Thomas the train chiffon cake 🎂 

It’s always a privilege to bake for others and especially so when your good friend asked you to do so. Just last week, an ex-colleague whom I’m really fond of asked if I could bake a cake for her youngest. Why, of course!

I couldn’t bake a fondant cake in my current capacity. I know it will not turn out well. Dan requires a lot of my attention and if I want to do a good job for the cake, I need to devote time to it. And it absolutely saddens me if I can’t do it well.

So, the kind of cake I could do currently is chiffon cake, the creative type. I only have Suzanne Ng of Loving Creations For You to thank because her works inspire me to want to bake beyond a basic chiffon cake. I bought both her books so that I could learn a thing or two and so I thought I should practise baking a few if possible.

img_1204

As usual, a design needs to be thought of and the colours noted. I get forgetful easily these days and penning what I need for the cake really helps.

img_1262

I’ve baked a similar-themed cake before using fondant and decided to recycle the design. This is a 7″ chiffon cake because I have only this pan but it feeds 20 pax all right with no wastage, according to my friend.

It is much easier and faster making such a cake as compared to the fondant-covered ones. However, I encountered one problem with regard to the marshmallow cream . It’s really a pain using it and I wonder if I could stick the various pieces using royal icing?

img_1296

So yea, I made this boy happy and there is nothing more joyful than seeing smiles on children.

img_1295

Kids grow up too fast. They were both just babies a while ago. How did they grow up so fast? Am I missing anything?

img_1297

So, there you go. My first cake for November. Could I bake some more? Am I able to go back to baking for others again?

Anyway, the next cake is going to be for Faith who will turn 4 this month. What would that look like? Hmm..

P.S. Thank you, ZM, for sending the pics over and assuring me that the cake is well-received. 😉

To bake or not to bake?

A few days ago, I received a WA message from a customer-turned-friend for whom I’ve baked a cake last year. “Are you still baking? I need a cake!”

And I asked myself if it is time for me to revive this passion of mine. Could I do a good enough job for others? With two kids now, it can be rather challenging in terms of the workflow and I want to make sure that the cake pleases more than it frustrates.

So, based on what she wanted, I got down to working on a simple chiffon cake, just for me to know if i could still do a decent job out of it.

img_2572

It’s an orange marmalade chiffon cake and I thought I could dress it up as a lion using a piping tip to make its mane. I have used a normal cake pan instead of the tube pan that is used for chiffon cakes.

img_2529

To make the eyes and nose, I used a portion of the chiffon batter and added charcoal powder to it.

img_2533

Tip 898 – nose
Wilton tip no. 2 – eyes

img_2544

And I used a chocolate pen to do up the finishing touches.

img_2674

Made a batch of swiss meringue buttercream because it’s less work than the Italian method. Now with two kids, I really ought to make things easier for myself.

img_2566

Add some orange colouring to the buttercream to create the type of lion that is often illustrated in storybooks.

img_2593

There you have it. Can he pass off as the king of the jungle?

img_2596

Moist and light! Perhaps I should start baking for others now and revive #twenty12byjann, just for interest’s sake?

 

[Wordless Wednesday] Featured

Mid-week.

Was dealing with some domestic affairs and was obviously flustered and frustrated when a friend whatsapped me and asked if the following was my creation.

IMG-20151125-WA0006

So it is.

I wasn’t surprised since the bride has told me about it and asked how I wanted to be mentioned.

Nope, I don’t want to be mentioned. I’m just glad to be given this opportunity to make this wonderful cake. It’s been a pure joy and working with an easy-going bride made it even more enjoyable.

It’s been a rather tough afternoon today but I’m encouraged by this.

Read the full text here.

The past week

The past week has been a busy one. It’s the one-week school holiday and that means F was home all the time. I guess if I wasn’t pregnant, we would be going places and having loads of fun. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Thankfully, the dear husband took a few days off to look after the toddler while I busied myself with baking and decorating cakes. That week, I took on 3 cake orders that were due on the same day and till now, I have no clue why I did that in the first place. ;p

IMG_20150904_133926

This is a cake that is requested by my ex-boss for her 82YO mom. What a privilege to bake for her. I admit I wasn’t that ecstatic about making sugar flowers because I feel that isn’t my forte. I much prefer to make figurines of cartoon characters but I guess I should challenge myself so that I could improve. I did have fun!

IMG_20150915_084103 IMG_20150915_084124
IMG_20150915_084146 IMG_20150915_084027

Nowadays, I update more on my Dayre account since it’s faster and is a good platform for my family to know what goes on in our lives. These sugar flowers and figurines had to be made in advance and they could take a long time to make.

IMG_20150915_083847 IMG_20150915_083909

I normally bake the sponge cakes at least a day in advance and would frost them before the delivery day as I want the flavours to blend.

IMG_20150912_131315

That Saturday was an awesome day for covering the cake with fondant in a non air-conditioned place. It was hazy no doubt but it wasn’t humid and that is perfect! This cake took me a whole morning to cover and decorate (at a steady pace) and I was pleased at how it turned out. It looks exactly like the sketch I made for this customer.

IMG_20150912_160009

This Peppa cake theme was requested by a friend for his younger daughter. I have not done Peppa pig before but certainly do not mind working on it. He showed me the pictures whose figurines I had to recreate and it was fun. This cake was simple to decorate. Within an hour!

IMG_20150912_170438

This is for his elder daughter and an Angry Bird theme was requested.

IMG_20150915_084000cIMG_20150915_083935

This is always the point when I feel absolutely relieved. The cakes were boxed up and ready to be collected/ delivered.

FB_IMG_1442268056142 (3)

The two adorable sisters. It’s such a privilege to bake for them!

That day when the cakes were due was our 6th wedding anniversary. We didn’t plan for anything fanciful (how could he since I had cake orders. Oops!) but we had a good dinner as a family.

