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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Designer Cupcakes

I spent just over 5 hours last week learning how to make and decorate cupcakes!

When my friend Sarah found out that The Bonnie Gordon School of Cake Design offered a "Designer Cupcake Workshop," Sarah, and a bunch of my other girlfriends knew that this would be the perfect birthday present for me!

As soon as I got there, I took a self-guided tour!

It was neat to see all of the industrial sized baking equipment and cake trays.

DAY 1 - Baking
Isabelle Loiacono instructed our small group of six. On the first day, we made two different kinds of cupcakes. Three of us made Chocolate filled Cappuccino cupcakes while the others made Dulce De Leche filled Apple Spice Cupcakes. In fact, the Apple Spice recipe also called for walnuts, but everyone was very understanding of my nut allergy, so the nuts were omitted.

Below are most of the ingredients for the cappuccino cupcakes. You'll have to attend the course to receive the recipes!
I learnt a new way of filling muffin tins! While I usually pour all of the batter into the muffin tins from a large measuring cup, Isabelle likes to put all of the batter into a large piping bag and pipe the batter into the tins. Sabrina (another woman who I met while taking the course) suggested that she likes to use an ice cream scoop which helps her add the same amount of batter to each tin. Choose the method that works best for you!
After the batter was added, only the finest, LINDT Swiss premium chocolate was added to the middle of the cupcake before baking.

This created the oozing chocolate effect when the Cappuccino cupcakes came out of the oven!
Just look at that delicious melted chocolate!
Don't you just want to take a bite?
Using a piping bag, dulce de leche was added to the Apple Spice Cupcakes. A little sweet for me...but, if you have a sweet tooth...boy are you in for a treat!
The baking part was fun and I did learn many tips.

Some of them include:
  • The lighter color the bakeware, the better
  • Bake with ingredients at room temperature
  • When mixing in flour using a stand mixer, always mix at the lowest speed. This creates a fluffier cake.
  • If baking using a convection oven, decrease the temperature by 25 degrees and reduce baking time by approximately 5 minutes
Day 2 - Decorating (My Favourite!)
This was the day of the course that I was looking forward to the most! I had never taken any cake or cupcake decorating courses before so I was really excited to learn some new ways of making the cupcakes look beautiful. It really is an art form!
When I arrived, written on a white board were all of the different types of cupcakes we would be learning how to decorate.
The best part was that we had all of the possible tips, coloured icings and supplies right there in front of us...many of which I had never used or known how to properly use before.

Isabelle did a demonstration of each cupcake. I tried to follow along!

Sunflower Cupcake
Use tip #366 (large leaf tip)

Leaf tip forms the shape of a leaf. Start at the outer edge of the cupcake and pull away to form the leaf. Repeat around the entire outer edge of the cupcake. Continue to form another layer in between each set of leaves to form two circles of leaves. Fill the centre of the sunflower with melted Merckens chocolate. (This is the same chocolate that I use to make the chocolate coating for the cheesecake pops!) Sprinkle immediately with white round sprinkles if desired.

Flower Cupcake with Swirl Icing
Use tip #126 (large petal tip)
To create the swirl: I often just fill a piping bag with two colours. On the left side of the bag, I would add purple for example, and on the right side, I would add the other colour like pink. The result, a nice swirl. However, I learned a new technique from Isabelle where the inside of a piping bag is lined with one colour. I think it should be the darker color. So imagine that you will draw vertical lines on the inside of the bag with one color and then fill the bag with the other colour.

To create the flower: Use the petal tip with the smaller part at the top. The larger part should be at the base of the flower. Start almost levelled at first and make your way around the outer part of the cupcake. On the second layer, angle the piping bag at about a 45 degree angle and continue until the flower is complete. Use the Swirl tip # 804 to add a dab to the middle of the flower. (This was a hard one for me! But with practice, I might eventually improve!)

Ladybug Cupcake
This one was my absolute favourite! So adorable and so easy to make. Dip your cupcake into chocolate ganache and dip just over half of the cupcake into round red sprinkles. Use melted Merckens chocolate to add dots and add silver dragees (silver candy balls) as eyes. On a piece of parchment paper, draw out the "ears" and let set in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes. With a toothpick, create two holes for the ears toward the front of the cupcake without any sprinkles. Detach chocolate ears from parchment paper and stick into holes. The adorable ladybug cupcake!

I love it!!!!
So simple and so adorable! I am also going to try to replace the fancy ganache with chocolate icing. I'm sure the ladybugs would look just as cute!

Here are some of the beautiful flowers we learned how to create using fondant!
Mine is the one with the yellow base. Not bad for a rookie!

Here we are....focused and hard at work!

