Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Giving Tree

CAKE! I like having a pile of cake, and pretty much no idea what I am going to do with it. Recently an old friend celebrated her birthday. Although we were never the closest amigos, I always thought she was super cool. Like she is just really cool, I looked up to her in alot of ways. And when She invited me to her birthday, I knew I wanted to make her a cake. This particular lady has a thing for books, which is one of the many reasons I think she is rad! I was bit tight on time, and I never made a book cake before, so i really faked my way through it, lol. I think most of my fave cakes are like that. 
I didn't really know what she liked flavor wise so I went with chocolate on chocolate with extra chocolate. (she confirmed later that it was a good choice.when is chocolate not a good choice, heehee). I just made different size "books" our of layers of the cake and butter cream, and then let them chill. I wrapped some fondant around 3 edges to be the pages of the books, and then wrapped the rest of the cake in fondant like a book cover. I planned to make them all different classic books.  but after i stacked them up on a dowel, I was struck with inspiration.

 I was instantly inspired by white books, Shel Silverstein. I grew up reading his poems. To this day he makes me smile. I love his books, and if I remembered correctly so did she. Part of planning the perfect cake for someone is finding that perfect thing for them, that makes them feel special. Hopefully making the cake into a pile of Silverstein books made her feel special. When I looked at the dowel sticking through the top, I decided to leave it, and build "the Giving Tree" around it. It all worked out very serendipitously. Even though (as always) I wish I had more time to add details, I was happy with it when it was all done. I painted on some writing, and finished the giving tree with some melted chocolate. the best part of making this cake was Meg's reaction. Seldom do i get such an excited reaction, I felt truly appreciated by someone i respect. that's a good feeling.

I have spent some time today thinking about Meg, and other awesome women in my life, whether peripherally or completely. I have also thought about the books I have read and what I have learned  from them. I'm feeling quite pensive, and also filled with hope. with knowledge and friendship, anything is achievable. well almost anything...  maybe not time travel...that we know of

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ride 'Em Cowboy.... Hat

There is an absolutely wonderful gal, she also likes ska music. We skank it up at the shows, and I think she is cool. This girl asked me to make a cake for her Dad, and I was most pleased to oblige.

After much discussion, and several ideas, she decided on a simple cowboy hat, for her  paternal urban cowboy. I thought this would be an fabulous opportunity to try the velvet chocolate spray I have coveted for so long. So I got busy making an extra lemony cake, and fresh strawberry Italian butter cream. put the cake together, carved up a shape and covered it in fondant.
I put the cake in the fridge overnight to set up, and when I pulled it out the next day the fondant was moist, this is common. I was so excited to try out my new chocolate velvet spray that i went ahead anyway. to be honest I was so excited about my velvet spray that i coated my finger in the Quizina parking lot before i even got it home. Anyway, for those of you who do not know, chocolate and moisture are not  buddies. They do not get along at all. So when I sprayed the moist fondant with chocolate, it cracked and was terrible. You would think this would be a lesson learned.... but no. I was tired and frazzled, and I did it again. peeled off all the fondant, and recovered it. sprayed t again...cracked again. I thought, maybe the cake is too cold, if i torch it abit the chocolate will blend. (this is when I should have walked away, but NOOOO I'm too stubborn) I lit my torch and the whole cake went up in a giant ball of flame. Seriously I almost had a heart attack. i put it out no problem, but yikes! mental note, aerosols stay flammable for afew minutes.  So as my comedy of errors continued, i peeled off the fondant again. and recovered the cake. this fairly simple cake was making me feel completely defeated. finally I decided the velvet spray, as cool as it is, was perhaps not the medium I should work with in this situation. So I pulled out my air brush. I just said i needed practice right? I can't believe I'm sharing all these humiliating details of how daft i was. All part of the process, you have to make mistakes to learn and grow.... that's what i keep telling myself

Luckily I got it on the first try, I was able to get the texture and depth I wanted with the airbrush. Of course most of my kitchen was now brown, but I learned several valuable lessons. And when my lovely friend arrived to pick up her cake, she was thrilled, and i forgot about he tears, the frustrations, and the aggravation .I was just happy she liked it. 
I know what you're thinking....where are the pics of the velvet chocolate? well I was too RAWR-Y to take any pics. but the good news is, that I have to get some more for Momma D to play with, So I will eventually try again... and take pics 8) stay tuned...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Adventures in Airbrushing


 Quite some time ago Momma D sent me an airbrush. As excited as I was to try it out, I was also very nervous. I had never used one before, and I know how bad cake can look if it is airbrushed poorly. Finally i tried it out, tentatively on some orchids i made. It was neither a complete success, nor a complete failure. lol

So next i tried painting some"grass" on a quick cake I made for my sis. This was a complete failure! it looked terrible, and to try to save it, I used a wet fan brush to try to make it look like grass on a the side of the cake. She liked it, but i wasn't disappointed.

