Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cakes from the Heart

It's finally here.

Book Two.

Yey!

In a way, I am thankful for how things had happened.  If I hadn't known that someone out there was claiming to have developed a recipe that they had actually copied from here, I wouldn't have pushed myself into finishing this book. It's been a long time coming.

It's a lot of hard work.  I don't think I've slept for more than 4 hours a night for the last two weeks.  And that's just the writing, editing, lay-outing and proofreading part. The work that went to create the cakes is another story. Some people do not realize that, I guess.  Especially when what they like doing is simply 'copying and pasting' stuff into their own Facebook pages or websites.  Sad.

But that's water under the bridge.  My hope is that whoever wants to have a copy of this book, wants it for the right reason.  And the only reason.  To bake!

So here it is.

The cover

The cakes

The list

I titled this book, Cakes from the Heart, because all of the cakes within, are cakes I made for my family and friends.  Majority of the pictured cakes here are my actual first attempts at making them! Although I thought much about what I could offer in this blog, my foremost goal was always to create something special and new for my loved ones.   After all, they are the ones who get to eat and enjoy them!

You are familiar with some of these cakes.  There are 34 in total, 12 of which have never been featured here. It is a great mix of cakes, if I may say so myself!  You will definitely have a blast baking them for every occasion there is!

The new cakes on the block are: the taisan, chocolate roll, Malacanang roll (do you know this one?), creme brulee, white forest (the cover), ube (different version), cookie butter, chocolate mousse (most requested!), chocolate pistachio, rocky road, chocolate peanut butter, and chocolate salted caramel pretzel.  The yema icing for the yema cake is not the same as was posted here before.  The new one is more true to the Spanish yema cream of eggyolks and sugar syrup. Easier to make too. I also have a slightly different way/recipe of making marshmallow frosting.  I've never been consistently happy with the one I was using before but I had an epiphany one day, and lo and behold, a marshmallow frosting that is super stiff and stable, finally.

I dedicated this book to my auntie who passed away very recently. I went home to Manila to say my goodbyes because I was quite close to her. I have a lot of her handwritten recipes (including the ensaymada). She wrote them in a little notebook so we (her family) can learn to make them ourselves. I have shared her lemon squares, food for the gods, lengua de gato, arrowroot cookies and sansrival recipes here as well. I will never be able to thank her enough for inspiring me to bake.

For a very long time, I have really been unmotivated. And knowing that a lot of people are just disrespecting my work by copying and distributing them, posting them on baking group websites, even making PDFs out of them, did not help. 😭 But today I am feeling really good about what I have accomplished.  And I am looking forward to making more cakes and more books!  One day, I will hopefully muster enough courage to actually go to a real publisher. Maybe someday I will even get to see my book at National Bookstore. 😏Someday.

To anyone interested in having a copy, the eBook is now available in my Etsy shop. Be the first to own it! Your support will be greatly appreciated.




PS.  If you don't have the Frosted Heaven eBook yet and would like to purchase the two eBooks together, I can make a listing at a discounted price.  Just send me an email to request for one.

One more thing - I am not listing this book yet on Blurb (to be printed as a physical book).  The prices are just outrageous, even for a softcover.  I won't even order a copy for myself yet.  I will wait for when they have big discounts.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why I did what I did

Let me be honest with you all and tell you what's going on.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from one reader saying that she had just attended a workshop on ensaymada-making, for which she paid P2,800.  She later discovered that the recipe she paid for, can in fact be found on this blog. She said that the "teacher" claimed she had developed that recipe for years and that they shouldn't share it outside the workshop. To verify her story, I asked her to email me a copy.  To cut the long story short, it was indeed the recipe I shared here.

I have long accepted the fact that anything I post online will forever be out there.  I know that I will never be in control of what people will choose to do.  There is a line to draw though when it comes to what is ethical or not. If you found a cake recipe here, for instance, then you baked a cake using that recipe, sold the cake and made money, that's perfectly fine because you made the cake yourself. However, if you copy a recipe, openly claim that it is yours and ask people money for it, then that's a different story.

What got me more upset was the fact that it was the ensaymada recipe involved.  A FAMILY RECIPE.  Something handed down to me by my aunties.  I now regret that I even shared that here.  I really shouldn't have.

I made the blog private so I could just stop for the meantime and think of what I should do next. I wasn't aware that when I did that, people trying to access the blog will be getting the message that they needed to get "invited".  That was never my intention.  I have been getting one email after another asking to be added to the list.  People have been sending messages on my Flickr account, as well through my Etsy.  I must apologize for not responding to most of the messages. It is just too much to handle at the moment.

I am making my blog public again but you will certainly notice that there are a lot of posts missing.  I have deleted most of the cake recipes that came after I made my Frosted Heaven book.  If you cannot find a recipe, PLEASE do not email me asking for it.  I especially will no longer be sharing the ensaymada recipe. If you do have copies of the missing recipes or find them somewhere online, I ask that you please treat them with respect. This is the least you could do for me.  Please stop re-posting them on other websites.

Anyway, I do have one good news to say before I go. In the last week or so, I have been working really hard on that second book that many of you have been waiting for.  I can now confidently say that I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! It is almost done!