I’m thankful to da man who puts the family before himself and that one of his aims in life is to make me happy (in his own words). Being able to pursue this little dream (baking and cake decorating) is a gift. At certain junctures, the course of your life meanders and you wonder what’s next. There have been a lot of changes in my life since I’ve become a mom but it has been really exciting. Not knowing what’s next can be unsettling yet I’ve come to realize that the good Lord knows what is good for me.

20150912_183740

Thank you for always rendering your help when I need it. You obviously are tired from work and yet there is no complaint when I ask you to take over to play with the little one or to help out with the household chores. I’m blessed. I’m soooo thankful to the Lord for you!

And with these cakes, I have to say’ Goodbye’ to baking for sale for a while as we prepare to welcome our second child. Thank you for all your support, dear friends. You have brightened my life with your orders and I hope to bake again for you!

Awesome August

August started off on a sweet note for me. I received an email in July from a lady asking me if I could bake for her daughter’s first birthday. To set the record straight, I bake for family and friends and seldom do I take up offers from people whom I do not know simply because I could not handle big orders and that I bake for fun, for hobby.

I don’t know why I agreed to bake for this lady, SP, and as we continued in our discussion, more stuff was added and before I knew it, I was to bake cupcakes, cookies, madeleines, smash cakes, birthday cake and a surprise cake for her niece. I must have calculated the timing wrongly and thought I was still in my second trimester which translates to having the energy still to bake and decorate. Alas, nearer the date, I realised I was in my third trimester already! Oh oh!

But it was all good. SP was a very nice lady to chat with and as we went through the details, I was challenged to come up with designs that could suit her theme and also make cakes that I would normally not make. I must say that I caused much disappointment for her two smash cakes as the colours condensed and bled ( I placed them in the fridge) but she was magnanimous enough to forgive me! What a wonderful lady!

IMG_20150808_063640This was the dessert table that SP created for her daughter, Chloe. I contributed some of the baked goods in the picture and when she sent me this image, I felt all the hard work has paid off. It was beautiful and I’m inspired to have a dessert table for my daughter and newborn too.

IMG_20150801_160051

This two-tier cake is made of an 8″ lychee sponge cake and a 6″ rainbow vanilla sponge cake. On the actual day itself, I took the whole of the morning and afternoon to do up the decoration since there was very little I could do beforehand. The horses had to be hand-painted and dried and thankfully all was well. It was undoubtedly a very heavy cake!

20150801_100420 (2)  20150801_100414 (2)

Three flavours of cupcakes were requested to match the colour theme. Here we have chocolate-mint, strawberry and blueberry-flavoured ones.

20150807_125442 (2)

SP loves madeleines and she specially requested for lavender ones and I’m more than happy to bake these treats for her because Faith also loves them.

20150731_100315 (2)

Cookies for the guests. I can’t afford the time to use royal icing to decorate the cookies but I hope the fondant ones will do the job. 😉

20150801_152259 (2)This is the surprise cake that is meant for her niece who also turned 1YO around the same time as her daughter. This is a 6″ red velvet cake with minimal decoration except for the name and three owl figurines!

20150801_154446 (2)This is the part that I love most. To see the completed product and waiting for them to be delivered is really a joy in itself. And I definitely heaved a sigh of relief when they were all delivered safely!

20150807_162408 (3)

A week after that, i was to bake a 6″ lychee owl cake for SP’s niece. It was challenging not because of the amount of work but because it was raining cats and dogs on that day and if you have experience dealing with fondant, you will know that that is not the most ideal circumstance – the fondant perspired! I was racing against time and had to place the cake back and forth into the box that is filled with drying agents just so that the fondant will stay the way I wanted it to be.

Thankfully, the ‘owl’ was cooperative and stayed the way it was till cake-cutting.

It was indeed a wonderful first two weeks in August making these sweet treats and thanks, SP, for the opportunity to work with you!

Totoro cake

image

This is one celebration cake which I’m pleased with because it is simple to make but pleasant to look at. A friend had asked me to bake a banana cake and decorate it with characters with Totoro and friends. Since she has two toy figurines already, I would only need to make the other two using fondant.

I love decorating a whole cake because it saves the trouble of slicing the cake into layers and filling them with buttercream. Covering them with buttercream and then fondant can sometimes result in a messy appearance. Or perhaps my skill is not there yet.

To bake the banana cake, I used Joanne Chang’s recipe and reduced the amount of sugar since I feel that the sweetness in the bananas is sufficient. The original recipe named it a bread but I think it makes a good cake. The key thing is to use very ripe bananas and sometimes I prefer to use pecan nuts over walnuts but both are good. This recipe fits a 7″ by 3″ round pan very well.

Ingredients (source)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Directions:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes.)

3. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, crème fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 1 to 1 1⁄4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

image

6. The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

image

Lovely, isn’t it? And from past experience, I find the cake to be more delicious when you wait it out for the next day to consume.

image

To cover the sides of the cake, I cut out stripes of yellow and frilled them before adding them unto the cake.

image

Another type of cake design is to just use cupcakes and create a garden with flowers and bees. I must say the characters are really cute!

Superman cake

Do you have a superhero in your life?

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

🙂

WMI instructor training seminar

For the past week, I have been learning a lot from some awesome cake decorators. It was tiring having to go through the seminar from 9am to 6pm but we made it. I’m thankful to the hubs who travelled together with me, as well as F, to this place, Shenzhen, to be precise. I would have missed them both a lot if they didn’t come along!

IMG_20141207_180536

We spent the first day at Window of the World, a replica park that is within walking distance from our hotel. The entrance fee is hefty, in my opinion. At 160Y, it is a bit pricey for the locals. We thought that we won’t be touring much for this trip and decided to visit this theme park on the day we arrived. It was a nice walk and we spent about 80 minutes ‘visiting’ the famous landmarks in the world.

