Saturday, 24 May 2014

Poptails For Two...

Every now and again I am asked to donate some pops for a special event, which in this case was a fundraiser for Yaldei, a centre here in Montreal that offers specialised therapies for children with developmental needs. My pops were to be a small part of a huge evening planned to raise funds to support this organisation, and would be among other generous donations such as savoury hors d'oeuvres on sticks, donated bottles of wine, musical entertainment from Sam Roberts, just to name a few of the contributions.

Originally I had thought of making pops fashioned to look like ice-creams. I was thinking of the kids, and I felt that this would represent them at this event designed for adults. Then my mind started dreaming up pops that were inspired by cocktails, as I was thinking of all the people who were going to attend the event as they ate yummy food and no-doubt drank a cocktail or two. The ice-creams would just have to wait for another day, because I had come up with three different designs and aptly called them poptails (chuckle).

The design process was very different from when I am given specific guide lines as per what my client would like. Obviously I am always there to guide them towards what would match their vision the closest based on what I know is possible, but flavours, colours, etc., I leave up to them. In this instance I was essentially given carte blanche when it came to flavours and concepts... the result was a fun though still adult range of pops; A de-constructed version of classic drinks, which were translated into sugary, cake-filled, confectionery delights.

All the pops were displayed with a description of what the flavours were and a bit of the history of the drink itself. (I've included the description written in these frames below all of the photos of the pops.)

Just for the occasion I ordered a banner and new posters. After all they had to advertise for me on my behalf!

  Irish Car Bomb Pops

"An unnatural combination, the virtue of this drink is the blending of the metallic bitterness of Guinness and the sweet creaminess of Irish Cream. 
The pop is made up of a chocolate-Guinness cake, mixed with butter cream and Baily's, then enrobed in black chocolate and topped with butterscotch coating and sprinkled with whiskey fudge.
This pop is a wonderfully dark, smooth variation of its liquid cousin, with no risk of curdling!"

My Fair Lady Pops

"The Savoy's head bartender, Joe Gilmore created this citrusy drink to honour Julie Andrews's first appearance in the Broadway performance of My Fair Lady in 1956.
 The pop consists of lemon cake mixed with butter cream and gin which has then been dipped in orange-flavoured chocolate and topped with a dried strawberry.
A refreshing and slightly tart drink to start with, this equally fresh pop is a lovely bite-sized morsel."

Pina Colada Pops

"A pop inspired by the Puerto Rican drink, the pina colada; a cool, creamy, fruity drink to refresh anyone.
The pop is made up of pineapple cake mixed with butter cream and rum which is then dipped in coconut-flavoured chocolate, covered in coconut shavings and topped with a glacé cherry.
These elements together will bring you to a warm sandy beach, basking in the sun, with only a single bite."

I heard back some wonderfully positive feedback from both the event organiser and my contact; Always a treat!:

"Thank you for your generous contribution to our dessert, everyone was RAVING about your cake pops! They were amazing! I hope to work with you again in the future." -Olivia

"Your cake pops were a hit! they all disappeared within 20 minutes!(...) I think Sam Roberts may have sneaked one too" -Michelle

Monday, 19 May 2014

Happy Birthday Sistor!

Yes, I understand I have misspelled one of the words in the title. This is intentional and meant to be. One of the terms of endearment I have for my two sisters is "Sistor" (there's an accent that goes with it too, but that one's harder to explain in a written blog...).

This post is about a special cake that was a joint effort between my other Sister Catherine and me. Although Allie (our oldest sister) had already had her birthday in April, we had a belated-birthday cake when we all got together at Catherine's place in May. Catherine made a yummy gluten-free chocolate cake and I just added the colourful icing, based on Allie's specifications. I checked with Allie for her favourite colour, and asked her a few more things that she wanted to see on the cake. She requested a Unicorn, but I had to subtly suggest something else... hopefully this did the trick instead.

 The inscription on the cake reads: "Happy "May-Family-BBQ-Long-Week-End" (which Allie requested.... and "and Happy 40th Birthday Allison!" (which I snuck in there. All power to the one with the piping bag!)

 Peach and pink roses made of butter cream. They remind me of roses my Mother had in England that had this same colouring, they were called Princess Marguerita

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Love your Mum

Mums do anything for their children, that's a fact. As my readers well know my Mother has been influential in my cake career from teaching me things as a child to buying me my first cake pop book. This year Patrick and I celebrated both our Mothers with quiche (the bestest most awesomest recipe for quiche ever... it has Swiss cheese and bacon!) salad, green beans, and cake (of course).

For some reason, this cake made me think of my Nana. I thought maybe because I associate pink and peach roses with both with my Mother and her Mother (my Nana), but I finally realised that my Mum had made her Mum a cake once to celebrate her birthday (I believe) and it looked similar to this cake with green writing and pink roses. I guess it's just a good cake to make for Mums, and happily ours loved it!

Even if you can't bake or decorate a cake for your Mum, try and show them how much you love, appreciate, and admire them no matter how!!

