Friday, 30 December 2011

Been and gone

Christmas has been and gone! And now all I have left to show for it is a few extra kilograms around my waist and wonderful food memories.

This year, Brendyn and I spent Christmas down south with his family where my sister-in-law (who is a self acclaimed Perth based food critic and blogger, The Fat Cow, check out her blog when you get the chance) dished up an amazing breakfast and my mother-in-law cooked a mouth watering turducken (turkey stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a chicken). Four words: yum to the yumma.

We then celebrated Christmas with my side of the family a few days later. Every year my uncle's employer gives all their employees a turkey amongst other goodies and every year he kindly contributes it to our Christmas meal. Although I am not the only 'cook' in the family, I seem to have inherited the role of cooking the traditional Christmas meal for my family. I guess since we are all Asian (my family that is) our preference is Asian cuisine and this is reflected in our style of cooking. As I married a whitey, westerner, caucasian or whatever you like to call him, I seem to be best suited to cook a traditional "white" Christmas meal. Although my sister, Gina, also married a fellow whitey, her cooking abilities are some what limited. However, she is a fantastic cleaner though - sorry for selling you out Gina!

So my traditional "white" Christmas menu consisted of the following:
Entree - Bacon and cheese potato skins
Main - 4.5kg turkey with apricot and pistachio stuffing
         - Roasted pork belly and veal
         - Grilled mango chicken and couscous
         - Capsicum and cashew pasta salad
         - Simple humble garden salad
Dessert- I decided to take a risk and only make cupcakes as a plan B, if my risky plan A was a complete disaster. Plan A was a 6 tier zesty strawberries and cream almond sponge cake. I worked from a Gourmet Traveller recipe that I varied a great deal. The almond sponge cake was almost like a macroon inspired cake using the likes of almond mill, sugar and egg whites. The strawberries were soaked in lemon and lime juice for a few hours to create a zesty tang. And finally the cream was a combination of lemon, lime, cream cheese, sugar and whipped cream! It was delicious - although I do think the 6 tiers was a little excessive. I think I will vary this recipe into a cupcake recipe in the near future. So watch this space.


A few weeks ago Gina made bonbon Christmas crackers with Zac and Mini. Zac and Mini wrote their very own jokes. My favorite joke of the evening was Mini's joke and it went a little something like this:

Question - What do get when you cross a cup and a cake?

When the family heard this we all sighed and said the obvious "cupcake" but Mini sheepishly smiled and said no.

Answer - An Aunty Tina Cupcake.

When the answer was read out Mini just smiled with glee. A smile that nearly brought me to tears!


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

Flourless cake (I know, crazy right?)

The internet never ceases to amaze me. The internet has truly transformed our lives. We have access to so much information at the touch of our finger tips. Not only that, but the internet connects people all over the world – family and friends can communicate on facebook and celebrities can communicate with their fans on twitter. It is seriously mind blowing! I mean two weeks I became friends with Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry on facebook. Yes, I am friends with the Glee fictional characters on facebook - I mean, seriously how cool is that?!

Whenever I am keen to try a new cupcake recipe the first thing I do is look up recipe ideas on google. I have a countless number of cupcake recipe books but nevertheless I turn to google before I even glance at a recipe book! And last week was no exception.  

Last weekend was the engagement party of a very close family friend. Sadly, Brendyn and I were not able to part take in the festivities as the party was hosted in Melbourne and we both were unable to take leave to make the trip. Although we could not make the grand event, our cake pops made the trip (courtesy of my in laws)! The bride-to-be requested that the cake pops be made of flourless chocolate cake. At that point in time, I had never ate flourless chocolate cake before, let alone bake it! But wanting to play it cool, I told the bride-to-be “Of course I could make flourless chocolate cake pops!”

I must admit, my first reaction to the notion of flourless chocolate cake was “WHAT THE?!” How can a cake be flourless and if it is flourless, it must taste disgusting. Given that this was the first time I was exposed to this crazy notion of flourless cake, the first thing I did was google “flourless chocolate cake recipe” and was presented with this link. So I gave this recipe a go and to my surprise this flourless chocolate cake recipe was delicious! I particularly enjoyed the texture of cake and its moistness. I think it was the almond mill that gave it the wonderful rough texture. I will definitely give this recipe a go again!

