Okay...how these aliens are "cuddly", I really don't see it. Cute, yeah...a little. The Cuddlies?? But never mind what I think. What matters is that toddlers love them, apparently and they're shown on Disney's BabyTV- a channel dedicated to babies and toddlers. I read up a little about them and I must say, the programme sounds quite educational. Each character here represents an important part of a toddler - hunger (that'll be the orange one with the sandwich?), sleep (obviously the yellow one?), fear (the blue one with the bulging eyes looks scared enough?) and contentment (the silly purple alien?). Little Zoe turned 2 and she's smitten with these little fellas. She could even name them all when mum and dad brought her along to pick up the cake. Impressive! I also decided to model a little Zoe for the cake (trust me, this is a poor representation of her. Zoe looks waaayyyy much prettier and is simply adorable). I saw an episode of them celebrating a birthday and the birthday ummm...alien had a grass-daisy tiara on it. So, I added that on her head. Young Zoe also has a interesting palate. She's one who enjoys Coconut Cake (this one finished weighing 1.8kg). Yeah, I can practically hear some of you groaning. Not a favourite among adults, what more a 2-year old right? Gotta love this girl! Well, I have 2 recipes for this cake and much prefer the one with the booze but hey, though she's well-trained to handle exotic cakes, think it's too early to introduce her to Malibu ;-p
Two Manchester United fans (coincidently are best friends, too) were celebrating their 29th and a newly-engaged fiancée thought it'll be a great idea to surprise the birthday boys with themed cake. ManU-themed, of course and a tribute to the retired Sir Alex Ferguson (AF) - after 26 years managing the Red Devils. I thought it was a fitting theme for not only were the boys die-hard supporters of ManU, the team also finished with a high winning their 20th league title- the last league led by AF. I'm no football-know-it-all but I read the news. It's hard not to know anything about the Reds. Fiancée wanted some humour attached to it, so I suggested one with AF holding a red hairdryer (like a pistol) at the 2 fans, solemnly kneeling in front of him. If you don't know what the hairdryer means in soccer, well...it's basically having your coach chewing you out right at your face really loudly. AF is known to do that A LOT. I don't know how the term "hairdryer treatment" came about but I suppose these lashings are done mostly in the locker rooms? Really loudly? Making the hair at the back of your neck stand when you're embarrassingly shouted at? All relates to a hairdryer! But, fiancée thought that was a bit much, so we settled for something simple like the boys smooching up AF. So, I worked on the birthday boys' body language for the humour. Poor Mr Ferguson. I doubt he's ever allowed anyone to be this chummy with him! Not even his players I think.
I also added half a soccer ball on the cake. Used the new Nike design for Manchester United. The Marble Cake finished at 2.3kg.
Malam Berinai is one of the mandatory Malay wedding customs to be held prior to the marriage solemnisation ceremony. Usually held at the bride's home, both bride- and groom-to-be will be dressed in pre-wedding finery and a simple ceremony of (temporary) tattooing their hands with designs using henna. There are many stages of this ceremony I believe, but these days most just do with one ceremony. During this kenduri (feast), the bride usually decides to have a theme night (and a hen night as well, since most of the attendees will be the bride's closest pals and female family members. The popular themes I keep hearing of are the Arabian and Bollywood. I guess these two are fitting because both cultures do henna inking (also known as bindi for the Hindi). So, for this wedding, the bride decided on an Arabian theme and her girlfriend decided to wish her well with a cake. No Princess Jasmine palace or flying carpets, but a simple tassled satin pillow (Lemon Poppyseed Cake) as the base and the bride-to-be dressed in a beaded caftan.
Yes, I spent a looooong time putting on those tiny sugar beads using a surgical pincer.
Cake finished weighing 1.6kg.