IMG-20141207-WA0019

IMG-20141207-WA0012

20141207_164726

The next day, I plunged into training seminar mode and reported at 8am sharp at the meeting room. There were about 45 of us from the Asian region and it was quite an experience learning from the experts as well as one another.

IMG_20141208_0802260.7167134296837362

Cake decorating is something that I venture into after I gave birth to Faith. It was really out of boredom, foremost, that I took up the Wilton cake decorating courses. Thankfully, the courses are really fun and addictive and it spurs me on to hone my skills in cake decorating.  It’s such a privilege to be able to to go through the training seminar (and eventually be an instructor) although I must always remind myself that my full time job is still to bring Faith up!

20141208_083700

The instructors came from the United States, Canada, Dubai, Japan and Korea and as they introduced themselves, it is heartening to learn that they started off cake decorating because they wanted to bake cakes for their children. Of course, they went on to be really excellent in their skills and are now international instructors now.

IMG_20141208_1531130.7498387229623242

I seriously love the Wilton method of cake decorating because it is so systematic and one can be introduced to a whole spectrum of skills. I have gone through other types of cake decorating instructor’s training courses but this ought to be the one that is the most fun and engaging. It really helps that the instructors themselves were so confident and know exactly what to do and could guide us step-by-step.

20141210_090732

Because there were so many of us, each time the instructor called us up to view the demonstration, there would be a real rush to be at the front. Asians! We are just very enthusiastic people! Hah!

20141209_173423

This is our Japanese instructor whose words are few but skills are great!

IMG_20141210_1300410.01309163216646081

Throughout the five days, we were given equipment to use and we could bring them back home after the seminar. We are expected to continue to practise those skills so that we can be really good when we teach prospective participants. This is really the highlight of each day (nah!).

IMG_20141211_1203530.4547924081572503

Day four and you can see a really messy table and a very tired-looking me. Ganbatte ne!

IMG_20141211_1523370.656774406456782

I love it that the instructors would go around to give feedback on our work and many times, they also gave invaluable tips. Awesome!

IMG_20141212_2013530.7186507577821442

On the last day, we were expected to do up a cake with whatever sugar flowers we had and to apply the skills that we have acquired. It is interesting to see so many different kinds of design even though we were given similar sets of things to work with, thus reflecting our individual style.

IMG_20141212_2011410.770009031667176

This is mine and truly not my style. I’m not a sugar flower person since I’m more into figurines but I can always work on flowers!

IMG_20141212_2017470.37033706645735853

So that night, we received our instructor’s aprons and we could teach the Wilton courses now! How exciting! I’m looking forward to my first class already!

IMG_20141212_2016060.9691211518777508

I’m thankful to have the family with me throughout this week and really felt blessed that the hubs supports this hobby of mine. I reckon it wasn’t easy for him to take care of the little one when I was in the seminar but he made it!

IMG_20141211_183234

Whatever time I had after the seminar was used to spend some much needed time with the little one. Shenzhen provides little entertainment for F but thankfully she could be satisfied by just being in this trolley when we went to the supermarket.

So, what’s next, I wonder?

Baking madness!

The past week or so, I have been really busy with making cakes, all thanks to friends who support me in my hobby! It is tiring, no doubt. The washing part is most dreaded and that includes the cleaning of the countertop and the floor since I don’t want ants to occupy my kitchen. Nope, they cannot even enter!

The cakes baked thus far:

IMG_20141104_2205460.29131154440379636
This is a simple 7 inch vanilla sponge cake with vanilla buttercream and peach between the layers. The mummy has requested that the design fit the theme of a magic show and thus I came up with this design.

IMG_20141104_2204180.7110935974599143
Christmas came early! A friend browsed my pinterest account, saw this cake and asked me to do it for her. It’s a cranberry infused sponge cake with cranberry sauce in between. I took a long time to source for the cranberries and finally found frozen ones at Marketplace at I12. My friend requested for a 1/2kg cake but you know, I don’t work by weight but by size. So, the cake came up to be about 1.5kg. Hah!

IMG_20141109_230916

Frozen cake #1. A hit among my friends when I posted it on FB. The design is simple but the figurines make it look awesome. My friend wants it really simple and she didn’t want blue-coloured layers because she felt the colour look weird on a cake. Agree too so I just did a simple cake for her daughter.

IMG_20141111_191911

Rainbow cake. Still a hit and this is for the last day of school party for a preschooler. Her class is called Rainbow 5 and it’s absolutely apt to bake such a cake for her! Naked cake can look really pretty! Love the colourful sprinkles too!

IMG_20141112_183143

A last-minute order from a friend. This is for her daughter who turns 22! I used to teach her when she was in primary school and now she’s a young adult! I feel so old! Rainbow cake inside and Nat was surprised as she cut the cake, she told me.

img1416038856751

The wheels on the bus go round and round…. this is an order from the hubs’ friend. Her son wanted the bus on the cake along with some animal figurines. A rainbow cake was requested and I found that when I bake about 200g of the batter in the 6″ pan, the cake came out even and I didn’t need to slice the top of the cake. Will go with this method the next time a rainbow cake is requested. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s ok. It’s just for my reference. ;p

IMG_20141116_135058

Frozen cake #2. This is a tad more complicated than #1 in the sense that my friend wanted a blue side and a white top that acts as snow. I prefer this design.

IMG_20141117_140457

60 Hello Kitty Chocolate cupcakes. I was more stressed and tired over them than all other cakes. It’s definitely more tedious to come up with these toppers and could get really mundane. But the labour was worth it when the girl received them with joy. I make kids happy. I love my job.

😉

How do you price your cakes?

This is not a parenting post but one about my other love – baking and cake decorating.