The cake was so moist that I did not even need to add frosting to the cake to make cake balls for the cake pops! All I had to do was crumble the cake, roll it into balls and stick a lolly pop stick into it. I then dipped the cake balls into white chocolate that was coloured yellow and green. The next day, I added the finishing touches to the cake pops – I drizzled white chocolate over the top of each cake pop. The engagement party invitation were yellow, green and white. So to keep to theme, the cake pops had to be the same colour…of course!


This recipe was seriously all things delicious. If you ever keen to give flourless chocolate cake a go, let it be this recipe. You will not regret it!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Recipe release: FML Vanilla Cupcakes

As you know, I love a good FML cupcake (Fluffy, Moist and Light). I especially love a good old fashion FML vanilla cupcake. I find that vanilla cupcakes are cupcakes in its rawest form. A vanilla cupcake is either good or bad - there is no in between. There is no hiding a bad vanilla cupcake, no matter how you dress it up with sprinkles or toppers. Although a bad vanilla cupcake is very disappointing, a good vanilla cupcake is overwhelming delicious! Nothing beats a yummy vanilla cupcake with a hot English breakfast cuppa! Ladies and gents, am I right or am I right?!

It has taken me a while, but I think I have discovered the perfect FML vanilla cupcake recipe. This recipe has yet to fail me, so in my books it's pretty much near perfect. The search for me is finally over and hopefully for you too. So have a go at this vanilla cupcake recipe and let me know what you think.


VANILLA CUPCAKES
Recipe makes approximately 16 normal sized cupcakes

Ingredients
120 grams of salted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste (which is quite expensive, so for a cheaper alternative use vanilla extract)
150 grams of caster sugar
2 large eggs
185 grams of self-raising flour
1/2 cup of milk
16 normal sized cupcake patties

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (or 160 degrees Celsius if you are using a fan forced oven).
  2. Beat butter on full speed until it turns a pale shade of white.
  3. Add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract to the butter and continue beating.
  4. Gradually add caster sugar to the mixture and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. This can take a while, so I tend to sift the flour a few times as I let the beater do its thing.
  5. Add one egg at a time into the mixture and beat well on full speed.
  6. Turn the mixer speed down and add half the flour and milk to the mixture. Beat until the flour and milk is combined. Add the remainder of the flour and milk to the mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the patty pans. Fill the patty pans 3/4 of the way full if you would like the cupcakes to rise above the cupcake patties or 1/2 of the way full if you would like the cupcakes to rise to the rim of the cupcake patties.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven. Check that the cupcakes are cooked with a skewer.
  9. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and cool.

Baking tips I have learnt over time:
  • When it comes to baking, always buy full cream, full fat, full goodness ingredients! Otherwise, you may end up with bland tasting baked goods and let's face it, no one likes bland tasting bake goods, especially bland cupcakes!
  • You can never over beat the butter, sugar and eggs. However, once you have added the flour and milk to the mixture, you want to beat it as little as possible.
  • Under cook the cupcakes, i.e. when you use a skewer to check whether the cupcake bases are done, take the cupcakes out of the oven when the skewer comes out with a little bit of crumbs (basically not when it is entirely clean). Then leave the cupcakes in the tray for 10 minutes to cool. The cupcakes will continue to cook in the cases but will not cause it to dry out. Thereby creating and nurturing a perfect FML cupcake environment.

A cupcake is not a cupcake without icing. So one must always ice their cupcakes! Here is the recipe for a vanilla buttercream icing I tend to use. Once again, this recipe has yet to fail me.


VANILLA ICE-ICE-ICING

Ingredients
125 grams of salted butter
250 grams of pure icing sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk or cream
Pinch of salt

Method
  1. Beat butter on full speed until it turns a pale shade of white.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, milk or cream and salt to the butter and continue beating.
  3. Sift icing sugar thoroughly to ensure no lumps! No matter how slack you are feeling, you must sift the icing sugar thoroughly.
  4. Gradually add the icing sugar to the mixture and beat until the mixture is fluffy and smooth.

And that's all folks! Simple as one, two, three, A, B, C.  Like I said, if you give this recipe a go, let me know how you get on with it.

Here is a photo of some FML vanilla cupcakes I made for a 50th birthday.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

cupcake toppers in every store!