Around this time I was working on the Chubby Baby cake, which was for a graffiti  artist/ nurse/ birthday boy/ soon to be Dada.... I figured it was another prime opportunity to try airbrushing again. The plan was to make the side of the cake look like a brick wall, and make it look sort of spray painted. My hands were shaking, I was so nervous when i did it. I knew there was really only one shot to get it to look right. It turned out pretty cool. I would definitely use that effect again.

Most recently was my Niece's engagement cake. Her invitations included peacock feathers, so i thought that would be nice on the cake. I tried to be creative and tie in a love theme as well. I thought I could airbrush the feathers to add dimension and color. I was half right. I got the color, but i didn't achieve the dimension i wanted. I decided it was a good learning experience, and tried to let it go. Everyone at the party said they loved it ( but that's family, they have to say that, right?) 
I am determined to master the airbrush, or at least get competent with it. Practice, practice practice.... what can i paint next. other than my counter top that was mostly green after that last cake. helpful hint, if you are playing with an airbrush, don't forget to FULLY cover your work area 8)

Saturday, 18 June 2011


After making gagaktoboureko ( yes that's a word, check out acouple posts back) I found myself with some left over semolina flour. I took this as a sign that I should make pasta again. last time I made chocolate ravioli, filled with a marscapone, agave, and espresso concoction. they were good. very good. I think chocolate pasta is an idea i shall visit again. Bunz gave me a pasta roller at giftmas, and Momma D gave me another when she came to visit.
So now I have one for fondant and one for pasta. No excuses!

So that picture up there is a bowl of the leftover semolina flour. 2 cups of semolina flour to be exact. I added 2 cups of all purpose flour and a pinch of salt. tossed it all together, and then made a well in the middle. I filled the well with 6 eggs, and 2 tbsp of olive oil. after getting all the ingredients together i kneaded it until it was firm and elastic. then wrapped it up tight and threw it in the fridge for a couple hours.

while the dough rested I prepped a whole bunch of veggies. I chopped up zucchinis, onions, red peppers, orange peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. In a pan I browned some nice local ground bison and added in all the veggies. I also threw in a plethora of tasty spices. I started with some smoked paprika, and then moved on to some chili powder, coriander, cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper. I wanted to create a chili type flavor. Looking back I wish I had put in some black beans. but no regrets... there is always next time.

I rolled small batches of the rested dough out with my shiny new pasta roller. Pulled out my handy dandy round cutter and cut many many rounds out of the dough. At this point i was about a couple hours into my fun project. So let me warn you right now,this is not a quick weeknight dinner. lol. I think everyone can make time to make their own pasta, but stuffed pasta does take some extra time, so be warned. It is worth it though.
anyway, roll roll roll, cut cut cut. fill fill fill, fold fold fold, next! ( before the fold, be sure to brush the edges of the pasta with egg wash to "glue" them together)

Once they little bundle of joy are folded over and sealed, bring the ends together to make the tortellini shape, and set aside. that's all there is to it. It is kind of tedious, I'm not going to lie to you. but kind of fun too, especially when you re rocking an awesome soundtrack, and dancing around your kitchen. Bunz even folded acouple of these fellas up.

Once they were all bundled up, i put half away in the freezer for later, and then boiled the fresh pasta for dinner. I thought since there were some Mexican flavors going on inside the tortellini, I would carry that theme on. So once they were al dente, i tossed them in a pan with abit of sour cream, and the plated them. I topped the whole pile off with a bit of salsa, and a sprinkle of cheddar.

I felt pretty proud of myself as I ate my labor intensive, and yummy dinner. 

