Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teddy Bear Anniversary

Hubby and I and Sis no.4 and her hubby got married on the same day on 27/12/00. So we recently celebrated our 9th anniversary.

I made a boy and a girl teddy bear from fondant. I used store bought fondant, so it was quite easy to handle. However, I added in the gum tragacanth a few days earlier, so it made the fondant a bit harder to work with. This explains the cracks which I couldn't, for the life of me, knead out without getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

I placed the cutie bears on a scalloped circle of white fondant and wrote 'Happy Anniversary' using a fine-tipped food marker.

The cakes are chocolate cake covered in dark chocolate ganache. I used Cadbury's Old Gold chocolate for the ganache and it was heavenly! For the mini cakes I piped on the ganache using the large star tip and just placed a jumbo heart sprinkle on top.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas Cuppies

Here is a set of fondant cuppies I made for another night of carolers. They are American chocolate cake cupcakes topped with fresh cream, then covered in fondant.

This sprig of holly was simply made using the holly leaf cutter. The berries are just rolled balls of red fondant.

This one was the easiest. I just imprinted the snowflake design using the snowflake stamp I bought.

The candy cane was the most work, yet still easy. I made two ropes of fondant, one red and one white. Then I twisted the two ropes together then rolled them on my work surface until it merged into one smooth rope. Then I cut portions of the rope and bent them into cane shapes.

 This small sprig of holly was made the same way as the larger one, just using the small cutter.

And here you have them...

Chocolate Rum and Chocolate Orange Cake Balls

I had plenty of chocolate cake scraps leftover from my snowman cakes, so I decided to make cake balls. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate rum cake balls. Then I had to think of a child-friendly alternative for the many sweet-toothed kids in the extended family, all home for the holidays. Thus I decided to go with chocolate orange cake balls as well.

The chocolate rum cake balls and chocolate orange cake balls were served on this funky "Santa on a tropical holiday" serving platter. They were for ourselves, our guests, and also the carolers who were coming around.

I made them by feel and taste, so I unfortunately cannot provide the exact measurements of the ingredients that went into these cake balls. Anyhow, I'll list out what I used and you can make them according to your personal taste.

Chocolate Rum Cake Balls
  • chocolate cake scraps
  • icing sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • raisins soaked in rum
  • more rum
  • melted unsalted butter

Chocolate Orange Cake Balls
  • chocolate cake scraps
  • melted unsalted butter
  • icing sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • orange oil
Basically you just dump everything into a big bowl and mash it up with your hands until it becomes a soft dough which holds its shape. If it is too wet, you can add more cocoa powder and sugar. If it is to dry, you can add more melted butter. Refrigerating the dough for about half an hour also helps firm up dough that is too soft.

Then, just roll the dough into balls and coat them with cocoa powder, icing sugar, crushed nuts or even sprinkles. Simple to make, yet decadently delicious!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Frosty the Snowman cake

Meet Frosty the Snowman. I made him and his twin brother from store-bought fondant so it was a breeze.

For this one, I just plopped Frosty on a white fondant covered cake and tied a maroon ribbon round the base.

This second snowman I placed on a cake which was also covered in white fondant. This time I imprinted the fondant covering with snow flake patterns.

Both are yummy chocolate brownie cakes with delicious Nutella filling and crumb coat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gingerbread Men Gift Sets

I've had a leftover batch of lebkuchen dough in my freezer for ages. I was over-ambitious the last time I made lebkuchen and whipped up double the recipe in one go. Only after baking the first portion, did I discover how tough the cookies were, and how the kids did not fancy them at all! Thus, I was left with one recipe of unbaked lebkuchen dough sitting in the freezer.

I was in a quandry, because if I turned the dough into cookies, I'd just be stuck with a whole batch of unwanted cookies. Yet I couldn't throw the prefectly good dough away. So I decided to mix that one recipe of lebkuchen with one recipe of sugar cookie dough, hoping that it would make the cookie softer and less spicy.

Well, thank goodness that idea worked and I ended up with another whole batch of gingerbread men to decorate!

This time I decided to try royal icing, because I had a can of Wilton meringue powder which I had yet to try. (You can use raw egg white too if you are not worried about Salmonella.) I was very pleased that whipping up the royal icing proved simple enough.

Here's the recipe: (I only made half portion because I didn't need much)

Royal Icing

3 tbsp meringue powder
4 cups (1 lb) icing sugar
6 tablespoons warm water*

(makes about 3 cups of icing)

Beat all ingredients until icing forms stiff peaks (7-10 mins at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, or 10-12 mins at high speed with hand-held mixer)

*For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

I was extremely happy with how simple it was to make and use royal icing. I love its light texture which made it easy to pipe, and its perfect whiteness is gorgeous. It also dried up real fast. The only downside is if you use a lot, it's taste and texture when dry it's all that great. It also doesn't have a shiny finish like cookie glaze. However, I still think royal icing is the best for outlines and attaching candy and other decorations to the cookie.

