Friday, December 18, 2015

Decorator's Wish List: More Sophisticated, More Annoying

Time for part 2 of the gift list.

Revved up, more juice, and more annoying to procure the items if you have no idea what it is.

In fact it's probably how my family feels anytime I ask for anything to do with the decorator's craft.

Usually have to send a link for that specific item (or items, so they can find the thing that has the least shipping cost.)

So, with the stores playing Christmas music and homes getting glittered up everywhere I give you the most annoyingly specific wish list ever.

Not my place.
I don't have spare room for a tree.
Item 1: The Cookie Swivel

I want the buttons too.
What the heck is it and why do I want it? Well it's exactly what it sounds like. You put a cookie/cupcake/whatever-smaller-than-cake-item on it and then you can decorate all you want without having to continuously touch it. Means cleaner hands and cleaner treat. No melted chocolate, glaze or icing on your hands. Find them here.

I want at least 2. One for me and one for my future assistant (hopefully not too distant future.)

Item 2: Instant Flower Nozzle Set

I have a different set coming.
Hopefully in time for spring.
How does this work and why wouldn't I want it? It's magic. Just pop into a piping bag, add a few cups of stiff icing and go. They are pricing for piping tips, but (I hope) totally worth it. I mean, look at the pretty! You can get the set shown above here.

Item 3: Chocolate Gem Molds

If you don't get how this works then... I dunno. Put a little chocolate in, put in some center goodies, fill with more chocolate. Tempered chocolate works best of course but, ya know, that's technical.

Why do I want it? Well they are nice, and people love chocolates. I want to give them chocolates. Win-Win. The silicone ones (on the left) work nicer than the plastic (right.) Plastic tends to crack, sometimes on the first use, sometimes on the hundredth, but they do wear down at some point.

There are lots of places to get these, lots of shapes, sizes. For the pictured silicone you can get them here, and the plastic here.

Item 4: Ateco 612 Revolving Cake Stand

So smooth and lovely to pipe with
This isn't your cheap Wilton turntable from Michaels. This baby is heavy duty (yet lightweight,) has those lovely marks to center you cake on it, and turns so easily when piping. So easily. Like a dream. Plus it comes with a non-skid mat so your cake isn't going to slide around while you're trying to pipe the Sistine Chapel on it.

It's a serious must have for any caker.

Item 5: Tutorial subscriptions or online classes

This should maybe #1. It's the easiest to get and could quite possibly be the most appreciated. Online classes used to be youtube tutorials and Craftsy but now many online sugar-art schools have launched in the last six months that use subscription services to access amazing tutorials. Like how to make this:

Lumberjack Cake from Lizzo Marek of Artisan Cake Company
Tutorial at
Hint hint: I need a subscription
And no, that is not made with the Wilton checker cake kit... Lizzo don't cake that way.

So here is a short list of class sites or tutorial subscription sites you can give your beloved sugar artist:

Sugar Geek Show by Elizabeth (Lizzo) Marek (officially launching January 1, 2016.) Subscription.

Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art by Avalon Yarnes. Subscription.

Craftsy by... Craftsy. Individual classes (click the link to get right to the gift a class page.)

Warning: Gifting such subscriptions or classes may cause the giftee to emit a high pitched squee type noise. Please wear ear protection.

And that's the list. There are a lot more I could put on here, but it's already unlikely you'd get any of this before the big day.

Note: I've also finished my New Year's Resolution for 2015. 12 Cakes in 12 months with different techniques. Post on the last cake will be up as soon as I can get some better pictures. Please be patient and thank you for checking back.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Baker's Christmas List: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Things are happening.

The trees are changing. White stuff is coming down.

Cakes are being planned and made.

New techniques are being tested and tried.

And those stupid stores are putting out Christmas things.

Free People display
that I want in my stairwell

UGH! I don't want to even hear about Christmas until at least December.

It's too much! No No No! I want to be a Grinch and deft my ears and blind my eyes to all the shiny, glittery, cheery stuff until after November!

I actually love Winter Holidays, just when it's time. Not. One. Moment. Sooner.

But I also like to plan ahead.

My family is big. No, not just big, BIG!

Starts off with the typical Mom and Dad, two older sisters, older brother, and me.

