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Friday, September 30, 2011

Where did Halloween come from?

Just so you know, I have a little contest going on on my Facebook Fairy Cakes Page. Each time I post something for Halloween, I let everyone vote whichever creation they like. At the end of all my entries, I will create the treats that had most votes. So if you'd like, you can join my group and facebook and vote :)

So far, the Witch's Punch is winning.

Anyways, getting to the point. Where did Halloween come from? Well, many different cultures and religions. In some areas, Halloween was a solem day devoted to Christian prayer. In Ireland and the British Isles, it was associated with witchcraft festivities. Others say it began from the Celtic festical Samhain, which signifies the end of summer (there was only Winter and Summer then). Also from the Roman celebration of Pomona, the APPLE queen. From the Pagan festivals of the dead, including the festivals devoted to the CORN mother. Others celebrated women's magic powers.

Since we keep seeing candied apples and candy corn, I decided that this was going to be my subject till next time.

Colored Candy Apples
As a little girl, I always remembered loving these. I would always eat the candy, and then loose my interest when I reached the apple. Growing up, I realized that the reason was that they never used hard apples, such as Granny Smith or Washingon or whatever other hard apple. They would use those mushy ones, and I don't care for mushy apples. So in this version, I would use colored candy melt on Granny Smith apples and dip them in sprinkles. Simple and healthy.

Candy Apple
Now these are the classic version, but the thing is I always remember this being a caramel taste. When I was browsing for recipes, i realized that they use cinnamon candy to make these. I thought I'd give it a try.

Candy Apple Punch
And this would be the liquid version. Again, with cinnamon.

Apple Cupcake
Even though this looks like an apple cupcake, it would be a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate topping, covered in either red frosting or red sugar paste. I think this will be fun making :)

I will stay here for the day, and I will add the Candy Corn by tomorrow. I don't want to put too much information out there at once :)

Let me know what you think.

I got my history points from The Element Encyclopedia od Witchcraft by Judika Illes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is Halloween?

Ok well, it's been a while since I last posted something, and there's a reason for it. I had a surgery on my knee, so I can't be in the kitchen, baking. So, not to drive my self mad from not being able to bake, I decided to find a project to work on to keep me busy.

I will create a set of entries, each one talking about a piece of what Halloween is, where it came from, and what all those images related to Halloween stand for. Why do we use them? There's a history there. So I did my research for the history part, and now with the fun part. With each image I explain, I will come up with some treats I can bake when I can stand by my mixer.

So here we go :)

What IS Halloween? Why do we celebrate it so much?
Most simply put, it's the Eve of All Saint's Day. Hallow means Holy in Old English, therefore, All Hallows Even, which became Hallowe'en, and modernized to Halloween.
It is the night most associated with WITCHcraft, magic, spells, spirits, ghosts. Since it is believed that the veil between realms (the spirits and the alive) is very thin, it is considered the evening that you can summon soulds and communicate with the dead. It is also the perfect evening for doing magical rituals and casting spells.

So since WITCHes and WITCHcraft seem to be out number 1 topic, I went ahead and designed some treats I find accomplishable (I know..not a word, but you get the point). Here we go:

Witch Cookie
No, I don't have a cookie cutter to do this, but I'm pretty sure I can come up with a way. I can make a green sugar cookie and then just use royal icing for the hat. I could make the hair, or I could leave it out. I think in this case licorice would work.

Witch Cupcake
I browsed online and found the chocolate ice cream cone an an option for a witch's  hat on a cupcake. But then I thought of something different:
Witch's Hat Alternative
What if I used Oreo cookies as a base (or a chocolate wafer cookie) and at a dollop of chocolate frosting? Even faster? A Hershey's chocolate kiss.
So I came up with a more abstract version of a cupcake of a witch, with a more "witchy" hat:
Witch Cupcake - Abstract
No eyes, no details, just a Chocolate Cupcake with Green Vanilla Frosting and the Hat on top. I kinda like this version better.
You can't have a flying witch without her broomstick, right?
How will this be accomplished? I figured I can use Peanut Butter cookies and line them with a fork. For the stick, if the PB cookies don't work, I can always stick a pretzel stick.
Witch's Cauldron
At the begining I thought it might be complicated, but it's actually very simple. An upside down chocolate cupcake, dipped in chocolate glaze to make the texture look different. I can make some green marshmallow fluff and add some colored sprinkles to make it seem as if something spooky is brewing. As for the handle, again, I thought I would put licorice, or use some regal ice, shape it and let it sit until it dries.
This last one is my favorite. I don't know why, because it is simple.