All dressed up and ready to go.

Christmas gift sets awaiting delivery.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Birthday Cake for a Hardcore Cyclist

I made a birthday cake for my brother-in-law who celebrated his birthday on Thursday. He loves off-road cycling, so I thought I'd make a model of him and his beloved bicycle in the manly wilderness! (Hence the green-grass base and r

I have finally discovered the joy of using store-bought fondant! It is so, so much easier to handle. It is less sticky, much more pliable and elastic, and doesn't dry up too fast. Thank goodness my sister-in-law who is also a baking addict introduced it to me. All this while I was avoiding using store-bought fondant, because first it's rather expensive, and mostly because I've heard that they taste awful. However, this brand that we used tasted pretty decent and is not as sweet as home-made fondant.

*Sigh*... I should've used this earlier, it would have saved me so much time and strife!

So anyway, the model turned out quite well. The bicycle however had much too small wheels! I was too lazy to make new ones and just stuck them on anyway. I made the bicycle by using wire to create a frame first. Then I coated the frame in fondant.

The cake was a bit of a failure. I wanted to try a white chocolate and macadamia nut blondies (white chocolate brownies) recipe. It turned out too sweet, and I also over-baked it so it's texture was very hard indeed! I won't be trying that recipe again anytime soon.

I looove brownies though. I simply adore their thick fudgy texture. I'd much prefer a slice of rich brownie over a piece of airy-fairy sponge any day! This is why I just had to buy another recipe book; 'Brownies' by Linda Collister.

I vow to perfect the art of making brownies. Yum...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

When we came back from our short family holiday, there was a bunch of bananas rotting on our dining table! This is a good thing (only bakers will understand this)!

You see, over-ripe bananas with brownish skin are the best for making banana bread (which, by the way, is more of a cake).

During the holiday, Sis no.2 bought a banana chocolate chip muffin from Starbucks which was thoroughly delicious! And there I was with a bunch of bananas just nice for baking. What was I to do?

To cut the story short, here's the recipe:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (65 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate buttons because when it comes to chocolate, bigger is better!)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 very ripe large bananas (454 grams), mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 12 - 1/2 cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.
With a rubber spatula, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and batter is thick and chunky. (Do not over mix the batter).
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes and then remove muffins from pan.
Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Gingerbread men

So here are my gingerbread men! I made them specially for the kids. The recipe I used produced soft, cake-like cookies. I didn't use much ginger here, for fear it would deter the kids!

Anyway, this is the simple gingerbread recipe:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
Makes about 20 biscuits.

Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.
Add sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough.
Refrigerate for half an hour.
Roll out to about 5mm thick and cut out your gingerbread men.
Bake at 190 C on greased baking trays (spaced out, as they will spread) for 10 to 15 mins until golden brown.
Leave to firm up for a couple of minutes before removing from tray and placing on a wire rack to cool.

I decorated the cookies using coloured cream cookie dough, which you pipe onto the dough cut-outs before baking. This is the same method I used for the Lebkuchen and I find it very useful. You can get the recipe here.

Last year, I made some Christmas cookies using a sugar cookie recipe and just added in a teaspoonful or two of ground ginger. It produced a sweeter and crunchier cookie. If you like a cookie with more bite, you should try it.

I used cookie icing to decorate, which was so much work and really not worth all the effort, if you ask me. I'll admit it does look nicer with shinier and brighter colours, but it is such a time-consuming method.

So anyway, here's to more Christmas baking! Cheers!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night I made some Lebkuchen, a type of spiced German Christmas cookie. I got the recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker here:

Yield: 18 cookies
For the Cookies:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup molasses
For the Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
4. Beat in the honey and molasses until thoroughly combined.
5. On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
6. Turn the dough out from the bowl onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as kneaded, until a stiff dough is formed.
7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
8. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 9×12-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into 18 3×2-inch rectangles. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
9. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, water and lemon juice and brush or spread on top of the cookies.
10. Allow the glaze to firm, and then store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

I love chewy, spiced Christmas cookies, but these turned out a bit too hard for the kids. My jaw became sore halfway through a cookie! I must have over kneaded them. I do like the homely taste however, and it was best when warm, straight out from the oven, then it was still soft. They made the whole house smell heavenly while in the oven!

The recipe calls for a sugar glaze on the finished cookie. However, I do not like waiting for glazes or cookie icing to dry. In this humid country of ours, it takes ages, and time is not one of the luxuries which I have in abundance!

Therefore, I looked for an alternative to cookie icing and found this, a cookie decorating dough which you pipe on before baking the cookies.