People got married, so add on some brother-in-laws.

Not bad, right?

I became an aunt when I was 6.

So add on my three nieces and three nephews.

But hold on, my husbands family is my family too.

Pile on another Mom, sister (or sista as we like to say) and brother.

Then there's another brother-in-law and a very soon-to-be sista-in-law.

Oh and can't forget four more nephews and two more nieces.

Plus, the big kicker: I'm a GREAT-Aunt.

So there's another baby nephew to spoil.

SPOIL?! I'm not flush with cash! I wish!

Hey Lottery, I'll take that over here. I need to buy Christmas presents for my massive family.

Oh look, I didn't even mention my awesome Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas, Grandpas.

(Thank goodness I'm a baker and they usually don't mind getting goodies. Usually...)

Thankfully my family started doing a draw for Christmas, so I only have one couple to get presents for on my side. So that squishes the list down a lot.

And the other side aren't big on presents, just time. So we hang out and have fun together. I give treats when I have enough time to do them up (aka not in school, working multiple jobs, only up for a day...)

So since my list of purchases have been simplified I'd thought I'd help all of you with buying for the baker, caker, popper or cookier in your life.

Before we get into the lists here's the easiest way to get ideas for them other than the blantant: What do you want? There's nothing wrong with asking that, but it does take away the surprise.

So what's the magical way to figure out what to get them? You ready for it? Really really ready?


What? That's not magical enough for you. Read the title of this post. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

What is that person trying to accomplish right now? What technique are they wanting to try? What's new that they are interested in?

If you take the answers to one of those questions and do 5 minutes of research, you'll get some great ideas.

But incase that isn't possible for whatever reason here's some help from the Holiday Elf.

First, we will start a list for the baker:
  • Olive Wood Spoon -> olive wood can withstand 260 pounds of pressure before breaking. No more breaking wooden spoons with this. Plus they are very pretty. You can get them at Canadian Tire or Home Sense for under $12
  • Citrus Rasp or Microplane -> Not this:
Do not use to zest a lot of citrus
You will hate it
But this:
Can zest citrus in seconds
Excellent for making Rustic Curd.
It cuts down time zesting to seconds. Anything that cuts time in the kitchen is a plus!
  • A Big Whisk -> Not your momma's whisk. Standard whisk has about a 10-12 inches. My big whisk is 16 inches from end to end. Why does that matter? Eggs. More importantly, egg whites. With a big whisk and a big bowl you can whip those up into stiff peaks in no time!

  • Bowls -> Set of nesting steel and glass bowls. Easy storage, and multiple sizes for all the project (including whipping up egg whites)
  • Chopping Mats ->  A set is excellent. Chopping chocolate, fruits, nuts. Cut one or two up to use for scraping out bowls, smoothing icing or ganache, or smoothing out those oh-so-difficult spherical cakes. Okay, maybe this is for the caker too.
Okay, now for the caker:
  • Chopping Mats! Yup, again.
  • Clear Cake Scraper -> Clear so you can see what your doing, multiple sizes for all your small and tall cake needs, and beveled so it's lovely to use. Oh, one last thing, acrylic so it's not going to warp over time. Giving your caker the best, straightest sides every time! Stencil, ganache, and more. Get them here while they are currently on sale. 

  • Acrylic Cake Boards -> For the home caker or for home use only (not for clients, deposits are messy.) For moving in-progress cakes around, getting those sides nice and straight by sandwiching the cake between 2 boards (same size of course.) They can be pricey but here's a place for a good deal on them. They also have some fancy doweling sets to go with it, but I'd leave that up to the caker if they want to use that.
  • Sculpting Tools -> These can go from Wilton's various sets, to clay sculpting sets (new, of course,) and finally, to my favourite, Sugar Shapers
I just love these
These come in regular and mini, soft and firm. Costly, but the best for doing figures (if that's what your caker does.)
  • Texture mats (or stencils) -> To get these things from the cake section they are really pricey. Never fear, I'm not talking about those fancy things. This is very, very outside the box, or aisle. Like sink mats:

 Press or roll these into fondant for some really cool texture for a castle or manhole cover. They even have them with flowers that would be nice on its own or under some watercolour style painting.

