Thursday, 30 June 2011

Trifle cupcake

I have just engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct. I didn't actually make a trifle cupcake as such, I made a trifle from left over cupcakes which I had froze a week ago and defrosted. I don't know why, but I don't like to eat bake goods that have been frozen and defrosted. It just freaks me out. I am sure that if I was given a defrosted cupcake and was not told, I wouldn't know any better and it wouldn't bother me. If I know it has been frozen, I just can’t handle it!

Not wanting to waste the frozen cupcakes, I decided to make trifle using the cupcakes. Please see image below.

I cut the cupcakes into thirds and spread jam (raspberry flavoured of course, my fav!) on one side. Being the incredibly healthy person that I am (HA!) I cut little pieces of canned peaches and put it on top of the cupcake base.

Then in went the jelly.

While waiting for the jelly to set, I got started on the custard. I used vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract and it made the custard all the more yummier. Nothing quite beats homemade custard. 30 minutes later, once the jelly had set and the custard was cool, in went the layer of custard.

Then I had to repeat the process, another layer of cupcake, jam, fruit and jelly. And back in fridge for it to all set.

Finally, I put the top of the cupcake on the jelly layer and piped some cream on top. And to top it all off, a glazed cherry.

What do I like most about trifle? How the sponge cake layer tastes after being set in jelly. Oh and the cream, oh the cream! Yum! It is now breakfast time or should I say, trifle time?!

Monday, 27 June 2011

I do honestly love you Abby dog

I feel bad about my last post. I just want to clarify that I do really love Brendyn's, oops I mean "our" little Abby dog! She is very cute. What breed is she? I have no idea. She looks like the little white dog from the My Dog food advertisements. Cute right?!

I was so proud one night when I was baking and she came up to me sniffing looking for food. There was no chicken in sight, just the smell of glorious cupcakes. My little Abby dog was wanting cupcakes! Never have I been so proud. At that moment, I knew that Abby was truly mine. Who would have thought, the pup would follow in my footsteps and likes cupcakes?! So being the good step mummy that I am, I decorated the cupcake nicely put it on a plate and gave it to her. She ate it all up and joined her daddy in the living room. The next day I was so proud that I had to tell Brendyn. The conversation went like this:
T: I realised last night that Abby is truly my dog and a part of me.
B: "Yes, darling, love of my life, I am not worthy to have you, you are brilliant, your cupcakes are amazing"**, what made you realised this?
T: Well, last night I gave her a cupcake and she ate it. She likes cupcakes! Therefore, we are practically the same person.
B: Firstly, she is a dog, she'll eat anything. Secondly, cupcakes aren't good for dogs!
T: Oh!
**This is an accurate account of how I remember the situation. As there were no eye witnesses, it is my word against Brendyn's. Who are you going to believe? He doesn’t even know how to make cupcakes!

I honestly thought I was being a good mummy and that Abby and I had a deep cupcake connection. Clearly not.

Anyway, just because Abby can't eat cupcakes, there was nothing stopping me putting her on a cupcake! When I made Gina's dog themed cupcakes, I made a little Abby fondant topper. I put the little Abby cupcake topper on a chocolate cupcake (as she loves chocolate). Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of Abby on her chocolate cupcake throne. I only took a photo of the Abby dog topper on a vanilla cupcake. Ah well, you are going to have to use your imagination.

And before all you dog lovers go troppo on me, I know chocolate is bad for dogs and I have not fed Abby chocolate; cupcakes, yes; chocolate no. The reason I know she likes chocolate is because she has in the past eaten her fair share of chocolate. One notable chocolate eating incident is when Abby went all Matrix and leaped into the air out of nowhere and snatched a Tim Tam (iconic Australian chocolate biscuit) out of Brendyn's brother's hand as he was about to put it in his mouth. She makes me so proud.

I didn't have the heart to eat the Abby dog cupcake. This is proof that I love her too much to eat her in cupcake form. See Abby dog, I really do love you!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

For the dog lovers

I don't know why people find this so shocking, but Brendyn and I have a dog, Abby. Correction, people don't find it shocking that Brendyn has a dog, but they do find it somewhat perplexing that I do! Well in all fairness, Abby was originally Brendyn's dog and when Brendyn and I got married, I was the evil step mum that stole her daddy!

All jokes a side, it's not as though I hate dogs. I am just not overly fond of them either or animals in general really. I think dogs they are quite cute. But yeah ... can't say I am an animal person, let alone a doggy person. Funny story, when I first met Brendyn's Nanna she asked me "Do you like animals dear? Dogs?" I was so nervous and wanting to make a good impression I blurted out "Of course, who doesn't?!" and thank goodness I did because she then proceeded to say "Good! Every good person does." Yes, I lied to Brendyn's Nanna! I am a bad person - maybe Brendyn's Nanna is on to something. Please don't tell Nana I lied to her!