I just adore Christmas and everything it stands for - not just because I am a Christian but because I love the quality time spent with family over the Christmas period. Nothing beats over eating, getting your belly rubbed because you over ate and spending some quality time with family while eating left overs of course! I also appreciate the opportunity to show off my cupcaking skills! Because let's face it, I look for any excuse to make cupcakes.

This year is no different. Check out my Christmas topper collection for this year:







My favourite it the rudolph! Not only does he have a red nose, but it is a glittery red nose at that! On the scale of 1 to 10 for cutest, it definitely scores a 8.2 in my books!

I put these toppers to good use and made Zac's pre-primary class cupcakes for their end of year Christmas party. Check it out:


When I asked Zac what the boys in his class said about Aunty Tina's cupcakes, he said "Nothing because they were too busy enjoying your delicious cupcakes!" What a smart little boy ... he definitely knows all the right things to say.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The secret to making a cupcake bouquet

I have finally discovered the secret to making a cupcake bouquet! After two failed attempts, I have finally mastered the secret to a cupcake bouquet. There are two key things needed to successfully produce a cupcake bouquet these are:
  1. Making sure the icing is not too dense but also not to runny; and
  2. Ensure the foam sphere is not too angular, i.e. not too steep.
If the icing is too dense, than by the natural forces of gravity, the icing will fall off the cupcake. Therefore, the icing must be somewhat runny, so that it is not too dense but also sticks to the cupcake. Similarly, the foam sphere must not be too angular, otherwise once again, by the natural forces of gravity, the icing will fall off the cupcake.

To hold the cupcakes in place, I used tooth picks. I pierced the foam sphere with tooth picks and stuck the cupcakes on top. I filled the gaps between the cupcakes with scrunch up tissue paper. The final product looked a little something like this:



Last week, I made five cupcake bouquets - three for Zachy’s school teachers and two for my colleagues. I thought the hardest part of making a cupcake bouquet was making it! But it turns out I was wrong, so very wrong. The hardest part is actually transporting the cupcake bouquets. After many attempts, I have discovered that the best way to transport cupcake bouquets is on the floor of the passenger seat with beach towels wrapped around each bouquet. Also, I used a few boxes to wedge the cupcake bouquets together. Here is a photo of how I transported the cupcakes. Yes, I took a photo of the passenger seat while driving, well not exactly, I was at a red light – so it does not count!


So did the cupcake bouquets make the trip? They certainly did. The beach towels and boxes did the trick.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bro, bro, bro, bro ... bro ...

I  think it is safe to say that I am my brother’s number one fan! Afterall, he is a my bro. I think my family (including my brother) find it very odd how much I idolise him. There is a 12 year age gap between us, so he is more like a third parent to me. He did alot for my sister and I when we were growing up and still continues to look out for us – he is the bestest!

It was his birthday yesterday and of course I volunteered to make cupcakes! He is not very into sweets or desserts, so I made carrot cake cupcakes and cream cheese frosting! I used an online recipe for the carrot cake cupcakes but I free styled the cream cheese frosting. The cake itself was alright but the cream cheese frosting was YUM to the YUMMA! My sister Gina described the cream cheese frosting as “Delicious – I could swim in it!” In all honesty, the frosting was quite spectacular! It really isn’t fair that I talk up this cream cheese frosting and not share the recipe with you, so here it is:

Ingredients
250 grams of spreadable cream cheese
140 grams of sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Method
Beat all the ingredients together until smooth and fluffy.

Simple. Easy. Delicious!

As you know, cupcakes are nothing without toppers! So I also made toppers for the occasion.  My brother grew up watching Astro Boy and absolutely loved the cartoon show. He also kind of looks like Astro Boy, being an Asian with spikey hair and all! So I made a few Astro Boy fondant toppers to put on top of the carrot cake cupcakes.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Encore: Ahoy there me hearties!

“Now can I get an encore, do you want more?
Cookin’ raw with the Brooklyn boy,
So for one last time I need y'all to roar…”


For some odd reason, this blog post title reminded me of a Linkin Park and Jay-Z number that I use to be obsessed with when I was a teenager. As you can see, I can still remember the lyrics. Please do not judge me for my bad taste in music! I like to think that I have definitely lifted my music taste up a notch with my new found love for Glee!

Before you get concerned, I did not make a Linkin Park cupcake! I did however make some pirate theme cupcakes and cake pops over the weekend. Hence the ‘encore’ as I have already blogged about a pirate cupcake topper I made earlier this year (to read this earlier post, please click here). This bake job was for a very special friend of mine who was organising a pirate themed party.

