Category Archives: Challenges

So many cakes…

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I know it’s been ages since I’ve last written…. but I really have kept myself busy.  Honest!! Cakes and cupcakes a plenty!  And somewhere along the way I found out that I have gallstones, and so I’m taking some much-needed rest (although lingering near the oven).

So what have I been working on?

Well I have been creating several custom cakes.  The requests are coming in more frequently and much more challenging.  And I love it!

There was the Super Mario Cake….

This was also the first time that I got to whip out my airbrush machine and spray on the bright blue background against the buttercream fondant.  Everything was edible and handmade from the man-eating plants in the pipes to Mario himself.  (From what I heard, the little boy I made the cake for insisted that no one eat Mario for a good week or so.)

There was the Harry Potter Cake….

(sorry not my best photo since I used my iPhone for this shot).  Originally I had wanted to tackle making Lego figures of the Harry Potter game, but they kept falling and losing their shape, and so I decided on taking a few of the iconic images of the popular movie instead… The Gryffindor red and yellow scarf, Harry’s wand, Hedwig Harry’s faithful owl, the Sorting hat, Harry’s round glasses, the Golden Snitch and Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry as the main backdrop.

In May, one of my good friend’s turned 30th and for her birthday party I created one of my first pillow cakes.  Inspired specifically from her love for the princess Cinderella, this has got to be one of my favourite cakes!

The shoe is complete handmade and edible.

June is graduation month and my best friend’s little sister graduated from University.  To celebrate, I designed a graduation cake, complete with graduation cap, diploma, hard cover book and a stack of “essays” which made the base of the cake.

July proved to be a busy month also.  I have my darling little daughter’s 4th birthday where she insisted on a Rapunzel tower cake.  Seriously.  She looked at me and said she wanted a Rapunzel tower cake.  Sigh.  Diva at 4.  So I made it for her – what can I say about challenges … I don’t exactly run from them….

Crazy to think that a year ago is when I started this entire cake adventure with a castle cake and ice cream cone towers, to a single Rapunzel Tower cake that looks like this ….

The cake was the ground and the top of the tower.  The middle part I simply used PVC piping from Home Depot and covered it with fondant.  Viola!  She loved it.  I loved it too …

The following day, I had a baby shower for my husband’s cousin.  Their first child – so of course the gender of the baby is the great surprise that only having a baby can grant.

Everyone loved the little feet.

Of course I didn’t want to leave out the soon to be dad (just in case the cake was finished during the shower) so I baked up two standard cupcakes.  And I covered these in fondant faces.  Very fitting for a dad to be.

Then last week, in the midst of trying to rest with the pain of gallstones attacks (really not the best feeling in the world!) I had a simple request for 4 dozen cupcakes: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and marble with banana cream.

I also had another request, from my sister this time, for a dozen red velvet cupcakes and an Erotic cake for her good friend’s bachelorette party.  Ahem…. yep, if your mind went into the gutter, you’re in the right spot.

Actually this was a fairly simple cake to make.  The details were simple – I stamped the lipstick stain using a stamp I bought at Michael’s with red gel food colour and used my edible gourmet pen to write on the “phone number” (it’s actually the date of the bachelorette party.  On the other side of the cake were a set of fuzzy handcuffs that I just piped on the detail.  Yah, it’s still hard not to blush looking at this cake….

Somewhere along the way I came upon a contest in Threadcakes.  It’s a fantastic contest that has cakes designed in 2D or 3D on designs based on T-shirts from Threadless.  And the entire process from start to finish (ie. eating it!) is captured in pictures.  It took me a while to decide on something – the list of designs is huge!!  But I eventually chose the design “Work of the Genius”

Which is a deconstructed bo-bomb character from Super Mario Bros.

The entire process plus pictures can be found through the link here.  I’m very proud of it, especially after viewing all the incredible quality of work that I’m competing against.  Check out the gallery.  Lots of talented people out there working with cake.

And last but not least I made a simple Hamburger cake for my husband for his 34th birthday.  We had a fast food pot luck ( a variety of his favorite fast food sampling in one sitting … because of my recent condition I had the leaner option of shrimp and rice).

I love the fact that there was no carving for this cake.  Just 4 round cakes all layered on top of each other.  Easy peasy….

The next couple months has a few more orders coming my way…. There’s a Lilo & Stitch cake, Mater cake (for my son’s 2nd birthday), Lightening McQueen and a Darth Vader helmet.

Sigh.  I still can’t believe that after one year I’m actually taking orders for custom cakes and that this little talent I’ve stumbled upon is growing in more ways than I could have imagined. …

Bring it on…. 😉

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Redpath Sugar Contest

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So Redpath Sugar, through Facebook, is sponsoring a contest to meet Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss fame at the Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show in October.  A friend of mine sent me the link and I totally jumped at the opportunity.

It really only took me a moment to decide on using my R2 D2 cake.

