Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's a Bittersweet Affair...

Last week, I headed to Edmonton for another "pick up supplies and get ready for fall" trip. I also spent some time visiting my sister and her family, before we headed all together for a trip to Medicine Hat, Alberta to visit my uncle and grandmother. 
This was a difficult trip... you see, my grandmother, who is 87, is suffering from dementia. It has been hard to see her health declining over the past 5 years. I am EXTREMELY close to my grandmother. She is the ONE who shared her love of baking with me and taught me over the years all her secrets and knowledge. She was not only my mentor, but my best friend, confidant, baking "soul mate", and second "mother". She was there for ALL the important times of my life from infant up until now. It was finally during this visit, that I realized the Gram I knew was "gone", she had failed to recognize me. We can no longer talk recipes or baking or just chit chat in general. THAT IS GONE!!! The best I can do is to sit beside her in silence and support her.
Just before I left, I was given her coveted bread pan and  prized collection of cookbooks. I have tried to look at them, but I CAN NOT... it is just too painful. You see, I have NEVER looked at those cookbooks ALONE, it was always in the company of my grandmother. I am just not ready yet to look at them by myself. Perhaps.. one day. Below is one of my favorite photos of both my grandmother and I, on my wedding day 15 years ago.

Onto more cheery things, we created this beautiful rustic country theme wedding this past weekend. Wedding cake was rusic iced, and adorned with burlap flowers, lavender and baby's breath.

Here is another view of the cake table. I ABSOLUTELY love this the cake display. The bride chose this antique cupboard to display her wedding cake along with a burlap and lace table runner. A big shout out to Flowers by Charene for the gorgeous work decorating the venue.

Blue & White Skull 'n Crossbones Baby Shower cupcakes for a baby boy.

Just a  few of the cupcakes we delivered to The Canadian Grind this week. Below are Triple Chocolate Cupcakes and Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Sculpting We Will Go...

Well... it's been ANOTHER busy week here. With the usual cupcakes, we also created some wedding cupcakes and two sculpted cakes. On ANOTHER note, remember last week when I was discussing the idea of a storefront. Well.... there has been a slight development. My husband and I decided that in fact we will ONE day, (and I mean ONE day) we will have a storefront that will house both our business'.  One half will be devoted to our environmental business, and the other half will be my cake shop. NOW, when will this be? Not for a while.. we have to find the right location, or maybe even build a place. Right now, it's just been in the "planning" stages, but will keep you posted on any new developments.

Here are the cupcakes and cakes of the week...

Created this 21 window VW bus for a couple celebrating their 10th wedding aniversary.  Cake was all hand sculpted and the figurines were modeled from sugarpaste.

Another hand sculpted Toronto Maple Leaf Corset cake created for a client's husband's birthday.

Carrot Cupcakes and Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Seashells.

 Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with sugarpaste flowers and Lemon Zest cupcakes topped with candy lemon wedges.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Here we go.. doing it again!

Here we go again, blogging for the second time.. think if I set aside a time each week i.e. Sunday mornings when it is quiet, I can get this done. Anyway, this week we were busy completing cupcakes for The Canadian Grind (a local coffee/craft shop) in Fort St John. We also had a large 60th birthday cupcake order (no pics.. sorry), plus a wedding cake. 

As I said in my last post last weekend, business has been REALLY busy this past year.. which is GREAT, but it can have it's downside. Even though I have been super busy, I have been in a bit of a rut (business rut, that is). I need to make some decisions, but don't know which direction to go. Since I have become sooo busy lately, it has been harder and harder to keep up with orders and unfortunately I have had to turn away sooo many people (which I really hate doing!!!)  People keep on telling me to hire help (easy, right???). Well, NO! I tried that, but since we are located 25 minutes north of Fort St John, people seem to think that is too far to travel. AND, I don't need someone full time, just a couple of hours 3x a week. Unfortunately NO ONE will travel and work for that, so I am STUCK! 