Coloured Cream dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Paste food coloring

Choose the tip you want.
1. Beat softened butter in a small bowl on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat until combined. Beat in light cream. Add all-purpose flour and beat until smooth. Divide dough into 2 to 3 portions. Color each portion with paste food coloring.
2. Place each color in a decorating bag fitted with a writing, rose, or star tip. The dough must be stiff for the designs to hold their shape, so don't be tempted to add liquid. Pipe one color on all the unbaked cookies on the cookie sheet, then do the same with the second color, then with a third, if desired. Bake as cookie recipe directs. Once baked, the piped-on designs are durable and the cookies store and freeze well.

I found this to work quite well and will definitely use this method again.

Another thing I have to warn you about is greasing the tray. Since I used a non-stick tray, I thought I could skip the greasing part. When I tried removing the cookies after they cooled down a bit, I found that they were stuck on fast like cement! It was really hard to remove them and I had to use of lot of force! It must be all that sticky molasses and honey that forms the super glue effect!

So take my advice, grease your tray plenty!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Yesterday I baked two chocolate cakes and a dozen chocolate muffins for the kids to bring to school for their year-end parties. I used Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake Recipe. It is a deliciously moist chocolate cake with a fudgy chocolate frosting and is very simple to make.

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (I used Van Houten)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Annie brought 2 of the cakes to school as a gift for her class teacher and assistant teacher. I let her decorate both cakes whichever way she wanted and she had fun coming up with these designs:

She calls them 'Alien Cakes'!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Look

Since most of my baking is done at night, most of my photos are also taken at night under bad light. Therefore, the combination of dark pics and the old, dusky look of my previous blog template "The Scribe" made the overall effect very gloomy.

So, I decided to choose a new template that's as white and bright as possible. I chose "Minima" which is the whitest template available and used the 'Lefty' version because I'm used to that layout.

I think it looks much better now, not so dreary anymore. Hope you like it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Scuba Diving Instructor's Fondant Birthday Cake

Our diving instructor celebrated his birthday last night. I made a chocolate banana cake with a fondant figurine of him on top. I used a new modelling paste recipe which is so far the best I have tried, so I think I'll stick to this recipe. I also intend to try modelling with bought fondant because I've never tried it before, due to the fact that everyone says it tastes horrible! However, I met a friend at the party who is also into cake decorating; and she said it actually tastes better than home-made fondant! So I'll give it a go someday. If it has better texture and dries right, it would save me so much time and heartache!

Anyway, I made the figurine a day ahead and everything was fine until I moved it to the top of the cake; his legs broke off... *sigh* I didn't have any more time to patch it up, so we'll just say his pants tore... :)

I made some cuppies because I just had to use the new cupcake cases I bought. They're super cute medium-sized polka dot ones which come in green and yellow! I made choc coffee mudcake cuppies and topped them with choc ganache and fondant fish, lobsters and whales. They're a bit messy because we were already late for the party! (I've lost the pics!! Long story...)

Oh yes, please excuse the crappy photos because these were taken with hubby's phone. I dropped our camera and cracked the LCD display, so it's being repaired!

Here's the real guy! (notice this photo is sooo much nicer; someone else took it with those big SLR camera thingies)

Here's another great shot by Kelly.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Annalisa's First Birthday - Littlest Pet Shop cake

I made a Littlest Pet Shop cake with cuppies for my niece Annalisa's first birthday. I tried making the pink snail. I like it's eye's which are so adorable. I got to use my new food markers and I'm so happy I bought them! The fondant was still a bit too soft and the cute little snail sagged a bit. It flattened even more when put on display during the party because the air-conditioning wasn't on. I guess I'll have to try the hard fondant recipe for modelling next time round. I still haven't gotten this right yet...

Other than the snail, a no.1 candle and a leaf with her name on it went on top of the cake. Unfortunately, I spelled my own niece's name wrong! :) Sorry Asa!

The cake is a chocolate fudge cake with buttercream filling and crumb coating, and fondant covering. I also made some coffee cupcakes with coffee flavoured fresh cream frosting. I made large swirls of frosting and stuck in some Littlest Pet Shop toppers which I made.

I displayed the cake and cuppies on a two-tier stand which I made for Eva and Solomon's birthday a few months ago. I just spruced it up a little with ribbons, wrapping paper and the furry feather boa thingie. The kids loved the LPS toppers the most.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tiramisu Layer Cake

I made a cake for Sis no.2's birthday. Cakes for fondant icing are quite limited; they have to be firm enough to hold the weight of the fondant and cannot contain too much frosting or filling. So, I decided to make a layer cake instead of a fondant one because I wanted to try out different flavours with lots of yummy cream filling.

I decided to go with tiramisu. Tiramisu is basically sponge fingers dipped in a solution of coffee and liquor, then arranged in layers with cream in between. The cream is a decadent combination of zabaglione (Italian custard), mascarpone cheese, coffee, fresh cream and liquor.