I was silly enough to have the roses travelling up the side of the cake.... annoyingly enough, they just wandered down the cake. I told the Mothers this issue, and they laughed :)

By the way, here's the picture I was thinking of. This is my Nana, and the cake my Mother made for her! Circa 1988...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

"60 is the New 50"

This fabulous cake was inspired by Martinis, the NYC lifestyle, Sex and the City, and above all, leopard print. When one tries to personify a person with cake, I don't think any cake could suit someone better than this cake does! When the Birthday Girl's daughter and I were organising everything I suggested doing a solid colour for the fondant covering. The response I got was... smile-inducing. She said that everything looked great for the overall design of the cake, except could we make the fondant leopard print? Naturally having never done anything like that before, my brain automatically thought "sure, why not?" and I then proceeded to Google.

This was the result. A hand-painted leopard print cake (no animals were harmed in the making of this cake), with a silhouette fence of Martinis, margaritas, and the NYC skyline, with a little extra bling for good measure. I can only imagine the birthday party!

This was a little extra add-on. I guess there was a birthday boy there too, so not to leave him out he got his very own cupcake!

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

These pops were just an experiment and a gift for a couple friends. I was mad keen to try making a pop using the green tea cake I had baked this past week. I already had an idea for the Earl Grey cake, but I hadn't really come up with a plan to use the green tea cake until this design came to me.

I knew these friends were the perfect recipients because one of them is super into working out and eating healthily, and the other loves my cake pops (instant winner). So I thought as these pops had green tea in them, they had to be healthy....right? (That's what I'll tell myself). In order to intensify the green tea flavour (and thus its healthy factor??) I even added the matcha powder to the icing, giving me a wonderfully green icing and cake dough mix, so different from the usual chocolate and vanilla.

Mixing green tea cake with green tea icing, while drinking green tea!!!

Staying very Japanese I decorated the pops with cherry blossom trees and bamboo stalks.


 All wrapped and ready.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Simple Confirmations

Last year I made a pink and black zebra-print cake for a colleague's daughter's confirmation. This year's confirmation is much more understated...

When I spoke with one of the confirmand's Mum, she just wanted a chocolate cake with a rich chocolate icing and the boys' names on the cake. Very simple, very elegant, but still youthful for these boys who were making a wonderful promise in their church. The confirmands are cousins, and I think that that's really special to be able to share this experience with such a close family member.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

7 Recipes of Heaven

My little project this weekend was to look for new recipes for cakes, in flavours you wouldn't think of straight away. I love reading through bakery websites and menus as they describe their cake flavours, but what I noticed was that mostly they changed their buttercream flavours and kept their cakes traditional. I wanted to try getting those cool flavour combos in the cake, so I headed to Google and amassed a few recipes to try.

The first one I tried was a green tea cake. I love drinking green tea, and I really wanted to try to make a cake to reflect that, plus I got to learn about matcha.... who knew? (I also know now that I feel really out of place in a health food store....) This cake was nice because it was a flavour you wouldn't necessarily be able to place straight away. It also wasn't overly sweet, but more fragrant. Imagine, sipping green tea, sweetened with honey.

Second cake was an Earl Grey tea infused cake. Again, I got a bee in my bonnet about this one and just had to try it. I loved how it came out. Delicate, yet distinctive. I didn't feel as if I was just eating tea, I felt like I was having a lightly-flavoured orange cake. I've lived in England for 8 years over my life and have acquired a taste for tea. Now I can eat it!

Third, to round out the drinks-theme I made a coffee-flavour cake. Pleasingly, it wasn't a total moka flavour but a deep rich, almost-chocolate cake. Num.... This one was wonderfully moist, and would well even with a cream cheese icing, or just on it's own!

Next, we have Patrick's favourite, the blueberry cake. I really wanted a fruit-flavoured cake both for whole cakes but also for cake pops. To me, blueberry muffins are such a treat, their mix of vanilla and sweet blueberries and always very pleasing so the idea of a big cake with those flavours was appealing. And, as Patrick pointed out it was just like a big muffin. Wouldn't it be fun to do a "Pie-Flavoured" cake pop range....

Next, my Mother's favourite, the chocolate cake with a salted caramel sauce. This sauce recipe comes from the Goddess herself, Nigella. One is always looking for the perfect chocolate cake recipe. This one was lovely and rich, without verging on erzats. The addition of the caramel sauce was just something to have on hand to tszuj up your typical chocolate cake.

A classic as always, red velvet. I lost the last recipe I used, so had to go a-hunting for another one. I must be totally honest and admit that I am somewhat confused by the Red Velvet concept. I like the flavour, it's sweet with a little tartness owing to the buttermilk and vinegar, but it neither chocolate nor vanilla, and yet at the same time it's both.... Then Paula Deen went and confused me even more by  talking about her Blue Velvet cake?! (Mmmm....edible Smurfs....) Nonetheless, I think Red Velvets great for St. Valentine's Day, or to add colour to your sweet table, and especially great for weddings!

And finally I made a pineapple cake. I simply used the blueberry cake recipe, and just swapped the fruit from blueberries to pineapple. Next time I might try using pears instead just to see how that might turn out.
 This cake was a means to and end actually. I have in my head an idea for a pina colada type cake pop, with this cake in the middle with coconut on the outside, I think it will be great! That would be a great party; Edible cocktails on a stick!


 All together... any volunteers to help us eat SEVEN cakes?! (I do have a wedding dress to fit into after all!!)