CNY 2017

And so Chinese New Year 2017 ended in a jiffy.

It came rather abruptly too. Before we could get a hang of the new year with its new schedule, we were ushered into the year of the Rooster. This year, I didn’t manage to purchase new clothes for the kids but thankfully they received new sets of hand-me-downs which served us fine. No time to bake CNY goodies but were given tubs of them from friends and aunt-in-law. No mandarin oranges too because my mom would not be celebrating CNY since my grandma passed on a few months back so my supply of the ‘kam’ was cut.

Still, we had our reunion dinner and the steamboat dinner by my mom was a meal I always look forward to since we only have this once a year.

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House visitation is something I DO NOT look forward to because it can be so tiring but surprisingly, I find myself enjoying a wee bit this year. Perhaps it’s because the kids enjoyed mingling with the relatives (even though they only meet once a year) or maybe because they were behaving all right. I couldn’t decide.

We did have fun. And our tummy kept exercising from all the CNY goodies that we consumed. Goodness!

But the highlight of this year’s CNY has to be the meetup with the folks of the youth fellowship whom I grew up with. Though I have moved on to another church, my friendship with them stays intact.

We had our worship session just like how we used to have when we were youths, we played the same old silly games and laughed our hearts out and we still share the same love for God and with one another. They are family indeed.

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These are the two brothers whom I look up to. Both are funny to the core but when it comes to the Word of God, it’s all seriousness.

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So much fun and laughter that night.

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Because it’s the year of the Rooster, I got Faith to paint a picture of a rooster figurine and since she’s into everything rainbow, she chose to paint it with multiple colours, just like the middle rooster figurine. She still couldn’t draw well but I invited her to draw some small parts of this picture, such as the beak and the crown. The objective of that ‘lesson’ is really to get her to blend the colours, something which I want her to continue to work on. I had wanted the little brother to join in the fun by getting them to do finger printing for the bottom part of the painting aka the ground but the brother was distracted by other stuff so in the end, Faith did everything. Mighty pleased with it. 😉 With guidance, of course.

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We ended CNY with a scrumptious dinner by the aunt-in-law. It’s a yearly affair for this beloved lady who would always present us with delicious homecooked food twice for CNY. Blessed, aren’t we?

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That basically sums up our CNY 2017. Hope you guys have had fun too!

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.

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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.

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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?

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

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

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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. 😉

Dan’s 1st birthday

Birthday celebration. Purpose? To create memories and hopefully, they are good ones.

Over the weekend, we organised a small celebration for my family at our apartment. It was a simple affair. I prepared dinner for them and it was a privilege to do so since there wasn’t much opportunity to do that often; everyone is busy. Of course, the highlight is the dessert table. I am perhaps the only person who is excited about this. I love the idea of a dessert table but didn’t like the work. Faith didn’t have her first birthday celebration because we were too lazy to organise one. Her subsequent birthdays included a cake which was an improvement. This time round, I thought I should be a bit more diligent and organise a slightly more elaborate one for Dan and Faith in November.

Okay, I would disclose a bit more. It’s because I was a bit bored and wanted to do something more exciting and thus decided to do a dessert table. The fact that I came across some adorable party decor further fuelled my interest. When I told the hubs about my intention, he ROLLED HIS EYES. Oh, whatever! ;p

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On Saturday morning, I gathered the party decor and baked a pandan chiffon cake and sugar cookies before going through the mundane – doing the laundry, sending the girl to swim class, cleaning the bathroom, etc.

The theme was about polar bear and friends, just because the party decor that I bought contain those pictures. I know this is not very creative of me but I wouldn’t want to spend too much time thinking about themes. Besides, I’m quite sure Daniel doesn’t mind at all.

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Dinner comprised pan-fried salmon, a stir-fried broccoli dish, baked honey mustard chicken wings, seaweed chicken bites, soy sauce braised pork belly dish and fishball, meatball soup. So happy that they were all wiped out or was it because I didn’t prepare sufficiently? Geez…

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The dessert table was set up after dinner. Okay, my family was like ‘whatever, we just want dessert’; they didn’t really care about aesthetics. However, they graciously allowed me to do my thing and I promptly did so while trying to avoid their what-are-you-doing look.

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And so, there you have it – Daniel’s first birthday celebration. I have created some memories for the children! Yay! I did have fun designing and coming up with the simple dessert table. Maybe I could do something for Faith’s birthday as well?

