Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My life in the last 1 1/2 months

It seems to me that nowadays,  I always have to start my blog post by apologizing for being away for a long time.  I don't want to do that all the time but guess what?  I just did again!  I wish I had exerted more effort in telling you about the interesting things I have done in the last couple of months...not when I've nearly forgotten about them but when they were still very fresh in my memory.

The school holidays ended just over a week ago and two of my kids are back in school and the two older ones still waiting for theirs to start.  Now that I think about it, no matter how really long it was in reality, the holidays still felt like they just came and went.  My only brother with me here in Australia left for the US in early December with his family while a lot of our friends also spent Christmas elsewhere.  Poor us!  We felt so alone in what's supposed to be the most joyous time of the year.  We invited a Filipino family over for dinner shortly after the 25th to have some company.  It gave me the chance to make some cathedral windows, something I haven't made in such a long, long while.  Now I remember why I love this dessert so much.

It's so beautiful, isn't it?

Not to be entirely left behind, my family did have a short getaway at Phillip Island after New Year.  For those who do not know, Phillip Island is a famous destination here in Victoria.  It is south of Melbourne, about 2 hours drive from our home. 

This is where I was on my birthday!

We spent 3 days and nights there.  The best part of the trip for me was witnessing the penguin parade.  What amazing creatures those penguins are! Too bad, photography wasn't allowed.  Apart from watching the penguins, seeing a kangaroo actually crossing the road was an experience in itself!

Also in January, my eldest son Francis turned 20.  Yes, 20! I could hardly believe it myself.  Last year, at about that time, we had just arrived in the Philippines from Singapore.  We celebrated his 19th birthday with a cake from Estrel's, remember?.  This year, I thought of replicating that cake in a smaller size.

The lengthy holidays also gave me the opportunity to sew.  Yes, you read that right.  I sewed.  With the summer weather becoming extremely hot (especially during the Australian Open), I quickly whipped up three pairs of shorts for me.  I also drafted a pattern for Envirosax-inspired bags and made two.  I used an actual Envirosax bag to make my pattern so they are exactly the same size, shape and make as the original one.  Yey for more shopping bags!

The blue one is made of ripstop nylon while the printed one is actually from an unused shower curtain!
I've been contemplating on making instructions for this but since the pattern is huge, I still have think about how I am going to cut it up to make it printable.  Stay tuned for that (no promises though!).

Let me see...hmmm, what else?  Oh, I also tried baking something new.  I made coffee buns for one. They're delicious but I think I would rather buy them than go through all the hassle of making them myself.  Too many steps!

Another thing I learned to make in recent times was the San Nicolas cookie,  a popular and traditional cookie from the province of Pampanga (where my father is from) in the Philippines.  A friend had sent me a wooden mould and just a day after I received it, I gave it a go.

The cookies looked stunning, with the imprint of the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus, very evident.   However, they didn't appeal to my children that much, with my youngest commenting that it was too plain-tasting.  Couldn't contend with that because it was actually true.

My experience in making the San Nicolas cookie led to me to search for cookie moulds on the internet. This brought me to a most beautiful discovery - the springerle cookie.  The cookie moulds are just to die for!  I wasted no time and ordered a couple (and was sent a free tiny mould too!). Took me a while to try making the cookies but finally found time last week.  I will make the chocolate variation next!

Here are the uncooked cookies being air-dried before baking.  Just look at those details.
Aren't those just the most amazing looking cookies?

How about cronuts (or zonuts, as Adriano Zumbo calls them here)?  Taste Magazine featured Mr. Zumbo's recipe for his zonuts in its maiden issue in September. A little daunting but it wasn't something I was afraid to try.  Sadly, my attempt on making them proved to be a disaster. 

Everything went well in the beginning but I soon found out that making a butter-rich dough was a big no-no in very hot weather!  As the cut cronuts were sitting to rise before frying, the butter within the layers of dough started melting.  I wonder if I should have just let them rise slowly in the fridge?  Because the butter melted, the layers of dough separated upon frying.  I only got a few pieces done that actually resembled cronuts.  Seeing the amount of butter oozing out of each cronut actually turned me off from ever trying this again.

Speaking of Taste Magazine, I entered their Cook the Cover competition in November.  It was for ice cream sandwiches.

Unfortunately, I didn't win :(.  However, when I bought the January issue not long after, I found a really pleasant surprise!

The magazine printed my photo!  There were just 8 entries chosen, 2 of which were the winners.  I was quite elated and felt that I had somehow won too :).  Now I'm inspired to join again!  Maybe I'll even be luckier the second time around.

Last but not the least, let us not forget more cakes!  There were so many but my latest favourite are these two, quite identical, baptismal cakes, one for a baby girl and the other for a baby boy.

The gumpaste babies were made using a First Impressions mould.  I loved using it.  The babies were just so life-like!

Well, this is quite a long post now and hopefully, more than makes up for my away time. I hope that even if I didn't share a recipe or a tutorial here, the many things I shared will be enough to interest you in learning a new skill or in exploring something unfamiliar to you. 

That's about how my life has been in the last 1 1/2 months in a nutshell.  That, plus watching every single episode of The Big Bang Theory!  Till next.  Enjoy the rest of your week.


  1. Hi Corrine,

    I've been following your blog... I tried the Ube Macapuno cake and it was a big hit.
    I am going to try the mocha cake today for my co-worker's birthday.

    I saw your recent post of the baptism cake... What kind of cake is that and the frosting that you used? My niece and nephew will be baptized both on the 22nd, together with my dad's 65th birthday... I want to make something for them.. Any suggestions?


    1. The top layer was chocolate chiffon and the bottom, mocha. Frosting was swiss meringue buttercream. The buttercream fillings were flavoured chocolate and mocha for their respective cakes.

  2. Beautiful! Thinking of making a similar cake (2tiered) but afraid that might collapse because chiffons are very soft...what did you used to hold the cake together?

    1. I stack chiffon cakes like any other cake. The top tier is on a cardboard round same diameter as the cake and it is supported by bubble straws underneath. In essence, the top tier is not actually resting on the bottom tier but on the straws.

  3. Thank you much appreciated I will give it a go!
    I will attempt an ube and maybe mocha flavours. Btw thank you also for posting you recipes I always make your cakes for special occasions. I made my mum's 80th bday cake recently using SMBC and it was a success!

  4. Hi Corinne! I've just recently following your blog and I love all your recipes. Just wondering where did you buy your letter cutter for your baptismal cake? I couldn't find anything like that. I would like to do the same cake like this. Thank you.


    1. My letter cutters are the really inexpensive, plastic ones from China.

  5. Hi corrine! I am a fan. I've been reading all your posts. Hehe. Congratulations on the publication of your work and your books. I am from the Philippines. I am a lawyer by profession but decided to stop working in the meantime while my children are still young. Eldest is 3, bunso is 4 months. Started baking last January of this yr (2016). Thank you for all your recipes. ��