Or painting stencils:

Ok, the roller one is fancy and more for a specific design. For these I'd look for smaller designs, keeping in mind that most cakes are 8-10 inches in diameter so a huge design is going to overpower the cake.

Now the Cake Popper:
  • STRAWS -> Sorry for yelling, but it's so simple and easy to find. Paper straws for making the pops (the part you hold.) It's nice to have some cute designs to go with the creations. Michaels usually has those packages of 12 or so for cheap, like a buck. 
  • Daubers, sponges or other paint texture tools -> Great for those little polka dot pops, splatter or sponge look (with metallic edible dust and everclear/vodka.) Or to create different textures/patterns on those little cake balls. For the daubers you can get them from the Martha Stewart paint section at Michaels.

  • Cotton gloves -> You know, those ones that the fancy chocolate stores' use to package your special treat. They come in very handy when doing cake pops that have no stick, or for placing chocolate decorations on pops, whatever.
  • Sanding sugar -> Not the expensive little tiny bottles at Michaels, but the bulk stuff at Bulk Barn (or you can make you're own if you're feeling adventurous.) Get some cute jars, little ribbons to decorate and you've got a gleeful popper on your hands. Also can be done with sprinkles, dragees, quinn's, chocolate curls, etc.
Pretty sugar
And for the cookier:
  • Cutters -> Seems like a no brainer, but you have to be creative here. Chances are you're cookier will already have those holiday sets and basic shapes that go on crazy 50% off sale around this time. So go fancy or more custom. Ever see those giant snowflake or Christmas tree cutters at William Sonoma? Now that's fancy. Or hear that she keeps getting asked for special characters from the new best movie? Go down to and look up a name with 'cookie cutter' and I bet someone will have it.
  • Paint brushes -> Have you seen what people paint on cookies now? It's crazy-pants. And wonderful. And makes me jealous and want to paint. Different sizes, shapes required for different designs.
  • Silpat mat -> Makes for perfect cookies. Also goes nicely with that cookie sheet you've got them already.
  • Everclear -> Or Vodka if you don't have access to Everclear, but Everclear is better. The high proof evaporates quickly leaving more colour and less sogginess. Cookiers use this with luster dust or food colour gel to make paint.
Not my hands
That's all I've got for you. If you need more help you can leave a comment and I'll try to get creative for you. If you're trying for last minute then I'll do a rain dance for you instead.

Happy Hunting.

Monday, November 2, 2015

All Hallows' Eve: Little Red verses the Wolf

I love Halloween.

For those of you who hate Halloween, who can't stand it, who think it's stupid. Move on, this post is not for you.

But if you're wishing it was still Halloween, and you can't believe it's over already I raise my glass to you and thank you for sharing the love.

When you're little Halloween is all about running around to houses, getting candy and picking through your pillowcase to see what candy you'll give to your parents. As you get older you either prank your neighbours, pick the ritziest places to trick-or-treat at for the biggest score, party, or stay in and watch all the Halloween episodes of Buffy.

My Halloween is usually a month of planning or more. I'm not one of those who can do a half-assed costume or simply purchase an outfit from a store. If you can pull that off then good for you. But I'm 5'11 3/4" and 155 lbs, so those costumes don't work for me. Either too short or I swim in them, which is only good for certain costumes.

A few years ago I spent a month figuring out Ring Master of the Dead Circus. Finding pieces to put together, crafting parts. Finding a whip that looked real enough but didn't cost all the money was the hardest part. It all turned out though.

Ring Master and Ring Girl (not actually...)
Photo courtesy of @smoonie
All this work is for the amazing party held at our friends' business. Last year there wasn't a party (not that I can blame them, it's got to be a lot of work to put these shindig's together, plus clean up before opening the next day) so the costume plan got bumped to this year.

Little Red Riding Hood.

But I had to put a spin on it, so it became Self-Sufficient Little Red Riding Hood.

Not actual wolf skin, only humanely harvested hare
(poor thing drowned in a storm.)
And yes I had treats in my basket. Not wine and a piece of cake as per the story, but candy. There was also a knife and cake server in there for the party.