It is also such a great treat when someone else is cleaning up after your mess.

It was time to pack up the cupcakes. To ensure that cupcakes would not move during delivery, I learned to drop a small dab of icing under each one. This acted as a glue and secured each one to the box.

Thanks to my wonderful girlfriends Sarah, Julia, Joelle, Sherri, Lauren, Jen, Adrienne and Clare for such a thoughtful and useful birthday present. I love you girls and I will definitely be making some for you to eat the next time you all come over!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The "Sweetest" Proposal

I got engaged on Sunday night! Thanks to Bakerella and Rich of course, it has been such an exciting and overwhelming experience. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful wishes…and thanks a million Bakerella for making this happen! I haven’t stopped smiling since…

Most of you already know the story of how it all went down, but if you don't, feel free to read up on it at Not only will you get a glimpse of the actual proposal, but also the LATEST UPDATE posted by Bakerella herself, describing the background behind it all!
And to top it all off, Rich and got presents in the mail from Bakerella herself! She sent us "Bakerella, and "Bakerfella" t-shirts....I can't wait to wear mine to work tomorrow! Thanks are amazing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fun with Apples

Apple Picking
Saturday was such a gorgeous day to finally go apple picking! We decided to go to a neighbourhood farm called Country Apple Orchard Farm with dwarf apple trees which were perfect for our mini picker, Kelly!

This is what a dwarf tree looks like. No ladders required!
The resident baker suggested that Cortland apples are great for baking. I agree! Everything I made turned out very well!
Even the dwarf trees had some apples that were higher up. My sister and I had fun trying to jump for the high ones!

Got it!
The ladybugs also wanted to be in on the fun!

Our "mini picker" was the cutest of them all!
Not bad for her first time!

Now onto the yummy stuff...
Apple Cake
Does this cookbook look familiar to anyone? I stole it from my mom's kitchen!
Turn to page 128 and follow the apple cake recipe. So easy!
But in case you do not have the book, here is the recipe...
Apple Cake

2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. oil
3 tbsp. water or orange juice
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6-8 apples, pared and thinly sliced
1/2 c. white or brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. icing sugar, if desired
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in oil. Add liquid alternately with dry ingredients and beat until just smooth. Spoon half of batter into a lightly greased 9" square baking pan. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Add apples which have been sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Cover with remaining batter. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 -60 minutes, until nicely browned.
Variation: Use blueberries, cherries or any desired pie filling in place of apples.
Peel 6-8 apples. But don't throw the peel away!
Squeeze half of a fresh lemon over the apples to avoid browning.
Core and thinly slice in food processor.
Coat sliced apples in sugar and cinnamon.
Prepare batter and pour half on the bottom of baking dish. Evenly layer apples next.
Top with remaining batter and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
Apple Chips

Use remaining apple peel and coat in juice left over from apples that were used for the cake. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread out apple peel. Sprinkle some additional brown sugar over the skins and bake at 200 for 2 hours. Let sit in oven overnight.
The result...crispy, sweet apple chips.
Apple Waffles

Peel and grate one apple.
Add grated apple to the following recipe:
3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 cup milk
Yield: 4 waffles
Pour 3/4 cup of batter onto waffle grid. Close waffle maker.
Bake for about 3-5 minutes until steam no longer escapes.
Allow waffles to cool on cooling rack.

Serve with syrup and your favourite fruit. Watch the syrup drip down the sides...and...enjoy!
Candy Coated Caramel Apples

4 apples at room temperature
4 sticks
40 individually wrapped creamy caramel candies
wax paper
Buy about 40 individually wrapped creamy caramels from Bulk Barn and unwrap while watching your favourite TV show.
Line cookie sheet with wax paper. Insert sticks into apples.
In a bowl, microwave caramels with 1 tbsp of water in 30 second intervals until melted.
Roll in caramel sauce. Use the back of a spoon to remove excess caramel. If desired, roll in topping such as mini M&M's, sprinkles etc. immediately. Let set for 15-20 minutes.
Wrap and tie. Perfect for a sweet gift!

Everyone always asks me what I do with everything I bake. I usually bring it over to a friend's house, like I did with the apple cake this weekend. Or, I have people over to eat it. Or, Rich eats it...
But this time I want to share and I want three of you to have a caramel apple. Well, I want all of you to have one, but I will only have three left after the one that I test!
All you have to do is give me some advice...
I still have some apples left from my trip to Country Apple Orchard Farm and I am responsible for making snack for the staff at my school this Friday.
So the question is...What should I make?
I'm also curious...What would you make?
Leave your answer in the comment section below and you’ll be entered into a draw for a chance to win one of the caramel apples pictured above.