Witch's Punch
I found a picture of this online on Google images when I was browsing for ideas. A blueberry in an ice cube tray, to make it look as eyeballs. Then you have an orange-raspberry filling with some yellow coloring, and there you go! Some spooky Punch!

I am adding this on my Fairy Cakes group on facebook so people can vote which ones they like the best. The few winners will be baked for Halloween (I'll be able to stand by then ;) )

I found my information from: The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cupcake Decorating Class

Yeap! Finally the day came for my cupcake decorating class!! I woke up super early and got ready so I can get there early and check out all the Halloween stuff at my favorite shop, Sprinkles & Sparkles.

I have to admit that I ended up buying some cupcake liners and sprinkles and pearls with Halloween colors so I can do some basic cupcakes. But this year, I also want to try to make some monster/ghost/witch/cat cupcakes!

Aaaanyways, what I ended up learning? Well most things we covered at cake decorating class, only this time we applied it to cupcakes.

Something extra was the frilling on the baby-apron. It looks really cute! I can only imagine applying this on a butterfly's wings! Our teacher also made this pretty hat out of sugar paste.

The flowers on the cupcakes were pretty easy to make. I'd like to try and do polka dot cupcakes, or even mushroom ones, since the Smurfs are back in fashion.

This button though was the cutest thing!!! It is super easy to make (as long as you have the right tools of course) and it looks so chic!

We also learned how to make this little ducky! In a smaller version, it can look really pretty on some light blue sugar paste on the cupcake. As if it's floating on water.

These are the cupcakes I made :) I used flower cutters and I also made a piping bag from paper. I did the marble effect with the sugar paste. I also did the frilling on the green flower. And the white starts are flat on the blue surface. It can also look nice in 3D. :)

This is the button I made, even though it's a bit off centered. So cute :)

And my ducky :) I can't wait to learn how to make other animals, too. A turtle should be cute!

Teacher from:
Zacharotechniki Machi

Sprinkles & Sparkles

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cake Decorating Class

I have to tell you how Cake Decorating went! I went on Monday (I took a half day off of work and drove over an hour to get there, but I still got there excited!)
We learned maaaaany techniques. Some I tried myself, some I didn't.
The easiest thing we learned, was stenciling. You just put it on your sugar paste, spray, paint, or put regal ice, and voia la! You have a great looking design! How much easier can it get??

Then we used patchwork. Now this is much more time consuming. You get pretty results, but it takes time. You use the patchwork cutters, and then you cut each and every detail of the design, and then you can mix and match the colors. For example, we had cupcakes. Each cupcake liner could be cut wherever the actual paper would fold, so you can do more than just one color. Now this is if you are using colored sugar paste. The other option is to paint each and every single piece. You can get these prepared, and simply use them when you have an order. They need to dry, too, so it's best to be prepared ahead of time.
See all those little pieces? Well, each one had another 3-7 pieces more!

This is the result of a big patchwork cupcake:

We also learned how to use moulds, which is also easy once you know the way to get it out. We also learned how to cut little shapes and put them on wires so you can add on a cake. In case someone wants hearts, starts, or even a "happy birthday" sign.

These are my creations. As I said, I tried a few things, but I learned a LOT!

The red-and-white cupcakes are with patchwork cutters. The cake, tea cup and cupcake are with moulds. The little flowers are with cutters. I also applied one on wire.

The classes took place at Sprinkles and Sparkles
The teacher is from Zacharotechniki Machi

Next Monday, Cupcake Decorating Class!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday Party Stress!

After a looooooong day (both in the kitchen and at work) I put something casual on and headed to my friend's birthday party. Her birthday cake was my Red Velvet Cake - for which I was prepared for this time with decorations.
I have to say that I think I mastered the art of "frosting." What I did differently? Well I smothered the cream cheese with the back of a spoon to start with, and once I added the powdered sugar, I beat the frosting for a bit over 5 minutes. With a free stand mixer of course!
Once the cake was frosted, I added some red food coloring to the remaining frosting and created a nice pink for the writing, and completed with some red sugared flowers.

The most stressful thing was sitting there, waiting for the cake to be served so I can see everyone's reaction! I wasn't there for the tasting for ANY of my orders. Everyone just called or texted me after they tried what I baked and told me comments (so far, only positive-cross fingers!) But WOW! I was stressing out so much I thought I was going to get up and leave! Finally we blew the candles and served the cake. Everyone wanted to know what it was because it is a bit strange to see a red cake. They all said they loved it and my friend sent me a message that most of it was gone! (I left a bit early due to the fact that I was super tired).
See, this time, I put some simple sugar syrup on the cake since I had the comment from my future sister-in-law that it was a bit dry. Or actually the comment was that it isn't as moist at my Carrot Cake. Of course there's more things in the Carrot Cake to make it moist such as the pineapple and the carrot. The Red Velvet is more simple. But still, I think it came out ok. Not great just yet for my taste. I need to find a nice glaze to add to moisten it.