If you are a home baker who bakes at the request of friends, how do you determine your pricing?

I find it really tough to answer this question. Sure I did my rounds of checking out the cakes at the bakeries but I can’t do a direct comparison because what I’m doing is customised cakes. These cakes will inevitably cost more than what are available in the usual bakeries simply because they are made upon specific request. Where sugar art is involved, the cake will definitely be priced higher because of the time invested in creating and beautifying the figurine(s). The ingredients themselves already cost more, what’s with artwork?

I pen down this post because this is a question that is often posed to me when I’m teaching cake-decorating classes. I have no definite answer but what I am certain is that we must cover the cost price of the cake which includes the ingredients used, electricity bills, transportation cost to purchase the ingredients and materials. Cakes that involve sugar art like fondant-covered cakes need a cool environment and that is when most bakers would switch on the air-conditioner just for the cakes. Do we need to take that cost into consideration? I definitely think so!

What is commonly overlooked are labour cost and the time taken to design the cake. How would you pay yourself as you spend time creating the cakes? But sadly, these are often overlooked by those who order cakes.

20141003_114214  20141003_130007  20141003_125944

I have been teaching cake decorating lessons for almost a year now and each time after the class (especially so for sugarart lessons), the participants will always tell me that it is so time consuming and involves so much work that they now understand why such cakes cost a bomb. More recently, one participant started to bake cakes that require sugarart for others and she would often utter, “It’s not worth it. I spent so much time and effort in creating those cakes but the customer doesn’t want to pay that kind of price.”

My advice to them? Don’t accept such orders. I mean unless you are okay with it, you are better off not accepting the order. In the end, you have to be happy doing what you love and not grudgingly.

IMG_20140926_170611

Recently, I made this 6-inch x 3.5-inch Devil’s Food Cake using Valrhona chocolates. How much would you have priced it?

I guess for me, I want baking for friends to be a passion and not a business venture. Baking for {much} profit kills my love for baking but yet at the same time, I do have to cover the cost and maybe get a little bit of return so that I can continue to practise my craft and to buy those materials (hah!). Then again, I think I have underpriced most of the time. Maybe I should look into my pricing again?

If you find yourself at a loss when it comes to pricing, here are some helpful links that were searched by the dear hubs:

– http://www.cakeboss.com/Cake-Stuff/Articles/How-Much-Should-I-Charge

– http://www.veenaartofcakes.com/pricing-your-cakes-a-beginners-guide/

– http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/09/pricing-cakes-like-a-pro/

– http://www.celebrate-with-cake.com/p/price-guide.html

Hope this helps.

Timeout for baking and a madeleine recipe

I have been baking cakes for friends for about a year now and looking back, I’m glad to be given the opportunity to do so.

I’m thankful to friends who trust in me enough to ask for celebration cakes from me. Truly, it has been a humbling and enriching experience.

The last two weeks have been really hectic and I’ve reached the point of exhaustion. Sometimes I wish my cakes could taste a little better and that I could be more adventurous in terms of flavour. Alas, I have no time to experiment with recipes. There are household chores to do, meals to prepare, lessons to teach the little one, classes to teach and the list goes on. So to be honest, what has begun as a love for me -baking – has turned out to be a chore in recent times. I have to stop. To take a break from baking for others and go back to baking for leisure, for my family. The husband has complained that he doesn’t get to eat any of the baked goods nowadays. ;p

With these final cakes for the season, I will have to bid farewell for a while to baking cakes for friends so that I can resume my home-based culinary lessons which I have started since the days in Boston.

IMG_20140902_171919

Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate ganache

20140906_161333

Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image and meringue border

MekmRdqOE2UW3Qffv_k315W5sSrWKsOpBwLXsqnVBEWQ=w366-h480-no

Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image

IMG_20140911_174820

A simple yuzu sponge cake with IMBC for a 1YO boy

2014-09-08 10.05.58

 I will still make figurines during this period since I need to continue to hone my skills in that area. But more importantly, I want to take time to improve on my baking skills and continue to learn the science of it.

For a start, here’s a recipe for madeleines – scallop-shaped cakes that epitomise classic French patisserie. They are easy to make and are best eaten fresh from the oven. All you need is a stiff metal whisk. Simple?

IMG_20140910_170508

(Adapted from Perfecting Patisserie by Dr Tim Kinnaird)
Ingredients:

3 eggs
120g caster sugar
50ml milk
175g all purpose flour/unbleached flour for a healthier version 😉
1 1/2tsp baking powder
200g melted butter

(yields 22 big ones)

1. Preheat the oven to 230C. If you are using a metal madeleine tray, lightly butter and flour the tray. I use both silicon madeleine tray and the metal one.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and milk until well combined. Whisk in the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth, but don’t over-work the mixture as this will develop gluten in the flour and toughen the madeleines. Whisk in the melted butter.

3. Fill each scallop-shaped mould of the tray to half or at most 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 8 minutes in the oven or until golden brown. You may want to turn the tray 180 degrees halfway through the baking.

For variation, I added yuzu concentrate to a batch (I took out one portion) and green tea to another batch before baking.

Enjoy! 😉

Drummer boy cake

Today must be a dry day. The fondant I put on the cake didn’t perspire much.

I worked on a drummer boy theme cake for a 3YO boy. His father is a drummer and I think the little one aspires to be one too. So the dad asked me if I could make a rainbow cake for his birthday in the theme of a drum, leaving the design to me.

I went for a figurine. Because I want to practise.

IMG_20140816_160955

As usual, the figurines were made a few days in advance since I need to dry them. A day before the collection of the cake, I baked three layers of the cake and today, I baked the rest. So I used my usual sponge cake recipe. the recipe yields about 1130g and I divided the portion into three colours = 376g per layer. I think this is a bit too much for an 8″ cake because if I put on 6 layers, it will be more than 4 inch tall! Today, I put on 5 layers only because I was multi-tasking and forgot about that one layer. But all’s good. I thought it looks better. It’s proportionate.

