British Farewell Cupcakes

class·y [klas-ee, klah-see] adj. of high class, rank, or grade; stylish; admirably smart; elegant.

 

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When you think of class what comes to mind? Chanel, vacationing in the South of France, The Ritz Carlton Hotel, George Clooney? One thing that should be on everyone’s list by default is British Accents. Which is exactly why you should read this post in a  British accent. Cupcakes this posh deserve only the classiest Julie Andrews impersonation you can provide. Chivvy up now! 

10 days ago, a friend of mine packed her things and boarded a plane for the UK, where she will attend school for the next year. Bloody brilliant! I can’t even begin to contain my jealousy on this one!

I was asked to make some cupcakes for her family farewell dinner and was given free reign on the design…the first thing that came to mind was Tina’s unequivocal love for One Direction, but when I thought of how her Mother might be less than gobsmacked when she came to pick them up I went back to the drawing board (Tina, don’t worry, I will obvs make you 1D cupcakes when you come home).

Instead, I went with all things unmistakably British:

British Cupcakes

 

Telephone booths: Telephone Booth Cupcakes

Union Jacks:Union Jack Cupcakes

London Underground:Underground Cupcakes

Royalty:Royal Cupcakes

Well that just about does it. What do you think? Are they blinding? Or have I just gone straight mad?

British Cupcakes

British Cupcakes

Oh and Tina, please send my regards to my old mates Wills, Kate and little George for me, would you? That would be just brilliant. Cheerio!

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Calculator Cake & Back to School!

The summer has officially come to an end now, and as school has been back in session for about a week, I thought it would be the perfect time to share one of my recent creations. A couple of weeks ago I made a calculator cake for a going away party at an actuarial firm. The worst part about making this cake was digging out my school bag two weeks early to find my calculator 😦

Calculator Cake

The cake was red velvet with vanilla & raspberry buttercream, and fresh raspberries in between the layers. I would tell you that it was delicious, but I wasn’t at the farewell party so I can only assume! Calculator Cake

The white writing was done in royal icing and the black was food colouring markers.Calculator CakeCalculator CakeFor all of you that have gone back to school like myself, don’t worry–Thanksgiving holidays will be here before we know it! 😉

Minion Cupcakes 2.0

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past little while, there’s a very good chance you have heard of minions, whether or not you have seen the Despicable Me movies. If you don’t know them by name, then you at least recognize the yellow, bug-eyed critters in overalls who are all over TV and social media these days.

Minion CupcakesThis was my second attempt at making minion cupcakes so I made them a bit different than the last time around. You can visit my original post here.

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Minion Cupcakes

These cupcakes were made for a little boy’s birthday. They were gluten-free and vegan. I used Bob’s Red Mill flour blend and xanthan gum, which created the perfect texture (not “gummy“), but I found that the taste of the garbanzo flour was a bit overpowering. In the future I will likely try and make my own blend.DSCN6496

 

Birthday Beach Cake

Last month I made this cool beach-themed cake for a young girl’s birthday party! I was super excited to get another chance to revisit some of the techniques I used on the beach wedding cake in May. Check it out:Beach Cake

Once again I was provided with some adorable adirondack chairs to act as toppers on the cake.DSCN6282

The palm trees were hand-painted onto the surfboard using gel food colouring.DSCN6278-horz-vert

The beach towels were made out of fondant, and sat on top of the graham cracker & brown sugar sand. DSCN6285-horz

The water was blue buttercream frosting, complete with whitecaps on the waves!DSCN6308

Finally, I constructed a super cool beach umbrella out of a mixture of fondant and gumpaste, but unfortunately it was too heavy for the chocolate cake and I couldn’t include it on the finished product without a colossal cake-tastrophe. 😦 If I do this again, I will make it entirely out of gumpaste and insert a hollow, plastic dowel into the cake first. Lesson Learned!DSCN6300

Mini Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream

There has been an overwhelming about of blueberries in my house lately. So much so that we have resorted to freezing them to save for the upcoming blueberry-less months. When I went to bake lemon cupcakes the other day, it seemed as good a time as any to experiment with adding some fresh-frozen blueberries from the freezer. Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

The ombré ruffle effect on these is really simple. Here is what you will need:

  • 2 piping bags & couplers
  • petal tip (I used a Wilton 103 tip)
  • 1 batch of vanilla buttercream and blueberry compote (blueberry buttercream recipe below)
  • nonpareils, jimmies, sugar pearls, etc.

