Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

So a fellow pharmacist's son was celebrating his very  first birthday and Mummy wanted me to make a cake. Baby Joel (love that name) apparently likes Mickey Mouse, so we decided on a Mickey mouse Clubhouse cake plus cuppies.

The top tier of the cake is the ever popular dark chocolate cake with a Belgian chocolate ganache filling and covering. The bottom tier is a polystyrene dummy, just to add height and 'grandeur' to the cake! Real cake for the bottom tier would have been way too much cake.

The cake was covered in soft fondant and 2D decor also done with soft fondant. The top of the cake was adorned with candles which Mummy passed to me. It was a little crowded but still great anyway.

The cupcakes were also the same flavour and covered with soft fondant. I got to try out my Mickey cutters which I've had for a while now, but never had the chance to use yet. But I'm not worried that my cutter will get outdated, cause Mickey Mouse is timeless, and my guess is; my grand kids will still  be watching some form or another of Mickey Mouse!! :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cheap Cake is not Good Cake?

I came across this quote: 

"Cheap cake is not good cake"

 and I couldn't agree more!

Why are premium cakes expensive?

Well, on top of the many, many, many hours (days usually) which we put into decorating a unique fondant cake, we also use the best possible ingredients.

I work in the healthcare industry (pharmacist) and am also a mother of four. I am therefore well aware of the myriad of  chemical additives which go into store-bought processed food and also cheap bakery products.

Among the chemicals commonly used are;
  • Preservatives, which make the products last longer. 
  • Emulsifiers (eg: Ovalette) which produce a wonderfully soft and smooth texture to cakes and many other food products. 
  • Anti-mold which prevents mold growth, especially in breads. Without this chemical, the common white sandwich bread would grow moldy in a day! 
There is also plenty of trans fat (the worst kind of fat) hidden in margarine and shortening. Look carefully before buying "butter", as some are not butter at all, but misleadingly labelled to make the consumer think it is butter! Many are made of vegetables oils which have gone through a chemical process (hydrogenation) to turn them into solids and coloring is added to make it a butter yellow! *serious* These are loaded with harmful trans fat due to the chemical processing. Real butter is expensive and less stable, so most bakeries use margarine or shortening.

This is why I try not to buy bakery products too often for my kids. Whenever possible, I make my own. So, knowing all this, I cannot in good conscience feed my clients junk either.

These are some of the premium ingredients I use whenever possible. (In this small town, steady supply is unfortunately never guaranteed!)

Anchor butter is pure New Zealand butter made from real milk. It is also certified halal. Through experience, I can attest that it has less water content compared to some other brands, and is thus denser, richer and creamier!

Van Houten cocoa powder is luxuriously dark and robust in flavour! It is made in Holland, and Van Houten invented the famous Dutch process for producing cocoa powder. I have used other cocoa powders  like Hershey's and just by comparing the colour, I can tell that Van Houten is the superior product. Hershey's is a light brown colour, whereas Van Houten is a gorgeously rich, deep, dark brown.

Belcolade dark chocolate discs from Puratos Inc., Belgium. This is a gloriously decadent, real Belgian chocolate. I love chocolate, in case you haven't noticed, so none of that cheap slimy stuff for me thankyouverymuch.

 I use this chocolate to make my ganache and my kids will always be hanging around like vultures waiting for leftovers! lol!

Satin Ice is an American fondant/ sugarpaste. It's texture and taste make it my favourite fondant to use. It is correspondingly the most expensive, and to top it off, not available here! I have to get it from KL whenever I can. Otherwise, I use the next product...

Bakel's pettinice is also a good fondant, but is sometimes too soft for our weather. It tastes good though and is usually available here. It is a product of New Zealand.

Anchor cream cheese is rich, thick and creamy. I use a lot of it for my cream cheese frosting. Through experience I found that cheaper alternatives, like Tatura cream cheese, are higher in water content and produces a watered down frosting.

Kampung eggs (free range, organic eggs) are a beautiful thing. Their yolks are yellower, and the texture of the egg on the whole is firmer and denser compared to the more abundant, mass-produced ones. Though I must admit, they're not always easy to find. Sometimes they're available pre-packed at the supermarket, though I usually get them from the 'egg uncle' at the Stutong Market. (I have him on speed dial) But most times I have to use regular eggs.

A good cake starts off with good ingredients. It truly does make a difference.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alastair & Esther

So the first cake for 2012 was a wedding cake for Alastair and Esther. It was a two-tiered cake, with extra deep tiers. The cake was a moist red velvet cake with a light cream cheese frosting.

The bride had a red rose featured on her dress, according to the groom, so I was to replicate that on the cake. They also gave me a porcelain topper to place on top of the cake.

So since the theme was red and white, I covered the cake in white soft fondant and framed the bases in red satin ribbon. A huge, red gumpaste rose was secured to the side. I also added small pink blossoms, trailing around the cakes. I did not want the blossoms to be red, so that the rose would stand out.

The cute Betty Boop-like topper completed the whole ensemble.

I had to go to the restaurant to do the set up. Luckily Annie came with me to help carry some of my things. Thanks dear :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Gingerbread house in April!


My apologies. It is April, with Easter fast approaching and I am only now writing about the gingerbread house I made December last year!

Well, as they say, better late than never eh?

 Anyway, this time around, I made the royal icing using meringue powder, and it didn't quite stiffen up very well. It ended up slightly  runny and took ages to dry!! The year before, I used real egg whites and the royal icing turned out really good.

I'm not sure if it's the powder, or whether it's about time I got myself a proper Kitchen Aid or Kenwood standing mixer! Right now I'm still using my trusty ol' hand-held mixer....

Okay, for those who live in tropical climes like me, here are a few tips I learned the hard way!!

1. Do not stick on hard candy. They will melt and drip and make a mess all over! Use gummy sweets and      candy coated chocolates instead, or sweets still wrapped in their wrappers (like plastic wrapped candy canes). Here I used gumpaste to make the candy canes and wreath. That seems to work best.

2. Do not use biscuits either! I used those wafer rolls once as pillars for the house and they just softened and shriveled up in the humidity!

3. Make sure your royal icing is really stiff! Otherwise your gingerbread house will be falling apart and you'll have to support it for ages while it takes it's sweet time hardening!

4. I know a nice sloping roof with a long overhang gives a quaint 'cottage-y' look, but beware! I did that and after a couple of days, the gingerbread softened in the humidity and bits of roof that extended beyond the wall started dropping off!!!! *horror*!!

So, as you can see, I have not yet perfected the art of gingerbread house-making (far from it in fact)... But I will let you know whenever I learn anything new!

Can't wait till next Christmas!! ;)

Patrick the red dog

I get Patrick the red dog and Clifford the BIG red dog confused sometimes! Hahaha... what's with red dogs anyway I wonder!! :)

Anyway, our close friends were celebrating their son Jaeden's very first birthday, so I was asked to make a Patrick cake. Patrick is pretty simple to make, I must say, since he's all floppy like!

So I made a two tiered cake, 8" and 6". The bottom tier was a polystyrene dummy and the top tier was a dark chocolate cake filled and iced with Belgian chocolate ganache. (yummy, trust me...)

 Both tiers were covered in soft fondant and Patrick was made of gumpaste and plopped on top!

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