Ok cupcakes, long story short, my sister, Gina (yes, my name is Tina, well Christina really, and my sister's name is Gina), asked me to bake 20 cupcakes to celebrate her colleague’s 50th birthday. Knowing I like to work to a theme, she told me to make it mathematical and to incorporate dogs if possible. So I thought long and hard on this and decided to make 'five types of dogs' multiply by 'five types of dogs' multiply by 'two types of dogs' equals 'happy 50th birthday'. Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the whole mathematical cupcake equation as it didn't fit into my iphone camera screen. Insert sad face here.

I had to make the dogs out of fondant first to top each cupcake. Based on the cupcake mathematical equation I needed to make three types of dogs. As you can see below, my mathematics is clearly not up to scratch as I ended up making five types of dogs! Whoops! I can't claim the credit for the creativity of the dog fondant toppers as I copied the topper designs I saw from google images (oh, how I heart google, but that is another blog post in it's self).

On the next night, I had to make the cupcakes. I decided to go simple with this bake job. I made 10 Lindt chocolate cupcakes and 10 vanilla cupcakes. The Lindt chocolate cupcakes turned out fine. The vanilla cupcakes were another story. The first vanilla cupcake recipe I followed was horrible - bland, bland, bland, bland! So I made a second batch using a different recipe and in all honesty it was the best vanilla cupcake I have ever had my way with! It was as though all the stars in the universe lined up, the world was at ease and this cupcake was made. The cupcake was all so fluffy and moist with a hint of vanilla (not over bearing in the slightest). My favorite thing about this vanilla cupcake was how extremely fluffy it was. It was so light - so light that I ended up eating three of them.

Sadly, I forgot to put the lid on the air tight container that housed the cupcakes I was bringing into work, so the vanilla cupcakes dried out a bit. I suspect the same might have happened to Gina's box of cupcakes as I didn't have an air tight container to give her the cupcakes in. What a sad state of affairs.

Speaking of vanilla cupcakes, I could really go one or three!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Iced, iced coffee (insert funky beats of Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice)

Brendyn loves Master's iced coffee (not Browne's has to be Master's). Me, not so much as it gives me tummy ouchies. What’s my preferred hot beverage of choice? At present, it is a soy chai latte (extra hot of course). Yes, a little wanky but deliciously tasty.

Last year, Brendyn and I challenged each other to give up the one junk food that we consume on a regular basis for that entire year. He gave up Master's iced coffee and I gave up hot chips. Did we last? Let’s just say it was a painful 2010 but we managed to get through it. To welcome 2011 (on new year’s eve) Wanna-T Baker, T2 Chaddy D,  through hot chips in my mouth and Brendyn gulped down a carton of ice coffee. Classy and nasty.

So what does this have to do with cupcakes? Nothing really, other than the fact I made coffee cupcakes with creamy coffee icing last week. Using Master's iced coffee as my inspiration. Now I am not sure whether it was because I was particularly hungry, or because I hadn’t had my sugar hit for the day, but those coffee cupcakes were delicious (if I do say so myself)! The cupcakes base was moist with a slight hit of espresso coffee flavour and the creamy coffee icing was to die for. This may have to be my next recipe release, so watch this space.

Hmmm, what next? Perhaps a soy chai latte cupcake (extra hot) is in order.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Recipe release: Mint Slice cupcakes

A number of people have requested my Mint Slice cupcake recipe and wanting to share the cupcake love, I have decided to post the recipe on my blog. It is surprisingly quite simple!

Firstly, you need to make a batch of chocolate cupcakes. Any chocolate cupcakes will do the trick. I usually make my trustworthy Lindt chocolate cupcakes that has yet to fail me. If you are feeling a little lazy, I would suggest using Ms Crocker's moist chocolate cupcake mix. Just for the record, since making the baking from scratch pledge, I have not cheated with Ms Crocker. I have been faithful! I still have two boxes of Ms Crocker's cake mix in my pantry. So they are up for the taking if anyone wants them.

Oh dear, I seem to have gone off track. Let's get back to talking about the wonderful world of Mint Slice cupcakes. Once you have prepared the cupcakes, leave them aside to cool. While the cupcakes are cooling, you can work on the all important frosting. First, you need to make the mint frosting. You will find that your electrical beater will get an absolute beating (get it, get it?! Electrical beater, getting a beating. I just LOL!) making the Mint Slice frosting as your electrical beater will be on the entire time. To begin with, beat 90 grams of salted butter (at room temperature) until the butter is pale. Add 3 tablespoons of thickened cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 5 teaspoons of peppermint essence and continue to beat well until all of the wet ingredients are well combined. Add 4 cups of sifted icing sugar - add one cup at a time and beat well. Lastly, add a pinch of salt for luck and yes, you guessed it, beat well. There you have it, mint frosting (this should be enough frosting for icing approximately 24 cupcakes).