Open a business in town????? Hmmm... that is nice idea, but right now I have kids at home, an acreage to maintain, my husband's environmental business to help run.. you see the pic? Plus, during the school year, my kids go to a rural school that is outside of town. They catch the bus at 7AM and then I have to drive and pick them up from the bus stop at 3:30PM. I would have to close up shop in the afternoon to pick them up. Sorry.., you can't run a business like that.

So what to do??? Move to town, relocate not ONE business, but TWO businesses (my husband's business needs a shop and large area for equipment and machinery), change schools for my kids AGAIN. HMMM....NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. A lot of people tell me, "Oh, just wait until the kids are out of school and  that go at it." Hmmm... I will be 50+ then and, I don't know about you,  but I don't really want to be start ramping up a business, that's when I want to start slowing down.

So you see.. that is where I am at! I have been pondering, pulling my hair out, losing sleep and wracking my brain out for a solution, and STILL haven't come to a solution. So while I STILL ponder a solution, here are some of the cupcakes/cakes of the week.

 Red Velvet and Lemon Tart Cupcakes for The Canadian Grind

Chocolate Cookies n Cream and Strawberry Cupcakes for The Canadian Grind

This summer has been nothing but RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN. Every weekend for the past month has been raining. Delivering wedding cakes in the rain is not the greatest, however,  I box all my cakes up so that way they don't get wet. This weekend was no exception... just prior to delivery, we were experiencing thunder and lightening. Up here in Fort St John, about 50% of the weddings are outdoor tent weddings.   Needless to say, with this year's weather conditions, tent weddings have been less than ideal.   During a heavy downpour we delivered this 3 tier fondant ruffled wedding cake to an outside country wedding north of Fort St John located in the local fair grounds. Fresh purple flowers were added to the cake upon delivery. The reception tent was beautifully decorated with log accents, wooden accents, white linens and additional purple flowers. It looked lovely! It had a definite "country" feel!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm BACK!!!!

Yes... after several months of MIA, I am back again. No, I did not stop making cakes, just stop blogging. Been SUPER, INSANELY BUSY since March and finding time to write in a BLOG seemed just ONE MORE THING to do. Right?  Pretty sad excuse, huh??? Well, lately I have been thinking that I HAVE TO MAKE TIME to blog again. Another reason, is that to me my life seems pretty boring and redundant. Really, all I do is make cakes, look after my kids and hubby's business and take care of an acreage. Week AFTER week AFTER week AFTER week.. you get the picture. So here we go again. I am hoping to BLOG at least 1-2x a week.

This has to be ON RECORD one of the MOST BUSIEST'S years on record for me. The demand for cupcakes have taken off and I seem to do more of them than cakes. Unfortunately, with increased business I have had to turn down sooo many orders.  THERE IS ONLY ONE OF ME!!! Can't do everything, right?  The month of July was no exception.. Here are just a "few" of the cakes and cupcakes we did this month.

We created this square cake and cupcakes with dark purple blossoms for a wedding in Rolla, just outside Dawson Creek.  

This 3 tier all white cake was adorned with artificial flowers provided by the bride. The wedding day was EXTREMELY hot, with even hotter temperatures inside the wedding tent. I was very worried that it would melt after setting it up, however, I later received an email from the bride saying the cake had survived and she loved how it turned out.  The bride wrote,

``I just wanted to say that the cake was absolutely, amazingly couldn't ask for a more delicious gorgeous cake. Job well done you are truly an artist :) thank you so much very appreciated.``

Created this 4 tier all white wedding cake wrapped in black ribbon topped with a sugarpaste hot pink bow and draping ribbon. The bride provided a bling brooch to decorate the bow. We received these comments:
The bride wrote me: "Thank you, it looked beautiful and was delicious :)" . One of the guests even commented, "Yes this cake was incredible!!!!! Beautiful and tasted great!!"

This was the biggest cupcake wedding I have created yet. We created  300 cupcakes and a small round wedding cake. Each cupcake was decorated with a small sugarpaste plaque featuring the bride and groom's initials. I was a bit worried I wouldn't have enough room for all the cupcakes. As you can see, the cupcakes covered every inch of the table.

