Updates from the Kitchen

Day in and day out you see pretty pictures of the cakes I make and design for clients. I thought it would interesting to give you a few behind the scenes updates from my kitchen to give you a better idea of what really goes on over here. 

As most of you know, I work from home. Not my home, though. My parents have a nice and spacious kitchen with a new stove and lots of counter space. Plus, there is lots of storage here too, for all of my cake-making supplies--pans, ingredients, sprinkles, you name it. Having such a great space to work in has really made it possible for me to grow my business. Since I work on my own, what has also helped me and has made things SO MUCH easier is having two Kitchenaid stand-mixers. I don't know how I ever survived without these babies. They really save me so much time and help with multi-taking when I have lots to do. They also make the fluffiest buttercream icing--I can't even imagine making frosting with a hand-held mixer now. 

I've been trying for months to make the perfect French macaron. A couple months ago I used an entire bag of almond flour from Costco attempting to make them and it was a huge mess! I didn't realize how tricky they are to master--from making the perfect meringue, to the precise measurements, to the mixing, also known as "macaronage," to the baking. I gave up. Two weeks ago I thought I would give it another go. Clients keep requesting them for their cakes and I've also had people ask to buy them by the dozen. I've always had to outsource them or decline requests. Well, not anymore! I FINALLY had success this time around (after 4 attempts over the last week and a half in addition to my previous tries). I am happy to say that I am now offering them in my new online shop. I even registered for a class at Le Detroit Macaron in Michigan to help me because I was having so much trouble. I'm still going to the class because this little shop is amazing.

Over the last 6 months or so things have really picked up. I'm fully booked almost every weekend and I'm having so much fun. As you may or may not know, I do have a full-time job, so I try to run my cake business on the side for now. It's a lot of hard work and long nights, but when you're doing something you love it makes it worth it! I remember when I first started the business a little over a year ago I was only making orders for friends. I would check my business email everyday, but I would find it empty (so sad, I know). I can't even explain the excitement I had when my very first client placed an order. She ordered cinnamon buns and I was so excited that someone who I didn't know wanted to try my product. At this time, I was selling a wider variety of food products--bagels, cinnamon buns, pies, etc. I've really refined things since then, sticking to what I enjoy most and what I'm best at--cakes (mostly)! Thank you to everyone who has supported my little cake business since its inception and to all my new clients who allow me to express my creativity everyday. Who knows what the future holds!

I really try to bring my creativity and passion into all aspects of my business. I've been experimenting with some new flavours lately and have added a few as options on my website. There's something about unusual and unique flavours that really intrigue me. I don't know if it's the fun of testing things out, if it's the unknown that motivates me to figure out what tastes good, or if it's just the fact that I get bored easily and want to keep myself stimulated. Probably a little bit of everything. One of my favourite ways to incorporate new and exciting flavours is through buttercream--you can very easily steep flavours into the butter before you whip it to create buttercream with a punch! I usually make buttercream with two cups of butter (plus icing sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk). Before you put your butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, take one of the two cups and put it in a pot with something that steeps easily--earl grey tea, lavender buds, etc. Bring it to a boil, take it off the heat, and let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Then strain it into a separate bowl and pop it in the fridge until it becomes the consistency of room temperature butter. Then all you have to do it throw it in the bowl with the rest of the regular butter and make your buttercream how you normally would from there!

 

 

FALL FLAVOURS

I have compiled a list below of my five favourite flavours for fall. Whether these flavours are used in cakes and baked goods, for something hearty, or in warm beverage, they are tasty! Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating this year and it still feels like summer outside. However, I am going to write this post anyway because fall is my absolute favourite season and it's already the end of September. The best thing about fall, besides the fresh air, leaves, and Thanksgiving dinner, is the in-season produce! Pumpkin! Squash! Apples! Yum.

