Tuesday, 25 September 2007


Whilst I know I'm not the only one who insists on fitting 32 hours worth of activities into 24, how come everyone else manages to appear sooo cool, calm and... organised whilst doing it! I barely manage to contain my state of mayhem beneath the thinnest of veneers... and that's on a GOOD day!
Big deep breath...
I should point out, that I take full responsibility for the Kaos that is my life; I do this to myself! "Mum, can I join another basketball team?" "sure", "Mum, can I take up rowing" "why not", "Mum, can I start guitar lessons?" "absolutely honey", "Kate, are you going to enter the corporate cup" "okay"... and that's only a fraction of it. Between Monkey One and Monkey Two there is: basketball teams x 6 (plus training sessions), a netball team, horse riding lessons, guitar lessons, rowing training and school tutoring (to name a few).
Then there's the everyday logistics of work, life, school, and housework (I'm sure my children generate more dirty laundry per kilogram of body weight than any other children on the planet), not to mention my OCD like obsession with having a neat (and clean) house... (sigh)
Soooo in my infinite wisdom I decided to compound this by adding the Corporate rowing challenge to the mix, taking up running again and then volunteering to make cupcakes to raise funds for the cause!!!!!!
Oh well... at least I can never say life is boring!

Fundraiser Cupcakes

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Activities Other Than Cupcakes!

I know this may be hard to believe but this week my attention has been on pursuits outside the world of cupcakes (much to the disgust of the hungry workmates... only two batches this week and it's already Thursday).
In the name of a good cause, I have spent the week learning how to row (feel free to laugh... it has been an entirely amusing endeavour)!!!
This year our company has entered two teams in a Corporate rowing event.. and in a moment of complete insanity I volunteered to row! Why is it insanity... well because we started training on Monday and the race is in 3 weeks (and 2 days) time!!!!! Nothing like a bit of fast tracking!!!!!
To be fair I should point out that pretty much all the teams are in the same boat (pun intended).... and are equally as unskilled as my team mates and I. But this does not make it any less nerve racking nor decrease the likelihood that, before this is all over, I will up going for an unintentional dip in the Barwon River!
To illustrate my point... last night our crew was running a little late getting out onto the river; so much so that most of the other crews were on their way back in as we pushed off. Thinking about it now, I am pretty sure that they were on their way back in because someone in their boat had actually thought to look up and check the colour of the storm clouds about to engulf the entire city.. we on the other hand had not!
In our enthusiasm to put into practice the skills that we had learnt on Monday evening, we set off down the river, straight into the path of a deadly thunder storm (complete with forked lightening and gale force winds)!
We lasted about 15 minutes on the water (just long enough to get a serious distance away from home) before our cox started to get the jitters and demanded that we turn around and head back to the boat sheds. Keep in mind here that when in the boat, he faces the opposite direction the rest of us, so he could see what we could not, and his eyes were beginning to get VERY VERY large! It wasn't until we turned the boat and actually looked up at the sky that we saw the enormous wall of jet black cloud and lightening hitting the hills in the (not so distant) distance.
I should point out that we are a crew of 5 (4 rowers, 1 cox) and up until this point our coach had only allowed us to row in pairs (whilst the other pair used the oars like outriggers to stabilise the boat). Upon seeing this wall of darkness bearing down on us, we decided it was time to fast track our training and give it a crack with all 4 of us rowing... good in theory but it is easier said than done!
In our defence we were actually going okay until about 10 strokes in when a wind of gale proportions swept through behind. At this exact moment our rower in second seat caught a crab and fell off his seat, forcing my (stroke) oar into the water; at which point I lost a footstrap, nearly fell backwards out of the boat and came within a whisker of kicking our cox in the face!!!!!!!!!!!
For any one watching from the river side, this would have looked hysterical... but luckily (or perhaps unluckily) for us the onset of the storm had also turned dusk into the kind of blackness you usually see right before dawn, soooo whilst we were hidden from river side observers we were also rowing COMPLETELY BLIND!
Long story short (or is it too late) we repeated this little pantomime every 50 metres or so until we were finally able to make it back to the boat ramp... just in time for the heavens to open and drench us to the bone with the kind of rain that feels like razor blades on the skin!
So... why do I lack confidence that I will make it through this experience in one piece? Hmmm... enough said really!

...before the weather turned!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Hmmm... No cupcakes today!

I am having some serious cupcake withdrawls... Being the good mummy that I am, I sacrificed cupcake baking last night to attend my daughter's school concert - 10 classes (from grade prep to 6)... doing 3 dances per class... over a 3 hour period... needless to say I needed a red wine by the time we got home! The highlight of the evening was the teaching staff doing a rendition of YMCA bt the village people!