I found the recipe for the Simple Syrup in :
Even though it was super simple, I needed the ratio of sugar to water.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bright and Early!

It seems that ever since the day I announced officially that I am going to be home-baking, I wake up at exactly 5:32am! No, really....the 32 is EVERYDAY! But it gives me time to prepare for the day before I go to my regular job, you know, the one I actually make some money from.

So today's scedule consists of:
  • Printing more menus because people keep asking for them to reccommend me (thank you everyone!)
  • Going to the stock house I get my supplies and some main ingredients from
  • Go to the grocery store because this is where I get my fresh product (I'm baking Apple Pie Cupcakes today as a birthday present/advertisement for a friend)
  • Bake a Red Velvet Cake
  • Bake the Apple Pie Cupcakes
  • Bake a Carrot Cake
  • Frost and decorate the Red Velvet Cake (it should be cool enough by now)
  • Go to work for a whole 8 hours.
  • Get ready for the birthday party, go, have fun, eat, do some PR
  • Frost the Carrot Cake (it's due tomorrow, but I won't have time to do it after work because it will be delivery time is the day!)
  • Sleep..probably dead tired!

So 5:32am actually serves me pretty well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Banana Pudding once more

After delivering the mouthwatering Carrot Cake yesterday, I had to rush back in to the kitchen and finish the Mocha Cream Pie I was baking for one of my co-workers. She was having guest home for lunch and  wanted something as dessert. She said "light and summery." The Mocha Cream Pie was a must!

I like to serve this dessert in a clear container, because it has 3 colored-layers: the Oreo Crust, the Mocha Filling, and the Heavy Cream on top. She offered to bring me her own oven-proof dish (which is more economical to me) so when she brought be an orange dish, I didn't mind at all. Plus, I love colors!

As I said, first, there is the Oreo crust.

Then you add the Mocha Cream on top.

Beat the heave cream with some sugar to make it slightly sweet (not too much sugar)

And finally, decorate with chocolate shavings. I Personally grate the chocolate, because I haven't yet accomplished to shave those beautiful curls you find at the confectionaries.

Order: Delivered
Customer: Super Happy! She even called to say that she wants a version of this with just Oreos!

Once I completed this (and rested for a little while...had a shower...lunch, you know the drill), I knew I had to bake some Butter Cookies for my Cake Decorating class. But first, I wanted to sit and have a nice glass of Iced Coffee with a friend. So I called her and she said she'd be on the way. I explained to her I was making the dough for the cookies, we'd have the coffee, and I'd complete the cookies after she left.
5 minutes after our conversation she calls and says: So, how soon can you have a Banana Pudding ready for me? I laughed. I knew she liked it, and she said everytime she visits someone, she'll take one with her so she can advertise me. I told her by the time she got there, I'd have in in the oven.

My 3rd order of the day was completed while I was taking a coffee break. Not a bad way at all :)
Once my friend left, I baked those cookies. It was really humid yesterday and they kept sticking to the table. Frustrating! I added flour on the surface, but the humidity was too much. The more flour I added, the more my dough got hard. So I said to myself "Instead of making them window cookies that need attention to detail, I'll just make them sandwich cookies for now." And so I did.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More cakes coming up!

I knew I had a busy weeked coming up when in about 15 minutes I received 2 orders! I am SUPER happy, and I am VERY tired. BUT I love love LOVE to bake, so it keeps me going!
So first off, I had to bake a Carrot Cake (which is Best Carrot Cake! on my menu...for a reason) and then a Mocha Cream Pie.

I baked the Carrot Cake last night, so it was nice and cool this morning when I frosted it, because the customer wanted it for brunch. Therefore, it already had to be nice and cold to be served (with the hot weather we get here, refrigerating the cake after it's frosted is a MUST).

I always add a nice glaze when the cake is still hot and in the pans, so it becomes very moist. I then leave to cool completely, and start to layer and frost.

MMmmmm it's all dripping with cream cheese frosting!

I like to put a lot of frosting on the top, then frost the sides with what drips off the top, and then finish off with the final touches on the top. This time the cake was so moist, that every time I tried to "correct" the imperfections, a piece of the cake would fall off!! So I left it right there. I told my customer that it doesn't look perfect (it didn't to my eyes, but he knew the taste because he had it before, and he didn't mind the look at all...that doesn't mean I shouldn't try and be professional!). I also told him the reason, and he was even excited to the though of moist cake.