Some candlelight with your cake?
The cake didn't turn out as well as I hoped. I used LMF and didn't get the same quality that the cake community raves about. It was crumbly and had little dry cracks all over but I was determined to make it work. It is noticeable on the top tier and probably only to those who know what to look for, but still.
Two tone frills.
Not like Michael Jackson.
And those ruffles. My first time doing frills/ruffles and what happened? When I went to flip it over the cake pan slid and snapped the back portion. It was horrifying.  I know there is a back to the cake but I was hoping it wouldn't be that bad. Things to look out for for next time I guess.

Wolf vs Red.
My monies on Red.

I am happy with how the frame and picture turned out. Face off between Red and the Wolf, eyes watching. It was a lot of fun and quite fast and easy to do. Made me want to pick up my paintbrushes again.

Prized wolf skull.
Candy clay, of course.
This skull was fun as well. I like the stuff I can make ahead of time and put it to the side for later. Of course then I have dreams of forgetting to grab it and put it on the cake... I actually had the full skull made, but I didn't like the look of it all together so I made a design decision and only used the top.

If you follow my Instagram account (@KitchChick) or FaceBook page you would have seen this:

Got my tools out
As I was making the armature I asked people to guess what it was. Of course I only got one guess (and a creative one at that.) People just don't understand that I can't give away prizes without some participation! No I'm not kidding, this isn't no-zero school where everyone gets a ribbon and a passing grade; this is real life.

So that was my Halloween. Cake, party, music, candy, friends, and Denny's for 1:00 AM food.

How was yours? Share your costume in the comments if that's what you're into.

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 23, 2015

Giving Thanks: Golden Honeycomb and Mini Pumpkins Spray

It's been a tough month.

Trips in and out of hospitals. Hand holding and crying.

Giving love and saying goodbyes.

Questioning life and fighting with answers.

Honestly it's been one of the hardest months of my life.

In fact this year has been beating me back.

Loss, hostility, anger and rage. These are things that keep popping up more often than not.

I've been struggling. I don't mind saying that. It's something everyone goes through.

However, thanksgiving was just over a week ago, and despite the bad times I'm going through I have a lot to be thankful for.

This cake challenge is one. A small one, but one that keeps me excited to continue.

My cats. (Insert eye roll here.) I get snuggles no matter what. I always want snuggles. Stop judging me.

My family. We are not close, but we come together when needed.

My friends. Again, not that close, or not as much as we used to be. People evolve, get their own families and lives. But again, when needed we are there for each other.

My husband's family. I'm pretty sure we won't really know each other like family should. Maybe that's a reflection on my own family, but we won't get into that. They are there no matter what, however. They know what matters. They will hug and hold on until they know you're ok. Even if you're not, they will hold on for a few seconds more to let you know that they are with you. That's something I really have needed this year, and for that I am very grateful.

My husband. The wonderful Mister. We don't have a perfect marriage, it's really just beginning, but he's by my side, even when I'm so full of rage I can't help but scream. I wish I could share more good times, and can only hope that those times are coming. Until then I know he will be with me every day, good and bad.

There are my big ones. The things I'm most thankful for.

So let's move out of this mushy stuff and get to the fun stuff, right?

You only came for cake anyways.

It's a cake!
And what a cake!

I had a blast doing this cake. It was suppose to be taken to Thanksgiving dinner with the Mister's family but I made the mistake of buying the crappy chocolate for the wrap. (FYI it's best to stay away from the Bulk Barn white chocolate squares with the handwritten 'F' on it. It's disappointed me too many times.) Instead the Mister's family got pepita brittle instead.

Pepita means "little seed of squash"
I was originally going to top the cake with the brittle, but I hate showing up empty handed and I'm glad that I did the cake as it was.

This brittle was DELICIOUS. Not too sweet, I used dark chocolate as oppose to milk to help balance it out. And it was really fun to make. First brittle I've ever done, but very easy and only a little scary.

How can you not like
dipping stuff in chocolate?

If you'd like to try for yourself I learned from Just A Taste (who you should follow for great recipes.) And click here to get right to the recipe. Kelly does a great job with her recipes and explanations so please show some love for her and subscribe to her email newsletters or Pinterest.