Put the Mint Slice frosting aside and now get started on the dark chocolate frosting. Ok, so I can't claim credit for this icing as I modelled my dark chocolate frosting from Martha Swift's and Lisa Thomas' 'Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery' recipe book. So this is me giving due credit when credit is due (FYI - their cupcakes are AMAZING! I cannot wait to visit their bakery when I visit London next year!). Firstly, beat 250 grams of salted butter (at room temperature) until the butter is pale. Add 1 tablespoon of thickened cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 150 grams of melted dark chocolate and continue to beat well until all of the wet ingredients are well combined. Add 250 grams of sifted icing sugar - add one third of the icing sugar at a time and beat well. Once again, add a pinch of salt for luck and beat it!

By the time it takes you to make the two frostings, your chocolate cupcakes should be cooled. Pipe the mint frosting on top of each cupcake by starting from the centre of the cupcake and rotate the piping bag in a simple circular motion. Only pipe one layer of the mint frosting - I know fellow mint lovers would be tempted to pipe more but resist the temptation! Once you have piped all the cupcakes with the mint frosting, pipe on the dark chocolate frosting in a similar way, but instead of piping one layer, pipe the dark chocolate frosting into an icing tower (I am not sure if that is the correct icing terminology?). If you are confused, please refer to the image below.

There you have it! Mint Slice cupcakes.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hideously ugly, but ridiculously rich. Could you, would you, do it?

I would like to start off this blog post by letting everyone know that English is my Second Language. Yes, I am ESL. I have had numerous, dreadfully embarrassing ESL mishaps in my time (horrendous for me, crazy good times for everyone else). I am like Gloria from Modern Family (minus the lush long hair, oversized boobs but yet perfectly proportioned and fiery Latino personality. Oh, and replace the Colombian accent with an Aussie quasi Asian accent).

I have been known to mistake certain phrases or lyrics in my time. Just to name a recent few, I thought:

·         the lyrics of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor (the theme song to the Rocky movies) was: “Kiss me, I am tiger...”
·         the lyrics of ‘Break My Stride’ by Matthew Wilder was: “Ain’t nothing gonna break my spine, ain’t nobody gonna hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving!”
·         Sex and The City was ‘Sex in The City’ (and if you look at one of my previous blog posts, I made this mistake though out the entire post).

In addition, during a recent case study I was coordinating, I called it a ‘stimulated’ case study, when it was, in fact, a simulated case study. I could never understand why the students were always chuckling whenever I reminded them of their upcoming stimulated case study!

Yesterday, I had a dreadfully embarrassing ESL encounter. I made Ferrero Rocher cupcakes for a briefing I was organising (yes, I have to bribe colleagues to come to my briefings with promises of cupcakes). For some reason, and even to this very moment, I kept calling the cupcakes Roferro Rocher! Why? I don’t know. It’s FERRERO! But alas, I can’t get it into my ESL head. The only reason I picked up on the mistake was because my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Ebonee, told me after briefing! Fo' shame.

So how did I make the Roferro Rocher or Ferrero Rocher (whatever you want to call it)? It was quite simple actually. I made my all time favourite Lindt chocolate cupcakes. I then pierced a hole in the centre of the cupcake and placed a little hazelnut in the centre. I then piped nutella frosting (yes, nutella = yumma) into the hole and around the top of the cupcake and poured melted Lindt hazelnut milk chocolate onto the top of each cupcake. And there you have it, Ferrero Rocher cupcakes!

The cupcakes turned out hideously ugly, but ridiculously rich and delicious. Could you, would you, do it? Eat it, that is ...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Daddy’s always right, listen to your daddy.

Apologises for my lack of blogging these past few days. It appears as though I have come down with a cold/flu type sickness. Sad but true. I called my daddy a few days ago to tell him that I wasn’t feeling well and he was beside himself with concern (yes, I am my daddy’s little girl; yes, I like to play up to it; yes, I am too old to be referring to myself as my daddy’s little girl). He made me promise to call him every day after to give him an update on my health, which I willing obliged.  What made me giggle was every time I called him this week, he ended the conversation with “Do not bake any cupcakes. Do not eat any cupcakes. Call me tomorrow!” I love it how well my daddy knows me. Despite being sick as a dog this past week, I am still craving cupcakes! Vanilla cupcakes in particular.

