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!

 

 

Christmas Favourites

I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Again. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The good? Warm drinks, family gatherings, delicious baked goods, Christmas trees and my birthday! The bad? I'm not a fan of the the cold. I only like to see snow falling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Once December has past, I've pretty much had it with the winter. Lets not focus on the negative! This post is all about the positive--Christmas favourites! And I mea, Christmas baked goods, of course. I have compiled a little list below of my all time favourite holiday goodies that help to remind me of all the good things happening this time of year.

1. Shortbread Cookies
I know what you're thinking... boring. Just like sugar cookies, shortbread cookies are somewhat overrated, but, they're a classic, especially for Christmas! When I was young, my mom would make dozens of her famous shortbread cookies and I couldn't get enough. We would top them with green and red sugar sprinkles and they were always baked to perfection. Just the right balance of crumbly meets melt-in-your-mouth. She would make so many that we were eating them well into February and March. I never complained. Sadly, she doesn't make them much anymore, but I'm thinking I may need to dig up her recipe and give them a shot this year!

2. Fruit Cake
You either love it or you hate it. Fruit cake is filled with tons of dried fruits and nuts and it's pretty boozy, so, what's not to love? My family is divided--half of us love it and the other half, not so much. Fruit cake reminds me of my Nonni. Her recipe is the best and it is true what they say, it really does get better with age. My dad recently found one in the back of our freezer that was dated from 2010. Even though it was seven years old, it was so damn good. I've perfected a recipe of my own that's a little less fruity, and a little more cakey. It's on my holiday menu this year! Check it out here. ^_^

3. Panetone
Panetone also reminds me of my grandma. She's been making panetone for as long as I can remember and she always puts a mini one in our Christmas gift bags every year. They are moist and fluffy with a hint of citrus and raisins. Obviously the best right out of the oven. Believe it or not, I actually love the store bought panetone, too! (The right brand, of course). There's something about the flavour that I just love. Not to mention, it stays chewy and fresh for so long. I haven't tried making panetone on my own, but it's definitely something I've been meaning to try. Now that I think about it, I should ask my grandma for a lesson!

4. Gingerbread
Whether it's gingerbread cookies, gingerbread loaf or gingerbread cake, I love it. I'm a huge fan of the flavor combination of molasses with all of the wintery spices--cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, all spice, cardamom. There's just something about gingerbread that screams Christmas. Gingerbread is to winter what pumpkin is to fall. Definitely.

5. Candy-Cane Cookies
This one sounds a bit vague, but I am thinking of a very specific cookie. The cookie is made up of two pieces of cookie dough--one red, one white--that are twisted together and formed into the shape of a candy-cane. Every year around Christmas time, my old neighbor would bring over a tin of her homemade cookies. My brother and I would fight over these candy-canes. We didn't care about anything else in the tin. I don't know why we never tried to make them ourselves. We should have asked our neighbor for the recipe. Unfortunately, she moved last year, so it looks like we have no choice but to make them if we want to get out fix this Christmas! 

Mother's Day Cake Inspiration

Mother's Day is only two weeks away. Time is flying. What better way to tell your mama you love her than with a beautiful cake! Unfortunately, my mom doesn't eat cake, however, I am lucky enough to have family members who love sweets and have agreed to be my official taste testers. So either way, I will be making a special cake to celebrate Mother's Day even if my mom won't eat it. Whoops! More for everyone else! ^_^
 If you are interested in placing an order for your own Mother's Day cake click here!

I'm still working on my cake decorating techniques and I am excited to try out some of the ideas below--I have put together a small list of some of my favourite designs and trends happening right now: piped florals, macaroons, naked layer cakes. If you're interested in making your own cake for your mama The Cake Blog is one of my favourite sites! It has everything you need to bake and assemble the perfect cake: recipes, tutorials and inspirational ideas. However, don't feel bad if you don't have time, aren't very creative or just don't like to bake. That's what I'm here for! 

Coconut vanilla cake with piped florals! (source:   http://www.thecakeblog.com )

Coconut vanilla cake with piped florals! (source:  http://www.thecakeblog.com)

Simple + elegant cake with cherry blossoms + macaroons.

Simple + elegant cake with cherry blossoms + macaroons.

Vanilla bean cake with pretty florals! (source:  http://www.callmecupcake.se )

Vanilla bean cake with pretty florals! (source: http://www.callmecupcake.se)

This rustic naked drip cake is so pretty! (source:  http://www.jennycookies.com/ )

This rustic naked drip cake is so pretty! (source: http://www.jennycookies.com/)

Cardamom layer cake with figs and caramel. So pretty! (source:  http://www.erinmadethis.com/ )

Cardamom layer cake with figs and caramel. So pretty! (source: http://www.erinmadethis.com/)

Naked cake with blackberry + lavender! Yum! (source:  https://www.moncheribridals.com )

Naked cake with blackberry + lavender! Yum! (source: https://www.moncheribridals.com)