Monday, September 28, 2009

Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake

I think vanilla is underrated. When most people think of vanilla they think 'plain', 'boring', 'common'... and I must admit that's what I used to think too. Vanilla flavoured desserts never really seem to excite me. Until I discovered that the vanilla I thought was boring all along was flavoured with vanilla essence. Vanilla essence is basically the least flavourful of all the forms of vanilla. It's commercially modified so while it does flavour your sweets and make it smell nice, it really does lack that special oomph.

I didn't really understand the difference good/pure vanilla made until my patisserie course early this year when we cooked all our desserts with vanilla bean paste. Of course the richest flavour would come from using vanilla pods and scraping out the beans, but if you don't have that available or don't want to spend the extra cash, vanilla bean paste is just as good (in my humble taste bud's opinion).

Vanilla bean cupcake with creamy vanilla bean buttercream

Vanilla bean flavouring really turns desserts into something special, they give it a sweet, fresh smell and make it taste simply deletable. Vanilla will no longer be 'plain' or 'boring'! :)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not turning my nose up at chocolate (I love chocolate!). I'm simply saying, give vanilla a go :) Vanilla bean anyways... I challenge you to use vanilla bean paste instead of essence in your next baking adventure and really taste the difference :)

It's interesting how chocolate mud is my most popular flavour (i guess because there is just something about a decadent chocolate cake that makes people feel a bit naughty for indulging... and plus, hardly anyone ever turns down chocolate!) but when people come for cake tastings, my vanilla bean cake always steals the show.

Last weekend I made and delivered my first wedding cake - in vanilla bean flavour of course! The lovely Elva contacted me, her sister was getting married and she was so kind to be helping her sister plan the cake. They were unsure of the colours of the cake initially, but after debating over colour swatches and a bit of brainstorming, they decided to go with a deep pink and light pink for the base with silver ribbon detail. Simple but very pretty :)

The cake gods must have been smiling down on me when I delivered it. It was the most hassle free + traffic free delivery ever! It was however, a bit hard explaining to the staff at the Chinese restaurant in my very (and I mean VERY) broken Mandarin about how to cut the cake. In the end, with a lot of stuttering, hand signaling and a few people translating bits and pieces, we all understood each other.

The couple bought their own topper and it was a sweet finishing touch. Congratulations to the happy couple and I hope they have years and years of sweetness ahead of them :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everyone say Woof

In the last couple of weeks I've been pushed closer to the truth - that my 2 separate lives, one as a working professional and the other as a cake artist can not continue to co-exist without either driving me crazy or one of them going pear shaped.

So what do I do? I know what I truly want, and that is to design and create sugar art. People always ask me how I can manage to run this business on the side but honestly when I put the long hours into my decorating, it does not feel like work. Even when things go wrong, when I am frustrated or finishing off a cake at 5am in the morning, hardly being able to keep my eyes open, I still feel a sense of accomplishment and excitement when I see the finished creation.

My professional life is pretty exciting (at times) too. But I guess it just does not compare to the passion that I hold for my sweet creations. It's times like these that I dream about what I would do if I won lotto. Which is pretty unlikely to happen considering that I don't even know how to buy lotto! But I'd like to dream about getting myself enrolled into Le Cordon Bleu's Patisserie course and then maybe setting up my little cake empire :) Not before I go travelling around the world of course!

I suppose everyone would be doing their own thing if they won lotto so I shouldn't really be relying on lotto to make my dreams come true. I know one of my friends would definitely spend it all on travelling and exploring the world, and the other will unselfishly use it to make the world a better place.

I guess for now I can just continue to day dream :)

I have been thinking about making a dog cake for awhile. I always like to push myself into the deep end and this creation was no different. It was for my cousin's fiance's birthday and I think it's so great how my friends and family are always happy to be at the receiving end of my experiments.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out for my first attempt. The head was a little too big for the body but I suppose it gives the dog a 'cute' look. It was meant to look like my cousin's golden retriever but I don't think it really did. On the plus side, it did look like a dog!

Good dog! *pat pat*

Everyone say Woof!

Anyone want a slice of dog's butt?

Monday, September 7, 2009

J'adore Paris!

I love Paris and all things that are Paris related… maybe it's because the French produce some of the most beautiful looking and tastiest desserts in the world, or maybe it's because all the people in Paris seem to just give off an air of style and elegance, perhaps it's the cobbled side walks and the beautiful landscapes…. I'm not exactly sure what it is about Paris that I love so much but I'm sure the desserts and warm flakey croissants have a lot to do with it!

I've read on a few travel websites that people find the Parisians to be snobby and rude, but when I was there last year, it was nothing like that! They were happy to help us out and also entertain my friend's attempt at speaking French :)

My favourite part of my whole Paris trip aside from the yummy patisseries was watching the sun set from the top of the Eiffel Tower and returning to the ground to find the tower glittering in lights. It was windy and freezing but so worth it.

I've had this Paris inspired design in my head now and it has changed a lot from when I have first sketched it. For the longest time, it felt like something was missing from it… then last week I had a light bulb moment about what to add to it and then it suddenly all came together.

A little mood board for Paris inspired sweets

And some past Paris inspired sweets I have made...

It's a gingerbread Eiffel Tower :)

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