Hmm, that will depend on whether I have the time and energy then. ;p

P.S. A special thanks to my sister who helped me capture the memories using the Canon EOS M10.

Wordless Wednesday | Birthday preparation


I will be busy this week. We have decided to celebrate Dan’s birthday this weekend. Since I have some party decor which I have bought in Melbourne, I’ve decided to do up a mini dessert table and to invite my family over for dinner.

The hubs and I are not huge on birthday party. I mean, after all, will the 1YO know anything? However, I am reminded that we should make effort to create memories for them so even if the children might not remember much about the event, at least there will be photos which they could refer to in the future?

All right then. This lazy mom had better buck up and do something about birthdays.

Happy Father’s Day!

!Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful daddies out here.

However, I would like to mention a particular daddy in this post and he is none other than the father of my children! *clap, clap*

Thank you for making family your priority, that in every meeting or task that you intend to undertake, you would think of us first. We know you are exhausted after a day at work but each time when you step into the house, you never fail to greet us with a smile and thereafter spend time with the kids. Thank you for being a firm and yet fun father to the children. I definitely think that you are much more fun to be with as you go down on all fours to play silly games with her. I know I can’t.

Personally, I want to thank you for standing in to do ‘night duties’ since Dan was born so that I could have a restful night. I don’t know how you manage to do that since you have a day job and need the rest yourself. So, yea, I am immensely grateful that you put our welfare before yours.

The girl made a card for you and she did it by herself; I merely suggested the idea. We hope you like it!

And we even went down to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to do some filming.

Watch out for her at 1:36. She was extremely shy that day but because it’s for you…

Happy Father’s Day. We thank God for you!

That day, we had an awesome lunch with the family at Symmetry at the recommendation of SIL and it was truly a wonderful eatery. Thankfully we were a little early because it was already packed when we arrived at 11ish!

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Love the illustration on the menu

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I always order truffle fries when they are on the menu and the ones at Symmetry didn’t disappoint.

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Truly filling and satisfying

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The kids and I

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Next stop. Where are we off to?
It’s off to Dad’s Day Out to spend some time bonding with the man in the family!

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So the girl danced with the dad, got wheeled around, instructed and led the father out of the maze and took a family picture together. The brother? Slept most of the time away in the Boba carrier. Tsk!

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Happy Father’s Day again. Love it!

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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

National Day Celebration 2015

Yesterday, F’s school celebrated its Sports Day in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th birthday. I was excited because it is the first time I’m attending NOT as a teacher but as a parent!

Our family members were clad in red and white and we set off to the Sports Hub in the morning with high spirits. Upon reaching, Faith was on her skate-scoot and when she saw the crowd before her, she tensed up. In the end, I had to be in the line with her.

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Since she is one of the shortest kids in her class, she had to be in the front and I, too. I was a tad embarrassed (can you see my expression) but I had to stand beside her since she would make a fuss when I stepped out. Sigh!

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In the end, I sang the national anthem and recited the pledge with the kids, all thanks to the little girl. I’m still trying to understand her personality. While she could be so friendly with a stranger on a one-to-one basis, she is a totally different character when it comes to a crowd.

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The sports meet was next and after watching and cheering for the other classes, it’s the N1 pupils’ turn! Many of the children were shy and wanted their parents to take part with them. Of course, the parents obliged.

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It’s the hubs’ turn when it comes to sports now and I certainly hope that both of them had fun. Faith looked relieved after the match was over.

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Singing National Day songs…

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There was a short break in between the photo taking session and the hubs got her interested in getting the ants to climb onto the twig. She definitely was more interested in this activity and was captivated for a good amount of time.

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But the highlight had to be snack time because that’s when her eyes lit up. She was active and alert all of a sudden and was in her cheerful mode again. So, you know what will make her happy now?

😉

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It’s my sis’ birthday tomorrow and I thought that I should bake her a birthday cake since mom’s cooking dinner this evening. Naturally, the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake came to mind because my nephews love strawberries and our family prefers light cakes anytime. Thankfully, I have strawberries and whipped cream in the fridge so it makes decision making easier.

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I went ahead and used the traditional sponge cake method. 6″ cake pans were used since I did not want a big cake. That said, I do have a tall 6″ cake in the end.

(A)
4 eggs
120g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour (sifted)

(C)
70g melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended.

3. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the greased pans. Bake at 180C for about 20 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes. Remove them from the pans immediately when done and let cool.