Last time I made a pirate cupcake topper, I only had to make the one. This time round I made 60 pirate toppers! So yes, a little more than last time. I used 45 of the toppers to decorate cupcakes and I used the remaining 15 toppers to stick on top of the cake pops. Yes, I copped out! Cake pops are just so darn fiddly and I really feel out of my element when making them. So I cheated! I used the fondant toppers to make a pirate cake pop instead of using candy melts to decorate the cake pop. Pass judgement all you like – I stand by my decision to cheat.



The cupcakes and cake pops turned out pretty well. To be honest, I like the fact that the cupcakes and cake pops have the same pirate appear on them. I like consistency. After all, there is only one thing I like better than a themed party, a consistent themed party.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dora is so hot right now!

It was my little niece's, Emily, second birthday a few weeks ago and for her birthday I made her a Dora the Explorer cake and cupcakes. She is currently obsessed with Dora. Everything has to be Dora, from her shoes to her toy guitar. From what I can gather, Dora is so hot right now with all the kiddly winks.

It was a mammoth effort as those Dora characters were really hard to cut out! Not only were the Dora characters difficult to replicate, but my baking skills were really lacking that morning for some bizarre reason. Perhaps it was because I had no sleep as I was busy making those tricky Dora characters! Actually that is a lie – I had a hour’s power nap across my dining room chairs for an energy boost at 4AM. Anyway, there was something very wrong with my baking that morning. I burnt my vanilla cupcakes and could not get my buttercream frosting to work. My frosting was cluggy and had all these unnecessary lumps in them! To this day, I still do not know the reason behind this. I had sifted the icing twice and the butter was at room temperature. But nevertheless, there were lumps! Bah, it makes me furious just thinking about it.

The cake and cupcake arrangement was okay. It was nice. It sadly was not amazing though! I have had a long time to think about it, but I think I know the reason behind it. The Dora character colours are quite dull and pale and since the fondant toppers were placed on white buttercream frosting, the cupcakes did not POP as much as I would have liked. So lesson learnt, tears have been shed, and now I know, if your toppers are pale in colour, make sure you use colourful icing or sprinkles! 





Hope you had a lovely second birthday baby Emily!

"Swiper, no Swiping!"

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Letting go

Zac and Mini Mousey love to bake. To foster their interest, I try to have them over to my place every so often to bake either cupcakes or cookies. Baking with the kids has forcefully taught me to “let go” of my perfectionist ways and let the kids do what they will in the baking process. This includes adding all the ingredients into the mixer, spooning the mixture (which always prove to be a messy affair) and pipping on the icing (equally as messy affair, if not more).

A few weeks ago, I not only had the pleasure of having the two kids over to bake, but Zac brought along a little helper, ‘Pocket Bear’. Pocket Bear is a little blue bear from Zac’s school that each student takes turns to take home for the weekend. The students are asked to take photographs of the activities they do with Pocket Bear and share it with the class the following Monday when they return to school. So I was lucky enough to not only have my two gorgeous monkeys to help, but Pocket Bear to assist in the baking process as well.


To make Pocket Bear feel welcomed, I woke up extra early that morning to make personalised Pocket Bear cupcake toppers!


When Zac saw the Pocket Bear toppers, he informed me that my toppers were missing a critical element – Pocket Bear’s frowning mouth! :( So we sat down together and using my edible marker we drew on a frowning mouth on all the toppers.

So I may not have been entirely honest when I said earlier that baking with the kids has taught to be “let go”. I do let go in certain respects and not so much in others. An example of me letting go was allowing Zac to spoon in the shifted flour during the beating process. To contrast this, an example of me not letting go as such is when Zac asked if he could pipe the icing on the cupcakes that will be photographed and I said no because I wanted the photos to be perfect! I know, I am a horrible, horrible, horrible aunty!! For what it is worth, I feel terrible about it now. Yes, I am a control freak perfectionist who deprives their nephew of his fundamental right to pipe icing. For what it is worth, I did let him pipe the icing on the remaining cupcakes. See, I am not all bad and besides it was for the greater good.  The greater good being me and my pride! Nevertheless, look at how great the photo turned out (I may or may not have used a little Photoshop to enhance the photograph)!