Sooo anyway... no cupcakes! But then there is always tonight!!!!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Chocolate Flowers

I have just had a complete rave about this topic on Flickr (Cupcakes TakeThe Cake forum), but it really does deserve another mention!

On the recommendation of another Flickr contributor (Mommawants1more... I have always wondered wht she wants one more of... cupcake?... baby?... minute of sleep?) I recently purchased Kaye and Liv Hansen's book 'The Whimsical Bakehouse' (pic below). Without a word of a lie, it is FANTASTIC!!!

I really only bought the book because I wanted to learn how to make the chocolate decorations that I had seen on other people's cupcakes, on Flickr... but it has soooo much more to share!!! It's even helped me to overcome my inability to pipe buttercream blossoms (almost)

If you're interested... here are the Publisher's Notes...

Three neon-bright layers of cake, tilted at a jaunty angle and adorned with edible chocolate candles; a Jackson Pollock–inspired cheesecake spattered with chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter icing; and a swarm of plump bees perched atop a rainbow of candy-colored cupcakes—these are only a few examples of the unfettered creativity at work at the Riviera Bakehouse. There, mother-daughter bakers Kaye and Liv Hansen turn out some of the most charming, refreshingly eccentric cakes ever to grace a birthday or wedding celebration.Kaye and Liv believe that a cake should taste as good as it looks, so they skip esoteric (and inedible) decorations in favor of simple buttercream, flavored whipped cream, and tinted candymaker’s chocolate, covering their luscious cakes with amusing designs and gorgeous color that are easy to make and delicious to eat. The cakes themselves are no less enticing, pairing old-fashioned favorites like Banana Cake and Spice Cake with sumptuous fillings such as French Custard and Chocolate Mousse. Simple step-by-step lessons, illustrated with photographs, explain how to re-create Liv’s charming chocolate designs, from the bright polka dots that shine against dark chocolate glaze to the shimmering stars that adorn the enchanting “Starry Night.” Templates for the delightful designs allow you to adapt these techniques to create your own unique decorations.With time-tested tips and complete information on everything from mixing colors to adjusting pan sizes, the Hansens explain all you need to know to get started. Whether you’re dreaming of an elegant Chocolate Apricot Pecan Torte or a three-tiered butter cake filledwith spiked mocha cream and embellished with fantastical spring flowers, The Whimsical Bakehouse is the ultimate guide to creating delicious, showstopping confections that are completely original.

On the Barnes and Noble website, every review bar one is 4 or 5 star, and quite frankly the bad review is (in my opinion) unwarranted... but why take my word for it... you decide:

A reviewer, A reviewer, 09/24/2003
Not what I expected. I was looking for more of a variety in cake sytles. Everything is pretty much the same. Also got it for ideas on making my own wedding cake. Not that helpful there either.

Johnna Walley (johnwalley@juno.com), a Wilton Cake Decorating Instructor, 08/13/2003

Seriously... with the picture that's on the front of it... would you be buying it for wedding cake ideas??? That's like Looking in a clown shop for your wedding gown!!!!

That said... there's certainly no reason why she couldn't have used some of the cake and filling recipes, but created a more traditional look for the outside!

Sorry... complete tangent with my little rant there... but it just pisses me off when people puchase something other than what they were looking for and then blame the product for not delivering... just because it didn't suit her purpose doesn't mean it is deserved a bad review.


I have (so far) made two lots of flowers using the books instructions; it is super easy and the results are bloody effective (Rave reviews from the hungry workmates on Monday)! I still have a little practice to do before I have it down pat (note to self: don't put your creations too close together- chocolate runs... and make sure your baking paper is completely flat - chocolate drys in the same shape as your paper... duuuh!) but then that's half the fun!!!!

Sooo... here they are... Vanilla sponge cupcakes with a lemon creamcheese icing and Whimsical Bakehouse inspired daisies! In case you're interested I have also put the recipe below (after a 3 month search I have finally found what I believe is the holy grail of vanilla cakes... but then that's just my opinion)!!!

Vanilla Cupcakes

8 oz Self Raising Flour
8 oz Castor Sugar
5 (extra) Large Eggs
8 oz Butter (So soft that it has almost melted)
2 tea Vanilla
4 tab sour cream (Australian tab = 20ml)(optional... just makes them that little bit more moist)

Set oven to 170 degrees celcius (as in my last post... golden rule of baking... make sure you own an oven thermometre... I can guarantee you your ovens in built thermostat is inaccurate).

Take large kitchen aid bowl... add all ingredients to bowl (in order listed above)... click bowl into kitchen aid and fit paddle attachment... turn on to lowest possible setting (be careful... your flour will try and jump out of the bowl... use a guard if you have one) until all ingredients are moist.... turn up to medium just long enough to ensure all ingredients are completely combined. The consistency will be fairly thick but it should drop easily from the spoon if you tap it on the side of the bowl.