I ended the cake with some sugared carrots - a classic decoration, but this is all I have for the moment in my humble kitchen.

About an hour after the delivery, the customer texted me and said he was thinking of getting remarried with his wife so I can make them the dessert table. Hey, why not? I also suggested to do that for their 2 children ;) It never hurts to get potential customers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sugar Baby

I have to say something about myself. I LOVE mail! I mean, everytime I receive something in my mail box, I get very excited. I don't know why, but I do (yes...even if it's a bill. It still comes in an envelope).
So, you must think "if she likes bills, then what happens when she receives cards? Or parcells?" Yeah...exactly my point ;)!

I ordered a few books online, and I was impatiently waiting for them in the mail. So when the notice came for me to pick up a parcel from the post office, I went CRAZY excited! Since our post office closes at 1pm and won't open till the next day (and you know I got that notice at 1:10pm when I got home for my lunch break), I had to calm myself down and wait for the next morning to come.
I couldn't sleep all night and woke up at 6:30 the next morning. The post office opens at 7:30am and at 7:31 I was there!! Walked in with a big smile, presented my little white piece of paper and received my box!

I drove home -where I already had a cup of iced coffee waiting for me- and opened the box. Honestly, I didn't remember which one I ordered first. So to my great excitement (ok I would've been the same happy with whichever book it was) I opened the box to find Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar by Gesine Bullock-Prado.

I mean...look at the cover. Home-made cotton candy! Wouldn't YOU be excited?
I started reading the book right away. It's not just a recipe book. First of all, Gesine (the author) talks to the reader as if she's known them forever. She has a cute-funny way of explaining things. For example, she starts the book with a little conversation between questions someone might have, and answers by "Sugar." Even the contents are unique! Instead of giving you a list of things to come, she simply categorizes sugar in the different stages of melting, and once you get to that page, then you get a list of all the recipes and creations you can do at that stage.

I'm reading this as a story book, not a recipe book. Each recipe has suggestions of what else you can do with it. And not only 1 or 2 suggestions but more like 5 and 6. So each recipe could be 7 recipes. I can't wait to try something from this book. The Rock Candy is where I'd like to start.

Here's what couldn't fit in the book ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Erm...hello? Anybody there?

My cousin came at my tasting event. Being a size 24 in jeans (and those look big on her), she didn't eat any food, so she can try the baked goodies I made.

She seemed really excited to try my Banana Pudding.. something she didn't know what it was, and I explained to her: Sliced bananas, Cookies, and the Pudding... what is pudding? Well eggs, milk, sugar, all beaten together in a pan over fire, until it becomes thick. OOOOoooooh!!! Ok I want some of that.

She sat on the table and patiently waited until everyone was done eating and called to the dessert table. 
To everyone's surprise, she ate 2 platefulls of the pudding! I mean...she NEVER eats! Anything! But salads of course. I was shocked! She kept saying how she really REALLY liked it. I thought to myself "at least now we know of something to feed her other than salad veggies."

A couple of mornings after, I woke up and checked my Facebook account, only to find that she kept talking about that pudding to all her friends, and one of them wanted to buy one from me. So I tell my cousin to call me when she wakes up.

And so she did "No no, she really wants it. Could you make one by tonight? She has a dinner to go to and she wanted to take something with her.. so could you?" As I think you should never say no to a customer, I promised my cousin I would make the pudding for her friend.

I got home from work, baked the pudding, and patiently waited for this mystery friend to call me for a pick up or delivery. And waited...and waited...and WAITED! Ok so what's up?
Naturally, I called my cousin...who must've called her friend. But I was still waiting.
Instead of getting angry (like I usually would since I'm hot tempered) I thought I'd sell it to one of my friends. Make a couple of calls and it would be gone.

And after all this waiting, the phone rang. Yeap, the friend wanted to know where she could pick up the "CAKE." ...wait a minute....CAKE???? I maed PUDDING...!!! Well there was a small misunderstanding there, but she was more interested in the "banana" part. I gave her the pudding, gave her 2 of my menus, and asked her to please let me know if it tasted good once it was eaten at the table.

She never called...or texted...or emailed...or Facebooked...but something even better! One of the people at the dinner went crazy over the pudding, so she RECCOMENDED ME instead. When I received a call this morning from a lady saying "I tried your banana pudding and went CRAZY over it.. Can I get one by 5 o' clock?" I felt sooooooooooo gooood! It was the best feeling hearing that from a complete stranger. MY Banana Pudding!!! So it is ready to be delivered in just 1 hour!:)

Tired Yet?