*Note to self. To divide into 4 layers for an 8″ cake and 3 layers for a 10″ cake.

IMG_20140816_1233380.27914825350629946

I used IMBC and a little of the conventional frosting (the one with icing sugar) and surprisingly, the fondant works well with it. I’m happy!

20140816_160720

I’m beginning to enjoy making figurines!

This is the full version of what has happened today.

No frosting on cupcakes?

A friend asked me to bake cupcakes for his son’s 3rd birthday celebration in school. Initially, chocolate cupcakes were called for and it’s up to me to come up with the designs. A few days earlier, he called and asked to change them to simple vanilla cupcakes with no frosting since the school has requested for minimal mess. Just the alphabet letters will do.

In my mind, I was thinking, “What? No frosting?!”

How can cake go without frosting. It’s not nice (aesthetically and taste-wise) anymore!

So I defied him and went ahead to put A LITTLE frosting.

IMG_20140814_200955

Using Wilton’s method of royal icing, I made the alphabets a day in advance since they need to be dried. What you need to do is to print out the letters on paper. Then place a parchment paper over and stick both papers using tapes on plain, smooth surface before using a piping tip (Wilton tip #4) to pipe dots for each alphabet.

IMG_20140813_223158

Once they are dried, using an offset spatula and carefully lift the alphabets off the parchment paper.

20140814_170754

 Place each alphabet on each cupcakes and you have a simple design. Easy enough?

20140814_195631

Packed and ready to go!

IMG_20140814_201206

🙂

The Ninjago Cake

I know one fine day I would bake a Lego cake. It’s not surprising since children and even adults love playing with these bricks. I remember when I was young, I could spend hours building and even without the guide, I would draw on my imagination and do a layout of a room or house.

Recently, a friend asked me to do a Ninjago cake for his 6YO son. The cake took a week for me to make, simply because I could only do the figurines at night, after the little one has gone to bed. I was really apprehensive about the turnout and threw a couple of figurines away because they didn’t work out.

In the end, this is the completed product.

IMG_20140808_131537

 

It’s a 3-inch chocolate cake and I’m thankful that the frosting didn’t melt in the heat. I did a double layer of fondant covering after frosting the cake.

The bricks and figurines were done a few days before the cake was assembled since I needed them to be dried. Tylose powder works wonderfully well for these.

20140808_122945  20140808_122950  20140808_122956

I had problems with the temple though. Initially, i had wanted to build one with either rice crispy or some biscuits for the interior but I thought it would weigh the cake down and decided on doing that single panel. Not my ideal but I guess I would just have to make do.

20140808_123004

In the end, I was most pleased with the bricks and the banner with the name on it. It was a last-minute idea and I did it free hand but I love the result.

IMG_20140808_122901

3.5kg

WW: Enjoyable class

IMG_20140716_152203

 

Conducted this class for the first time today and thankfully I had very eager and teachable participants who made my day. They were so attentive and followed the instructions well and I must say they sculpted very well and covered the cakes wonderfully neat for first-timers! I’m impressed!

I’m getting so encouraged by them. Well done!

 

Sisterly cakes

I’d like to think that I’m in the business of making people happy, hopefully, with my cakes. During the weekends, I had the immense privilege of baking cakes for my ex-classmate,A, whom I have not met since 15 years ago. What an honour!

She had asked me to bake two 6″ rainbow and ombre pink cakes respectively for her two daughters. Since it was a family celebration, they wouldn’t need a big cake which was fine by me. I love baking 6″ cakes because they are manageable. 😉 There’s no great need for any decoration. Birthday buntings will do.

IMG_20140520_220047v2014-05-21 14.14.51

I started working on these cakes a few days before the delivery day. Since I have to take care of Faith in the day time, I could only do most of the jobs in the evening when she’s in bed. The buntings were done first using craft paper, washi tapes and decorative letterings.

20140522_142300 20140521_142315

Next up were the cakes which could take a fair bit of time since each layer of batter was weighed and coloured and then baked.

2014-05-22 17.30.19

This is the ombre pink cake for the older sister. I didn’t smoothen the outer layer of the buttercream since I wanted a rustic feel to the cake. Adding small love sprinkles on top, I thought it completes the look of a rather romantic cake. ;p

2014-05-22 17.31.04

This is for the younger sister who is celebrating her 10th year. I wanted the cake to be a tad more fun and added the colourful sprinkles on top. At the end of the day, I just hope both of them would love what their mother had done for them and to eat the cake. 😉

Loving buttercream cakes

20140518_130313

It has been raining rather often these days and this is no good news for decorating a cake with fondant at my place. So, whenever friends asked me to bake for them, I will promote buttercream cakes, for sure!

Over the weekend, I did one rainbow vanilla sponge cake for an 8-year-old boy. 6 inch and I love the size. It’s definitely more cumbersome to bake a rainbow cake since you need to colour the different layers for the batter before baking them. A weighing scale will help if you are into precision. 😉

20140517_173446

 

My usual proportion for the swiss meringue buttercream will not be sufficient to cover the cake. So I decided to add one more egg white with the same amount of sugar and butter. Works well but I guess we can do with more. So I guess I’ll need to experiment more with the recipe. For this batch, the measurement is:

130g egg white (4 large eggs)
135g sugar
227g unsalted butter, soft but still cold, cut into small equal size of cubes

20140518_123046 20140518_123513

More recently, I find myself loving the use of ribbons to cover the base. The collection is growing at quite a steady rate, I must say. Since I would be using a toy superman figurine on the cake, I put a layer of fondant on top before placing another layer just for the decorations. It’s suppose to mean that superman emerge from the clouds… Hmm, did any one of you get it?

