Saturday, 1 August 2015

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Cake!!

It is a common occurrence to make the cakes for the siblings within a family. What I love to see in this instance are the differences among them, and how widely they differ from one another. For example, taking a look at my own childhood, my older sister was well into New Kids in the Block (the original, not the hybrid band with the Back Street Boys), whereas I was into fish and The Little Mermaid. You can just imagine the potential differences there.

With these particular cupcakes, I would like you to refer back to the posting I made about being Frozen in June (found HERE). Those cakes were for the sister of Mr. Superhero. Not that I would expect a little boy to necessarily choose frozen as their first choice, but still, vivre la difference!

The birthday boy's Mum showed me an image of what she was thinking of for his party, so I tried to match it as well as possible. She very kindly sent me photos of how the cupcakes looked when they were all set up at the party, and I thought they looked great! They matched the décor perfectly, and really added a piece to the table.

Hopefully the birthday boy was happy with them, and enjoyed his super party!

All the cupcakes were decorated with comic-book colours.

Then, they were all decked out with appropriate, hand-painted toppers.

Each one matched up with a colour.
Once they were all set up together, I loved how exciting they looked!

"Just wanted to thank you for the gorgeous job you did with Michael's cupcakes.
They were a total hit! 
I thought you would like to see a picture of the dessert table (...) thanks again"

 Photo courtesy of the client.
Photo courtesy of the client.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Tea or Coffee Anyone?

I like to try and experiment with my cake treats, otherwise it would be very easy to fall into the familiar rut of chocolate or vanilla cake, with plain decorations. I like to use the flavours to inspire the design, as it were and to really make something new. Think back to my post about my "Poptails" (click HERE for the posting), where I used the different flavours of cake to lead me to a particular cocktail, which I then used the main elements of to decorate the cake pops. For example, I use Guinness in my chocolate cake (not with small humans), so I created an Irish Car Bomb-pop with the Guinness cake, Irish cream in the icing, and caramel topping. The cake also inspired the designs with the Tea-Pot Truffles I made for my Mother's tea party (posting HERE), where I used Earl Grey-Infused cake and Green Tea-Infused cake to make the little tea pots. The truffles I'm talking about in this post didn't reflect the shape of the element which gave the cake its flavour as with the tea pots, but the toppings were most definitely chosen because of the flavour of cake.

In this particular instance I used the Earle Grey-infused cake again, and Coffee-infused cake to make these truffles to bring to my Uncles when I stayed there this Summer. I decorated the top of the tea-infused truffles with social tea biscuits and the coffee-infused truffles were decorated with chocolate covered coffee beans. These made excellent little hostess gifts, and my Uncle and Aunt were very pleased with them. The least I could do for spending a few days with them!

Personally, I was inspired my Mum to make these treats, when she bought me the Cake Pop book by Bakerella. Most of my baking and cooking is inspired by my Mother, but as much as I enjoy making these, I do need someone to eat them for me! My Dad was always good for that when my Mother did her baking, and my husband fills that role in our house now. My Dad never got to try these particular creations of mine (though I subjected him to many when I was growing up), which I'm sorry about because I think he would have liked them. On one of the evenings staying at my Uncle's (who is my Dad's middle brother), he and my Aunt were enjoying a truffle with our coffee and he asked whether or not my Dad was alive when I started making these. I told him I started the cake pops a few years after he had died, so no he never did. My Uncle said that that was a shame because he knew he would have loved them. That meant so much to me. Now, I have even more reason to enjoy making these cakes, and to keep on experimenting! (I think my husband will be pleased...)

Saturday, 18 July 2015

25 Shiny Silver Years Together

This cake was for one of those happy occasions where I actually got to go to the party! One of my colleagues asked me to make her a cake to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary this Summer, and I was happy to oblige. My colleague sent me a few images of what she thought would look nice and together we came up with the design for her fabulous cake. I had never before worked with the quilted effect on the fondant, but I love how it came out. You have to know that my colleague has confessed that she enjoys coming to work so she can wear a nice skirt and put her lipstick on, on top of being very efficient and necessary in the office. I wanted to make this cake glamorous for her, so I got out my silver accents to tszuj it up a bit.

The party was wonderful and very moving, I hope my husband and I are as lucky as these two love-birds have been!


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Even the Little Gatherings

Just a quick one to get back on track. Sometimes there needn't be a big party, or a fancy wedding to bake a cake for. Sometimes they are simply your own contribution to the end-of-year choir party dinner. I love a good pot-luck; everyone brings the meal they are known for, usually in a large crock-pot or sweet-plate, so everyone at your gathering gets to sup from the crème-de-la-crème of your groups' offerings. I stick to my basics so unless I'm bringing our family's recipe of Aunt Barbara's Casserole, I bring cake. Here was my offering to my love of our choir: my favourite chocolate cake recipe covered in cream cheese icing, in the shape of a heart!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Sweet Fairwell

You can say so much with cake! I must admit that I can only claim half the credit for this cake because one of the other parishioners brought the cake and I offered to decorate it.

This weekend, we celebrated our two wonderful years with our curate Alain who was now leaving to continue growing at another church in Montreal. We knew this inevitable day would come but because we had forged such a connection with Alain it wasn't any easier knowing. To give him a really fun send off, the congregation brought platters of food to feed the masses and we had dinner together with a series of presentations to highlight some of his most memorable impacts on us.

My Mum came up with the idea of making him a stole (part of the clerical "uniform", a coloured band of fabric that is draped around their neck) which would be something he could take with him and think of us always. All the members of the congregation had a part in it because  we printed our hand prints all over the fabric with different colours of paint. Every time he wears it, it will be like we're always there to lend a helping hand.

Seemed a natural choice to decorate the cake in a similar way, then.