I’m used to using IMBC and was rather hesitant about using whipped cream because my kitchen is really warm. Since there is no harm in experimenting and because it’s really for family, I decided to give it a try. Using 300g of whipped cream, I used the balloon whisk and whisk it till stiff peak. Preferably, the metal bowl should be cold but I forgot to keep it in the fridge before that. But hey, it still works. And I’m pleasantly surprised that it holds well even when it’s kept out of the fridge for half an hour (before the cake cutting).

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My folks said the sponge cake is rather light but I think it can go lighter. The next time I experiment with it, I might use cake flour and add a little glucose to see the difference it will make. Also, the whipped cream is a tad thick so I should just reduce it by a wee bit.

familypic (2)In any case, I’m glad to have baked this cake. It’s been a while since I last baked a cake for a birthday celebration. And more importantly, it warmed my heart to see the folks enjoy this dessert.

3rd year as a Dad

How has it been being a father for three years? I certainly hope that you are enjoying the journey. image I just want to tell you that you are an awesome dad…image Happy Father’s Day!

Totoro cake

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

The day Faith turns two

It was just another ordinary day. We had our regular playdate and we had {almost} full attendance that day. Faith was clad in her new dress and she wondered why.

Why?

She turned two years old that day.

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We didn’t have any party. In fact, I didn’t inform the mummies that it was Faith’s birthday that day. I thought it was unnecessary. All I hope was that she could enjoy a brief moment of happiness with her playmates as she had the cake presented before her and of course, the birthday song. It is good enough to have close friends and family members with you as you celebrate important events and that’s what I want for her birthday.

20141120_094655Mummy Ade and C came a tad earlier and the kids had free play. There were sea creatures on the table and then they busied themselves with the blocks. Oh, how I love to see the joy in Faith and the children.

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I_LJmDOOLzA3b6gPBAP7yvQ18GjLwnTh7ghCV_EuLgoD=w604-h524-noMummy C read The Rainbow Fish but somehow the kids were distracted. Perhaps the book was too small?I thought the story was really meaningful but am not sure if the kids could understand.

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For craft, I thought of an activity to complement the book and got the little ones to make fish out of cupcake cases. For the older boy, J, I got him to design his own rainbow fish using scraps of paper. He’s proud of his work. Well done!

IMG-20141120-WA0012-SMILEThe cake cutting session! Actually, I honestly don’t think Faith understands anything about it. For the record, she didn’t even know how to blow the candle and I had to get the hubs to teach her when he got back home. Anyway, the other kids had fun!

IMG-20141120-WA0005I didn’t bake this cake for her since I’m really too tired from baking for others and I do want to taste other cakes! It’s for self-development. Hah! Lovely matcha azuki cake!

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Just look at Faith’s expression as we cut the cake. Oh no! Don’t destroy the cake!

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For practical life, the kids got to work with a pair of scissors and they were thrilled! Just imagine all these while, they were not allowed to touch it and now they could!

20141120_113122I love this scene. J, the older boy, led the others into singing three songs and the kids followed him, complete with actions! This is so heartening

For a more detailed account of the playdate, check Mummy Ade’s blog!

20141120_114727After the playdate, sis came over with the nephews and brought sushi for lunch. Faith was presented with one of her favourite food – fishball! And boy, this is a huge one!

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The hubs came back and we sang the birthday song again and this time round, Faith could blow out the candles after the hubs taught her how.

So, this is how we celebrate her birthday. No fuss, no stress!

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And we really don’t want others to buy presents for her just because it’s her birthday (but thank you to the thoughtful ones for the gifts!). To me anyway, it is a day to remember God’s blessing towards our family and how He has brought us through the past year with her. It has been really wonderful despite some difficult moments. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of playdates and having friends who have the same mindset and those who can encourage you on this journey. It has been a joyful ride. Thank you all for being there for (and with) us as we bring up this little girl.

A cake for Mr Wood

Relatives from my hubs’ side came back to visit and I was tasked to bake a cake to surprise Mr Wood, an ardent fan of The Harlequins. Of course, I know nothing about this football club until the hubs told me and I had to do some reading up on it and browsing of pictures before I decided on the figurine that I would be making. Initially, a cake in the shape of a football was called for but I don’t have the pan and I’m not ready to sculpt a cake and decided to just settle for a figurine.

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It’s a rich devil’s food cake that I baked and I decided to pipe some ‘grass’ on it. It’s a simple cake but one which I like because of the figurine. It was made the night before though I wish I had more time. Had I more time, I would have made another player lying on the ground. But that week had been crazy with playdates, homeschool stuff, teaching assignment, a seminar to attend and a cake order in the weekend too. Not that I’m complaining. I actually enjoyed all the activities. Just that the spirit is willing but the body is weak and  I felt it protesting already.