I was on a total of 4 days in the kitchen, plus my full time job. Tired yet?

Well, I promised one of my uncles I was going to take him some baked goods to try. See, I believe in the "I try, then I buy" practice. I don't usually shop off the internet things that need to be tried on first. I buy books for example, but not clothes. So I tell everyone I will take them some taste samples to try my baking, and then if they like what they eat, they can place an order. Sounds fair to me.

I came home on my lunch break, ate a little something for lunch, and then I sat down for a minute so I can catch my breath and head off to my uncle's office to take him taste samples...only to open my eyes and find out I was running late to work! I guess all this work finally got to me...and it'd been only 4 days!!! I texted my uncle and apologized...I felt really bad but he understood. Went to work, and baked absolutely nothing for a whole day. I went to sleep immediately as I got into bed, only to wake up the next morning and find an order on my Facebook account...

My FB Account

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So now what?

Ok well my first order was completed successfully, and so was my event. Everyone loved everything blah Now what? Do I sit and wait for someone to call? I already handed out my pricelist...and I'm actually breaking even on some of the desserts, but oh well. I love baking, so I don't mind much...yet ;)

But it all started to happen on its own. I had a call bright and early for an order of a cake. I had to bake a Red Velvet Cake, frost it, and write on it "Happy Birthday." I;ve NEVER written on a cake before...what do I do? FREAK OUT! Ok...relax. It's time to breathe sloooowly and take it one step at a time.

Shopping List: The only thing missing is the red food coloring. Ok the grocery store has some. No? Ok ok let's go to the next one? Nope! Not here either...ok now it's really time to freak out!!

Meanwhile, I have to say that I still have my full time job as a store manager (and I work overtime EVERY DAY). So...I had to find the red food coloring while I was on my lunch break, bake the cake...wait for it to cool so I can frost it, AND write on it! YIKES!

My supply store was too far for me to go get the coloring so finally I thought of a place that sells cake boxes, called and voia la! They had it! So I drove there, bought a plastic box for the cake, too and drove crazy fast home to complete my mission. Less than 2 hours left on the clock.

The cake was still warm when I started to frost it so the frosting was dripping, but it was ok. I added parchment paper strips under the cake so I can pull them out and have a clean round cake!

10 minutes left for me to have to be at work! Ok ok fast solution: add a small round tip in a ziplock baggie, add red food coloring in the cream cheese frosting that is left over, and keep a steady hand to write.

Boxed the cake, took some pictures and left to work, getting there only 5 minutes late! (My job is about 7 minutes from my house without any traffic, on my Vespa. By car I would've been at least 20 minutes late!)

Second order: COMPLETE!
Comment: Everyone LOVED the Red Velvet Cake. Phew!

My first order-My first anxiety experience!

Ok so I received a call from my aunt saying "Hey! I heard you are going home-based baker? Well it's my birthday in a few days. Can I place an order?" ( should NEVER tell a customer no-ok...only in extreme cases) so I immediately said "Sure! Let me email you my pricelist."
This particular aunt was always first in supporting me with different things, even though I made mistakes many times. So she said she wanted 3 of my baked goods. Ok, no problem. Or is there? See, I planned a tasting event at my house the day before the delivery..but it got and moved on the SAME DAY as the delivery. Yikes! I was already making 5 more things for my event in more than just 1 batch each (which meant some decorating).

So at some point I started stressing out. Everything I tasted, had the same taste (well after tasting so many things, they all tasted like nothing!). Will she like the taste? Will she like the look? What about my boxes? Are they good enough? Will I have enough time to make everything pretty for the party?
Needless to say, everything turned out just great. My aunt loved everything (she tried my baking before, so she new that at least the TASTE would be good). And she also gave me my first tip ;)
I was ready about 2 hours before the party even begun. Everyone loved everything at the party...and my Banana Pudding made a HIT that evening! (I thought it would be the Carrot Cake but nope!)

This is everything boxed up for my aunt. Delivered on the 4th of September-my aunt's birthday. And vanished by now. She even said that my uncle didn't want her to treat everyone that visited her so he can have more ;) The greatest compliment for me. Thank you my family for the support :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Fairy Cakes

This blog is going to be about my fairy cakes, which is the name I'm giving my home-based bakery (home-based for now, I hope).
This is one of my first attempts to decorate my delicious vanilla cupcakes.
And since this is my very first post EVER, I will leave it at this and continue once I get over the shock that I'm actually doing this ;)