WE'VE MOVED

Hello!

Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!

Sincerely,
Syl

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kurt and Diana

Our friends got married this past weekend. And let us tell you, we have been waiting for this ever since they graduated, found great jobs, bought a house, and became engaged. To us, it felt like they were already husband and wife, but it's still fun to throw a party!

We were asked to help out with the cupcakes and cake topper for their wedding. You can tell we're good friends because Diana wanted a cupcake tower instead of the traditional tiered wedding cakes. Not only that, but Kurt was pretty adamant that we could blog (see? good friends know we would love to blog) about this because it would be our first big cupcake project. So we planned for this months in advance. We looked at designs, we discussed colour co-ordinations, and ordered materials online.

We all agreed that something simple showing off the colours of the wedding - red, black, and white - would be best. Howard and I made the monogrammed fondant hearts that would top the cupcakes. We had a rolling pin, a Silpat, a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and alphabet stamps. We churned these out pretty quick on a Sunday and left them out to dry. We had icing sugar dusted on top of parchment paper for the hearts to lay on. We didn't want them to stick together and we wanted them to be stiff enough to stand upright on the buttercream.

If you're also going the D.I.Y. route, we recommend having your fondant decorations made at least 1-2 weeks in advance (just in case some need a re-do, you'll have time). They don't go bad as long as you store them in a cool, dry area. Don't seal them in airtight containers if you want them to harden.

Diana, bless her, baked all the chocolate cupcakes. Comparing ovens, their's was much bigger than ours and would be able to do larger batches at once. On the day before their wedding rehearsal, Diana had all 200 cupcakes cooled and ready for us.

They would still have to be made in small batches since a home oven can only fit so much, but another way to save time is to use cake mix. We loved that Diana and Kurt were all about D.I.Y., and sometimes, you just have to pick the easier route!

Here we are at almost half point! Howard was in charge of dusting the extra icing sugar off the fondant hearts. I was in charge of making batches of vanilla buttercream and swirling.

Oy how my arm ached after all that piping!

We love how they look all aligned!

Wedding cupcake army!

To transport the cupcakes, Kurt and Diana bought bakery boxes. They each have inserts to hold 24 cupcakes. This made them easy to carry and place in the car.

In order to have a cake cutting photo, we also made a 7 x 7 inch cake to go on the top of the cupcake tower. This was a baked from scratch cake (small indulgences are nice), vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream (groom's favourite flavours).

We covered it in fondant and the decorations are also made from fondant. We kept the colours to the theme of the wedding and used yellow stamens for an extra pop.

I think transporting the cake was the toughest thing we did. The cake board was the same size as the cake, so there was no leeway at all. If the cake slid to the side of the carrier, we were done for! Luckily, the cake was quite heavy (circulation in my legs were nearly cut off during the car ride to the banquet hall) and didn't move a bit.

Here we are! Kurt, Diana, and some members of the wedding party did a great job setting up the night before.

Now, this was our turf. Diana's father made the cupcake stand from scratch! Pretty amazing right? It was a wooden stand, painted white, and Diana bought red ribbon to wrap each tier with.

Sigh! We really liked how there was a spotlight on the cakes in front of the head table. Gave it a really nice glow!

Pretty no? The colours worked really well together to feature red, black, and white. Black cupcake liners, chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream, and red fondant hearts.

KD! KD! KD!

The question that comes to mind now is... would we do this again? Granted, we had tremendous help from the bride and groom this time. On our own, with our tinier oven and smaller space, it could have been very frustrating. Let's just say, we're very grateful for this experience. Thank you KD for giving us the opportunity!

The next question that comes to mind... would we do this for our own wedding (if or when Howard does propose)? I don't know! I love the idea of baking for our guests, so I'm leaning towards yes. But it does take a lot of time and a lot of energy. Howard and I were tired when we finished the cupcakes and the cake. So maybe we wouldn't make as many as 200 cupcakes! This experience made us truly appreciate the skills of bakers who make large beautiful wedding cakes on a daily basis!