20140517_095324

All the wordings were done a day before since I need them to harden a little. Tylose powder is added to the fondant.

20140518_124038

Building this cake in stages takes the stress away. I must say I quite enjoy making this cake!

PME teacher seminar

Last week, for four full days, I was working real hard at the PME teacher seminar in HK. This is the first time that such a seminar is conducted in HK and I’m thankful that I was nominated to attend.

It was truly stressful as we had to recreate what the instructors had shown us within a short time frame. Everyone was on their toes. No one had the time to chit chat or to have a break. The only real break was for lunch. Other than that, we were all working fast and furiously.

20140506_084535

It was great learning from the very experienced instructors though. The techniques were somewhat different from what I have learnt previously and it’s certainly enlightening. I’m truly humbled by the whole experience. Everyone around me was skillful and passionate about this craft and it can really be overwhelming.

10177901_10152101246544677_5435737551342045030_n

And at last, at the end of the 4th day, we could finally relax because it signaled the end of the seminar. You could immediately sense the relief among the participants and smiles returned on the faces.

20140509_163327

My fellow baking instructors with the experts.

20140509_163409

Fun shot. We are the only group who asked for that kind of shot.

Would I be an approved PME instructor? I’m not sure but what I’m certain is that I need to keep working at it and be good in what I’m doing. And if I want to make sugar flowers look real, I need to study them closely. There’s so much to learn!

20140509_141343

Cupcakes for baby shower

2014-04-30 17.26.28

The designs on these cupcakes can be made by using impression mat, moulds and cookie cutters! Had a wonderful time teaching this class and having a fun-loving student helps a lot!

It’s mid-week, folks and tomorrow’s Labour Day. This means I can spend time with the hubs and the LO!

WW | A hobby takes flight

“When God closes a door, He opens another.”

And that really happens to me. If you have been following this blog, you would know that I resigned from my teaching job to look after the little one (LO) full-time because both the hubs and I felt that this is the best arrangement for her, at least for the first few years of her life. I love teaching, everything about it, and to leave this vocation is a blow to me.

Being a SAHM has its perks and pain and I find it crucial to get away from the LO at times, just to maintain sanity. I turn to baking and further hone my skills in cake decorating by going for courses. And one fine day, I was offered a freelance job at a cake decorating school. This is an awesome arrangement because I get to teach again, on stuff I love to do and I can choose when I want to teach (times when I need some ME time!).

I didn’t really share this publicly because I don’t know how far this will take me but now I’m ready.

In February, together with a group of lovely ladies, I attended a training on creating really huge and beautiful cakes from an instructor from Planet Cake. We would all be assessed on our skills and cakes because if we pass, we get to teach the similar stuff!

1798443_1455785727970609_1851509268_n[credits]

And I’m pleased to share this piece of good news with you: I passed!

These are the cakes we made.

1555572_1457651484450700_542668551_n IMG_2103 IMG_1925

It’s really fun as I learnt quite a fair bit of techniques in creating these cakes, which includes drilling and airbrushing.

1932306_1460099534205895_982956589_n
[
credits]

IMG_1327

 

At the end of the day, the family is the beneficiary of the cakes and they got so tired of them that they asked me to give them away. Arghhh!

IMG_1438

IMG_1018

1902750_10151952298494677_440924385_n

I’m thankful that the hubs gives me total support in my hobby and my parents who helped to take care of the LO while I was busy during that period. My hobby is really taking flight and quite literally, I am flying off to somewhere soon to learn more about cake decorating.

Life has taken a turn, and this is really quite unexpected. I’m thankful for all these opportunities!

Linking up with:

new button

Heroes in town

How’s your Saturday been thus far?

Mine turned out awesome. You see, I’ve encountered a few heroes today.

IMG_20140322_130303

Yesterday, the car could not start and we contacted a mechanic whose name card was given by my sis. I contacted him and he replied that he would try to come as early as possible the next day, thinking that I would need the car for work. Indeed, this morning, he came at the agreed time, examined my car battery and other parts and told me that the fault was with the starter. The problem was solved after he used a rod to give a few knocks on the starter. He told me honestly that it could still last a few months though it would be good to change it.

“How am I going to pay you?”20140322_093716

He shrugged his shoulder and said it was ok and drove off.

I was filled with thanksgiving. I’m not trying to be cynical but the uncle could have charged me for travelling to my place or even gave me a wrong diagnosis so that he could earn a bit but he didn’t. Such honesty. Such kindness. There are indeed awesome people like them around!

My spirit was lifted and I was in a happy mood to complete the cake that my ex-colleague/ friend has ordered for his son’s 7th birthday. The theme was on Superman and I was thinking of Superman emerging from the ground to save the people. I told my friend that I would rather that we get a toy as the topper as compared to doing one. Thankfully, he was okay with that idea.

The chocolate cakes were baked a day before so that on the actual day, I could fully concentrate on decorating it. For the last few cakes, I had used various types of coating but found it unsuitable for our humid tropical climate.  This time round, I used a 2:1 proportion for the chocolate ganache. And I think it works!

20140322_103203

The cake was well covered by the ganache and after putting a layer of brown fondant on top, I covered it with blue fondant as the sky. I had wanted a darker blue but just couldn’t get it! #notenoughbluefoodcolour
After that, I cut out the top layer of the fondant in the middle of the cake to ‘allow Superman to emerge from the ground’. Before that, I had to wrap the bottom of the topper with some brown fondant before placing it into the cake to ensure food safety. The ‘peeling’ of the ground is made of two rectangles of brown and blue and then cut into triangles before placing it in the middle for it to attach and dry.