Who doesn’t love R2 D2?  (or as my daughter affectionately noted, “he’s a cute trash can, mom“.)  With that choice up and running on their site,  I’ve been campaigning on getting votes for my little cake.  It’s a little shameless – it’s a little ruthless.

So what?

I just know that I’m determined to gather enough votes to make it to the top 3.  Not only because I really do want to meet Buddy, but because I’m really proud that I actually made R2 D2 cake and he came out looking like R2 D2 (okay, a little squatter version, but he’s pretty much the same).

Wish us luck!!

Chocolate Cake with a Twist

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The 8th challenge for The Sweetest Kitchen Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge is: chocolate cake – with a twist.  Unfortunately I missed the deadline, but still created the cupcake just for fun…. 

Anyways, chocolate Cake – with a twist…sounds simple enough.  Chocolate cake with the addition of another “interesting” ingredient.  So what to add?  When you really think about it,  the ideas of what to add to chocolate are limitless.

In the end I reached all the way back to my childhood…and thoughts of ube came to mind.  What is ube, you ask?  Well simply it’s purple yam.  When I was a kid my favourite colour was purple – so what is more fantastic to a 6-year-old than to eat something purple, than that?  Okay, okay – not a lot of kids are like me and are willing to eat yam (in any colour for that matter), but I did. 

And now here I am wanting to add it into a cupcake! 

Part of this challenge was to add the mystery ingredient into a chocolate cake.  With that said, I didn’t want to add the ube to a dark or milk chocolate, should the flavour of the yam completely be masked by the chocolate…so the white chocolate cake route I go.  Then off to the nearest asian food market I go in search of ube jam…..if you’ve never been to an asian food market, I totally recommend it if only once in your life.  I am one of those types of people who enjoys noise and chaos and crowds (to a point) and there is a type of hustle and bustle confined within the tightly packed walls of this grocery store – something I don’t exactly feel in the grocery store down the street from my house.   

As I turn an aisle looking for ube jam – I eventually come across it on shelves upon shelves of brightly coloured exotic fruits and beans packed in syrups.

I also pick up some pandan extract – I wanted something more “exotic” than vanilla.  *NOTE: Pandan is GREEN – like GREEN GREEN.  Adding in purple food colour to mask the green is a good idea at this point.

Creating my white chocolate cake base is the easy part.  Like I’ve said before, I’m a busy mommy of two, and if I can take the easy route sometimes in baking, I’ll take it.  After adding the ube jam and a teaspoon of purple food colouring (I really wanted this to look purple!), the batter looks like this…

Scoop the batter into lined cupcake tins.

When it comes out of the oven, it should look like these yummy little purple morsels.

Not to overshadow the ube’s delicate flavour, I opted with a simple vanilla buttercream icing.  I think it compliments it fairly nicely.

And there you have it, my childhood baked into a warm and delicious cupcake.  Enjoy.

White Chocolate & Ube Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 jar Ube – purple yam spread
  • 1 tsp pandan extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 tsp Wilton purple colour gel

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix the first four ingredients together.  Add the Ube jam, extract and food colour and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop into pre-lined cupcake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.  Cool and top with vanilla buttercream or preferred icing.

Bacon & Chocolate?

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So I’ve been reading alot of other blogs and posts about this unusual combo lately.  And wondering to myself, do I dare?  I have to it admit that it’s intriguing because for most people it seems so unusual to combine the two.  The reactions I got from my friends when I mentioned I’d be making it sometime in the near future was a cross between doubt and intimidation. 

But really I can see why they can go well together.  It’s the salty-sweet element that many of us crave. Okay, at least I do….

So I started off cooking half a package of bacon.  I really should have cooked up more, because I have an 18 month old little boy who adores bacon and once he figured what I was doing, well, he turned into the most sweet faced vulture I have ever seen.  Let’s just say, the ones that made it into the cupcake batter were the lucky ones.  Hehehe….

Once they were cooled, I started chopping them into smaller pieces . 

You want to make enough to make at least half a cup when cut up into small pieces.  I think I made just enough to reach the half way point – remember my little vulture ate some of them too.

Instead of making a chocolate batter from scratch, I took the easy route and simply used a chocolate cake mix.  Sometimes you can’t beat using a cake mix…especially when you know you’re running low on ingredients to make cupcakes from scratch and it’s too cold to go out to the store and the snow is blowing…. hmmm I digress…

Anyways, mix all the ingredients according to the box instructions.  I added bacon last because I didn’t want them breaking to even smaller pieces, and just simply folded them into the batter, until it was completely incorporated.  Then pour into cupcake lined cupcake pan and bake according to the box and wait….

Tah-da!

Yah, I know it looks like your everyday chocolate cupcake …( this one is topped with a sweet maple buttercream icing) but oh, how looks can be so deceiving.  Biting into this cupcake, you are hit with both chocolatey sweetness and tiny spots of salty bacon spotted through-out. 

It’s really crazy, but oddly it actually works.  Enjoy!

L