Monday, 21 November 2011

Loud and proud Gleek

I am an absolute gleek! I heart Glee big time. I mean, let’s face it, what is there not to love?! The characters break out in song and dance at any given opportunity. How I wish my life was like that, only that I can't sing or dance, but that is besides the point!

Any way, last week I admitted to Brendyn that my favourite song of all time was ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by the Glee cast. I not sure why it is my favourite song of all time - perhaps it is because this is the scene when Finn told Rachel he loved her (FYI – I totally love the Finn and Rachel, will they or won’t they, relationship saga) or perhaps it is because the song is just so darn catchy! Either way, every time I listen to it, it makes me smile and I can’t help but do the shoulder pop.

Now, let’s shoulder pop together! Left shoulder, right shoulder, left shoulder, right shoulder...


Not to worry, I haven’t forgotten the blog rules! I know that every post on this blog has to relate to cupcakes in one way or another, after all the blog is titled ‘Top the Cupcake’ not Tina’s crazy pointless rants. Since I have been wanting to blog about Glee since the time I started this blog, I decided that enough was enough, and it was about time I combined my two passions, cupcakes and Glee! So I made a Glee cupcake!

As to be expected, the Glee cupcake topper was made out of fondant, so it is edible. However, I can't bring myself to eat it. I can't eat my beloved Glee. The cupcake, however, was a different story, I could eat several of those bad boys! The cupcake was a banana cupcake with cream cheese lemony goodness frosting. I will have to share the banana cupcake recipe with you later this week in a separate post because it is just too good to be kept a secret.


So yes, I made a Glee cupcake so that I could discuss my passion for Glee on my own blog! That’s right world, I am a Gleek – loud and proud! Are you?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Winners are grinners!

We won the Cakes Around Town Cake Pop Competition 2012 (I say ‘we’ because it really was a team effort)! We ended up with approximately 290 votes. Can I get a "whoo hoo"?!

I learnt a number of things from entering this competition. Not only am I uber competitive but Brendyn, our family and our friends are just as competitive! It was insane. People were sharing the Facebook link to everyone and anyone. Basically anyone who was on Facebook chat during the four days of voting was not safe from our spamming!

I also learnt that Brendyn and I should never enter into competitions again! We get way too invested into it. Despite saying this, we really did have a lot of fun becayse veryone got so into it! Seems that our family and friends are just as crazy competitive as Brendyn and I. People were asking for hourly updates of how many votes we had accumulated!

Despite the craziness, we got through and we won a $250 cake pop hamper. And now I have to use my winning to make cake pops for those who voted for me! Oh dear ... now I am second guessing whether this was a good promise to make.

But in all seriousness, thank you to all the people who took time to vote and those who asked their family and friends to help. I am very touched by your support and encouragement.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Help me, help you!

Great news everyone – we have made progress since my last blog post! It is with great pleasure for me to inform you that I am no longer sitting on 6 votes. Phew!  
I am now coming SECOND in the Cakes Around Town Cake Pop competition. Thank you to all who have voted! I am only 5+ votes (I know FIVE VOTES – what a nail biter) behind first place and the competition closes tomorrow at 1PM (WST). Please help me get across the line by clicking on this link and vote for me (10. Dog pops): http://apps.facebook.com/opinionpolls/index.php?pid=ABVKeaNVXKw


Please help me and in turn I will help you (not exactly sure how I will do that, but I promise to think about it…).
Thanks to all the people who have shared links on their facebook page to earn me some votes. I greatly appreciate it.

Monday, 14 November 2011

FINALIST!

Top the Cupcake is a finalist in the Cakes Around Town cake pop competition 2011. Whooo hooo! The Puppy Dog cake pops made it through. But I need your help to get me accross the line to win $250 worth of cake popping materials. At the moment I am sitting on 6 votes (I think I am coming second last). Needless to say, this is not doing good things to my self esteem. So, please vote for me!

The voting process is fairly simple. Please click on the following link and vote for '10. Dog pops': http://apps.facebook.com/opinionpolls/index.php?pid=ABVKeaNVXKw


Please don't let me end this competition with just 6 votes!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cupcakes for a cause!

Brendyn and I attended a quiz night tonight. I usually loathe the idea of quiz nights because I tend to lack in the area of general knowledge. But let me assure you, what I lack in general knowledge, I make up in cupcaking ability! Brendyn on the other hand is a wizz at all things general knowledge - he has a sponge for a brain. Nevertheless, I made an exception to this particular quiz night because it was for a great cause, the Oxfam East Africa appeal. In fact, it is such a great cause that I donated a box of Oxfam cupcakes for a silent auction.


