Superman cake

Do you have a superhero in your life?

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For one family, the superhero is the dad and I was asked to make a simple vanilla-lemon sponge cake with the Superman logo on it.

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A few days before the cake was baked, I sourced for the logo and resized it to fit the pan which I’m going to use.

imageCut out the shape of the logo and trace it onto a cardboard and you would need to cut it (the cardboard) again before using it as a guide to cut out the shape from yellow fondant. I added tylose powder to the fondant as I need it to harden. You would need to use your sugarcraft tools to cut out the shape from the fondant.

imageUsing the cardboard as a guide again, cut out the finer details from the red fondant (with tylose powder) and very carefully put the red piece on the yellow one and leave to dry.

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After the logo has dried (which takes a few hours), I used the black food coloring and paint the outline. This has to be done really carefully as you want the border to be neat!

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Once that is done, you would need to let it dry again. The paint will take a while to dry up. To quicken it, you may add extract or alcohol to the coloring so that it will help in the drying process.

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Remember the cardboard that you have in the beginning, that is useful when you carve the shape of the cake. Assemble as you would for other cakes. I used Italian meringue buttercream in between the layers.

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I piped scallops for the bottom of the cake using Wilton tip #21 or any small star tip. Lastly, you would need to place the fondant logo very very carefully and precisely on top of the cake and that’s it!

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🙂

Pizza lunch date and a mushroom soup recipe

Every so often, I would plan a lunch date with my sister and we would prepare some fun stuff for the kids to work on for their lunch. Previously, it was sushi and this time round, I thought of having pizza. Obviously, the base (bread dough) has to be prepared by the adults and the children would just need to place the toppings of their choice onto the dough.

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It was just like that. Simple. Obviously, Faith needed a little guidance but there’s nothing too difficult about ‘throwing’ ingredients onto the base.

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Love how the kids were watching intently as I put some mozzarella cheese on top. The little one wanted to help as well.

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Our homemade pizza.

Besides the pizza, I prepared mushroom soup as well. Nope, not campbell soup although that would save me lots of time. I personally prefer those that has a lot of mushrooms in it. The more variety, the better. The following mushroom soup recipe will take up some time and effort but the end result is all worth it, especially if you are a mushroom lover like Faith and me!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (adapted from Easy Recipes by Christine Ho)

200g Portobello mushroom
150g of a mixture of brown and white button
50g of shittake mushroom
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup [homemade] chicken stock
1 cup water
80 ml cooking cream/whipping cream ( use whatever amount you are happy with)

[Thickening]
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

1. Wipe the mushroom clean and cut into big pieces. Set aside. (Good quality mushrooms only need to be cleaned with a wet cloth before cooking. If you really want to rinse with water, make sure you do not soak them in water for too long since they tend to soak up lots of water, thus affecting the taste of the dish).

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2. Heat a heavy-based saucepan. Add butter and vegetable oil. When the butter starts to melt, add the chopped garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-high heat. The mushrooms will absorb the fats very quickly. Do take note.

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3. Add chicken stock and water. Bring to boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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4. Turn the heat off and let it cool slightly. Drain the mushrooms and puree using the food processor (mine is a chopper) in two batches. Return to the saucepan and warm over medium heat.

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5. Add cream. Adding the cream is the key to producing the creamy smoothness of this soup. I didn’t add all of the 80ml since I want it less ‘sinful’ because the little ones would be having it. ;p Do stir well!

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6. When it starts to boil, stir in the thickening. Cook to desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.

It does seem like a lot of work but when it first take a spoonful, you will find that the effort is all worth it. Try it and see if you like this version of the mushroom soup. This recipe is adapted from Christine Ho’s Easy Recipes and I really do like the recipes found in that cookbook/ website.

Faith @ 25th month

Faith’s 25th month has been one of great adventure and fun. New school, new friends, new activities…just to name a few and I really ought to record these! Since Faith started school, I have been working on some activities for her to learn at home because teaching shouldn’t be the responsibility of the teachers only. In fact, I believe parents should play a bigger role, no? Anyway…

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In late December, our friends came back for a visit and we met up to visit the SEA aquarium. It was a wonderful outing and Faith made a new friend – YY – who is a few month younger than her.

imageThe two girls were mesmerized by the different types of fish and I thought I should reinforce the learning at home and worked on the topic on sea creatures.

imageReading is always included in the ‘curriculum’ and these days, Faith would grab a book and read by herself. She loves books with flaps and each morning, she would reach for this particular one and admire the wonderful pictures.