Monday, 13 June 2011


I have a follower on my blog. Like a real life person, who reads my blog, that isn't related to me or anything!!! Thanks, you know who you are. That completely made my day/week/month!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Break From Baking

This has been a crazy week. There has been drama, baking, work, friends, cake, and skanking, lots of skanking. Now before you get the wrong idea, allow me to explain. I love ska music, if you are unfamiliar with the genre, go get familiar with it, I will wait here.  It is impossible for me to be in a bad mood when i listen to ska. Seriously, impossible. When you dance to ska music it is called skanking (which i find hilarious). As a fun aside,it is a great workout too, LOL. All week my favorite band King Muskafa was playing at The Commie. I missed Monday, but i was there every other night up till Saturday. Cause I'm a groupie! The music, and the atmosphere are fabulous. Ska night has always just made me feel like everything is going to be OK. I really needed that right now, and a whole week of it, SWEET. Of course now I can barely move, cause I skanked my rump off, but it was worth it. And to show my appreciation for all the hard work they do, I made the band treats. Cookies, cream puffs, cake balls, lots of little sugary treats to make them smile. I hope it picked them up, the way they picked me up.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Verry Berry

One of the more difficult things about being a specialty cake decorator, is coming to terms with the temporary nature of your medium. It doesn't matter how long I spend on a project, eventually it will be digested. Sometimes it is easier to deal with. like when the digester's don't even realize it is a cake. Either I am "that good" or "that bad". I'm choosing to believe the former, cause it makes me smile.

I made this cake awhile back for a good friend's baby shower i baked and iced the cakes normally, stacked them and chilled them. Then I rolled out white modelling chocolate about an inch and a half wider than the height of the cake. I carefully wrapped it around the cake and gently folded down the edges for a soft effect.  It was simple, but i love the result, and it made lots of room for berries! arranging the berries on the top was the most time consuming part, I wanted them all t look perfect. I guess it looked too good, cause all the guests started scooping out the berries thinking it was juts a bowl. No one realized it was actually a cake underneath.
Once we got it cut, we all had a good chuckle.

Friday, 3 June 2011


Yup that's a word. Galakoboureko. 
I started back at my old job, which has been pretty darn rad. And I'm not just saying that because my boss might read this. (although if you are HI you are rad!) I missed being around people, which I'm sure I will get over fairly quickly, especially other peoples children. And I am still very rusty with my serving skills. But for the most part it is like riding a bike.  Luckily everyone has been super supportive the staff, guests, everyone! I'm a lucky gal 8) 
Now on to the Greek goods. I was surprised when the boss man asked me to bake him something, and excited. He presented me a challenge. 2 very large pans of baklava which is easy enough, and a third pan filled with galakoboureko. That's where the challenge comes in.  At least I think that is what he wants. He loosely described a dessert his dad used to make, and after abit of research this seems to fit the bill. Custard baked into phyllo. It is the first time I have used semolina flour in a custard, I hope it is OK. I checked a whole bunch of recipes to make sure it wasn't a mistake. I'm abit nervous. I feel like the boss man is  like a big brother figure in alot of ways for me, and I really want him to be proud of me. I always have that need to make everyone happy, but his opinion does matter to me. Probably cause he will tease me alot if i f'ed it up. Maybe its because I worked at his restaurant while I went to baking school and he saw alot of my mistakes. It looks like the picture, and the syrup that is poured over the finished dessert is lovely, So I'm cautiously optimistic. I want him to keep ordering from me LOL
 a pic of semolina flour waiting to be custard, cause i think it looks cool
making the citrus syrup for the milk pie
I had to adjust all the recipes abit, because I couldn't find 9x13 pans to give him his goodies in, so i made them bigger. Of course i made them bigger, that's kind of my modus operandi! So it is like a pan and a half in each. I had a small moment of panic when i thought the pans might now fit in my oven. but now everything is cooling and I'm getting ready for work, maybe i will pick up the all day shift... I like hanging out there AND  they pay me for it. Sweet. Life is a pretty sweet fruit....
unbaked                                        baked                                        honeyed

I remember falling in love with baklava in a small restaurant on Whyte ave, which has long since closed.  Mander and I were on a split shift, and we ordered a piece to share. It was sticky and sweet and wonderful. I went back to work and asked "Mama" (the restaurants YaiYai) for a recipe. I have tweaked it and made it my own over the years, but it never disappoints.