Through out the night I was concerned that no one would bid on my cupcakes. At one stage, I was so worried that Brendyn offered to put a silent bid of $10, so at least the cupcakes would get sold! Lucky a generous man bid on the cupcakes and Brendyn was out of the hot seat.

Despite my disdain for quiz nights, I really enjoyed myself tonight! We were in great company, the food was fantastic and I even contributed a few answers here and there. All in all, a great night! My golly gosh, look at the time - it is way past my bed time (and it is a school night)!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Weird science

I have come to realise that there is quite a bit of science to baking. If you do not have the right fat to sugar ratio, the cupcakes will not rise accordingly. If you don’t have the right dry to wet ingredients ratio, the cupcakes will not cook properly. There are so many rules to baking that one must abide by in order to come out the other side with successful bake goods.

Last week, I made rainbow cupcakes. I realise how contradictory I may sound, given that in a few blog post ago I was saying how I like to avoid food colouring whenever possible. And let’s face it, rainbow cupcakes are the epitome of food colouring! But nevertheless, I made rainbow cupcakes. Yes, I am a walking, talking contradiction. But look how totally cute my rainbow cupcakes turned out.



So how does one make rainbow cupcakes? Well I just made my usual vanilla cupcakes and divided the batter into six small bowls. I then added the various colours of the rainbow (using Wilton’s colour gels) to each bowl, i.e. purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. I then had to carefully spoon each coloured batter into each cupcake patty. The trick here is to only put enough batter to cover the surface of the patty and the layer of batter before it. I used my index finger to smooth out each coloured batter – if you are going to try this at home, make sure you are super-duper careful as you do not want the coloured layers to mix. So when the cupcake patties went to the oven, they looked a little something like this:


In my not so scientific brain, I assumed that the cupcakes would rise and cook evenly. That is, as the cupcake cooked in the oven, the cupcake batter would rise and the coloured layers would stay in tack and rise and cook accordingly. I am not sure whether I am explaining myself very well, so here is a diagram of what I thought would occur in the oven baking process:


I was wrong – so, so, so very wrong. The cupcakes did not cook evenly at all. Instead, when you cut open the cupcakes, it looked like an explosion of colour. To be precise, the cupcakes looked like this:


So why is this the case?! As one of Brendyn’s smart engineer friends explained to me (that’s right Mitch, you have earned the title of “one” of Brendyn’s smart friends), the batter on the outside cooks faster than the batter on the inside as it has greater exposure to the heat generated from the oven. Given that the outside cooks faster than the inside of the cupcake, the outside batter rises which caused the middle batter to drop. Once again, not sure if I am making much sense, so please refer to the below diagram of what actually occurred in the oven baking process:


And this explains the explosion of colour. Weird science …

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Happy Melbourne Cup!

Apparently, the Melbourne Cup is the race that stops the nation (the Australian nation that is) once a year on the first Tuesday of November. I am not that big on horse racing personally, but I do appreciate the opportunity to wear a nice dress and hat. Oh, and the extended lunch break you get at work to watch the big race and to stuff your face with catered cocktail food (hmm...deep fried goodness). Anyway, enough about deep fried food as it is after all only 8AM and back to the story, I love any opportunity to wear hats, particularly because my face shape does not permit me to wear hats at the best of times as it makes me look somewhat like an idiot. But you see, Melbourne Cup is probably one of the opportunities where I can wear a hat and be judged somewhat less. I am sure people still think I look somewhat like an idiot, but at least they probably think “Oh, that idiot looking girl in the hat is trying to make an effort, how sweet”. 

At my work place this year, we decided that everyone should bring in a plate of food to share for the grand event. So sadly, no catered deep fried food this year. So naturally, being the cupcake obsessed person that I am, I volunteered to bring in cupcakes! As you are aware, this catered perfectly for my need and love for cupcake themes. So, I made Melbourne Cup cupcakes.


I woke up early this past Tuesday to make the cupcakes before work. I was so excited how the cupcakes turned out that I woke Brendyn up at 7AM in excitement and wished him a “Happy Melbourne Cup”. For some reason, he was not that enthused. I may or may not have picked a fight with him because he did not wish me a “Happy Melbourne Cup” in return – who knows these things?!

