Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modelling with fondant

Over the last few months, I have really been trying my very best to improve on my cake decorating skills.  I have welcomed every opportunity to bake and decorate.  While I can say that I can now frost and pipe borders confidently, I sadly cannot say the same for making roses from buttercream or royal icing.  I have actually wasted three batches of royal icing trying to practice...don't know if I'm piping incorrectly or if my icing is just not the right consistency.  I have failed miserably.

Having experimented on those modelling paste baby booties, I figured it was time to give fondant roses a go.  I found this You Tube video demostrating a very easy way of making them.  No tools were needed, which was great.  Have a watch if you are interested.

My first attempt yielded this...

I was really pretty happy with that.  At last, a decent rose! 

I also tried a slightly different method.  Instead of the spiral center, I made a cone for the rosebud. Again, I just used my fingers to shape this.

It turned out even prettier and it looks more realistic, doesn't it?

Because of my success with the rose, I am now so into modelling with fondant.  But let me just say this...while fondant cakes are simply the most beautiful and stunning cakes I've seen and even though I am very keen to learn about cake decorating with fondant, I am not a convert.  I have not eaten a fondant-covered cake even once but I've heard and read comments that while they are a feast for the eyes, they do not taste very good.   I still prefer frosting that I can spread and pipe out.  Who doesn't like meringue buttercream, seven minute frosting, cream cheese or whipped cream?  I am a firm believer that although people eat with their eyes, it still comes down to the taste.

Anyway, before I end, here's just one more new thing I've rose cupcake toppers!  Find the tutorial for this and other cake decorating ideas here.

How cute are those?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

KitchenAid mixer cover

You may have noticed that it's been a while since I last completed a sewing project. That was two months ago when I made the laptop bag for my daughter.  I have not mentioned this to you yet but that bag became such a huge hit over at my daughter's secondary school.  Everyone was raving about it, students and teachers alike.  Even the principal had a look at it.  Of course, I am stoked!  I will not be surprised if next year, the school will come up with an official laptop bag for the kids to use.  And I will certainly be proud that the inspiration came from something I originally made!

Anyway, I finally got some sewing done yesterday!  As I said last time, my KitchenAid mixer needed a cover.  I found a few tutorials on the net on how to draft a pattern but I decided to do it my own way for more precision.  I am just like that...I calculate a lot and even use math formulas if I have to.

I didn't purchase any new fabric and just used up a Japanese floral fabric that I still had a big piece of.

As you can see, the cover is quilted and it is completely lined inside too.

See that arch at the top?  That's where I had to be really exact in my measurements.

And there precious candy apple KitchenAid mixer.

That's something from my two worlds...sewing and baking!  Hope you liked it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Of baking and sewing

I had a super busy Saturday preparing 48 cupcakes for the baptism I mentioned in my last post.  The baby's mother chose red velvet and this of course delighted me because I have somehow mastered baking this particular kind of cupcake.  I had concerns about the cream cheese frosting though since it was quite a warm day. The frosting turned out softer than usual and I had difficulty piping it out in swirls. Thankfully, the finished cupcakes were adorable anyway.

Isabella Rose.  A lovely name, don't you think?

I have a huge cake/cupcake order coming up in a couple of weeks.  It's making me a little anxious cause I am doing this all by myself.  I hope I will be able to handle it. 

Here are a couple more cupcakes I baked in the past month.

Carrot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting.  Made for a friend's birthday.  This is super yummy and now one of my favourites!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Seven Minute Frosting.  Baked for a family friend on Easter.  Was particularly excited about this one since it was the first time I used my kitchen torch to slightly toast the meringue.

Both carrot and lemon cupcake recipes were from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book.

Well, that's about it for now.  I am hoping to do a bit of sewing this week (finally!).  My KitchenAid mixer is needing a nice cover badly (I have been covering it with a pillowcase ever since I got it!).  My Etsy shop has also been doing very well these past weeks (thank you, Etsy buyers!) and I am thinking I should come up with a new sewing pattern/eBook very soon.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions for something useful I can make a pattern on?

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby Booties Factory

I have been asked to make cupcakes for a baptismal reception next weekend.  Honestly, I have never prepared themed cupcakes before, so while I had accepted the challenge, I knew I had some researching to do.