20140322_130009

I thought the chocolate balls added some spice to the ‘damaged’ ground. ;p

20140322_125948

Can you guess which city is decorated on the cake? You’ve guessed it right. It is Singapore all right. I was able to have a good and uninterrupted time decorating this cake because the hubs took the little one down for a long walk and took over the duty from me. Grateful. In the afternoon, I was also able to have my first real run because my father-in-law came and played with Faith. Oh, these heroes! I am definitely grateful to these men!

2014-03-22 21.20.52

Hope your Saturday’s been awesome.

Bicycle on my cake

I used to cycle, and quite frequent at one stage. I love the wind that caresses your face as you cruise but dislike the climbing of hills. But it’s all good and I met a whole group of awesome cyclists.

20140315_104914

While training for an event, I met a wonderful lady through a swim class and a few days ago, she asked me if I could bake a cake for her boyfriend who is an avid and really superb cyclist. It is my pleasure of course. Little did I realise that it is rather difficult to make the bicycle figurine since it can be so delicate.

IMG_2808 IMG_2813 IMG_2817

I got inspired from this blog but I must say I could not use the same technique as hers. For the bike frame, I covered a toothpick with fondant + tylose as I really need the frame to be sturdy. As for the wheels, I used circle cutters and spaghetti for the spokes before painting the spokes with metallic food paint. The different parts of the bike had to be done in stages and in the end, pieced them all up with glue (edible one, of course) and pray very hard that it will stay in one piece.

20140314_160557 20140314_160729 20140314_103650 20140315_091759

Thankfully, the weather was good to make figurine. It was relatively non-humid and the parts could dry by the following day. I had great fun with this but know that there is really much much room for improvement. M asked for a chocolate cake with caramel and walnut and she gets her cake done this way!

20140315_104941

M’s boyfriend likes the bike so much that he asked how to preserve it. I think anything that the girlfriend gives will make him super happy. Moreover this is a bike, modeled very closely to his (can’t do the fine details though). Thankfully, there was also good feedback for the chocolate cake. I’m happy!

20140315_105610

Animals on my cake

20140310-141350.jpg

A friend asked me to bake a cake for her son, Matthias’ 5th birthday. Since he likes zoo animals, she requested for the rainbow cake to be decorated around that theme. No specific design given. That’s it.

I was excited and a book that Faith always reads came to mind. I wanted to create a few 20140310-141340.jpgfigurine made of fondant + tylose powder. There are also a lot of resources to tap on in the Internet. But I also respect the works of the cake decorator and thus hope to come up with my own version. That being said, I find it difficult to really come up with a personal design since you can only alter the body and face in just a few ways (That’s the amateur me talking). I could only spare a few hours each day to do the figurines and so, it’s one animal each night after Faith went to bed. The lion was the first to be completed, followed by the zebra, giraffe and the monkey. By the time I did the last animal, I was already losing steam. Hah!

20140310-141653.jpg 20140310-141708.jpg
20140310-141745.jpg 20140310-141801.jpg

I guess you would understand if I disclose that this 10″ round rainbow cake took a whole week to complete. 😉

20140310-141613.jpg

The day before the delivery, the cake was baked. It’s a nice feeling seeing the layers of colours on top of one another. I wanted the design to be simple, not too complicated, and decided that swiss meringue buttercream without any added colour would suffice.

20140310-141458.jpg 20140310-141515.jpg

So, there you have it. When I passed the box of cake to my friend, I was filled with relief and a sense of accomplishment. Hah. Hope the boy likes the cake.

20140310-141441.jpg 20140310-141422.jpg
20140310-141411.jpg 20140310-141401.jpg

Have a blessed birthday, Matthias!

20140310-141540.jpg

A caking week

So this past week, I have been getting up at half past 5 daily so that I could get ready to walk Faith to Dad’s place. You see, for these two weeks, I am learning from some awesome and talented people on constructing beautiful cakes. So, someone has to take care of Faith.

I miss Faith and my family, to be honest. Much as I am privileged to be able to learn wonderful cake decorating techniques, I find myself not able to fully devote my mind and heart during the session. I would think about Faith and wonder how she is doing. I guess the good Lord knows that I cannot do a good job if I were to be a working mum and thus made me choose the SAHM’s path.

And by the time I reach home each day, there is little time left to interact with the little one. Guilt overtakes. Sadness engulfs the soul.

One more week and I’m back to my full-time mommy duties.

IMG_1327

A princess cake for a sweet girl

20140127-064242.jpg

This is the last cake for January. And after this, I shall be baking for my family.

20140127-062724.jpgA two-tier cake of chocolate batter was asked for but in the end, because I wanted to construct an ombre cake for the little cake, decided to tweak it a bit. The lower 7-inch tier was made of Devil’s food cake and the top 6-inch tier, an ombre cake.

Nowadays, I prefer to make the cake on the day itself if the collection is in the evening. So this cake was baked in the morning before our family went out for some activities and when we came back, it’s time to assemble the cake.

20140127-062734.jpg

Didn’t really take a lot of pictures since no time could be wasted!

But I did have fun with this cake and that’s important to me!

20140127-062744.jpg

Only the toppers were made a few days before since I need them to be dried before assembling them. For the flowers, having the plungers help a lot and I love the sprinklers which I attached to the flowers. Otherwise piping a small dot using royal icing will do the job.

20140127-062801.jpg

Thomas the train cake

Last Saturday, a friend, QX, asked if I could make a Thomas the train cake for her son’s birthday. She wanted a rainbow vanilla sponge cake.

20140125-094530.jpg

QX gave me a few designs for ideas but the fickle-minded me changed my designs a few times until I finally settled on one.

20140125-094758.jpg

I wish I had the time to do the train figurine but I was too busy that week which was a pity. On the day of the delivery, I made the rainbow cake. This time round, I changed the flour to cake flour which resulted in a lighter texture. I also doubled the portion and my cake ended up really tall! It turned out to be 5-inch tall!