Here are our tips for those who are thinking of doing this:
  1. PLAN ahead. Look for sales on cake and frosting ingredients.
  2. Pick a simple design if you're doing large quantities.
  3. Make things in advance if possible (fondant decorations and even certain cakes can be stored in freezers).
  4. If possible, make extras - you never know what might happen! It's good to have extra backups on hand.
  5. Ask friends and families to help - it's not a problem and most people are happy to!
Oh, and guess what they got for their guests? Towels wrapped up to look like a cupcake for the wedding favour! Cute right?

Congratulations to Kurt and Diana, to many more years of good food and chocolate! Cheers!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yellow Cakes

Happy long weekend everyone! We're pretty ecstatic to have a break. Work has been kind of crazy for me - but in a good way. New projects and things to learn. Howard and I also have a wedding to attend next week. So it'll be another short week as we've taken a day off to help out. Stay tuned to see how we churn out 200 cupcakes and a square cake to go on top of the cupcake tower!

I hope you're out enjoying the nice weather, it's pretty rare here in Toronto. In fact, this is the first time this year that I've busted out shorts and a T-shirt. No cardigan or shawl required! This is nice...

Oh and I learned something new last night. Hershey's Chipits pure white chocolate baking chips are not easy to melt over a double boiler. And whatever you do, don't listen to the instructions on the bag. It says to melt a cup of white chocolate chips in the microwave for two minutes. Two! I thought it was too high and tried one minute and now I can tell you from experience that it will burn, turn black, and bubble before it hits the one minute mark. I'm still having nightmares about it. Every time I use my microwave, I can still smell burnt white chocolate.

Thank you to those who heard my cries of help on twitter, your advices were all very helpful!

Despite that mishap, I tried a new cake recipe today and for the first time, baked it sheet style. I will admit, I need more practice making cakes. I find them so much harder to make compared to my beloved cupcakes.

Does anyone know why yellow cake is called yellow cake? It doesn't have a "yellow" flavour, so why isn't it just called a vanilla cake?

Yellow Cake
(Makes about three sheets of 1 x 9 x 13)

2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup of milk
  1. Preheat your oven to 177°C (350°F) and line the bottom of your pans with parchment paper.
  2. Using a mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. On a low speed, add the vanilla, and the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  5. Alternate adding the flour/baking powder and milk in three batches.
  6. Mix until well combined on medium speed.
  7. Divide your batter evenly and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Remember to allow the cakes to cool before releasing them from the pans, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  9. Flip the cakes over onto another pan or cake board. Peel away the parchment paper.
  10. Yellow cake basically goes with any frosting flavour, so whip up your favourite one.
I trimmed out two cakes from the sheets, one 5 x 5 inches and one 5 x 4 inches. I love how I was able to get the thin layers of cake this way. It beats using a cake leveler!

The square cake was frosted with chocolate buttercream, iced with chocolate ganache, and topped with strawberries. My mom said in horror "chocolate and more chocolate?" Yes. =)

The rectangle cake was frosted with lime buttercream, something my parents can handle. This was piped on in logs and I didn't cover the sides. The citrus kick is making this weekend feel summery. Cheers!

Yikes, it just occurred to me... there are two cakes in front of me and six days before our friend's wedding. It's very likely that I'll be holding my breath when I put on my dress for their big day.

So how have you been doing? If you're a new visitor to my blog, welcome! I recently noticed that we now have over 900 likes on facebook and over 1,500 followers on twitter. That is pretty awesome! Thank you for staying in touch with us online, and please don't be shy, say hello or ask us a question if something on our blog isn't clear. =)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts

I bought a new toy a couple of weeks ago. And by toy, I mean baking equipment. I needed to use my gift certificate, so it's shopping without really spending money. You know, the best kind of shopping. ;)

So here I was on a rainy Saturday afternoon looking at my new mini doughnut pan, wondering should I use it? Do I break off the packaging?