Being the good daughter that I am, I have listened to my daddy and not baked or touched a cupcake. Like a good little girl, I listened to my daddy and I have had ample rest, lots of water and plenty of vitamin C. However, he never said not to blog about cupcakes, so based on a technicality, here I am blogging!

Since I am unable to bake or eat cupcakes, I have decided to blog in retrospect about one of my cupcake visit to the adorable cafe that is Sherbet.

There were quite a few cupcake choices on offer at Sherbet on the Sunday that I had visited, but I couldn’t resist the look of their raspberry cupcake. The raspberry cupcake was nice. The cupcake itself was quite moist and flavoursome. I would have liked an additional one or two raspberries in the cupcake itself as the raspberry flavouring was a little faint. The raspberry icing, like the cupcake, was also nice (my goodness, I really need to learn more adjectives if I want to be up there with the likes of food critics such as my beloved Manu Feildel). Unlike my cupcakes, the icing to cupcake ratio was quite tamed at Sherbet as the icing was spread on. The icing was perfect, not too sweet and packed with raspberry flavour. The only issue was there wasn’t enough of it! And to top it off, each raspberry cupcake was topped off with a little raspberry jelly candy. Short, simple and sweet.

So did the Sherbet cupcake rocked my world and knocked off my socks off? I am afraid not. It was a pleasant experience, an experience that I wouldn’t mind reliving. But I can’t say it changed my cupcake perspective on life.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Whoever said that looks does not matter is lying!

I was mortified to wake up on Friday morning to find an article trashing cupcakes had been published on Debbie Moose, the author of the article, said that the primary reason people choose to eat cupcakes is because they are ‘cute’. She titled the article “Keep your cupcakes; cute doesn’t cut it”. She makes a good argument. Had I read the article a month or so ago, I might have agreed with her. The reason why I got into cupcakes was because they are so darn cute.

When I first started baking, I openly admitted that my primary focus was cupcake decorating. However, recently I realised that in order to make the perfect cupcake, the cupcake itself had to be absolutely delicious! I now pride myself on not only making aesthetically pleasing cupcakes, but tasty ones too!

Moose did make some good arguments with respect to cupcakes. She stated that “Cupcakes have a shorter shelf life than full-size cakes. They go stale and dry-tasting faster, because they have more exposed surface area”. Although this is true, I believe a good cupcake baker always makes her or his cupcakes no more than 12 hours before the cupcake occasion. Otherwise, the cupcakes will lose their moistness, and let’s be honest, that is not fun for anyone.

Moose also argued that the icing to cupcake ratio was out of control. Personally, I think that is just outrageous! I am shocked that anyone would or could even say that. I am speechless. I have nothing further to say with respect to this matter.

So does looks matter? Absolutely! Let's face it, you notice what a cupcake looks like first, before you sink your teeth into it! But having said that, taste is equally as important. The cupcake must be moist and fluffy but not too sweet. Similarly, the icing must be light and smooth but again not too sweet and most definitely not taste like mock cream! And then, everything needs to be put together nicely. Attention to detail is important, from choosing the right cupcake wrapper to piping (or for those of you who are speaders, spreading) on the icing. And like any good cupcake, topped off with an unquie topper!

One of the best cupcake books I own is ‘Hello, Cupcake!’. My mother-in-law brought it for me as a Christmas gift last year. The book is all about the wonders of cupcake decorating. The cupcake decorations in this book are amazing, I would even go as far as to say mind blowing.

I have only made one cupcake design from this book thus far – insect themed cupcakes. I made these cupcakes for Zachy’s primary class for his birthday this year. Given that he is in an all boy class, they were an absolute hit! The boys loved them. Do you think the boys would have loved them if they were ugly? Of course not!

Call me superficial, but looks does matter! First comes looks, then comes taste. Harsh, but fair ...

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The bee all and end all ...

One of my favourite places to eat cupcakes in Perth at the moment is Baby Cakes. I usually visit the store on Wanneroo Road in Yokine, which is conveniently just around the corner from me. I was first introduced to Baby Cakes after attending a birthday party which was stocked with their cupcakes as far as the eye could see! I automatically developed an affinity with their cute little flower cupcakes.

Liking Baby Cakes’ cupcakes so much, I decided to use them for my and Brendyn’s engagement party. I ordered a batch of my favourite mini pink flower cupcakes. But as with any good party, I had to make sure the engagement party had a theme, and more importantly make sure the theme was carried through all facets of the party! Long story short - Brendyn and I met after I got stung by a bee. Being the rational level headed person that I am, I was concerned that I might need to be rushed into hospital, like a scene from ER. Instead of calling triple zero, he said “She’ll be right – go get yourself an ice pack”! What a romantic!