Divide your icing in half, and add blueberry compote to one half. Pipe a ruffled ring around the outside of the cupcake using a petal tip. Add some of the remaining vanilla icing to the blueberry icing until a desired lighter colour is reached. Refill the same piping bag, and pipe another ruffled ring around the inside of the first. Using a new icing bag and a clean petal tip, use the remaining vanilla icing and pipe a ring in the middle. You can leave it as is, or garnish with nonpareils or sugar pearls.

Ombre Ruffle FrostingLemon-Blueberry Cupcakes___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mini Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

Lemon-blueberry Cupcakes

Source: adapted from Style at Home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 28 mini muffin tin cups with liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium speed until blended and lightened in colour, about 2 minutes.
  3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Measure the milk and add the lemon juice. Set aside
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter and it looks creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. On low speed and in 3 additions (3 flour, 2 milk), add the flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.
  7. Fold in blueberries.
  8. Using a mini cookie scoop, fill cupcake liners.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Blueberry Buttercream 

DSCN6543Source: Cake for Thought

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan set on medium heat, combine the first 4 ingredients to make a compote. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and the blueberry skins have burst.
  2. Remove from heat and strain to remove the skins. Refrigerate compote until fully cooled.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and vanilla until smooth on medium speed using the paddle attachment.
  4. Gradually sift in icing sugar, and add the milk until desired consistency is reached; add compote to icing until desired blueberry flavour is reached.

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Lemon-Blueberry CupcakesLemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

Rubber Ducky Sugar Cookies

Last weekend I got to do some baking for a baby shower! For this task, I was very excited to be provided with an adorable duck-shaped cookie cutter. The little ducklings started out all yellow, but this seemed too boring so I added a few blue bubbles on the bottom of each one 🙂

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I also got to make some chocolate cupcakes for this order, which I decorated with a swirl of yellow icing using a 2D tip, white nonpareils and sugar pearls. They were easy to make, and I am really happy with the way the turned out.DSCN6153-horz

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Hydrangea Cupcakes 2.0

Since making hydrangea cupcakes last year, I have been wondering when I would get to make them again. The other day, my wondering stopped, as I had a request for some peach and cream hydrangeas for a bridal party’s pre-wedding celebration.

I used the same technique as last time, but added a few white nonpareils to give more dimension and make the cupcakes more lifelike.

For the peach hydrangeas I used two different shades of peach-tinted icing, and for the cream, I tinted the icing with ivory food colouring.

This was also my very first request for gluten-free cupcakes. They definitely turned out all right, but I am very eager to do some more experimenting and make them more moist.

Nutella Fudge

During my recent stint in Quebec, Nutella and I became the best of friends. I hesitate to tell you how many jars I consumed, partly because it’s an expensive habit, and also because it’s just plain embarrassing. Let’s just say that there were numerous occasions when friends observed an open jar of Nutella with a spoon sitting in it on my desk. I’m going to blame this one on dorm life.DSCN5937-horz

Since Nutella has such a presence in Quebec, it would’t have been right leaving without some recipes so a bought this cute little book: Nutella-les 30 recettes culte written by Sandra Mahut. It’s an awesome little recipe book with everything from lava cake to lollipops. page

First up on my to-make list was the Nutella fudge. It is a super easy recipe with only 5 ingredients in it. Here is all you will need:

Nutella Fudge Ingredients

It is decadent and creamy; just try to eat only one piece, I dare you! DSCN5960-horz

And don’t worry, I (google) translated the recipe into English for you 🙂

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Fudge au Nutella et à la guimauve (Nutella & Marshmallow Fudge)page1

Source: Nutella-les 30 recettes culte 

Ingredients:

  • 115 g softened butter
  • 200 g Nutella
  • 400 g powdered sugar
  • 140 grams unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 50 small marshmallows

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, combine Nutella and butter. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the sugar in the milk until dissolved; add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Keep on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add Nutella & butter mixture, mixing gently until completely combined with marshmallow mixture.
  4. Pour mixture into an 8×8 inch pan lined with parchment paper.
  5. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, then cut, serve, and enjoy!

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Side note: the other day at Costco, I found a 5 kg jar of Nutella! I would have bought it and made all 30 recipes from the book, but the thought of spending $40.00 on Nutella kind of ruined it for me 🙂 

Happy Nutella baking!

Les Aventures Québécois

DSCN5557Bonjour mes amis! I have just returned from la belle province, Québec, where I was staying at l’Université Laval for a 5 week french immersion program. Don’t be fooled, this trip wasn’t all books and studying (shocking right?). I got to meet the coolest people from all across Canada (and the US) and had the chance to explore the landscape, culture and food that the city has to offer.

