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.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A Celebratory Meringue

With all the lead-up to our wedding (in less than a month!), it almost felt like we were better off ignoring our birthdays this year. Truth be told I kept forgetting about them. Still, I wanted to make a little treat for Patrick when we had a few friend over to celebrate.

I stayed away from the well-sampled vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet and instead made something completely new for me. Using a tool my Mother got me for Christmas this past year, I made filled lemon meringue cupcakes. These were lemon cupcakes, filled with a lemon curd (home made!) and topped with a meringue swirl. Apart from the curd being a tad on the salty side (which I will adjust for next time), I quite enjoyed them. They were fresh, and looked great on the cake plate. Definitely one to keep in mind for future birthdays.

The little wells were made using the tool Mum got for me. The perfect little receptacle for the lemony-goodness of the curd. 

With the home made curd, I dolloped a small amount in each well.

 And topped off with a swirl of meringue, which I then browned in the oven for a few minutes. Just like little individual cakey-pies!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Cake for a Tea Party Shower

I've already posted about one of my showers (there will be three total when all is done), the first being the shower at the church with all the church ladies, and now we have had the second at my Mother's house with her group of friends (known as "The Group of 7," because they are seven women). Mum threw me a tea-party shower, with a heaving table of delights, fine china everywhere, elderflower mocktails, tea (of course), and an enormous showering of love and encouragement from all who attended. I have known most of these ladies since I was very wee and played with most of their daughters as I grew up. They know me.

As Mum was taking care of every little detail to prepare for the shower, I offered to make the cake. I kept the design similar to the previous shower cake, but altered it slightly. Same type of cake, and again with the trees. Also, as with the church shower, every little thank you bag that was sent home with the guests had a slice of the cake in it to take home and enjoy.

 The wonderful woman herself! All of her hard work paid off, we all had a fantastic time, thank you Mummy!
I feel very showered with love.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ice Skating Fundraiser

You never know who the next person to ask you to make cakes will be. In this case, sitting at my day job I had one of my regulars ask me if I would donate cupcakes for her ice skating competition in exchange for a page of advertising in her pamphlet. I grew up with parents who gave their time very generously so I very happily said yes. These cupcakes would be for the little skaters to snack on during their breaks in between performances, so I wanted them to be crowd-pleasers. As soon as I saw the advertising leaflet for the event, I already had an idea for the decoration.

I went with chocolate cupcakes, and decorated them to match the skating associations' colours. The cupcakes were then sent off in boxes, with business cards tucked in, to feed the skating masses.

I heard they didn't last long....
The skaters worked very hard, so I'm sure they deserved a little treat!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter Angels

Every year at Easter, whether it be here at our house, or at with Patrick's parents, we always have food to last for a week and feel most satisfied after a wonderful meal. Therefore when it comes to dessert, most people cannot imagine the idea of eating anything else at that point. As such, I thought that I would try a lighter approach to the sweeter half of the meal. I made an angel food cake and served it with macerated strawberries. This cake is wonderfully light and gave a good rounding off of to an excellent family meal. (And as anyone who is perhaps trying to watch their waist lines knows, this cake is an excellent dessert as it has no fat and is only egg whites.)

Quite angelic!