20140125-094614.jpgContainers such as these are very useful for making rainbow cake. After weighing the batter and dividing the portions, the various colours – red, orange, yellow, green and blue – were added.

Each layer took about 20 minutes to be baked. Having many cake pans would help when you bake a rainbow cake. If not, laying the base and side of the pan with parchment paper helps too!

20140125-094628.jpg

Cheery colours!

While giving time for the cake layers to cool, the next step was to make the swiss meringue buttercream which is a lot easier than the IMBC. Thankfully the portion was just enough for this cake. No leftover! Yay!

20140125-094650.jpg 20140125-094659.jpg
Note to self: Initially after adding the butter, it will curdle and looks a tad runny but just let it beat more and it will soon become creamy.

For the past few cakes, I had used IMBC and chocolate ganache as the coat before the fondant. However, there were air bubbles and this wouldn’t look nice on a cake. This time round, I used Wilton’s buttercream and the result was rather satisfactory! Perhaps, the breezy weather helped that day. Humidity was lower than usual too. I just wish that the buttercream isn’t that sweet. Well, I guess I can always counteract the sweetness with the addition of lemon or salt.

20140125-094723.jpg 20140125-094733.jpg

20140125-094743.jpg

The decorating part is always the most fun. I added the embellishment and hid any imperfections with them.

20140125-094811.jpg 20140125-094820.jpg
20140125-094835.jpg 20140125-094854.jpg

That’s it. I had a good time with this cake. I certainly hope to have the opportunity to make the train figurine in future!

20140125-094920.jpg

Toot! Toot!

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake for a 2YO

20140113-103835.jpg

My goal for this year is to bake a cake for sale at least once a month so that I could continue to hone my skills in cake decorating and make improvement to cake recipes. Just about a week ago, I got a message from a friend who asked if I could bake a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake for her friend since the latter was not able to find bakers to do so. I gamely took it up because I really do want to challenge myself in making the two-tier cake and that MM figurine.

20140113-103820.jpg

The customer, T, sent me a few pictures to give me some idea of what she wanted for her cake. In the end, this will be the final product.

The first thing that I set down to do are the toppers – the number ‘two’ and MM figurine. It is entirely hand-molded and the figurine proved to be rather challenging. It was on the third attempt that I finally was able to make one that is close to the original. The trick is to get the various parts ready, dry them for a short while before attaching the various parts together. I used fondant and added tylose powder to it. After it was made, it was then left to dry for a few days. All other decorations were also made a day or two before the actual collection.

20140113-104046.jpg 20140113-104105.jpg 20140113-104151.jpg

20140113-104138.jpg

As usual, whenever I have a cake order, the dining table transforms into my workspace and it becomes really messy. Thank God the hubs didn’t really mind.

20140113-104030.jpg

The 9″ and 6″ vanilla sponge cakes were baked a day before the actual collection, sliced into layers, cling-wrapped and stored in airtight container to prevent it from drying. The sugar syrup was also made that day. The border of the cake drum was pasted with ribbon and all other equipment was laid out the night before so that it would facilitate my work the next day, which was the collection day too.

20140113-104008.jpg 20140113-103925.jpg 20140113-103914.jpg

On the day itself, I woke up early to make the frosting and chocolate ganache which is to be the coating for the cake. The layers of cakes were sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and strawberries since this was requested.

20140113-103849.jpg

The last stage was to cover the cake with fondant and then add the embellishment. My apartment was not equipped with air-conditioner and it proved to be a tad challenging since the fondant will sweat. I almost thought I couldn’t make it because the fondant was really ‘sweating’ after I have covered the cakes with the sugar. As a last straw, I placed both cakes in the fridge fully covered in cake caddies for about 30 minutes. The cakes were then transported to the site, assembled and the toppers attached. Phew! Job done!

1529988_10202424687490039_1252553454_oPhoto posted with permission of the owner

Making this cake is quite an experience. Initially, T asked for a 2kg cake but in the end, the cake weighs about 5kg. I remember I was shaking as I put on 6-inch cake and the toppers because there isn’t any additional cake or toppers and if I happened to make a mistake in attaching them, I’m screwed.

Thankfully, all went well.

Time to move on to the next cake. =)

Christmas wreath pull-apart cupcakes

Often, when we bake cupcakes, we will lay them out on trays or cupcake stands. How about a different way of presenting them?

I did a pull-apart version for the Christmas wreath. This is made for a celebration for the SAHMs!

20131223-202344.jpg

I made these vanilla cupcakes first and lay them out in the shape I want.

20131223-202352.jpg

Then, I apply mint frosting using a star tip, making sure that the frosting of each cupcake touches the next one.

20131223-202407.jpg

I thought this is actually good enough after putting some Christmas sprinkles. But since I have made some figurines and decoration using fondant, I put them up when I reach the site.

20131223-202448.jpg

There you have it. The completed version.

20131223-202432.jpg

And this is how you eat it, just pull each one apart and pop it into your mouth!

😉

Sugar art disaster on a rainy day

As if working in a humid area is not bad enough, it just had to rain when I was working on some  Christmas figurines.

It all started rather well as I worked on a reindeer…

20131218-202717.jpg 20131218-202733.jpg
20131218-202745.jpg 20131218-202756.jpg

It was a rainy day that day…

20131218-202840.jpg 20131218-202910.jpg

And the reindeer perspired, and then went through a process of melting…

20131218-202946.jpg

A second reindeer has to be made and this time round, I placed it quickly into a container, complete with a desiccating agent.

20131218-203007.jpg

20131218-203019.jpg

These two are preserved, and I made another Santa.

20131218-203037.jpg

20131218-203048.jpg 20131218-203103.jpg

20131218-203141.jpg

The collection of Christmas cake/cupcake toppers.