Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cupcake Fundraiser

Hey all! I'm such a bad blogger that when I logged on the other day I realized that ChefBliss tagged me in Luck/Resolutions...and it's February!!! I'm not going to tag anyone since it's so far past the new year, but here is mine!

1. That I move up in the bakery I work for so next year when the Sunnyside branch opens I can be one of the top dogs!
2. That no one comes into my work this year again and asks me to write on a cake for them lol
3. That I have more and more success with Pastel Cake & Pastry!

Resolutions made:
1. To continue to train for my first half-marathon on May 9th - I'm doing good so far!
2. To blog more consistently!
3. To have a cohesive menu for my future bakery by the end of the year.

Now for updates:

A few weeks ago, my brother's baseball team had a Crab Feed fundraiser. About 250 people showed up, and my job was to make the dessert: cupcakes! So with help from my friend Ashley and my parents, I whipped them out in no time and they were a success! Here are the pictures:

So many cupcakes! The only ones I "messed up" on were the hi-hats (above) because I didn't leave enough chocolate cupcakes to be frosted with the hi-hat buttercream (marshmallow in this case). Oh well! I ended up making these flavors: Red Velvet, Vanilla Vanilla, Chocolate Chocolate, Turtle, Triple Caramel, Snickerdoodle, Hi-Hats and PB&J. I realized that I like making cupcakes a lot more than big cakes because there is a lot less pressure!
I'll be back later today with another update: vegan cupcakes!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baked vegan donuts test

So many of you know that I plan on opening my own bakery someday (someday meaning in 47 years at the rate I'm going), but what a lot of people don't know is that it's not going to be any normal bakery. The whole menu is going to be based on alternative baking; i.e. gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, low calorie, low fat, etc. etc. Baked goodies are just too yummy to be missed out on just because you have an intolerance to gluten, or choose to not eat meat and animal products. Having become vegetarian myself about a month ago, I'm beginning to understand the need for this kind of baking. And the last thing I want to do if I have special dietary needs is go into a store and pick up prepackaged, preservative-laden, flash frozen pastries because that's the only thing available to me...VOMIT! So that's why this is part of my dream - I want to provide fresh and delicious baked goods to people who care enough about themselves to monitor what they do and do not put into their bodies.

That being said, here is a recipe I tested for my menu: vegan baked donuts! I first saw the recipe on Domestic Goddess' blog (can't find it now for some reason - help me out!). There is one ingredient that I couldn't track down: Ener-G Egg Replacer. I didn't have time to go to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or Market of Choice (where they probably have them), so I decided to research vegan egg replacers online. I found this great website that talked about why free-range eggs are not even good in terms of animal cruelty. They provided a list of healthy vegan alternatives to eggs in recipes, and even which substitutes work best in each type of recipe (breads, pancakes, quiches, puddings)!!! In the words of Paris Hilton: "LOVES IT!"

So I decided to test two different substitutes with the donut recipe: a flour mixture with oil and baking powder, and a mashed banana.

For both recipes, I topped the donuts with three different things: 1. A soy milk/powdered sugar glaze
2. The glaze + sprinkles (vegan!)
3. Dipped in vegan butter and rolled in cinnamon/sugar mixture

Now you may be asking, why do these "donuts" look like cupcakes? Well, let me tell you! The recipe said to use a donut pan - basically a pan with indented with donut-shaped holes. I couldn't find one anywhere! I know I could get it online if I wanted to, but I didn't want to a) spend the money, and b) wait 5 to 10 business days. Lol SO, I settled on a donut cutter from kitchen kaboodle for $1.67. EXCEPT, when I made the batter, it was too thin for the donut cutter so I settled on pouring the batter into a cupcake pan.

Which recipe turned out better? The flour mixture for sure. Take a look at these babies:

My favorite topping was the glaze. The donut was really cakey, like the hostess ones you can buy at the store. Next time I try this recipe I'm going to dip them in a chocolate coating...they'll be perfect!

Did I like the banana ones? Yes, they were very good as well (especially the cinnamon/sugar topped ones). But I was going for vegan baked donuts, not vegan banana bread. I only used 1/2 of a banana for the recipe, but it was definitely the main flavor when I tasted them. At least I have another recipe to add to the menu now too!!!

Next vegan adventure food for my cupcake menu: vegan chocolate cupcakes! Wish me luck!