For my version, I baked a butter cake and incorporated the coffee and rum (my choice of liquor) into the batter. Then I cut the cake into 3 layers. I filled the layers with a cream mixture consisting fresh cream, mascarpone, coffee, rum and sugar (I left out the zabaglione because I was too lazy and also short on time). I found the mascarpone rather tasteless, but its texture is marvelously creamy and rich!

I added chocolate shavings on the layers of cream and also a dusting of cocoa for the top layer. Then I just stuck on some pretty pastel 'Happy Birthday' candles.

Overall, it looked and tasted great. However, the cake was a bit heavy and the layers squeezed the cream out the sides when cut. I might try using a sponge cake recipe the next time around.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Minced Beef Pies

On Sunday I made some minced beef pies. I used the shortcrust pastry which I made earlier for the bases. Then I filled that with a minced meat filling and then topped it with mashed potatoes.

I rolled out the pastry and used a large round cookie cutter to cut circles. Then I pressed the circles into a non-stick muffin tray. I made a mistake by pulling and stretching the dough circles which caused them to shrink while I was fitting them into the muffin holes. This made the process quite frustrating!

For the filling, I stir fried some chopped onions with minced beef and added some tomato paste, a cup of instant beef and herbs gravy and some salt and black pepper to taste. I also used some red wine which rounds up the rich flavour of the beef. Oh yes, the mixture was a bit too watery, so I added some corn flour.

As a topping, I piped on some mashed potatoes using a star nozzle. It looked a bit 'poo-like' at first, but developed a nice pattern when the accents turned brown in the oven. You can use any mashed potato recipe you like. Here I used cream and a bit of salt and pepper with the potatoes.

The pies were lovely and the kids devoured them; except for Eva who's not into anything that actually requires chewing!

I might make these again, but maybe without the troublesome pastry!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lollipop Cupcakes

I have been itching to practice my icing piping techniques, especially large swirls on cupcakes. However, I'm always too tired and too short on time to start from scratch. So, I finally cheated and bought cupcakes from the bakery just so I could decorate them! Why didn't I think of this earlier?

I tried a buttercream recipe using butter, icing sugar and golden syrup. It tasted a little better than usual buttercream, but I still do not like buttercream in general. I was hoping to find one which tastes good, because I like its stiffer consistency which produces swirls with sharper and more well-defined edges. But I feel it is still too much butter to swallow! I definitely prefer the taste of chocolate ganache and whipped cream.

Anyway, I piped buttercream swirls using a large drop flower tip which I modified a bit! I unfortunately do not own a Wilton 1M tip :( Then I sprinkled some non-pariels and stuck on lollipops which have been sitting in my freezer for ages.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mango Pudding

Mango pudding doesn't require any baking, but I thought I'd share this recipe anyway, because it's quite simple and turned out rather yummy. My kids like it, I think it's nice but a bit rich though, so you can't have too much.

Anyway, my in-laws have mango trees in the garden and 'tis the season of mangoes. Since there's a glut and we're not eating fast enough, I decided to make something with them. Mango cake doesn't sound too appetizing, so I found this recipe for mango pudding instead:

Mango pudding

(makes 16-20 servings)

3 cups mango puree (strained and fibres discarded)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 sachets gelatine powder (5 x 10g)
*3 cups cream
*extra cream for serving

Place water in large pot.
Sprinkle gelatine powder over water and let stand for 1 minute to bloom.
Place pot over medium heat and heat liquid until gelatine totally dissolves. (do not boil)
Add sugar and continue heating, stirring occasionally, until sugar totally dissolves.
Remove pot from heat.
Add cream and puree.
Stir and pour into individual serving bowls.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Serve with cream poured over.

*(cream may be replaced with evaporated milk for a 'reduced fat' version)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween sugar cookies

Today I baked sugar cookies. I used these Wilton 101 cookie cutters. They have many Halloween shapes like a cat, a witch, a haunted house, a ghost, two sizes of pumpkins, a bat and a moon. I used the ghost and small pumpkin mainly because I didn't want to use too much black colouring for things like the black cat and the black bat. A pink kitty just won't have the same Halloween effect... :)

Anyway, when rolling out the dough, I placed the dough in between 2 sheets of cling film (a trick I saw on tv). It made the process so, so much easier! I would recommend everyone to do this, as there is no more sticking to the table or the rolling pin. It makes all the frustration and hair-pulling disappear!

After the cookies were baked and cooled, I frosted them with cookie icing. I used a thicker icing to pipe out the outline. Then I flooded the inside with thinned icing. After that I added the details with black icing. This was all quite a bit of work and there was also quite some waiting; for the icing to dry.

The cookies turned out very pretty, but it took a lot of time and effort! So, I don't think I'll be using my cookie cutters for quite a while!

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