Happy Melbourne Cup! Hope you backed a winner.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Competitive crazy eyes

Ok, so I was not entirely honest in my last post. You see I really want to win that cake pop competition I was talking about in an earlier post and I may have spent a lunch date with my long-time friend, Jade, strategically planning what cake pops I would enter. At this stage, I had already decided on making the puppy dog cake pops. I explained to Jade my strategic reasons for wanting to make and submitting the puppy dog cake pops and she agreed it would be uber cute. Surprising enough, she did not seem to flinch when I got the crazy eyes and was explaining how I wanted to win!

Given that the cake pop competition permits two entries per person, I had to come up with another possible cake pop entry. Jade being quite the thinker, suggested I make a caterpillar cake pop. So who is the most famous caterpillar in the world?! Well, the Hungry Caterpillar of course. And it works well because the Hungry Caterpillar is so hot right now! And how do I know this? Well, my gorgeous little niece, Livy, just adores the Hungry Caterpillar. She is so cute and did I mention, has great taste. So I knew this cake pop idea was a winner.

So that is exactly what I did. I made the Hungry Caterpillar cake pops.


The competition closes on Thursday, 10 November (EST). So if you live in Australia and are a cake pop lover, make sure you enter!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

InsideOut

What an exciting day! The Top the Cupcake blog has cracked a mention in this month's InsideOut magazine. Huge thank you to Ebony Frost for the plug!



Tuesday, 1 November 2011

For the dog lovers (on core)

Cakes Around Town (baking supply store based in Queensland) is currently running a cake pop competition on its facebook page. The competition is open until Thursday, 10 November, so if you live in Australia and like to make cake pops, make sure you enter! The lucky winner wins $250 worth of cake popping goodness. Actually scrap that, don’t enter because that will increase me chances of winning!

As I am relatively new to the wonderful world of cake pops, I didn’t have anything too impressive to enter. So I spent last week thinking up cake pop ideas that I could make to enter the competition. I was very strategic with my cake pop approach. I am not sure whether I should admit this, but here goes nothing: I looked at my blog statistics to see what post had the most hits and believe it or not, it was the post regarding my puppy dog cupcakes, i.e. ‘For the dog lovers’. So it appears that there are more dog lovers in the world then I had thought! So I thought to myself, if my puppy dog cupcakes are getting the most hits, naturally puppy dog cake pops would get the same about of hits and hopefully be a competitive entry in the cake pop competition.


Given that I have already made the puppy dog toppers in the past, I didn’t think I would have any troubles. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Given that the puppy dog toppers were made out of fondant, I thought I would do the same for the cake pops. I made all my decorative dog features out of fondant first. I then used left over vanilla cupcakes to make my cake balls, which I dipped into melted white chocolate. So far, so good. However, when it came to sticking on the fondant dog features on to the cake pops, the cake popping process quickly took a turn for the worst. Once I stuck on the fondant dog features, the melted chocolate went everywhere and anywhere. It started to drip off the cake pop, down the pop stick and all over the fondant features. I had to work quickly to smooth out the chocolate and wipe it off the fondant features as the melted chocolate started to set. Needless to say, this baking adventure did involve cursing of some kind. 

Although it was not as easy as I thought, I got there in the end and the final product was pretty darn cute. To keep with theme, I decided to photograph the cake pops outside and have Abby’s kennel in the background. As I was photographing the cake pops, Abby kept coming in and out of her kennel. So I decided to use her cute looks to further promote the cake pops. After much bribery of smackos, I manage to get her to sit still for the photograph. And here we have it.



Fingers crossed my crazy competitve ways pays off annd my puppy dog cake pops make it into the final round of the cake pop competition. Will keep you posted.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Think quick, think pink!

Like most girls, I like the colour pink (as you could probably gather from my blog page). For a good period of my life, I liked pink so much that I only wore pink. How I wish I was joking. Everything had to be pink! When I tell people this, they simply just laugh it off because they must think this was a phase I went through as a child. But what these people do not realise is that this phase was for a decent chunk of my life when I should have known better. In fact, this phased started from when I was 16 to about 20. Yes, I was a 20 year old who wore only PINK. For instance, check out this pink ensemble:


Please note the glitter pink top, pink skirt, pink shoes and to top it all off a pink scarf, of course! This photo was taken when I was 16 (at the start of the pink craze). I looked cute, in a pink over the top sort of way.