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Here are a couple of pictures from the last few weeks:

My travel companion Ashley and absolutely loved the meringues we had in Paris, and when I got home I recreated them as soon as I could. I also tried some new flavors: cocoa and maple! The original flavor meringues turned out pretty well, and I liked how they dried up so they weren't gooey on the inside. Low calorie/low-fat? Definitely a recipe for the bakery!

For the holidays I made two types of cupcakes. The first is my favorite vanilla vanilla that I make all the time, but I added white sprinkles and a fondant snowflake to make it all winterish. The second is chocolate peppermint cupcakes...I hated them! Blech, they tasted like toothpaste! I guess I'm really not a mint and chocolate kind of girl (or mint anything unless it's gum or toothpaste). I love holiday baking, but boy am I glad it's over!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grandpa's Femmy Birthday Cake

Hey all, I'm back as promised! My Papa's birthday was on Tuesday, so I spent most of the day on Monday and Tuesday making it (and tearing apart my uncle's kitchen, who I was housesitting for at the time). I decided to do a two-tiered cake, one 12" and one 8". Little did I know that it serves 110 people! Considering there were only 35 people at his party, it was a big "whoops" on my part. The bottom layer is devil's food cake filled with whipped chocolate ganache (almost like a mousse texture) and frosted with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. The top layer is a brown sugar caramel cake filled and frosted with caramel swiss meringue buttercream. I only got a few pictures of it with my crappy phone, so sorry about the quality :(

Funny story about the top of the cake. My original idea was to write "Happy Birthday Dwaine" on the top, and I tried to...but it failed miserably. So first I tried to blot the letters to make it a sponge effect...no go. Next I tried to make fondant roses and cover it up that way...again, failure. Finally I settled on just covering it all up with fondant blossoms. It made the cake pretty feminine, but luckily no one cared. Everyone at the party thought the cake was a hat box. lol compliment? Not so sure...but it's finished!

More updates to come!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A very long, arduous update

Hello friends and fellow bloggers! It has been approximately 72 years since I last updated my blog, so I thought on this fine Sunday morning I would regail everyone with what I've been up to the last several months (plus, I'm unemployed now so I have a lot more free time). I'll get to Europe later, but for now I'll post some pictures of cakes/cookies/cupcakes I've done before and after I went to Europe. COMMENCE!

First, for my friend Tom's 21st birthday I made him a little monkey cake (inside joke with "monkey butt") Anyways, I saw a cake just like this on Baking Art's flickr site, but I changed a few things around.
The cake is a devils food cake filled with plantain buttercream and frosted with chocolate ganache. Word to the wise: do NOT work with plantains in cake unless you have ample experience with them. I was going to do a simple banana buttercream, but none of the bananas at the store were ripe enough, so I thought I'd pull a Top Chef move and use plantains instead. Well, little did I know they aren't the easiest to work with, and I thought the buttercream was disgusting. BUT, Tom said it tasted good...so that's all that matters, right? And here's an up close of my fondant monkey:

I tried to google a tutorial or something that would help me with it, but my iPhone wasn't cooperating and I was in a rush. I even made the monkey a cute bellybutton, but I had to cover it up with a banana so the arms wouldn't look so awkward. I need more practice, but I'm glad I've gotten started on figurines!

Next, while I was making my first wedding cake (pictures to be posted later), I was fooling around with some miniature cakes. Here is one that I whipped up...and any cake decorator will know that I used buttercream and not royal icing so my piping looks like crap:

I cut open the cake too! Not often do you see the "guts" of a cake on blogs like these (dark chocolate cake with espresso buttercream):

As soon as I got home from Europe, I had a baking itch that needed to be scratched!! So, I made pizza and ciabatta and cookies and cupcakes and lord oh mighty...I baked a lot. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of everything :(

I made sable cookies and soft ginger cookies first. The sable cookies I got from Tartelette's blog, and the ginger cookies from The Big Cookie Cookbook (or a name close to that). They both turned out well. I ended up using homemade apricot and apple jam that my parent's friends gave us - yumm-o!

Next, one of my mom's friends ordered cupcakes for her coworkers birthday, and voila! I made german chocolate cupcakes at her request. I finally found the perfect German chocolate frosting - not too eggy, not too caramelly. The King Arthur's Flour Baker's Companion has been very helpful lately.