Hunter Orange and Camo Colored Bridal Shower Cupcakes

Bridal Shower Cupcakes decorated with Hot Pink Sugarpaste Blossoms and sprinkled with Silver Dragees

 Baby Shower Cupcakes with Pink and Purple Polka Dots

Every year for the past 5 years I have been making birthday cakes and cupcakes for a regular client. He calls every year and orders treats for his girlfriend. This year I created these birthday cupcakes with Dark Purple Sugarpaste Blossoms and Miniature Daisies.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

You Asked, We Answered February 2013

Once again, this month for our weekly Tasty Thursday Facebook draw, we asked YOU to ASK the  question regarding anything CAKE related. 

What is your favorite cupcake and what is your favorite cupcake/cake/or other pastry to make? 
My favorite cupcake would probably be lemon and my favorite cake combination would be either lemon with lemon curd or lemon with raspberry filling. Other than cakes,  I also making pies, especially pumpkin pies and homemade cinnamon buns. 

For example the cakes in the bridal fair, how many layers of cake to each tier? And do you ever make posts for YouTube on decorating?  
Each tier is composed of ONE individual cake which is then split into layers.  All my cakes are composed of 4 layers of cake with 3 layers of filling which is then frosted in buttercream and covered in fondant. As for YouTube, I have only 1 post and that has been my recent interview on Shaw TV.

What is your most popular cake design and flavor to date? Is there a flavor that you can't help but have a weakness for when your baking?  
At this moment, I don`t really have a popular design, it just depends on what the customer orders. My most popular flavor requested right now is RED VELVET. Again, my personal favorite flavor is lemon or lemon poppy seed with either homemade raspberry filing or lemon curd. YUMMMM!!!

I have been a fan of your Red Velvet Cupcakes for many years. What do you use to make them red? 
We use red food coloring paste. Some recipes vary with the amount of red food coloring used.. from a whole bottle to a tsp. We try to limit the amount of food coloring we use. 

How far in advance should I order a birthday cake? 
It depends... during wedding season, from May-September, I would recommend a month in advance. Other times 1-2 weeks in advance.

I found I lost my sweet tooth as I got older and began to appreciate different frosting's. I cannot stand much of the sickly sweet frosting's on many children cakes but I have my daughters birthday coming up. What are some great frosting choices out there that are not over the top sweet and appeal to adults and children alike? 
I, personally like Italian Meringue Buttercream. It is not too overly sweet and is silky smooth...most adults prefer this. Most children, however, are not too overly fond of type of icing, because it not as sweet as the frosting's typically found on children`s cakes. However, it really depends on child, since my children like it, but that`s probably because it is the ONLY one I make. 
 How do you get the fondant so perfectly smooth? 
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Another thing is get your buttercream as smooth as possible under your fondant first before you cover your cake in fondant. Plus using a fondant smoother helps in give you a smooth surface too. 

What's the most unique cake decor you've ever undertaken?! Would love to see a pic too!
Probably the most unique cake I have have made was the mustache cake. A client requested me to make this for her father-in-law`s birthday. Apparently he had really ``unique`` mustache.  

I've had buttercream separate before. Is it from adding too much liquid? How do I prevent this? Usually if your buttercream is cold, your buttercream will separate and you will see liquid in your bowl. That happens to me too.. If you let your buttercream warm up to room temperate first, and then beat it really well, it will all come back together again. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Questions & Answers January 2013

This week as part of my Tasty Thursday cupcake draw, I had my FACEBOOK followers ask questions related to the cake decorating/biz department,. NOW, I don't pretend I know everything, cause well... I don't, but I do try my best to answer them.