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Bought these sea creatures from the supermarket one day and created a sensory bin for her.

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Subsequently, I got her to identify the sea creatures after sharing their names with her. She could identify most of them now (from the ones I have taught her). Getting her to identify numbers is still a pain because she doesn’t like to learn the conventional way. I must think of more interesting way to teach her!

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Love this bilingual book that is loaned to me by a mummy friend. Faith continues to learn about fish when she goes to her grandpa’s place where there is a small aquarium of fish. My dad will get her to feed them.

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Recently, I also introduced a more intentional way of reading Bible stories to her by having materials for her to work on while going through the story with her. She could be peeling stickers and pasting them or coloring the pictures. All these are good because she can continue to work on her fine motor skills. The above is the story on Jonah.

Apart from teaching her about sea creatures, colors and numbers for the time being, I scheduled a lot of play time for her. I’m still trying to fit in swimming, playground time, water play, skate-scooting and more recently, cycling into each week. I still find that consistency works if you want anyone to develop a skill. Say, for example, after a break from swimming during November and December, Faith found it difficult to stay underwater, even for a split second. Before that, I could lead her to ‘swim’ in the water for a short distance. Now, she’s merely drinking in the water and getting choked in the process. How frustrating!

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Getting Faith to spend time in the outdoors is important to me. I know she can be bored at home with the usual activities and getting out to breathe in fresh air is crucial.

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She loves to spend time with her cousins and they can be good influence in terms of getting her to skate-scoot. Recently, she inherited a tricycle from her cousin and she’s loving it! Skate-scooting wise, I think she has finally gotten the hang of using her foot to move as compared to just being pushed along by us!

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At this point in time, I’m more concerned about building her character than academics and outdoor activities help a lot in developing grit and patience. She needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her and that she cannot get her way instantly. She has to learn to wait, take turns and share her stuff.

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Since the new year, social life has taken a step back. Last year, we went out often to have play dates and this year, due to school, there is little opportunity to meet her with her playmates. I have to be intentional about meeting up with friends so that she could still connect with her friends and meet new ones!

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Faith is getting more mischievous by the day, not the naughty but the playful kind. However, since attending school, she has become more clingy to me which is a big ‘sigh’ for me. She picked up phrases like ‘oh my god!’ from school and apologized more to me when she thought that she has made me angry. We definitely don’t like the OMG phrase and we had to correct her. There is much teaching to be done at home such as getting her to know the right from wrong and to continue to share her things with others (not really an issue).

Appetite-wise, it has improved since going to school! Yay! She spits out food less often and eats meat now! I’m a happy Mama!

So the 25th month is really one that is filled with much adventure and fun. May this continue into the months ahead.

:: Faith could wear her own shoes once she started school. Peer influence helps!

:: She asks to use pencils and colour pencils more often now.

:: She loves playing with playdoh!

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Strawberry butter cupcakes

This week had been rather relaxing in the sense that I could bake in peace during the three hours that I have when the little one was in school. Since I had guests coming over, I decided to make some cupcakes andfrost them using dual colors/tones.

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This is a simple butter cupcakes which I have added strawberry paste to. After they were baked, I inserted a little strawberry jam into the cupcakes before frosting them with Italian meringue buttercream, the one buttercream I would use because it can withstand our tropical heat. 🙂

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To create the dual colors, I filled one piping bag with the buttercream and the other bag with buttercream that has red added to it. I didn’t really want red and pink suits me fine. Place the two piping bags into another bigger piping bag with Wilton piping tip 1A and squeeze. The colors will come out well.

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Strawberry butter cupcakes (yields 20 regular cupcakes)

6 egg yolks

5 egg whites

250g unsalted butter

230g self-raising flour

180g caster sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2tsp to 1tsp strawberry paste

:: Preheat oven to 170C.

:: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and add in the strawberry paste. Cream and then set aside.

:: In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Then add in the egg yolks one at a time. Continue beating for another 3 minutes on medium-high.

:: Reduce the speed to medium and add in the butter mixture. Beat until well combined.

:: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour and baking powder. Beat until well-combined. Don’t over eat.