While googling for baby-themed cupcakes, I came upon this super wonderful tutorial on how to make baby booties from fondant.  Exactly what I was looking for!  One problem though...I have never worked with fondant before and was pretty much clueless about a lot of things.  I was then off to do more research...

Luckily, I had this cupcake book from the library with me that had a recipe for modelling paste.  The author of the book used modelling paste to create most of her cupcake toppers like flowers, butterflies, stars, etc.  It was great since I had all the ingredients on hand.

After leaving the modelling paste overnight, I excitedly worked on the baby booties.  Oh what joy!  I felt like a child playing with clay!

I molded a total of 35 pairs of these little cuties, taking me a good two hours.  Didn't really care about the time!  I only used a third of the modelling paste and left the rest untinted for later use.  Yesterday, I also made some letters from royal icing which I will then top on 12 of the cupcakes to spell out the baby's baptismal name.  I avoided taking photos of that one cause the letters seem a bit delicate and I don't want to risk breaking them.

Here's the recipe for the modelling paste.  It is quite different from all other recipes I found on the web but it works great!

MODELLING PASTE (adapted from Divine Cupcakes by Tamara Jane)

500g icing sugar (powdered or confectioner's sugar)
130g cornflour
110ml water
1 1/2 tablespoons gelatine (unflavoured)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Sift the icing sugar and cornflour into a large mixing bowl to combine.

Place the water, gelatine and cream of tartar in a glass measuring jug and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Place the jug in the microwave and heat on low in 10 second bursts until the gelatine has dissolved.  Be careful not to overheat the mixture.  If you do not have a microwave, place the water, gelatine and cream of tartar in a bowl.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes and then heat gently over a pan of simmering water until the gelatine dissolves.

Pour the gelatine mixture into the bowl with the cornflour and icing sugar.  Mix thoroughly until well combined.  Allow to rest in the bowl, covered with a damp towel for an hour.  Place the paste into an airtight container and store in the fridge until required.  This paste is best left overnight before making decorations.  It can also be frozen for up to 1 month if desired - allow to defrost in the fridge before use.

Will show you my finished cupcakes next time.  Have a good weekend!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Spanish in me

I have been away from this blog on purpose and for a reason...a reason which I will hopefully be able to explain to you soon.  I actually didn't have any plans of making a new post but I just couldn't resist it today.

The title says "the Spanish in me".  I am not Spanish but a Filipino by birth.  Most of you probably know that the Philippines was greatly influenced by Spain, having colonized the country for more than 300 years.  Spanish influence is still very much evident to this day, both in our language and our culture. 

Filipino food reflects the adaptation of Spanish cuisine in a big, big way. One of the snacks we love to eat is Churros, sometimes referred to as Spanish doughnut. (I do think in Spain though, they eat this for breakfast.) Curiously, churros is also widely popular here in Australia (I say that with wonder because I don't know a whole lot about Australian history).  This morning, as I was walking around at the mall with my daughter, I saw this small stall selling churros, and it reminded me of how long it has been since I last cooked churros for my family.

So just a few hours later, here they are on our table...but gone in a matter of minutes.

These were delicious....crunchy on the outside, very light and melt in the mouth.  You just can't get enough!

And dipping it in chocolate sauce just makes it even better!

I don't really know how many pieces I ended up with since they went out so fast.  I didn't have the chance to count.  There were five of us and we were all quite full after our snacking session.  We had a lot of leftover chocolate sauce though...half of that would have been sufficient.

It is so worth to make churros at home rather than buy them elsewhereFor your convenience, I am copying the recipe here. Buen provecho! 

CHURROS con CHOCOLATE (adapted from

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)
250ml (1 cup) water
100g unsalted butter
150g (1 cup) plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly whisked
Vegetable oil, to deep-fry
80g (1/2 cup) icing sugar mixture, sifted
200g good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250ml (1 cup) milk

Combine water and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts. Remove from heat.

Add the flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and the dough comes away from the side of the saucepan. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes or until cool.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until well combined. Spoon dough into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm-diameter fluted nozzle.

Add enough oil to a large saucepan to reach a depth of 6cm. Heat to 180°C over medium heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Using a small sharp knife to cut the dough, pipe four 10cm lengths into the oil. Deep-fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer churros to a plate lined with paper towel. Dust with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough, reheating oil between batches.

Meanwhile, combine the chocolate and milk in a medium saucepan over
medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

Arrange churros on a platter and serve with chocolate dipping sauce.