What is the hardest cake design you have decorated?
That is a hard question, cause over the past years I have had a number of challenging cakes. Probably one of the most challenging cakes was this two tone purple and white cake. I had to divide each section at an angle and airbrush it a deep purple. It was REALLY difficult not to get too much over spray on the white section. Plus, when I was making the drapes, I needed an extra set of hands to help hold the drapes in place. Thankfully, I had my step-mother who happened to be visiting, step in and give me a hand. The other challenging thing about this particular cake was the flowers. I didn`t know what kind of flowers they would be UNTIL I went to the venue. They turned out to be lilacs. I am VERY ALLERGIC to lilacs. I spent a max of 5 min in the room, but already I was reacting to them. Unfortunately,  I didn`t have time to spend recovering from the reaction, since I had to back to the shop and start working on a wedding cake for the next day.

What can be used for a dye substitute for icing?
This can be difficult, especially in today's age with so many people being sensitive to food color. Personally, I have an issue too, since my son is extremely sensitive to red food coloring. We stay away from any colored drinks, candy, etc. In fact, colored juice is non-existent in our house. The only thing I can suggest that is for brown icing one can use cocoa,  strawberry/raspberry juice for pink icing and lemon rind gives a yellowish color. Other than that it's really hard to get a real deep color without using dyes.

How long have you been in business for? and also you use your gramma's recipes, now with cupcakes and cake being so popular and now with every flavor, do you find you are adjusting your recipes into the new flavors? like keeping the base the same but adding?
We opened up for business in May 2007. We still continue to use alot of my grandmother`s recipes, for most of our cakes and cupcake recipes. For some recipes, like our spice and lemon cake, I have adjusted our vanilla cake recipe. Since we don`t use box mixes as a base, all our recipes are from scratch, having come from many hours of searching, testing and tweaking.

What is the easiest way to cut calories in cake while keeping exceptional flavor?
One way is to use applesauce for some of the fat, but then you might not always get the same results. Your cake may be heavier and denser. You can also use artificial sweeteners, but again, you may not get the same desired results. Personally, for me, cake is a dessert and is meant to be sweet. If you are looking to cut calories, I would either eat a smaller piece or just not eat it at all.

When you make cherry flavour cake or icing, what do you use to flavour it?
I use cherry juice for flavoring.

You work out of your home, or do you have a shop somewhere in town?
At the moment, we are a home-based business, by appointment only. We work out of a second kitchen licensed by the city of Fort St John and health inspected by Northern Health, separate from the rest of the house. I would LOVE to have a shop in town, however, right now it`s not feasible with my children attending a rural school. I would have to close up shop at 2:30 everyday to go and pick them up from the bus. Unfortunately, we do not have access to child care either.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Looking back over the year 2012 and I must say it was an AMAZING year. We continued to design numerous wedding and celebration cakes, but we also saw an upswing in the local cupcake market. Many exciting things happened this year.  
  • First, I travelled to Kitchener, ON in April and was able to take a cake sculpting and chocolate modelling course with Karen Portaleo of the Highland Bakery.

  • Secondly, we were featured on 3 different television interviews. We were featured on CJDC-TV, Shaw TV and then most recently we did a Christmas cupcake decorating how-to once more on CJDC-TV. 
  • Thirdly, in the fall of this year, we were asked to be the sole provider of gourmet cupcakes to local coffee shop, The Canadian Grind.

Looking ahead to 2013, proves to be another exciting year. Once again, I have the opportunity to take additional training in the art of cake sculpting and working with other sugar mediums.

Recently on Facebook, I asked those who LIKED our page to post any questions regarding caking, baking or the business of cakes, and I would do my BEST to answer them. I thought this would be a neat way to end off an amazing year. So here goes...

Does your family ever get tired of cupcakes and cake?
YES, YES, YES,.... need I say more. I personally have never been a fan of cake or icing, which is probably the result of having very few sweets when growing up as a child. Money was tight in the 80's, so treats were limited to birthdays and Christmas.  I would much rather have a tea biscuit and I always have pumpkin pie for my birthday. My family has never been cake fans either. My husband loves having a peach pie for his birthday. My daughter pretty much loves anything chocolate and my son would rather forget the cake thing and just have pizza. As you can imagine, this is REALLY hard when it comes to trying new recipes, since I have a hard time getting taste testers.