:: Fill each each cupcake liner till 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes (depending on your oven).

:: The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or when the cupcake springs back when you use your finger to press it lightly.

:: Allow the cupcakes to stay in the cupcake tray for a few minutes before taking them out onto the cooling rack .

While Faith is in school…

Ever since Faith started and settled well in school, those three hours have been a real treat to me. Suddenly, I find that I have time to myself without “Mama, Mama” ringing in my ears. I could poo in peace (sorry for being crude) for once and indulge in a book. Oh, how long have I not read any literature? Children’s storybooks I have read aplenty but books that nourish my soul? Hardly.

Putting Faith in school seems like a good choice now especially when she’s not resisting it.

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Now, I could do Pilates without rushing off to pick F up and to squeeze in some time to read,

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get my body moving and the heart pumping while admiring God’s creation and all of nature’s beauty,

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work on my cakes and figurines in peace without having to stop halfway to tend to a whining toddler,

20150114_102934and uninterrupted time to experiment with recipes.

I feel a part of that old me has returned. All these while, I have been busying myself with being a mother. A lot of what I have been doing revolve around her. Whenever I place Faith with my parents/in-laws, it would be because I need to run an errand or do some teaching of classes. I’m always rushing from place to place and at times, things are not done properly.

Now that I have three hours (2.5 hours to be exact) to myself, I’m going to treasure those quiet moments and find myself again.

I was lost in motherhood… and I need to come back.

Linking up with

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Faith goes to school!

The day finally came for Faith to attend school and it was quite an experience for me! The weeks leading to the commencement of school saw me preparing the little one for her new adventure. We talked a lot about going to school, how her cousins love learning in school and read relevant storybooks. We even got her to wear her school uniform and carry her own bag. Trial run!

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So, the little one had mentioned that she wanted to go to school all these while when I asked her. she sounded enthusiastic but I know I would meet with obstacles on the first day. Faith had never attended any drop-off classes and while she had attended multiple playdates, I was with her all the time. This time round, I have to disappear from the scene and I wonder how she would react.

Thankfully, the school has allowed parents to be in the class for 3 days to slowly transit the young kids. We were advised to leave the classroom once we felt that we were ready to let go and let the school staff handle. I thought this is thoughtful of them. They must have realised that the parents are equally anxious (if not more!) as the children.

On the first day, I assured Faith that I would be back for her after 3 hours and bade her farewell. She nodded her head and I left, with her sitting at the assembly area. And she didn’t move AT ALL. She sat there, frozen, with her hand clenched. That pose remained for a good 10 minutes before she wailed.

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I knew she was trying to control herself from crying but in the end, she couldn’t hold the tears any longer. I reached out to her ( I was hiding behind a wall all along!) and calmed her. Thankfully, she cooled down after a short while and joined in the activities.

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I’m thankful that the principal was very hands-on and reached out to Faith. She made her feel at home and stayed by her side. I guess Faith just needed to be with a constant figure and to know that she is safe. I tried to be away from her sight when she was engaged with the activities, preferring to have the teachers tend to her instead of having me by her side.

The first day ended on a pretty good note. When I asked her if she liked school, she replied positively.

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On the second day which was the following Monday, she entered the premise with resistance. The fact that there was another boy who was crying non-stop didn’t help the situation. The teacher whisked the crying Faith in and I left the school quickly. When I picked her up, I was told (by the principal) that she stopped crying after a while and just needed to be with someone she’s familiar with. That day, all the other parents stopped short of entering the classroom which helped in transiting the children.

On the third day, Faith hugged and kissed me goodbye and into the classroom she went. There was a little tearing and reluctance but that’s about it.

Fourth day? No tears. Hallelujah!

Honestly, I thought it would be a whole week of drama for me and I have mentally prepared myself for this episode. But, it has turned out to be so much better than I had expected. The first two days were difficult. So much separation anxiety for both kids and parents alike. I was sharing with another parent that I felt so bad to have enrolled Faith in the school at such a young age and the parent (a SAHM) agreed. Both of us were guilt-laden. I guess we were not the only ones, right?

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Children are highly adaptable beings and once there is consistency in routine, they will be all right. I guess when the children see the same people every day and know that they can be safe in that environment, they will ease up and enjoy the activities and company of others. Each time Faith came out from the classroom, she would recount what she had gone through (in her own ways, of course) that day. It is indeed a joy to see her enjoying school. The principal told me that a girl who is a year older than Faith kept looking out for her and when Faith was sad, she could go over and comfort her. Oh, how sweet!