1. Pumpkin. Obviously. 
I just baked a vegan pumpkin pie cake and I can't wait to ice and serve it. It's a hearty two-layered pumpkin spice cake made with brown sugar. I'm going to ice it with vanilla "buttercream" and add a twist--graham cracker crumbs! There's no way this cake can be anything but amazing. Pumpkin also reminds me of when I used to live in Toronto--I would buy the pumpkin loaf from The Abbott Coffee Shop everyday. No joke!

2. Chai
There's nothing like a warm chai latte on a crisp autumn morning. Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. All my favourite spices. I recently developed a chai latte cupcake recipe that is to die for! And to top it off, literally (lol), I add cinnamon vanilla frosting. Yum.

3. Sweet Potatoes
I recently came across a recipe that even my dad loves, and I don't hear that too often. It's a sweet potato chocolate layer cake with molasses buttercream. I add caramel to the mix, too! Just for a little something extra. Check out the recipe here

4. Apples!
There's so much you can do with apples--sweet or savory! My aunt makes one of my favourite Thanksgiving dishes. It's a sweet potato bake with fresh apples, red onions and oregano. It's super simple to make and I look forward to eating it every October! For your sweet tooth--apple pie is a must and I have been making a vegan deep dish apple pie crumble over and over again for the Green Bean the last couple weeks. You can never go wrong with homemade apple butter either, especially if you've just gone apple picking and are looking for something to make with your big haul! 

5. Pears
I know you can get pears in the summer and in the winter, but they go so well with all of my favourite fall spices, specifically cardamom and ginger. I love a hearty pear coffee cake early in the morning with a hot tea. Pears also go well with cinnamon, walnuts and molasses! Not to mention, maple syrup mixed into a scone recipe with pears is to die for!

Check out the fall favourites page to see our featured products this month! ^_^

 

Desserts I Have Yet to Master

I came across this article on Huffington Post by Food52 that inspired me to do one of my favourite things--make a list! Click here to read the "14 Essential Baked Goods Every Baker Should Master." It made me think about all the struggles that I've had in the kitchen since starting my own business. I have decided to write this blog post. I came up with a list that includes all of the baked goods and desserts that I have yet to master myself, some of which are found in the article and others that just drive me nuts!

1. Angel Food Cake
I haven't actually attempted to make angel food cake yet, but I am a little intimidated considering it's one of my Nonna's classics. I don't think it's going to be too difficult, but it's all about getting that fluffy airy texture.

2. Custard Pie
I think this one is on the list because it's such a classic. This is my dad's favourite and it's a coincidence that it's on the list because I was going to make it for him this weekend for Father's Day. I better get mastering this one or else Angelo won't be too pleased.

3. Banana Bread
I don't think banana bread is difficult to make. In my opinions, it's all about preference. Some people like basic banana bread while others like loaded banana bread--nuts, chocolate chips, streusel topping. The works. I suppose if you master the basic recipe, you can go anywhere from there!

4. Brownies
Ok, brownies are a must-master, but they're also hard to get right. Everyone hopes for a chewy, fudgey brownie that's gooey on the inside and a little crispy on the top. It's actually pretty difficult to achieve that result! I still need some practice, but I am determined. There's nothing better than a warm brownie with ice cream.

5. Donuts
Donuts are a classic and everyone loves them (I would hope!). Plus, they're so versatile, you can top them with cinnamon and sugar, fondant, chocolate sauce, or fill them with custard or jam. I tried making these at home once and I found out that my stove heats things up way too quickly! My oil was too hot, so the donuts were burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside. I'll keep working at this one, but until I get it right I'll cheat and use my mini donut maker! ^_^

6. Macarons
This one isn't on the Food52 list, but it definitely should be. French macaroons are tricky little buggers. Every step can really mess up your recipe if it's not done correctly. Trust me, I found out the hard way. I honestly tried 8 times before I got a result that I was happy with. And then I ate the entire batch to celebrate. Yay!

What desserts have you yet to master, want to try and master, or feel like you just can't master?!