  Just to give you some idea of the scale. These little hand prints were not those of the congregation, but were almost a true representation.

I tried to give the fondant stole a textured appearance, to make it look more like fabric. 
Thank you for everything Alain!!

 **I will post a couple photos of the non-edible stole, once I have them!** 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Sweet Thank-You

When I was small, I attended Sunday School every week. My Mum was one of the teachers, and truth be told I mostly clung to her, but I do remember that we had particularly kind, patient and lovely Sunday School teachers, some of whom are still very active in the Sunday School. This Summer, however one of our steadfast teachers, Mary-Ann did decide to step down. Mary-Ann was one of the teachers I remember from when I was little, so you can imagine that she now deserves a well earned break.

When one of the other Sunday School teachers asked if I would do a cake for Mary-Ann, I tried to think of how I could give her a part of the church she has given so much of her time and energy to. One detail that always jumps out for me, is the stained glass in the windows, so I did my best to give Mary-Ann one of the windows.

Working with a photo I had taken that was the size of a postage stamp! Nonetheless, I think it turned out quite well.

Mary-Ann is using her time now to focus on another mission close to her heart, Messy Church which is a new gathering in our church. Every fourth Wednesday, Mary-Ann and our other dedicated Messy Church leaders, organise crafts, food, and a talk to the children. These "services" are specifically catered for families whose schedules aren't regular and fitting in the Sunday service isn't possible.
The first time our church held a Messy Church Service we anticipated 30 or so people... we received over 60 people.
So although Mary-Ann isn't directly working in the Sunday School, her efforts will be felt elsewhere. These pops were made to celebrate her new chapter, and are made using part of the Messy Church logo. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

My Very Own Wedding Cake

People thought I was crazy when they would ask if I was making my own wedding cake and I would reply "yes". Why wouldn't I make it myself? I could come up with a design and execute it the way I wanted. My Mum worried that I was going to have too much to do if I made my cake, but soon realised it was futile to argue and that I had made up my mind. After all, and as Patrick will tell you, my motto is definitely "I can do it myself!" (a mantra which will more often than not just get me into over-worked trouble). I didn't want anything too fancy, I just wanted understated elegance which wasn't going to be too complicated. I have thought back on it and wondered if I should have tried to make it "fancier" but no, I am very well pleased with how it all turned out.

There were two cake-items that I prepared. One, the actual tiered cake for cutting, and two the cake pops that all the guests received. The cake pops were our thank-you gifts so they served an extra purpose.

Baking The Fruit Cake~
It has long been my plan that for my wedding cake I would have the traditional fruit cake. Using my Mother's wonderful recipe she uses at Christmas which is called a Light Fruit Cake. This recipe is full of candied fruit, and citrus peel with orange juice and pineapple chunks. The flavour is light and fresh, not dark and bitter. I have never made this cake before, but I got a crash course because my Mum wasn't feeling well so I had to do it for the first time. With her guidance every step of the way that is.
All the fruit and nuts get mixed together, making what I always thought looked like stained glass in a bowl.
Into the lined pans I poured the batter. These pans were hand made and have safely baked a few thousand fruit cakes in their day.
Once the cakes were suitably browned and done to my Mother's perfect standards, I poked little holes in the top of the cake, and drizzled brandy over the cake. The brandy bubbles as it seeps into the warm cake.
Mum then babysat the cakes and fed them every so often. A wee drizzle of brandy is always welcome.


Baking the Mint-Chocolate Swirl Cake~
 I knew Patrick wouldn't necessarily jump at the choice of having fruit cake at our wedding, they have gathered an unfavourable reputation of late. Despite my insistence that he would like it, I made his tiers in the mint-chocolate swirl cake that I made at the showers. This was also benefit of making the cake myself, I could choose what went in it. Patrick's cake was made using the same pans as the fruit cake in order to have even tiers, and I made the top two tiers the softer mint-chocolate cake. One we cut into, the other we saved for the baptism of our first small human. (The cake is now in the freezer)
Making the Flowers~
To decorate the cake, I made sugar roses. I made them for Patrick's cousin's wedding cake and loved how timeless they appeared. This time, I added sugar leaves as well. An added bonus to making these sort of decorations was that I could make these well in advance and let them dry.

I dusted all the flowers and leaves with gold dust, which on the night of the reception worked perfectly in the soft candle light of the hall.
The Cake on the Night~
All the tiers were covered in ivory fondant (my dress was a mix of ivory and pearl coloured lace, white fondant would have clashed). I wrapped a simple ivory ribbon at the base of every tier and placed all the roses on the ascending steps.
The look, I feel was elegant and was understated so in my mind, perfect.
Photo by Catherine d'Addario
Photo by Catherine d'Addario
Photo by Catherine d'Addario
Photo by Catherine d'Addario
  As my Mother and Father did at their wedding, we handed out boxes to each guest with a slice of each type of cake in it. Everyone got some to take home, and no one had to slice the cake on the night!
 The Thank-You Cake Pops~
 For all of you readers who have ever planned a wedding, a shower, or a large party, and have also provided thank-you gifts or bonbonieres as they're sometimes called, you'll know that anything half-decent will cost you more than you were hoping to pay. With my thank-yous I wanted to add a personal touch to the gift.
At every table, the gentlemen received a groom and the ladies received a bride, and yes the design of the pops was meant to mirror how Patrick and I actually looked on the day... as you do.

 Patrick wore the Macdonald Hunting Tartan tie, and I wore my Nana's pearls. I couldn't do lace on the bride pop, but I think for the sake of my sanity it's OK that I didn't try.

~ ~ ~
So was it crazy to go to the trouble to make my own cake instead of hiring someone, yes. And I would do it again. I feel quite privileged that I was able to do that for our special day, and I will have all the memories that go with the whole process.