I learnt to let go and to have faith in the school. The staff members have dealt with the same situation every year and they would know what to do.

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“Do you like school?”

“Yes…”

“Do you want to go to school?”

An enthusiastic ‘yes’.

🙂

School isn’t that bad after all.

Pororo cake that went ;(

Recently, my cousin asked me to bake a Pororo cake for my nephew and I went, “What is Pororo?”

Okay, I know I am really ignorant but pardon this busy mother, all right? When she showed me a picture, I know for certain that I have seen this character before. He’s so cute!

Nothing much was asked for the cake except that it has to have the Pororo figurine somewhere. My cousin is easy on the cake, just a simple vanilla and a non-fondant one will do.

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A few days before the actual cake collection, I set out to do the centre-piece, which is Pororo itself. It isn’t difficult to do the body. In fact, you just need two big round mass for the body and head respectively. The difficult part lies in the finer details like the pilot’s hat and the specs. I took quite a while to figure out the proportion of the hat while using two different sizes of the piping tip to make the spectacle rims.

IMG_20150103_2257130.7179084798424332The decoration pieces were made two days in advance.

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I used Wilton’s food writer pens to draw in the details of the hat and the eyes itself on the actual day of the cake collection.

IMG_20150104_1718340.2740290181284296So, I used a super soft vanilla sponge cake for this cake order. I took a risk by laying a piece of fondant on the top so that I could stick the figurines and other decor pieces on it. The Pororo figurine proved to be too heavy for the sponge cake and I had to insert a dowel/ lollipop stick to sustain the weight.

IMG_20150104_1719460.5715718599551294Originally, I had wanted to put some trees as part of the decoration but the sponge cake is really not suitable to withstand the weight. In the end, they had to be placed on the cake board. I think I should just stick to my regular vanilla sponge cake recipe.

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But you know what? The cake didn’t impress. Granted that the Pororo character is cute (I find that it is adorable!) but the sponge cake itself is a flop. My dear cousin gave me an honest feedback about the cake and I do believe I have to go back to testing the recipes again. I’m just angry with myself that the sponge cake has escape my QC during the assembling stage! Arghh…Perhaps something went wrong during the mixing part but oh well… need to really make improvement!

I’m thankful that folks gave me feedback regardless whether it is good or bad review. We all need it for improvement, don’t we?

😉

2015 is here!

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A blessed new year to one and al! I can’t believe it’s 2015 already!

Looking back, 2014 has been good to me mostly because I was able to spend more time with my family. Those outings, scrumptious dinner prepared by mom and the fact that I have my family with me are important to me. Brother came back with his family and we had wonderful moments together. My in-laws are wonderful people to hang out with. The food prepared by our aunt was just too good to resist and I’m thankful that they are always willing to lend a helping hand to us.

My priority for 2015 remains the same – to spend quality time with the family. I think at the end of the day, when one is stripped of everything, there is still FAMILY.

I also want to grow with my spiritual family. We are blessed to be with a group who is encouraging towards one another and one who always reminds us to seek the Lord. For 2015, the hubs and I would probably be more involved in giving of our time to serve others in the church and there remains the question of whether I would want to devote some time in the children’s church.

2014 saw me baking cakes for friends. Thank you once again for believing in me and even ordering from me even though there are many excellent bakers and cake decorators out there. I hope to continue to hone my skills, experiment with more recipes and bake more cakes in 2015…

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… and possibly record the cakes I make on this platform.

2014 was a year of learning for me in terms of teaching the young ones. Having a group of like-minded mothers to plan activities together for our weekly playdate is truly a privilege. While you may think that the kids benefitted from the activities, I would like to say that I gained much insight from the fellow mothers on teaching young ones.

Though F would be going to school this year, there would still be learning for her at home. I definitely hope to have time to think through the ‘curriculum’ and to carry it out dutifully. But above all, I pray that F would grow up a healthy and joyful child.

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When I was younger, I used to come with up with a list of to-do items or goals, as you call them, for the fun of it. I wish to do one too for 2015 but I just couldn’t find the time to do so. For now, what I know is that I would want to channel my energy on my family.

May 2015 be a fruitful year for all.