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):

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


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':

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


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.