Sprinkle sprinkle
Don't be scared to make the brittle, just read the recipe throughly a few times and prep everything before you start and you'll do great! Makes a great gift too (for that time that we are not ready to talk about yet.)

Who knew patio chairs could make
such a cool background?
Back to this beauty. It was finished the day after the Mister's family dinner, which meant I had to find a new dinner to go to. Wasn't hard though, not too many people would turn down a free cake.

My bestie ended up taking it to her family dinner. She was helping out with photos while I was trying to complete and fight with the bad white chocolate so it was good payment for that. She also gave me additional photos to use (she has the fancy lens that makes things look amazing) that make me look a lot better than I am.

Honeycomb effect
If you're wondering how the heck I got this cool texture on the outside the big secret is...


No, the cake isn't wrapped in bubble wrap. Don't be silly.

We put chocolate on the bubble wrap, then put it on the cake.

Chocolate covered bubble wrap
Still think I'm crazy, then watch this and see. Damn I wish I'd thought of this first but it's awesome that the cake community is awesome and likes to share (another thing to be thankful for.) It's simple and easy to do (when you have good quality chocolate) and really brings another dimension to your cake.

Pumpkins and blossoms and berries.
Oh my!
All the gumpaste decorations are a different story. I'm becoming more at ease working with it but I know I have a long way to go until I'm really satisfied with the quality and detail of gumpaste decorations. Luckily it's cheap to make gumpaste so you can't feel too guilty doing experiments. Like the little pumpkins, which I totally love. If I had more time I'd do a number of items for decorations sake (and technically edible, but you'd probably break your teeth on the gumpaste or wire...)

Copper pumpkins are so fetch!
Again, my decorating may not be top notch but my flavours are on point. This was a Amaretto cake with honey swiss buttercream. The only thing I'd do if I made it again would be to add cranberries in there to give it some tartness and a pop of colour. But my mom loved the scraps from torting the cake. She was eating them like canapé for a few days. I don't apologize for ruining peoples diets momentarily.

Another shot from the BFF
Also gold. Gold is so in right now, so gold made it onto the cake. Gold luster on the outside and gold flake sprinkled on the piped top. Look close, you can see that 24 karat gold flake.

I gotta stop staring at this thing.

Thanks for reading along and looking into my dark side.

I really need to get to work on my halloween stuff...

More to come, stay tuned, if you dare!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chocolate Ganache vs Bad Lighting: Why Nighttime Photos Don't Work (Plus Bonus Dream Talk)

This cake was a bit of a rush cake.

Four days. Birthday cake. Seems simple right? Anyone could make a cake in 4 days.

Fair enough; it's really not that hard. I just like to plan things out a little more.

Especially since I'm working a full time job that takes 45-50 hours of my week.

Then travel time to and from work.

Not to mention the taking and planning of orders, shopping, hunting down items or techniques to try and the order a little special and unique. Then the baking, and the cleaning. And the torting, and the whipping. And the spreading, smearing, kneading, covering, heating, swirling, cooling, sprinkling, dipping and all the other verbs that come with making a sweets order.

And then the picture taking, boxing up and getting ready for pick up at the end of the day.
Hence, this:

Bad, bad nighttime picture!
 Yeah. No natural light. Late time picture since this was finished in one night after doing a large cake pop order for the few nights up to this. So the pictures are bad no matter how I edit them. Not that the cake was really pretty.

It was delicious though.

Yes, I will fully admit that my cakes are not the prettiest, they are amateur(ish,) and my technique needs work. It's called the learning curve and I'm on the uphill battle.

But my flavour is fleek!

Why is that? I've been baking since I was a chubby, chubby baby. My mom has a picture of my brother and I baking together. I think we were making cookies or donuts. (If I had the picture I'd share. I'd also have it framed on my wall.) Any time my Mom baked anything I was right there. My Oma would even come get me if she was making something while my mom was at work. Eventually I was the one who was showing my loved ones how to make something. Oma and I made her very first pizza together and it was delicious! And I keep growing, and getting better with my techniques on getting that flavour perfect. Pro tip: Use honey in your pizza crust. No sugar. Your crust will be soft on the inside and have a crisp exterior and your tastebuds will thank me! (I also accept cash.)