If you had to choose one decorating technique and one tool you can't live without, what would it be?
 1) My top and most favorite decorating tool is my AGBAY cake leveller and slicer.  This tool levels the tops of your cake and splits them evenly. No more hand slicing and lopsided cakes. Best investment EVER!

2) My "latest" favorite decorating technique is using silicone molds. The opportunities are endless. Molds come in a variety of styles... lace, buttons, figures, flowers, objects. Plus, I have now learned to create silicone molds when I want to replicate an original item. Awhile back I was creating an RCMP grooms Red Serge cake and I wanted to replicate the badges on the uniform. Luckily, I had come across some in a thrift store a long time ago, so I was able to create a mold of the exact badge and make them out of sugarpaste.

What is the best way to icing cupcakes or cake without pulling the cake up with the icing?
Let your cake completely cool after baking and let it "rest" for at least 24 hrs before icing. I once tried baking and icing a cake all within the same day and my cake was so fluffy that it fell apart while trying to ice it. After letting it "rest", I then take some icing and "crumb" coat the cake. You basically take some icing and lightly cover your cake surface to seal in all those loose crumbs. Let that chill for about 1/2 hr and then go back and put the final coat of icing on your cake .
What are the best substitutes for common baking ingredients that you may have on hand?

Here are a list of the most common substitutions:
1 cup milk... 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
1 oz chocolate... 3 tbsp. cocoa + 1 tbsp butter,margarine or shortening
1 cup butter... 1 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar... 1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk.... 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice added to milk to make 1 cup
1 cup buttermilk.... 1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sour cream.. 1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup skim milk... 3 tbsp skim milk powder + 1 cup water
1 whole egg...2 egg whites
1 cup whole eggs... 5 large eggs
1 cup egg whites... 8-9 egg whites
1 cup egg yolks... 12 egg yolks
1 tsp baking powder... 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup pastry flour... 1 cup less 2 tbsp all purpose flour, without sifting
1 cup honey... 1 1/4 granulated sugar + 1/4 cup liquid
1 cup corn syrup... 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup liquid
Juice of 1 lemon...3-4 tbsp bottled lemon juice

Are there cookie sheets you recommend? My cookies always seem to dark on the bottom. It most likely is an operator error but I'm blaming the cookie sheets.
I use heavy aluminum cookie sheets. I do not use the non-stick pans you readily find in department stores. I purchase my cookie sheets in specialty stores that sell commercial cooking equipment. Also, I line all my pans with parchment paper. This saves you having to grease your cookie sheets.


What's your favorite thing to make? Cupcakes, cookies, or cake?
That's a hard question... but probably decorated cookies would be my least favorite. I enjoy baking both cakes and cupcakes but for different reasons. Cupcakes are fast and easy to make so I enjoy making them for these reasons. Out of cakes, I enjoy making wedding cakes the best. Even though they are MORE STRESSFUL when dealing with structural factors (making sure the cake is level, dowelled properly and sturdy) and delivery (getting it there in one piece, especially when driving our rutty and rough Northern BC roads), but I LOVE the overall beauty and elegance of a wedding cake.

When you icing a cake that is going to have fondant on do you do a dirty icing first? And I have been told never put a cake in the fridge to cool it down, because it will dry it out? Is that true?

As stated above, I always crumb coat (or "dirty ice") my cake first, then after chilling to seal in the crumbs, I put on another final coat of buttercream. I then let the final coat chill before applying my fondant. I know some people just crumb coat their cakes before applying the fondant, but I PERSONALLY like applying an additional layer of buttercream for those people who do not prefer the taste of fondant. PLUS, the cake tastes yummier, anyway!

To the second part of the question, NO!!!!, do not place your cakes in the fridge to cool down. Once you take them out of the ovens and pans, let them cool on a wire rack on your counter and then wrap them securely in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture. Letting them cool in the fridge WILL dry out your cake.

I would like to thank all our clients, family and friends for such a successful 2012 and wish them a HAPPY NEW YEAR!