Use icecream scoop to fill liners 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake 17 minutes... test by lightly touching top of cake... it should return to its original shape after a gentle press.

Those of you who are particularly astute will notice that this recipe is very VERY similar to the chocolate recipe that I posted the other day... well they're actually cousins!! I adapted the chocolate one from the vanilla!

So happy caking... ( I haven't bothered posting the Lemon Cream Cheese Icing recipe... as they really are all very similar... c-cheese, iccing sugar, butter and a touch of lemon juice... the recipe is everywhere on google)!

Friday, 7 September 2007

A Few of my Creations!

I thought while I had the time I should also post a few of my most recent creations...

Chocolate Squiggles!

Looove Cuppies

Petite Sponge

My Floral Obsession

A Bad Blogger!

It's official... I really am very bad at this whole blogging thing!

I have managed to go two whole months without making a single post! And here my profile says that I never have enough time but still manage to fit it all in any way... well, all things except for updating my blog.... apparently!

This is not to say however that my cupcaking crusade has slowed down in any way shape or form . In fact I could blame my quest for the ultimate recipe for my lack of blog activity! Who has time for text when there are recipes to be tested and baking to be done! Especially when you have to make two batches of cupcakes in the one night... because you somehow managed to set the oven to grill (broil for the Americans) instead of bake!!!

Yup... last night I managed to make Chocolate Mt Etna cupcakes! The tops grilled nicely for the first 10 minutes... they even rose into nice little domes... until the hot (but as yet uncooked) batter in the bottom of the cup decided to bubble and spew its way up through the top crust!
Needless to say, that batch was sacrificed to the rubbish bin god... and I started again (9:15pm)!

Soooo... having invited P (my other half) over for dinner, the poor man then spent his entire evening watching me wade through chocolate batter whilst screaming obscenities at my oven. To his credit... he did not retire to the couch, but sat supportively at the bench, chatting quietly about any nonthreatening topic he could think of (I assume to calm me down), and making encouraging noises as batch number two went into the oven. Bless his cotton socks!

The up-side to all of this is that I think I have now found (or should I say created) my perfect 'chocolate' cupcake recipe (vanilla still eludes me)!!! The jury is not yet in on the 'last ability' factor (as they were only made last night) but they are definitely getting a big tick in the taste box (yay.... perfection is soooo satifying)!! I will attempt to get back and post again on how well they last in the next 2-3 days (rather than 2-3 months... oops).

So... recipe...

5 0z self raising flour (sift well)
3 oz dutch cocoa powder (sift well)
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 oz sugar
8 0z butter (butter needs to be so soft it is almost - but not quite - melted)
5 extra large aggs
1 1/2 tea vanilla
4 tab sour cream (Australian tab = 20ml)

Set oven to 170 degrees celcius (golden rule of baking... make sure you own an oven thermometre... I can guarantee you your ovens in built thermostat is inaccurate).

Take large kitchen aid bowl... add all ingredients to bowl (in order listed above)... click bowl into kitchen aid and fit paddle attachment... turn on to lowest possible setting (be careful... your flour and cocoa will try and jump out of the bowl... use a guard if you have one) until all ingredients are moist.... turn up to medium just long enough to ensure all ingredients are completely combined. The consistency will be fairly thick but it should drop easily from the spoon if you tap it on the side of the bowl. If it's too thick... add a tab of water.

Use icecream scoop to fill liners 3/4 full.

Bake 17 minutes... test by lightly touching top of cake... it should return to its original shape after a gentle press.

I like to decorate mine with a chocolate buttercream... but really this is where your own creative licence can come in... a good ganache would also do the job, or even just whipped cream (they are very very rich) with a dusting of icing sugar! OR you could go all out and make up a chocolate sauce and serve them hot with ice cream (make sure you take them out of their cups first!!!

For something a little different, I did this batch with a red chocolate buttercream (just chocolate buttercream with a s*** load of red food colouring added).

Happy cupcaking!

Friday, 29 June 2007

I'm in love!

Oh my god... I am in love... with a little lump of blue silicon!

My brand new flower veiner arrived yesterday, so I spent the night punching and moulding petunia's... It was great! I am now the proud owner of a set of 5 petal flower cutters, a petunia cutter (in 2 sizes) , a daisy cutter, a tub of lustre dust and and bottle of dragees... my life is good!

Just so you understand why I am so excited, this is what they helped to create...

I have a week off work starting at 3:00 o'clock this afternoon (YAY!!!) so I can go flower MAD next week!!! Is it sad that I find this so exciting?????