So you will always get a damn tasty cake with me. Just maybe not the prettiest.

Yes, there is a swirl in that ganache
That's how to do ganache
Delicious ganache
This was my first ganache covered cake.

Mocha cake, espresso between two of the layers, dulce de leche in the middle with some fresh shredded coconut (by request of the client (who is a friend and got the cake for way to little... Never again!) to have coconut on top of a mocha cake, but I couldn't figure how to do that and ganache.) Covered with cream cheese frosting and drizzled in dark chocolate ganache.

Is that too much for you?

I mean check out that drizzle.

Drizzled chocolate is always good
'Cause chocolate
Not the best drizzle. The cake was too cold and my first bit was firming up before I could get out the squeeze bottle to get that drizzle down.

But I do it again. And again. And again. Until it's perfect. And then I'll do it some more cause drizzle is beautiful (just not here.)

And my handwriting piping could use work.

Bad bad picture
bad bad piping
I used to be good at it when I worked in a bakery (for a whole 3 months.) Half of this bad was the fact that I did not thin my white chocolate at all. Secondly I didn't plan it well.

Hello, I am a Virgo. I need to plan.

I'm planning how to get more orders. I'm planning how to get from my kitchen, to a studio kitchen, to sell at the Farmer's Markets. To create a kickstarter to open a cafe. There are a million little steps to it all and I'm going to do every damn one of them.

Because if I listened to myself when I was younger, and realized that I wanted this all along, I would've had it by now.

My best friend can attest to the fact that when we played imaginary store type games I'd always have either a cafe or a pet store (but that's only cause I want a place where the floor is the fish tank. Don't argue that the fish would hate it because of noise! You walk on the frozen lake when you ice fish, right?)

Growing up I always thought it would be amazing to have a restaurant or cafe. I'd hang out in as many privately owned cafe's as I could, talking to owners, writing, sipping on lattes. I would wonder why they wouldn't have more desserts or sandwiches or sell more variety of things. And then I would think what I'd do with mine.

So there you go. Now you know why I'm doing this. Why last year I made over 60 new recipes and why this year I'm making 12 (3 to go!) cakes. I'm making myself better so that I can make my dream a successful one.

That was share time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sailor Moon: International Praise for a 21 Year Old Role Model

If you're cool you'll know who Sailor Moon is.

She is a role model, an inspiration, and damn cool.

Infographic provided by CoffeeStained Studio
Aka the Mr.

August 15th is International Sailor Moon Day (or #ismd for short.)

So this amazing lady put on a show at Happy Harbor Comics about all things Sailor Moon.

Wands, brooches, bracelets, episodes, costumes, and movies galore.

And also cake pops.

Sailor Chibi-Moon with Space Time Key
Cotton Candy
Lots and lots of cake pops.

Sailor Venus with Love-Me Chain Hearts
Orange Creamsicle
And many many time consuming decorations to make.

Sailor Jupiter with Roses
Strawberry Lemon
And new flavours created.

First time I've done the above three flavours. The former were good but the ladder was amazing. Strawberry Lemon is a new fav for this girl.

Almost didn't make them. I seriously wanted to eat all the dough with spoon. Seriously.

Sailor Mars with Fire
Red Velvet
Lesson learned with these guys.

Doesn't matter how well you plan things can take a lot longer than you think and smash that plan to bits.

Sailor Mercury with Bubbles Blast
All these little decorations were planned to take one day. Instead they took 3.

Even with the new airbrush machine I got (and want to play with all the time.)

But it was worth it... Mostly.

Sailor Moon with Hair Pieces
This was the only Sailor Moon pop that got curls. They were stubborn to put on and kept falling off during packaging.

Also I overestimated the amount of people that were going to be there and made way to many.

Like I have lots in my freezer.

Lots for weeks. 

I didn't need to make the
Brigade of the Meatballs.
A few soldiers would have done.
I guess people will know what they are getting for presents for the next while.

But the best lesson learned: Having a solid idea in mind makes great results.

Sketch it out!
Always get those ideas out. Write them down, sketch, interpretive dance, whatever you need to do to get that down pat (who's Pat?)

Movie in a comic shop
Heck Yeah!