Thankfully, the folks were easy to please and I think the cake satisfied.

I wonder how this week looks like.

Yuzu sponge cake

I fell in love with Yuzu after trying the Yuzu drink sold in the supermarket. I like that it is aromatic and refreshing without being overly citrus. And I thought I should infuse it into my cakes! I did just that for refreshment during the recent playdate that we had.

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I did some changes to a vanilla sponge cake recipe by using more cake flour instead of using all of plain flour. I also reduced the amount of sugar since my friends prefer less sweet stuff. Instead of vanilla extract, I used Yuzu concentrate which I purchased from Kitchen Capers.

So here goes:

Yuzu sponge cake

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking tin with baking paper. I baked a 6″ cake for this one and the height goes up to 4 inches. Very tall cake!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins and gradually add the castor sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the Yuzu concentrate and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour, beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tin. If you are doing rainbow or ombre cake, you would have to use your scale to divide out the batter equally and then add your desired food colouring. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the portion you bake) or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the sift peak stage (foamy stage).

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites0 by the side. Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, it should look like this.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate.

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Once you have the buttercream, the next step is to frost the cake. Enjoy the process!

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Verdict: So my friends ate slices of it and one of them commented it’s still a tad sweet. The husband likes it and I think it’s just right too. Try it yourself and see if you like it less sweet by reducing the sugar to about 3/4 cup. If you really want a soft cake, you can just use cake flour. Experiment with the recipe. This is the fun thing about baking.

😉

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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. 😉

WW | Celebrating a milestone

The hubs reaches another milestone in his career and Faith and I went to celebrate for him.

Love this shot of them having fun. Joy of parenting eh?

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake for a 2YO

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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

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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.

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There you have it. The completed version.

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

😉

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The weekend saw us busy ourselves with the decorating of a ….Christmas tree!

It’s our first time having a real tree, courtesy of the sister-in-law who wanted to bring on some cheer to the folks. It’s rather fun, I must say!

On reflection, I’m thankful that the SIL bothered to do such things. In our busy and practical society, many of us tend to forgo such activities and would rather rest during this season. After all, we have worked hard throughout the year, so why do this? Gimme a break, you might say. But, it does lift the spirit, in my case, at least. I guess it all boils down to the heart attitude. If you decide that all these are unnecessary, and is a total waste of time, then perhaps you will go to the event with a hardened heart, a downcast spirit and a grim face. And this does affect the company you are with.

The Christmas season should be welcome with wide open arms. It’s a time that we remember that Christ came, to bring hope to the fallen world. It’s a season of giving, not just of material goods but of ourselves. He came so that we might have life, life abundant (John 10:10).

So, peeps, let’s bring on the Christmas cheer… 😉

The little one was involved as well!

The little one was involved as well!

Faith was intrigued by the baubles and stayed entertained by them throughout the session.

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Step-by-step, we’ll make it. The guys setting up the lights.

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And then, the star!

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We dressed Faith up in santa’s clothing which a friend sent over to us. How apt! But the little one wasn’t very comfortable in it!

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I sent some cheer by baking an adaptation of the peppermint mocha cupcakes.

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And so, the Christmas spirit is definitely here to stay…for a while, at least. 😉

Happy 1st birthday, Faith

Your birthday was yesterday but Mama was too busy to blog!

Anyway, we didn’t intend to have a birthday bash for you as we want you to spend time with your loved ones, our family who have lent their helping hands throughout this one year. Perhaps next year, we will have a small party for you and you can celebrate and have fun with your friends?

It’s a pity that your cousins are still overseas, otherwise they would be celebrating with you.

20131121-115859.jpgHere you are celebrating with Gong Gong. He has helped Papa and Mama very much when we are both busy and Gong Gong adores you!

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It’s a family affair when it comes to birthday celebration. We also celebrated your Ko Po’s birthday too. She even cooked you Mee Sua as is the family tradition to have this on his/her birthday.

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The older folks really love you!

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Mama baked you a rainbow cake covered with macarons. May your life be filled with vibrancy!

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We had initially wanted to be decked in pink (Mama’s favourite colour) but grey seems fine too! May you grow up with the right values and the wisdom to discern what is right in situations where there are gray areas.