The book will include the chiffon cake recipes that I have deleted from here PLUS a lot more new ones.  There are more than 30 cakes in total. This might be my last hurrah as far as this blog is concerned so I am hoping for your support.

Stay tuned.  I will have that book for you very, very soon.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sneak peek (or not)

Where has all the time gone? In just 5 months, my grandson Lachlan will already be 2 years old!  It hasn't even been that long since I shared about his existence here! He is my world these days and everything I do seems to revolve around him. When he is with me (which is a LOT), I can't do anything much that doesn't involve him and I have had to adjust my own life according to his schedule. It is much like being a first time mother all over again! It has been a great challenge but I am not complaining.  I am happy!

When Lachlan is not with me, that is when I squeeze in my baking. I try to finish cake orders first. If by some miracle, I still have the time (and will) to do some experimenting then that is a huge bonus! Today, for instance, Lachlan is at daycare.  Guess what I am having for lunch? Cake πŸ™…!!  I made a Rocky Road cake this morning,  the recipe of which I intend to include in my "I don't know if it's ever going to get finished" second book.

It's another copycat of a Red Ribbon bakeshop cake.
Truth is, I have been making new cakes for the past several months with the same intention of putting all of them in the book. Sometimes I have to time it when there's an occasion, like this Chocolate Pistachio cake which I made for my husband's birthday last November...


Or this Biscoff (or Speculoos) cake for my sister in-law's birthday in December.


Other times I make cakes just because it makes me feel guilty not to exert more effort...

Mocha crumble cake
Coconut almond (Rafaello) cake
Chocolate mousse cake
There are still more but I am going ever so slowly with the writing and drafting 😒 And I still have this whole list of ideas for cakes to do!

I know I have been real unfaithful to this blog. But I do hope you are all still out there.  And I hope you are still willing to wait patiently for me. Motivate me, please πŸ™ If you have any request for cakes that you want me to "copy", let me know! Make my list even longer πŸ˜„!

Ok that's it for now!  I have to go and clean up everything I used to make my Rocky Road cake.  I just dumped them in the sink so I can update this blog while I still can.  Till next!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Updates

Firstly, a very, very belated "Happy 2017!" to all of you. I would have done this post sooner but life has just been crazy busy and stressful since before Christmas.  My grandson Lachlan had been quite sick and had to stay overnight twice in hospital last December due to bronchiolitis. I'm sure you understand how emotionally distressing it is to see a child suffering. He is better now but it seems the cold virus just doesn't want to let go of him ever - he has the sniffles almost all of the time!

I know I owe you all an update on the Bakeoff challenge.  The final results came out last January 11. Unfortunately, although my cake made it to the top 10 (thanks to your votes!), it did not end up in the top 3. 😞 That means I didn't get a share in the $10,000 prize. I didn't tell you this before - if I had won a part of the prize money, I would have used some of it to go to the US for my niece's wedding in October.  I had the chance to meet her American fiance during our grand family reunion in the Philippines last September.  He was so overwhelmed with all the love he received from the family and in true awe of his experience.  It would have been wonderful to be a part of their wedding. Oh well, if it wasn't meant to be then that's that! There will be other opportunities in the future. Thank you once again for the support you gave me!  I really, really appreciated it! πŸ’—

Anyway, because of the stressful time pre-Christmas, I had to turn down a ton of cake requests. At the same time, I also wanted to concentrate on making Christmas day special for my own family and I knew I wouldn't be able to do that if I was too preoccupied with other people's cakes!

The first thing I baked were springerle cookies.


I shared about these cookies and my fascination about the amazing cookie moulds sometime ago.  I haven't made them in a long while and was very happy that I was able to use my Nativity mould again! I packaged the cookies individually and gave them away to guests at my brother's Christmas lunch. They have a battalion of family friends!



Another treat I made were french macarons. I used the recipe I shared here before and once again. it did not dissappoint.  I managed to successfully make nearly 200 shells in red and green!


The plan was to build a macaron tower.  I baked, filled and froze my macarons a couple of days before the 25th but assembled the tower only on Christmas morning.


I know my macaron tower is not perfect but I was still very pleased with it πŸ˜ƒ. Christmas day here was super hot and my white chocolate ganache filling softened quite easily.  I was scared all my macarons would slide off even before we got to my brother's house.  Thankfully, it held up until all the macarons were gone!

And of course, there was cake too! How can there not be? Every year, I try to create something different. This time around, I made a Christmas wreath cake!


I started with a 12" round red velvet cake.  I cut off a 6" hole in the center to turn it into a wreath shape and then used the excess cake to make around 3 dozen cake pops.  I used some of the cake pops as baubles for the wreath. The cake turned out really, really pretty. No one dared to cut into it until the last minute! Next Christmas, I'm thinking I would take it up a notch and make a tree. That would be awesome, right?

All in all, it was a good Christmas season despite all the stress and worry.  Difficult as it may, I try to see everything as opportunities to pray and to trust more in the Lord, to hope and to love.  Isn't that what Christmas should be all about? Although life doesn't seem good all the time, all the time, God is good.

