Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cupcakes for the Cure

My sister approached me in September about donating some decorated cupcakes for her office's breast cancer awareness bake sale in October. Aside from being a very good cause, breast cancer awareness has a special meaning for me since I was subject to a breast cancer scare myself in my early 20's when I found a strange lump in my right breast. Fortunately, it was a benign cyst that was believed to have been caused by excessive caffeine intake - I had just started a new job and was drinking massive amounts of coffee. Needless to say, that curbed my coffee habit real quick, lol. I, of course, told my sister that I would be delighted to help out.

Since the little pink ribbon is iconic with breast cancer awareness (not to mention adorable in it's own right), my sister and I agreed that they would make the perfect cupcake toppers. I also considered making pink vanilla cupcakes but in the end I succumbed to my obsession with all things red (just ask my friends) and made red velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting instead. In the words of Rachel Ray, "Yum-O!"

Don't they look so cute all lined up like toy soldiers? :-D

Top view - sorry for the grainy,fuzzy pic.

About 2 hours into the bake sale, my sister texted to let me know that the cupcakes were a big hit and that they were almost gone! Darnit, I knew I should have made more.....


Monday, October 20, 2008

Cupcakes a go-go!!

A couple of Fridays ago, I found myself making 4+ dozen cupcakes for two Sat events. I was short on time but still wanted to make some goodies for the parties, so I turned to my trusty friend, the cupcake - quick, easy, and oh so delicious :).

The first event was a dinner party celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving (who knew it was the second Monday of October?) hosted by my husband's friend and the second was my niece's birthday; she was turning 11 and was celebrating with a slumber party with her gal pals. Get this, I wasn't even attending either of these!! Why, you ask? Well, since my best friend's little girl just happens to one of my niece's gal pals and was occupied by said slumber party, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to rally up a few of our own gal pals to enjoy a nice girls' night out :-D. Cupcakes a go-go it is!!!

I make a kick-a$$ devil's food cake (with a strong kick of chocolate) so of course I had to make devil's food cupcakes but my niece (the little weirdo*) is not a big fan of chocolate so I made some vanilla cupcakes for her.

Pic of the devil's food batter all neatly portioned in their cups.
TIP: To make uniformly sized cupcakes, use an ice-cream scoop with a spring release to scoop your batter into your baking cups. This also eliminates those unsightly drips on the side of the baking cups.
Frosted with ganache. Mmmmmm......ganache.......
(I'll do a separate post in November about ganache - so easy yet so versatile)
Vanilla cupcakes with my favorite vanilla cupcake buttercream (recipe below).
The flowers on top are super-easy and were made with a 5 petal blossom veiner <--- the best $15 you'll pay for a veiner, I swear!...also used to decorate this cake. Just take some fondant (or gumpaste), roll it out thin, cut out some shapes using a 5-petal cutter, press the cutout between the two sides of the silicon veiner with a tiny bit of cornstarch (so it doesn't stick) and voila! - fancy flowers without all the fancy work!!!
RECIPE: Vanilla Cupcake Buttercream (Frosts 2 dozen cupcakes)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tspn vanilla extract
1) Cream unsalted butter
2) Mix in half of the powdered sugar, then the milk and vanilla
3) Mix on medium for 3-5 minutes
4) Then add the remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until you reach the consistency you like.

*my neice isn't really a little weirdo, I'm sure this anti-chocolate thang is just a phase ;-P

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jenny & Kao - an inviting cake

Jenny contacted me back in May after her bridesmaid, Wendy, recommended me to her. You see, Wendy saw (and tasted) my handiwork at Jane (aka Mrs. Cherryblossom on Weddingbee) and Jason's wedding earlier that month and passed on my info. Gotta love referrals :-). (I'll blog about Jane and Jason's cakes at a later date but you can click here, here, and here to see the two wedding cakes and Honda S2000 groom's cake I made for them).

Jenny and her bridesmaid, Wendy, had designed a beautiful invitation suite featuring two adorable bird silhouettes and Jenny wanted to incorporate this design into the design of the cake.

Seeing the invitations, I immediately knew what design I wanted for this cake but of course, I sketched up some alternate designs just in case Jenny wasn't so hot about my original design. Luckily for me, Jenny, Kao, and Wendy were all on the same page and below is the resulting cake.

Placing these two bird silhouettes on the back of the cake was a marvelous suggestion from bridesmaid Wendy and is based on the labels on the Chinese takeout box wedding favors. Each takeout box contained two wrapped fortune cookies with this custom message: "he loves me. he loves me not. he loves me. we tied the knot." cute is that. Below is a pic of the favors and some of the other beautiful elements from the reception.

When it comes time to deliver a cake, you can never be 100% sure what type of reception you'll get. Sometimes you're in and out and you barely see anyone and other times you're right in the thick of things. When delivering Jenny's cake, I must say that
I was a bit taken aback by how enthusiastic and curious everyone was about the cake. Being a cake designer, I'm obviously cuckoo for cocoa puffs about cakes but it was extremely gratifying to also see the friends and family gathered at the reception take such an interest. They asked if the branches were edible (they were), what they were made of (1/2 chocolate fondant and 1/2 gumpaste), and commented on how much they were looking forward to sinking their teeth into it, lol - definitely my kind of people :-). I think the nicest compliment of the day though came from an older Asian gentleman (father of the bride?) who came up alongside me and simply said "Very beautiful cake". As for what the bride thought, I'll let her tell you in her own words:

"Hi lien!

Thanks again for the beautiful cake. I actually ran into the restaurant when we got there to see the cake! Everyone was amazed cause they've never seen anything like it. They thought it was the coolest thing ever. I agree.

It was sooo good! I hardly touched my dinner cause I was saving my stomach for the cake cutting. And when I was to feed Kao the first bite, I actually fed myself first. Haha."

Jenny, I'll have to double-check my wedding video but I'm pretty sure I fed myself too :D!

**If you're as smitten as I am over that invitation design and are looking for someone to design your invitations, I encourage you contact Wendy ( and Jenny ( They were a pleasure to work with :-D!!!


What's my tone?

Hi everyone, it's been 4 weeks since my initial post and I've been struggling with something that I'm sure many first-time bloggers have a hard time with (well, at least I'm hoping I'm not the only one). That thing is the tone of this blog.

As a frequent blog reader, many of the blogs that I can't wait to check every morning are quirky, funny, and sarcastic. However, most of the cake blogs I've seen (that are linked to a cake business) can be described as interesting, descriptive, beautiful, and pleasant but certainly not sarcastic in any way. Understandably, business blogs need to walk a fine line so as not to offend any of it's potential customers but I'm gonna try my best to hold true to my own personality and inject a bit of my craziness without completely giving away my lunacy. ;-P Just be forwarned though - my jokes can be quite cheesy at times and I love my emoticons :D and internet slang, lol (oh, I also love parentheses!).

I'm a pretty competitive person by nature (especially when it comes to board games), it's what drives me to keep learning and challenging myself to make bigger and better cakes. So of course when it comes to this blog, I certainly don't want to produce something *lame*. I'd love to hear from you folks what qualities you look for in a blog and what makes you keep checking back for more.

Oh, and just because I believe that all blog posts should have a least one picture, here's a picture of the ginormous sunflower bouquet my husband brought home for our 1 year wedding anniversary a little over a month ago. (Yes, sunflowers are my favorite - they make me smile :-).

Lien Sanchez