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Here’s a little about the rainbow cake. I had initially designed a two tiered cake since we are celebrating Koko’s birthday too. It would be a fruit cake for the adult and the rainbow cake for the kiddo. However, by the time I finished baking and ready to assemble, my energy level has dropped and decided to forgo the fruit cake.

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A day before, the father-in-law came over as he suspected that I would be baking a cake. How thoughtful! I used the vanilla cake recipe but reduced the sugar to 1 cup. After dividing the batter into 5 portions, I added the various colours.

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Then, they are cling-wrapped and placed in the fridge before the assembling the following day.

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To be honest, I had wanted to bake the macarons but since so many colours are involved, I forgo it and bought them instead. Unless there are folks who can help me finish the shells, I wouldn’t bake them. Too much trouble!

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I made a mistake of placing the finished product in the fridge, thinking that I could preserve the crispiness of the macarons but in so doing, the cake has become hard even though it was brought out of the fridge 3 hours after. The next day, when I consumed the remaining cake, it was softer and tastier. Hmm… lesson learnt. Another thing to improve is to add in more buttercream in each layer.

A dino cake for a 1YO

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Some weeks ago, I received a FB message from a mom asking me if  I could bake her son a cake for his one-year-old 20131110-142901.jpgcelebration. According to her, she would gladly support a SAHM for the effort as compared to purchasing one from a bakery. I was obviously happy that someone (a stranger!) would trust me enough to perform this task. Originally, a simple vanilla cake with buttercream was asked for and since the son loves this dinosaur that he often plays with, I came up with the first design.

Subsequently, the mom asked if it was possible to do a cake covered with fondant + a figurine and gave me a budget. Another draft was then made.

Draft 1 | Buttercream cake

Draft 1 | Buttercream cake

Second draft | Fondant cake

Draft 2 | Fondant cake

Thankfully, the mom was rather easy-going and accepted the proposed design very quickly. Love working with such people!

One week before the actual delivery, the figurine was made since it takes time to dry the material. I used full gumpaste for the dinosaur and tried to sculpt it based on the picture I received.

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To create the desired colour, I combine orange and red. Divide the gumpaste into the various parts of the dinosaur.

IMG_8692This is the first dino that I made which is quite ugly in my opinion due to the cracks.

IMG_8693The second dino. Much smoother and I painted it with the relevant {food} colours.

After the figurine is done, it is left to dry. Since I have no air-con and I do fear that it will not dry in time, I dried it using the fan and it was switched on 24 hours for 2 days! I also wrapped the dino with clingflim as I’m afraid the hands will not stay intact. Thankfully after 2 days, I could safely say it was okay!

Next, a day before the collection, the vanilla cake was baked and sandwiched using IMBC. Since the mom had requested for a less sweet cake, I reduced the amount of sugar and hoped that it would be to her liking. The cake has to be completely cooled before covering with fondant and that’s the reason why I baked it a day before.

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Something went wrong after I’ve covered the cake with fondant the first time. The air pockets expanded and they made the cake rather grotesque. Thankfully, I covered the cake the night before and I could redo the whole act on the day of delivery. A few reasons could contribute to the air bubbles but I believe the main reason is that my place is warm and this results.

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Thankfully, there is still sufficient time and I re-covered the entire cake using another type of buttercream and this time round, I made sure that I covered well so that air bubbles could be minimised.

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Roll out fondant to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Since this is a 8″ by 3″ cake, I rolled to a circle of diameter 14cm.

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Sometimes, when we cover the cake, it may not be a perfect job but no worries, borders can always cover up the imperfection. This is meant to be the grass on the sides of the cake and then I covered another stripe of chocolate fondant over it as the mud/ ground. The fondant is chocolate-flavoured and tastes not bad!

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Once these are done, the rest can be quickly assembled.

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These should be made beforehand so that they are a tad dry during assembling.

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This cake will only be consumed the next day and I certainly hope there will not be any major problem!
Dear cake, please do your part to satisfy the family and the birthday boy.

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Clingwrapped and off to be delivered.

Complimentary cupcakes for the boy to play with. Hah!

Complimentary cupcakes for the boy to play with. Hah!

Lessons learnt and changes to be made in future:

1) Cover the cake with chocolate ganache to ensure smooth covering and prevent air bubbles
http://www.artandappetite.com/2009/11/ganache-instead-of-buttercream/

2) Cake should be covered, assembled, delivered and consumed within the same day, if possible.

3) Press down the layers of cake after sandwiching with buttercream to prevent any trapped air

4) Consider installing air-conditioner?