Okay, so back to cupcakes. We had a bee themed engagement party. FYI - we also carried the bee theme through to our wedding. To “bee” in line with the all important theme (my goodness, I crack myself up sometimes!), I had to make my own vanilla cupcakes and bee toppers. At this stage, I had not entered into the wonderful world of fondant, so I decided to make shortbread cookies in bee shapes. I was unable to find a bee cookie cutter, so I had to mould the cookie dough into bee shapes by hand.

The cupcake platter turned out fantastic! The mini pink flower cupcakes from Baby Cakes looked great next to my mini white vanilla cupcakes with bee shortbread cookies.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

I love winning!

Let me put it into perspective for you. I love cupcakes almost as much as I love winning - and we all know how much I love cupcakes! Yes, I am a teeny weeny bit competitive. So, can you imagine how much I love combining winning WITH cupcakes?! A LOT!

Last year a few colleagues and I hosted a little bake off amongst ourselves. Desperately wanting to win the bake off I researched ‘amazing cupcakes ideas’ through Google. After viewing several websites, I came across a Pac Man cupcake idea and knew I had to make it.

In order to make the cupcake Pac Man images, I had to use fondant. I made my favourite white mudcake cupcakes and covered the top of the cupcakes with fondant. I didn’t think to ice the cupcakes with buttercream frosting or chocolate ganache first, so the cupcakes ended up being a bit dry. What’s the moral of the story? Always ice one’s cupcakes to ensure tastiness! 

Although the cupcakes didn’t taste the best, they sure did look cool. Was it enough to get me across the line and win the bake off? It was. Pac Man for the win!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

What I wouldn’t do for sticky date pudding

Sticky date pudding puts the yum in yumma! I like all types of sticky date pudding – frozen, freshly baked, slightly stale, whatever. Provided there is some sugary syrup goodness, I am a happy camper. But my favourite sticky date pudding of all time is the sticky date pudding made by my sister-in-law, Ashleigh. Sticky date pudding is her specialty. I am salivating at the mere thought of it.

Last year, Ashleigh noticed that I had done a lot of themed cupcakes for the nieces and nephew and got a little jealous. Ashleigh demanded that I make her a set of themed cupcakes, specifically ‘Ashleigh’s Day at the Zoo’ themed. Like me, she is the youngest of three and being the youngest, we get everything and anything we want! And, especially since she threatened that she wouldn’t make sticky date pudding again, until I did!

Not wanting to risk never eating Ashleigh’s sticky date pudding, I obliged and made her the darn cupcakes! I made animal figurines (including Ashleigh) out of fondant and sat them on top of a mud cake cupcake.  As you can see below, I made a lion, hippo, giraffe, monkey, elephant, polar bear and turtle. I made a little Ashleigh with a hockey stick as she is quite the hockey player (some would say she is slightly above average).

I really enjoy playing with fondant and making fondant figurines. It takes me back to my childhood as it is like playing with play dough!

So after all this, did Ashleigh end up making me the sticky date pudding? Damn right she did! I ate my share, Brendyn’s share and I took the left overs home and ate it for breakfast. Yum, yum, yumma!

Friday, 3 June 2011

To spread or not to spread? That is the question ...

It has been a while since I last blogged, but this week has just slipped away from me. I have been quite busy this week as I had to work late a couple of nights and had to bake for various occasions the other nights, and before I knew it, it was the weekend. So here I am ...

On Friday morning, I woke up in the wee hours to bake for both Brendyn’s and my respective work places. Due to popular demand, I made my Mint Slice cupcakes again. The thought my early morning baking adventure would be a walk in the park given that I only made the cupcakes earlier that week, but it turned out to be an absolute disaster!

Disaster #1 - I over cooked the cupcakes. I wasn’t too distraught by this because I thought I could make up for it if I made the icing perfectly. The peppermint icing turned out quite well and piped on quite nicely. I wish I could say the same about my dark chocolate icing. This leads me to Disaster #2. After I had melted the Lindt chocolate to pour into my icing mixture, I didn’t bother to check whether there were any lumps. And my goodness - were there lumps!! The icing kept clogging at the tip of the icing nozzle. I had to change and use three different icing nozzles. After much blasphemy and tears (maybe), I decided to spread the chocolate icing on.

I have always piped my icing onto cupcakes. Never have I spread icing on to a cupcake. Although I am not against the notion of spreading icing on one’s cupcake, I feel as though piped icing looks much more inviting. I guess I am just not a spreader. Are you?