes. (Deseret Book)

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.

Lion House Chocolate Cupcakes from Lion House Chocolate Cupcakes from "Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes." (Deseret Book)

"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.

The Buche De Noel or Yule Log from The Buche De Noel or Yule Log from "Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes." (Deseret Book)

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.

Popcorn Cake from Popcorn Cake from "Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes." (Deseret Book)

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


4 eggs

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1 1⁄2 cups water

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

1 (3.4-ounce) package chocolate instant pudding mix

1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips


1 cup milk

1 (3.4-ounce) package vanilla or chocolate instant pudding mix

1⁄2 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Buttercream Frosting

6 cups powdered sugar

2 cups butter (room temperature)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans with cupcake papers and set aside.

For cupcakes: In a medium bowl, mix eggs, oil and water with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Add cake and pudding mixes and mix for 30 seconds more on low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula; continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spoon cake batter into each cup, filling one-half to two-thirds full. Place 6 or 7 chocolate chips on top of each cupcake. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool. Fill cupcakes and then frost using Buttercream Frosting.

For filling: In a small bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until it is smooth and starts to thicken. Fold in whipped topping. Place half of the filling in a decorating bag with a large round tip or in a quart-size zipper-lock bag with a corner snipped away. With a clean straw or the end of a round wooden spoon, make a hole in the top center of each cupcake halfway through. Squeeze filling into each hole until it comes to the top of the cupcake. Fills 28 to 36 cupcakes.

For Buttercream Frosting: In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter on low speed for 1 minute or until well mixed. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add more cream in small amounts if needed to achieve a spreading consistency.

Variations: Here are some fun variations to make with this recipe.

Chocolate/Chocolate: chocolate filling and chocolate frosting

Chocolate/Raspberry or Strawberry: chocolate filling and raspberry or strawberry frosting

German Chocolate: chocolate filling with a ring of chocolate frosting around the edge of the cupcake and German chocolate frosting inside the ring

Chocolate/Peanut Butter: chocolate filling and peanut butter frosting

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes"

Popcorn Cake

Makes 12 to 14 servings

18 cups popped popcorn

2 cups small gumdrops or plain or peanut M&Ms, or a mixture of all

1 1⁄2 cups nuts (mixed, peanuts, or almonds)

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1⁄2 cup water

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

2–3 drops food coloring, optional

Grease well a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.

Place popcorn, gumdrops/M&Ms, and nuts in an extra large bowl. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and butter in a saucepan. Cook on high until sugar mixture begins to boil; turn to low and cook until mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Add vanilla and food coloring and stir until well mixed. Pour syrup over popcorn mixture and stir until popcorn is well coated with syrup. Press mixture into the pan. Allow to cool 5 minutes and then unmold cake. Place on a serving plate. Slice servings with a sharp knife. This cake may also be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes"

Bche De Nol (Yule Log)

Makes 10 to 12 servings


3 eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1⁄3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3⁄4 cup flour

1⁄4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup raspberry preserves

3⁄4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Green and red candied cherries, for garnish

Yule Log Frosting

1⁄3 cup cocoa

1⁄3 cup margarine, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla

1–2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 13 x 18-inch jelly roll pan with waxed paper; grease.

For cake: Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl on high speed until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Beat in water and vanilla on low speed. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture, beating just until batter is smooth. Pour batter into jelly roll pan. Bake 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and then turn out onto a dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove waxed paper and roll up cake and towel together from short end; set aside to cool.

While cake is cooling, beat heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff. Unroll cake and spread raspberry preserves evenly over cake and then spread whipped cream over preserves. Roll up again (without towel) and place seam side down on a serving plate. Cover roll with Yule Log Frosting, making strokes with tines of fork to resemble bark. Decorate with green and red candied cherries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For frosting: Beat cocoa, margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Add hot water a little at a time until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes"

Lion House Cheesecake

Makes about 12 to 14 servings


1 1⁄2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted


3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 eggs

3⁄4 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups sour cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

For crust: Thoroughly mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press firmly onto bottom of a 10-inch pie pan or springform pan; set aside while preparing filling.

For filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; add sugar a little at a time. Add lemon juice. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in vanilla and combine thoroughly. Pour into crust; fill to within 1⁄2 inch of top to allow room for topping. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until the center does not move when the pan is gently moved.

For topping: When cheesecake is almost finished baking, beat sour cream with a wire whisk; add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Pour over completely baked cake and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with desired fruit topping or serve plain.

Note: All cheesecakes can be baked, cooled and frozen for an easy dessert later.

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes"

Email: rappleye@desnews.com

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