For Thanksgiving, I made this pumpkin cream cheese pie from How To Eat A Cupcake. I love her blog...go check it out! It turned out well, and everyone liked it! My uncle always makes bomb apple pies for Thanksgiving too, so I made sure my pie stayed in the corner so I wouldn't steal his thunder :)
I've also finalized two more recipes for my cake/cupcake business: Turtle cupcakes and Triple Caramel cupcakes. This is my turtle cupcake above; chocolate cupcake with a piece of caramel baked in, topped with chocolate buttercream and caramel/pecan bits. Woohoo! If you want to see all the other cupcakes I have to offer, visit my other blog (work in progress people).
In the next few days, I'm going to update with:
My grandpa's (Papa!) birthday cake
More cupcakes
My European adventures with food
My first wedding cake experience
Get ready!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back from Europe

Back from European adventure - will update soon (i.e. tonight).  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On the Oregon trail...

I'm baaaacccckkkk!

It's been entirely too long! Where have I been you ask? Well, I'll tell you. For seven weeks I was a camp counselor at a weight loss camp in the Santa Barbara area. This was my third summer working there, but this year was a DRAG. Half of our staff got fired, so needless to say I had to work a little bit harder than usual and wasn't able to post...plus, I had no internet. But I'm back now, and that's all that matters! I couldn't survive without baking, so I went to my friend Desiree's house a few times throughout the seven weeks and baked cupcakes and cookies. I ended up trying two new recipes that were pretty good: triple strawberry cupcakes and molten chocolate cupcakes (I forget where I found the recipe). I also baked gooey butter cookies for my camp's evening snack one night, and they were a hit :)

After my work in SoCal was done, I journeyed up to NorCal with a friend and stayed with my aunt and uncle in San Francisco for a few days. I had a blast! We went to a musical called The Drowzy Chaperone, and I loved it so much that I'm going to make a cupcake named after it. My aunt also took me around to several different bakeries: Kara's Cupcakes, Noe Valley Bakery, Tartine, Urban Bread and Citizen Cake. When I pulled up to Citizen Cake Elizabeth Falkner was standing outside! She's a lot shorter in person. I was too nervous to say anything, but I got a few cookies from CC and they were delicious. Here's my critique of each place and what I purchased:

Kara's Cupcakes - The pictures on the website make the place seem really fancy and hoity-toity. While it is very cute inside, it's not as nice as the pictures make it seem. The floor was kind of dirty, and it made the rest of the place feel that way too. My aunt and I ordered four cupcakes: Kara's Karrot, Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Ganache, Meyer Lemony Lemon and Fleur De Sel. I didn't get to taste the carrot cake, but I'm sure it was good. The peanut butter milk chocolate ganache was okay - nothing special. The lemon cupcake had a pretty nice tang in the filling, but it wasn't overpowering. And the fleur de sel was excellent, but expect salt people! The ganache on top of the fleur de sel was to die for. One thing I loved about all the cupcakes was how MOIST they were...I even left them out overnight and ate them a day later! Yum yum.

Noe Valley Bakery - It was a cute and quaint little bakery, something a lot like I would want for my own. I ordered a lemon mousse cake and a red velvet cupcake. Unfortunately I didn't get to try either :( The lemon mousse cake was beautiful, with a butterfly-shaped chocolate transfer on top and gorgeous layers. I gave the cupcake to a friend, and he said it was delicious and gave it a 9.5 out of 10. Damn, I wish I would have tried it!

Tartine - According to my aunt and uncle, this bakery has become very popular and won a James Beard award. I enjoyed the atmosphere, and was able to watch the bakers decorate cakes while I waited in line! I ordered a meringue and a chocolate cake cup but I had my eye on their tarts - they looked delicious! With a lack of appetite and/or time to eat it, I settled for the small items. The meringue was okay, but not what I was expecting...it was too nutty for my taste. I liked the cake cup, but again not what I thought it would be - it looked like a reese's peanut butter cup but tasted like a bite of cake with a little ganache on top. It was kind of dry too :(

Urban Bread - Again, I didn't get to taste the bread (I just spent 7 weeks at fat camp, what do you expect?!?!) but the inside was cute. They had all bread, and some random cupcakes at the front counter. We bought the garlic cheese boulot, and it looks and smells amazing. From what I heard they also have some killer sourdough.

Citizen Cake - Very cute! Half of the building is a restaurant (dessert bar?) they recently opened, and the bakery section is very nice. I ordered a hazelnut cookie sandwich and a dulce de leche cookie. Both were very good...and messy!

I'm going to be doing a lot of baking and decorating this week, so hold on to your hats!!! I'll be back!