Yes, I think I will. There is also a recipe on the back of the packaging and look, I have all of the ingredients.

Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts
(Makes about 24 mini doughnuts)

1 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon of melted butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 218°C (425°F). Spray mini doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add in buttermilk, egg, and butter. Stir until combined.
  4. Fill each doughnut cup to half full (very important!).
  5. Bake 4-6 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Don't worry if the top of the doughnuts are not as golden brown as the bottom ones. (Colour is not an indication of doneness.)
  6. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing.
  7. Glaze or sugar your doughnuts.

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup of confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Use immediately to glaze doughnuts.
I dipped my doughnuts into the bowl, you can pipe or spoon the icing on. If you like, sprinkle your doughnuts right after you glaze them. I waited until the icing set a bit and then dipped it into a bowl of sprinkles.

So there you have it, my first experience in making baked doughnuts! The taste and texture of these were okay, but I would recommend seeking out other doughnut recipes. These didn't blow me away and were oddly chewy, but they are really cute and fun to make.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day




Mom, I look up to you everyday. - Sylvia
Happy Mommy's Day. - Howard

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On a Stick!

First, there would be no drooling of food-on-a-stick photos or book review if it wasn't for Matt. I liked that he calls us readers his "food blogging friends." Second, thank you to Eric Smith from Quirk Books and Jessica Scott from Random House of Canada for sending us a review copy of Matt Armendariz's On a Stick!


ISBN 13: 978-1594744891
ISBN 10: 1594744890
Publisher: Quirk Books
Paperback: 184 pages

The first thing I did when I got the book was look up page 142 to see what Matt was eating too much of. Ahh, it all made sense now. Recently, I had been asking around to see who had a deep fryer, because friends should let friends have have deep-fried food parties.

Let me rewind and tell you that this book intrigued me because:
a.) it is by Matt of MattBites.com, who takes beautiful food photos,
b.) I was having food on-a-stick withdrawal (or maybe it's fried-food-that-I-shouldn't-be-eating withdrawal), and
c.) there is a section for Sweet Foods on a Stick.

So guess which section I took my recipe testing from? Yes the sweet section, page 140: Decorated Sugar Cookies. Being a baking and dessert blog, I thought it made sense that I took it upon myself to test this sweets-on-stick business out.

I have to admit, I didn't follow the exact instructions. The cookbook suggests Popsicle sticks while I used candy sticks. It also said to insert the Popsicle sticks after the cookies are baked and while they're still warm on the cooling rack. I inserted the candy sticks into the cookie dough before baking them:

Luckily, they didn't burn, and I really trusted that they would be fine. If you don't want to take that risk, please do it Matt's way. Although, I do believe you can have a bit of fun and leeway when you're creating party food. ;)

Matt also includes a recipe for decorating icing, which I didn't add (the cookie eaters at my house don't want too much sugar).

Let's go through the rest of the cookbook too. Matt starts out with an introduction to sticks and skewers along with dips and sauces. He provides 10 stick and skewer suggestions, which come in a range of different materials (food and man-made). The recipes for the dips and sauces are provided throughout the cookbook, paired with the right food. Each recipe introduction is well written, infused with Matt's humour and voice. It shines through and you can relate the writing style back to his blog.

The savory foods on a stick is obviously more dominant in this book, and I found that most recipes required a grill/grill pan or a heavy pot with vegetable oil (or a handy deep fryer).

Over all, I will be whipping this book out when I finally have a deep fry party or when it's barbecue season here in Toronto! The recipes are fun and easy to do, especially with a group of friends.

Favourite recipes to look out for? Bo La Lot, Chicken and Waffles, Deep-Fried Mac 'n' Cheese, Elote, Fried Mozzarella, Berries 'n' Buttermilk Smoothie Ice Cream Pops, Fresh Mango and Chili Powder, and Fudge Puppies. I know, it was hard to narrow down!

Quirky, no? This isn't icing or fondant, it was made on www.picnik.com when I was feeling goofy. =)