About air bulging after covering cake fondant

http://cakecentral.com/t/686940/fondant-and-buttercream-bulges-air-bubbles

http://www.deliciouscakedesign.com/blog/?tag=air-bubbles-under-fondant

http://www.artandappetite.com/2009/11/ganache-instead-of-buttercream/

For Vanilla Cake (Yields an 8 x 2″ cake)
I made 2 portions for this cake

2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. I used 2 8-inch tins. Line the tins with baking paper.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together.

3. In a standmixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 1 minute. Gradually add the castor sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated.IMG_8723

5. Add the vanilla extra and beat until combined.

6. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tins. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

For Italian Meringue Buttercream

You will need:
190g caster sugar
38g water
75g egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, in cubes
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Make sure the sugar is dissolve in the water and cook the mixture until it reaches 120C. This will take from 5 to 10 minutes. After the sugar is dissolved (while continue boiling), I would wet a pastry brush and wet the sides of the pan to prevent sugar from crystalising.

2. While boiling the sugar  syrup, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 115C degrees, start to whisk the egg whites on medium-low speed until soft peaks are formed. The sugar syrup is still being boiled at this time. When it reaches 120C, remove from the heat source. reduce the standmixer speed to low and drizzle in the sugar syrup from the side so that the hot syrup doesn’t splatter.  Raise the speed to high when all the syrup is poured in and continue to whisk until the mixture cools to room temperature (or when you can touch the steel bowl , 5 to 10 minutes.IMG_8786

3. Only when the meringue is cool enough should you begin to add the butter. I gauge using my sense of touch. If I can hold on to the sides of the steel bowl of the standmixer comfortably, it’s at the right temperature. Reduce the speed to medium. With the mixer running, drop in the butter, 1 tbsp or cube at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding another. The mixture may deflate and begin to look curdled. Just raise the speed to high and continue to add tbsp-size pieces of butter, making sure each is completely combined before adding more. When all the butter has been added, the frosting should be smooth and thick. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Feedback from customer: Thankfully the air bubbles did not show up! They were happy with the workmanship though they find that the cake is firm ( not much of a choice, I’m afraid!) and a bit too sweet. So, that means I still have to reduce the amount of sugar!

The pink cake

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I’m so happy that a friend allows me to bake a cake for her 4YO daughter’s birthday. I mean, who would be so daring? Few want to take the risk.

I have not met the young girl but browsing her pictures from FB, I could see a beautiful and sweet 20130906-202058.jpgchild. The mother describes her as mischievous and asked me to experiment! Be fun! Be creative! Cake can be in pieces (jus not crumbs).

I like such responses but also worry if the daughter would like my design. I had wanted a garden design for her and perhaps make a figurine since I want to show the free-spirited side of this child, enjoying playtime in the nature. So I made ladybirds and bees, flowers and leaves.

A few weeks later, the mom said the girl would like the cake to be pink.

Gosh! Pink? Pink garden?

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Hmmm…. it’s back to the drawing board again. A garden with pink background doesn’t really seem realistic. Thankfully, there was an order for Hello Kitty cupcakes and I was experimenting with the recipes and the toppers and decided that the little girl should have a few of those just in case she doesn’t like my cake.

In the end, I have decided to make a vanilla sponge cake with different shades of pink/red. It will be coated with italian meringue buttercream and the border covered with multi-coloured sprinkles.

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So the work actually started a week before with the ladybirds and bees, the cake 2 days before. The cake was covered with the buttercream a day before and the final assembling took place on the day of collection. I feel if the cake is allowed time to bind the flavours, it will turn out better.

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Yup, the cake is made in stages. Slow and steady. This also allows for mistakes to be rectified.

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So, I wasn’t very satisfied with the cake design, to be honest. After the cake was completed, I took a look at it and realised that the side wasn’t smooth. I didn’t use a benchscraper to do the job! What was I thinking of? I also wanted to design such that the flowers seemed to be falling off but well, the combination of icing sugar flowers and fondant ones didn’t really look like a good match. The fact that my fondant flowers softened because of the rainy weather didn’t help at all!

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When I packed the cake, part of me felt relieved, the other part frustrated. I could have done better. Hump!

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In any case, the cakes were sent out and I hope the girl loves them.

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Update: So my friend sent me pics of the cake during the birthday celebration. And of course, helpful feedback which is so important to me. At the end of the day, the birthday girl was very happy and ate the kitty and the ladybird (both fondant). I wanna faint. Too much sugar!