Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cake pop machines

Over a month ago, Living Social (a coupon website) had cake pop machines for sale at a ridiculously discounted rate. For those who have not come across a cake pop machine before, it is basically an oven like contraption that you bake your cake mixture in and it forms a perfect ball. Therefore, making it a heck of a lot easier to make cake pops!

When I first saw this coupon, I must admit, I did consider buying it. I mean it would make by cake popping life so much easier. However, then I thought to myself: “Where’s the love?” (Not to worry, I am not going to recite the Black Eyed Peas song, despite how tempting it may be!) I remembered why I choose to bake on a daily basis and it because I love the process. Although I never use to, I love starting from scratch and producing little edible pieces of art! Now if I was to buy the cake pop machine, it would eliminate basically the whole baking/making process. There would be no need to bake a slab of cake, crumb the cake, mix the crumbs with icing and roll the mixture into balls. Although these steps are at times tedious, a lot of love goes into these steps and I believe it makes a lot of difference.

With a lot of things becoming mass produced, it is nice to keep some traditions. I know I sound like an old grandma and I am talking about cake pops which is a fairly new baking phenomenon, but hear me out. Although the machines are convenient (there is no denying that), in my opinion, what you save on time, you lack in taste. Basically, using the machines you will make perfectly round sponge cakes. Whereas if you were to make it the traditional way, you would make somewhat round, dense sponge cakes, but incredibly moist from the icing. I am sure once you decorate the cake pops, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But once you bite into that cake pop, would you be able to? I think so.

Although this blog post sounds overly critical and somewhat righteous, please do not take it that way. It is just my take on the cake pop machine! In this day and age, time is so precious and if there are ways we can cut corners or do what is convenient, then we usually do – I mean I definitely guilty of that! However, this cake pop machine is just not for me. Although I may choose to take the convenient route in other facets of my life, baking is not one of them. Please know that I don’t judge the people who use the cake pop machine, I just choose not to.

My favourite thing about making cake pops is watching the faces of people when they bite into a beautifully decorated cake pop and taste a yummy homemade moist cake!  Ahhh, FML* on a stick – what more could you want?!

**For new blog readers, FML stands for my cupcake requirements – fluffy, moist and light (FML).  

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Vintage Vixen Fair

The Vintage Vixen Fair has been and gone – Sunday, 27 May 2012 to be exact! Having had the experience of being a part of Unwrapped under my belt, I approached the Vintage Vixen Fair with care and caution. I set a realistic schedule and was adamant that I was sticking to it. The plan was  this:

·         Thursday – Shop for ingredients.
·         Friday morning – Make all the fondant toppers.
·         Friday evening – Make all the cake pops.
·         Saturday morning – Package all the cake pops.
·         Saturday evening to early hours of Sunday morning – Make cupcakes and if at all possible, squeeze in a few hours’ sleep.

Did I stick to my realistic schedule? No, I certainly did not. The only thing I stuck to was shopping for all the ingredients on Thursday. Sigh – will I ever learn? Doubtful.

So on Friday morning, I decided to go to the shops to pick up some last minute items to dress the stall. While at the shop, I received a telephone call from my partner in crime, also known as my business partner and sister-in-law, Adelyn, who thought it would be a great idea to dress our store with a candy buffet! What I thought was a great decorative idea, then turned into me making macarons and her shopping for all the decorative items required to make this vision a reality! So I madly rushed around the shops and picked up the ingredients needed to make macarons.

I got home and made all the fondant toppers. To fit in with the Vintage Vixen Fair theme, I made famous vintage Hollywood actors and actresses toppers, including: Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley and Audrey Hepburn.  I think I sat in the same spot for 10 hours straight making endless toppers. All up, I made over 700 toppers! Needless to say, it was somewhat EPIC.

By the time I put the toppers aside, it was 10PM. I decided I would make my cake for the cake pops. From memory, I made nine batches of my vanilla cupcake recipe. I put it in a gigantic baking tin and went for a little nap. Two hours later, I woke from my slumber and removed the cake tin from the oven. It appeared to be cook and by this stage, I was pretty proud of myself – I had slept and made my cake pop cake! The feeling of absolute bliss consumed me!

I then got stuck into my macarons. Surprising my macarons turned out perfectly! I will have to blog about this experience separately another time with some tips. Once I had made all the macarons, in my sleepless state I decided to individually wrap each macaron like little lollies. I thought it would fit nicely into our candy buffet display. In my head, I didn’t think it would take long but this genius idea cost me over 2 hours!

After I finished making and wrapping the macarons, I checked on the cake for the cake pops. And to my dismay, it was undercooked. I tried cutting the cake into quarters and baked them individually, but it work. I outside of the cake kept burning and the inside of the cake wouldn’t cook. Regrettably I had to throw out the cake slab. So let this be a lesson, always follow the recipe and do not try and cut corners by making a massive cake batter and trying to cook it into one tray at once. So yes peeps, I had to start again from scratch. The blissful feeling quickly faded and the feeling of devastation took its place.  

Before I knew it, it was day light again and Saturday morning was upon me! I frantically made 150 cake pops. And somewhere in between, I had the lovely Dayna and Adelyn over packaging the cake pops and poof just like that it was 8PM! At this stage, I had baked no cupcakes and the Vintage Vixen Fair was in 14 hours! One word comes to mind, YIKES!

So I did what any good baker would do in my situation, I baked the night through and iced cupcakes into the wee hours of the morning. When Adelyn came in the morning to pick me and my 700 cupcakes up, I was a little dazed and confused but my cupcakes looked great!

We set up our stall and had a relatively successful day at the fair. Check out the photos below. Our little stall reminds me of a little candy shop. Oh, how I wish I had a shop front!

Can you imagine having a cuppa and cupcake in a cupcakery decorated like this? One can only dream ...