I wish you all a great 2017! Till next time.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Food for the gods

My dad turned 90 last September and our family had the grandest of reunions in the Philippines! I say "grand" but not in the sense that it was lavish or anything like that.  It was grand because we have not had a reunion of this magnitude since 2003.  My brothers and I are scattered all over the world and to be able to all fly back to Manila with our families at the same time is one great feat!

Every time I visit family in the Philippines, I always take the opportunity to browse through my aunties' recipe notebooks to see what I can copy and recreate when I get back home to Australia. Most of their handwritten recipes are not very detailed and are more of just a listing of ingredients. The challenge always for me is to be able to sort of fill in the blanks.  I try to figure everything out by myself as I really don't want to bother my auntie (the baker) with questions.  She is even older than my dad at 92 years! One of my nieces who came from the US became very interested in the recipes and asked if I could send her copies.  I promised I would but that I needed to test them out first to make sure everything was in order!

The first recipe I tried out was that of food for the gods.  This pastry was a staple in all our family gatherings but as a kid, I never really liked them.  I didn't like dates.  I didn't like that it was moist and chewy. However, since I tasted sticky date pudding some years ago, that all changed. Now, I love them!



My aunties' recipe is pretty straightfoward and it is not too different from other recipes you will find online. What I noticed though is that it had only half the amount of butter than other recipes and rather than melting the butter, it is creamed with the sugar.  It doesn't make it less tasty though.  It is still moist, just not very wet and sticky as other food for the gods are.  If that is what you prefer (like me), then this recipe might be for you!


FOOD FOR THE GODS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (about 150g) pitted dates, chopped
1 cup (about 110g) walnuts, chopped

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line an 8x8 or a 6x11 pan with baking paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add in the dry ingredients and beat mixture until just combined. Lastly, fold in the dates and walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan then level off with a spatula. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the four corners of the cake comes out clean. (It's ok for the centre to be a little moist just as long as the top surface is already dry and uniformly brown.) Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before cutting into bars.




PS.  Before I forget, thank you so much for those who voted for my cake in the Lifestyle Food Bake Challenge.  Thank you even more for those who expressed their support in the comments section of my previous post and for those who emailed me personally.  I appreciate it very much!  And just to let you know, WE ARE IN THE TOP 10!  Hope you can keep on voting for my entry till the 13th of December.  After that, I'm praying Matt Moran and Maggie Beer will vote for my cake too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lifestyle FOOD Bake Challenge

I know I have been gone for a loooong time.  And to come back just to ask for a favour is not the best thing in the world but I'll take my chances for whatever it's worth.

You see, I entered a cake of mine in an online competition just for fun.  It's mostly a popularity contest. However, Australian Bakeoff judges Matt Moran and Maggie Beer will choose their top 3 bakes from the 10 bakes who receive the most votes.  Only the judges' choices will get prizes.

The cake I entered is the birthday cake I made for my first grandson.  Yes, you read that right!  I have a grandson.  His name is Lachlan and he is 15 months old now!  I have not shared this part of my personal life with you although without you knowing, I've actually shared some of the cakes I made for him for his baby showers (here and here) and baptism.  Maybe someday soon, I will tell you more about him and what it's like being a rather young grandma.

On Lachlan's first birthday last August, I made for him a 3D teddy bear cake which I so painstakingly made to look like his favourite teddy bear.  He loves his bear and doesn't go to bed without it!


His daddy (my second son) turned 21 just 5 days before his birthday so we held their party together.



To be honest, carving cakes is not my thing.  Never did it before and so it really took all the powers in me to pull it off.  I was so happy that I did!

Anyway, back to the contest...

Again, the goal here is just to get my entry to the Top 10.  From there, it will be up to the judges.  I have not seen any teddy bear cake entries yet so I sort of have high hopes for my cake to win.  But I do need your help for this to happen. Pretty please?

You don't have to sign up for anything.  All you need to do is go to my entry page and click on the VOTE button.  That's it.  You are allowed to vote once a day.  If you vote for me once,  I will appreciate it very much.  If you will take the time to vote for me everyday till the end of the competition on the 13th of December, then I would love you for it :)  And I would love you even more if you share the link with your friends and ask them to vote as well.  Is that asking too much? Hope not! :)

Thank you very much! I will surely let you know how it goes!



PS.  Just to let you know too, I am working on a second book.  And I am working on new cakes as well.  Being a grandma just takes too much time away from baking and sitting in front of the computer that's why it's taking so long to finish. I love being a grandma though!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Frosted Heaven eBook on Etsy

Just dropping by quickly to let everyone know that the Frosted Heaven eBook is now available in my Etsy shop. To those from the EU member countries that have been interested to get the eBook but couldn't because of the VAT issue, here now is your chance.  Etsy takes care of adding the VAT to the total purchase price!  This is an instant download and unlike before where problems downloading occurred rather frequently, I do not foresee any difficulties with Etsy.

I am really hoping I could get some time off from my super hectic life to work on a second recipe book.  It's been a long time coming!  The ideas are all there but how to squeeze working on them into everything else that is going on in my life, I really don't know! Fingers crossed, maybe before the year ends?  We'll see!