Mad about a 4th Birthday Cake

March 31st, 2014

              Cake details

As Ashley’s 4th birthday approached and I ran various cake ideas through my mind, I recalled reading on WL’s FB page about how K, her goddaughter, had asked for a princess themed birthday party at age 4.

Even though Ashley had been going through the same inevitable “I want to be a princess (despite my best efforts explaining to her that a princess isn’t a real profession) and I want everything in pink” phase, I tried to stir her towards something other than a pink princess themed cake.

              Ashley's 4th birthday cake

My hopes were raised when she first said, “I want a horse cake.” Then came, “I want the horse to be pink.” And I thought, well, at least there hadn’t been any mention of the other “p” word.

Then 3 days later, while we were in the car, she said, out of nowhere, “Mummy, I want a princess cake for my birthday and I want it to be pink.” I expressed my dismay to WL, who laughed and then told me, why not indulge her?

              Ashley's 4th birthday cakeJ

So rather than fight it, I went all out. In keeping with the pink theme, I decided on a ombre (pink, of course) raspberry butter cake with raspberry italian meringue buttercream. For the exterior, I very briefly toyed with the idea of some sort of castle, but decided against it in the end.

              Ashley's 4th birthday cake

I think the final design is probably more suited for an older child, what with the very frilly ruffles (I hadn’t planned on the ruffles looking that frilly) and gilded buttons on a pillowy tier, except for the cartoony fondant princess figurine. I think if I were ever to make another fondant figurine, I’d go with a simple round nose, smaller eyes and less scary eye lashes. But A seemed perfectly happy with her cake and didn’t have any complaints.

              Slice

And neither did I, as I enjoyed my slice of cake in peace and quiet, the day after the party.

Mad about Cakes and Baby

February 20th, 2014

              Rachel @ 7 months old

I’ve always marvelled, with great envy, at how other mothers manage to find time just after having a baby to cook/bake and update their blogs with beautifully taken photographs. Clearly, I am not one of them super mothers, as I find myself dusting the virtual dust off my blog and asking H to delete the 280,000 odd unmoderated comments that have accumulated since my last blog entry 8 months ago (I had gone into labour the night of my last post). There was no way I could have gone through all those comments to sieve out the spam from the genuine ones without pulling my hair out in the process. If you had left a comment or enquired about macarons or classes and I’d deleted it, I am truly truly sorry!

              Petal Cake

It’s not that I haven’t been baking between the diapering and night feeds, just not very much and there’s been nothing fun or interesting to write about until now.

The petal cake is something that I had come across previously while looking up rainbow cakes last year for A’s birthday. It looked like a design that would be cool to try out, so when I had leftover layers of devil’s food cake from making H’s birthday cake this year, I did.

              Inside Petal Cake

There weren’t quite enough cake layers left over to make a tall enough cake, so I decided on a blackforest cake filling to make up the remaining height I needed. The recipes for the whipped chocolate cream filling and soaking syrup for the pitted cherries came from PH’s Chocolate Desserts book.

              Rainbow Layers

The rainbow cake pictured here was requested by my sister’s friend, B, for his friend’s birthday. I haven’t taken any cake orders in a long time (read tired and sleep deprived mother) but B was such a nice and considerate guy that I didn’t have the heart to say no. I didn’t have much time for an elaborate cake, so I sent him 2 suggestions. I was glad he picked the rainbow cake; I couldn’t help feeling all happy and cheery just looking at the bright colours.

              Birthday Cake

The 1st batch of whipped chocolate ganache curdled because I was too impatient and didn’t let it thaw long enough. The 2nd batch was better, but was much more difficult to spread and pipe than usual. I think it had to do with my having substituted the corn syrup with honey. :( The end result was a less than smooth finish on the cake and piped shells with jagged instead of sharp edges. Still, I am glad I managed to make the cake for B’s friend and I hope he had a great birthday!

Macaron Madness (Round 2)

June 9th, 2013

            Montebello Macs and Roses

Following the previous week’s macaron making, it was inevitable that after such a long time since I last ate a macaron, my craving for them grew instead of being assuaged, leading to another batch this past week. While browsing the PH Macarons book with A for ideas, she said, “Mama, I want a strawberry macaron.” So that was one flavour decided and going with the theme of pink macarons, I decided on the Montebello macarons (pistachio ganache filling with a raspberry jelly centre) as the second flavour.

            Strawberry macarons

The plan was to make the Montebello shells a much lighter shade of pink than my previous attempt that yielded a very wet batter caused by the large amount of food colouring dictated in the PH recipe. The pastel pink shells didn’t rise as dramatically as the darker coloured batter I had made for the strawberry flavoured macarons. This, I suspect, had to do with insufficient drying time.

Montebello and Strawberry Macarons

On the aesthetic front, the Montebello macarons did look prettier when paired with the darker pink shells, so I used half of the lighter pink shells for the strawberry flavoured ones. I must say, I do like the ombre effect that the two shades of pink gave in the second photograph of this post.

Taste-wise, the Montebello is definitely still my favourite flavour from the PH book. I used two kinds of pistachio fillings, one with italian meringue buttercream and one with ganache, because I had underestimated the amount of ganache I would need to fill all the macarons. I actually preferred the taste of the buttercream filling.

Inside the Montebello macaron

For the strawberry macarons, I cooked a strawberry coulis, whipped it into italian meringue buttercream and brushed some of the sauce on the underside of the shells as well. The strawberry flavour was more developed after a day of maturing in the fridge. And A, as it turns out, doesn’t like strawberry macarons at all and prefers the dark chocolate ones!