Here are just a few of the things that I will miss about Québec:

  1. Vieux-Québec! There’s something very special about the old part of the city! Feels just like walking through any beautiful city in Europe.DSCN5543-horz
  2. Crêpes! I think I could probably eat a crêpe every day and not get bored. I don’t care if they’re sweet or savoury, I just think they are one of the greatest culinary inventions. My best find on this trip was the crêpe au marron, or chestnut crêpe. If you ever see one on a menu, don’t hesitate to order it!DSCN5857-horz
  3. Poutine! I know that you can get poutine in Vancouver and probably every other Canadian city too these days, but let’s face it, the Québécois kind of own the rights to this one, and they seem to be doing it right. I can’t think of many restaurants I encountered that didn’t have some version of poutine on their menu. I tried a lot of different kinds of poutine, and even tried squeaky cheese (yes, the curds actually make a squeak noise when you bite them), but my favourite was the one I tried at the Chic Shack in Vieux-Québec.DSCN5896-horz
  4. Bakeries! Since Québec City is so much like Europe, it is filled with fabulous bakeries boasting all sorts of delicious pastries, ice creams, macarons, croissants, etc. Among some of the memorable treats I tried were croissants filled with marzipan, carrot cake macarons, and geranium black currant macarons.DSCN5872-tile
  5. Ice Cream! I’m not normally a huge ice cream kind of gal, but I definitely had my fair share of crème glacée on this trip, and for good reason. There are a number of little ice cream shops that do the most amazing chocolate-dipped cones. Just think Dairy Queen on steroids. The best place was “Chocolats Favoris” in the town of Lévis. They had about half a dozen ice cream flavours and 12 different chocolate fondues. I had to make a second trip there just so I could try out another flavour.DSCN5864-horz
  6. Maple! The Québécois are extremely proud of what their maple trees produce and rightfully so! Maple syrup, maple butter, maple candies, maple ice cream, maple cookies, the list goes on and on…I think I will have to make some maple cupcakes again soon!DSCN5923-horz
  7. Mes Amis! I was so lucky to meet the coolest group of people participating in the Explore program avec moi. Right off the bat it felt as if we had known each other for years. Thank you all for the many laughs and “bon temps,” and of course the incentive to travel across Canada to visit you all in the future! Let’s not wait too long for a reunion! A bientôt!page

My Very First Wedding Cake! (and cookies, and cupcakes)

Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography

Long time no see, blogging world! The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind. School is now over and I am in Quebec City for 5 weeks to work on my French, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have time to fill you in on my very first wedding cake!

My bonne amie’s brother tied the knot earlier this month, and I had the pleasure of making the cake, cupcakes and cookie favours for the big day! The ceremony took place the the Celebration Pavillion at Queen Elizabeth Park, and the reception was at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful day in Vancouver, and for a city known for its beauty, that is saying a lot! G&K, I don’t know what you had to pay Mother Nature to arrange that one, but she definitely came through!

Ask anyone in my family, and they’ll tell you that I can get a bit….”territorial” in the kitchen when I am baking (among other things). Lucky for them, they were either out of town or at work in the few days leading up to the wedding, so no one had to witness any meltdowns, and I had ample space to take over. See what I mean?

For the wedding favours, each guest received two sand dollar sugar cookies, which tied in with the beachy theme. To make these, I used my kitchen scale to weigh out equal portions of dough, which I rolled into balls, flattened, and dipped in a mixture of granulated and sanding sugar. (note: the petalloids are actually white chocolate, not almonds)

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Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography

There were three different types of cupcakes: red velvet with vanilla frosting, banana-chocolate with chocolate frosting, and vanilla confetti with vanilla buttercream. Each cupcake was topped with a bride or groom fondant cupcake topper. (Yes, those took me a very long time to make, but the end results were worth every minute!)

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Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography

The wedding cake was a two-tiered, four-layer banana-chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. For the beach-themed accents I made shells and starfish out of Wilton candy melts, mixed brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs for sand, and made plumeria flowers using fondant and petal dust (I will post a tutorial soon). The adorable adirondack chair toppers were ordered from Etsy.

Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography
Photo by Alexandra Hunt Photography

All in all it was a wonderful day, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process leading up to it. I couldn’t have asked for a better, or more easy going couple to be my (first) wedding cake clients. It was also an honour to be a part of the day as both a guest and a baker :).

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G&K, congrats again, and I wish you both a life time of happiness together!