This post is not supposed to be about my love for pink, but instead something far more important. In Australia during the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness is promoted. At a national level, the profile colour for Breast Cancer awareness is PINK!

Every year without fail, one of the departments at my work organises a bake sale to fundraise for this great cause. To assist in the fundraising, I made pink cake pops. Yes, I made cake pops over cupcakes – I am clearly a bad person!



But not just any old bland cake pop (because I am not bland and have never been called bland … well that is not true, but that is a story for another day). The cake pops were pink on the outside and guess what … pink on the inside.


So in order to make the pink cake mixture, I did have to use pink food colouring. As you know, I prefer to use as little food colouring as possible in my baking, since it is not very good for you (Yes, I realise how ironic this statement is, given I am the picture of health who eats an abundance of fast food and baked treats on a regular basis). However, this was for a good cause, so I was willing to comprise.

So think quick, think pink and support Breast Cancer Awareness. In my case, think quick and do not wear so much pink!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Making the circus sexy!

Last weekend I had a bake order of 100 cupcakes for a 30th birthday party. Like every good party, this party was themed, more specifically the theme was 'Burlesque Circus'' Initially I was a little concerned about how the heck I was going to decorate the cupcakes to theme because tet's be honest, it is not the easiest theme to make into cupcakes.

However, after extensive internet research and talking to the client, things started to come together. Everything had to be black, white and red and the cupcakes were no exception! Chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes were made for the occasion.

A few weeks ago I had to travel to Singapore for work (work-work, as in my real full time work), so while I was there I visited a baking supply store. I brought a pack of cute mini Noah's Ark animal cookie cutters which was mighty handy for this bake job! I used the lion, elephant and pony cutters as these animals are particularly circus relevant. To dress up the animal toppers because they looked pretty boring at this stage, I added little fondant props to them. I had the lions balance on a little stepper, elephants dressed in a black and gold cloaks and balancing on a ball, and ponies with cloaks and head pieces.


Since I had the circus toppers covered, I had to make some toppers to cater for the burlesque theme. Naturally, the first things that came to mind was corsets, shoes, fans and boobs! I thought that boob toppers would be some what controversial, and being the bland person that I am, I decided to be a little less controversial and a little more main stream, so I decided to make sexy legs instead. That is, I used the cupcake frosting to make a skirt like effect and had the sexy legs come out of the cupcake (I saw this idea on The Cupcake Blog a few months ago and instantly fell in love and knew I had to make it).


On the day the cupcake order was due, I still was not entirely happy with the cupcake plans I had drawn up. I thought the cupcake display was missing something. Then WHAM BAM THANK YOU MAM it hit me - make a large cupcake circus tent to sit at the top of the cupcake tower. So I got to work early that morning to bake and put the cupcake circus tent together. I used fondant to decorate the tent with red and white strips. Even after it was decorated I still was not satisfied. I used the remaining coloured fondant to cut out letters stating 'Burlesque Circus' and used glitter to jazz it up. And still I was not satisfied, which is some what unusual because shiny glittery things usually makes everything better (which Brendyn has come to learn in recent times)! Still not 100% satisfied, I had to put my thinking cap on, after much thinking, I came accross this thought: I should make a sexy silhouette of a lady doing acrobats from the circus tent top to fill in the space. And that is exactly what I did.


Since I wasted so much time on getting the giant cupcake circus tent right, I had to bake the 100 cupcakes against the clock. Flour, sugar and eggs was flying everywhere. Once all the cupcakes were baked, they were all packed into the car to be delivered and set up at the party venue. I left the kitchen in what can only be described as an absolute freaking cupcaking mess! I got to the venue on time for set up and put together the finishing touches. It all came together quite nicely.




To celebrate my first real BIG cupcake order, Brendyn and I went out for dinner after delivering the cupcakes and I ordered myself a mean lychee cocktail. Being an Asian I get tipsy somewhat quickly and easily, so after the one cocktail I was red in the face and feeling somewhat "relaxed". This made coming home to the cupcake explosion that occurred in the kitchen some what easier. I happily cleaned the kitchen in my tipsy state and spent the rest of the evening on the couch watching Saturday Night reruns with the Batman.

Not too sure whether I personally made circus sexy, but my cupcakes sure did!!