COWABUNGA DUDE!!!! Yeah, that pretty much stuck in my head together with Teenage.Mutant.Ninja.Turtle tune the whole time I was working on this cake. These sewer-turtles have been around for ages and glad to know that they are still popular today. Sure beats a lot of those tv twits who guise themselves as some kind of hero with moral relevance when everything that spews from their mouth are filth! Yes, pains me to hear rubbish on the telly with children idolising them the same time. I can go on and on about this and frankly, it's tiresome so, FUN FACT! These Ninja turtles were named after great Renaissance artists- Leonardo (Leo), Michelangelo (Mikey), Donatello (Donnie) and Rafael (Raph). They are all trained in Ninjutsu (a Japanese warfare martial art). See? So much to learn from these dudes! And don't forget those weapons they use -the katana, nunchaku, bo (as seen here, used by Donnie) and the sai. Little Hamzah's favourite character is Donatello, and he's the one featured on his Orange Cranberry Cake (2.2kg). I was cracking my head in trying to figure out how to model Donnie in a battle stance and I couldn't do it without wires and a dense cake. The two things I avoid at all cost...especially in cakes for children. Then a lightbulb moment. Sewers! These boys live in storm sewers and often surface via manholes across New York City. With that, Donatello came up via a manhole to Hamzah's party with his bo (you can never be too safe in KL!) and a present- what else? A box of pizza.
Sweet Natalie turned 10 in May with this 2-tier Chocolate Cake and a hot salsa party with her friends. Lucky girl! I had initially wanted a busier cake depicting all-things South American but after doing Natalie in her salsa garb, I decided not to. I didn't want the focus to shift from the Natalie figurine to 20 tiny chillies, sombreros and tacos. She had to be the centre of attraction and she was -in the party and on the cake. Mission accomplished! Pssttt....the initial cake design was supposed to be of Furby!! Errr.. mummy, I think at 10, Furby should be classified information and not for show'n'tell....kekekekekeke. The cake finished weighing 4kgs and fed about 40 people I think.
Has it been 3 months since I last posted?? Gosh, time flies when you're playing (trying-to-be) perfect mum. With the endless school-runs which started early this year, I am dead to the world by 9pm every day and after this weekend of cake orders, I realised how much I miss working on them. I wish I had more time in my hands to receive more commissions but I just don't have them.... Unless I have a bakeware-equipped truck with all my tools in it, I can actually do a couple of sugar figurines while waiting at school gates! Hmmm...cake for thought.
Anyway, this cake - let's back-date it to April 12th. It was a 2.7kg Chocolate Cake designed for a young lady who's been loving my cakes and design since she was 11 in 2010. And by her my mum's account of her every year, I can see her growing up to be a successful sportswoman, scholar as well as a responsible young woman. The last observation revealed in her choice of shoes. For many years, she'd wear her Converse everywhere and her mum said that her collection could rival any grown-woman's shoe collection. But of late, she found these shoes- TOMS. If you check them out, you'll see why I say she'll be a responsible adult. I've never heard of them before until then and totally support this cause...if they can be found sold here (and also because I simply love the fabrics!). So, mum suggested I attempt to do a pair of her favourite "vegetarian" TOMS in pink. I was pretty nervous at the thought of modelling a pair of shoes but it turned out better than expected. The birthday girl loved it, of course.. ;-)
Birthday girl was celebrating her 10th birthday on Sunday at church and she requested to have a cake shaped in a cross. I don't have a pan shaped that way but it wouldn't be difficult to cut the cake to shape. However, I did highlight to her mum that if she planned to feed 30-40 people with that cake, it needs to be quite big and waste a LOT of cake. I think, like me, you will agree that food wastage is simply not tolerated. With that in mind, we agreed to having a cross on the cake instead. Because they were working towards Easter activities, I thought we should have a Spring theme surrounding the cross...flowers, particularly. So, that was the plan. I did a rough sketch in my head and as I did that, the cross with spring flowers on and around it, suddenly looked very morbid. Morbidly grave... The whole cake would look like a Christian grave with spring flowers growing on it. Now, if it was an Easter cake or for any religious celebration, it would have been fine but for a 10 year old's birthday- the celebration of life, I think not. I went through some youth church group representations and found this beautiful design. Easter is a celebration of life and I could have done the easiest thing like move the flowers around, add some rabbits and eggs (totally irrelevant in the church's point of view) and what not, but I wanted the cake to represent her youth. How the young represented the church. I chose colours that represented Good Friday then Easter. A cross with designs on it that were symbolic to the belief. I believe the young lady was disappointed with the flowers missing but they had a tight schedule for the day and couldn't spare me half an hour to add some yellow flowers for her. I hope it worked out for her anyway. But I really like this design. Do you?
This cake was supposed to be done last year when the client's grandmother was 85 years old. Couldn't do it then because it was the term break and we were away. Another simple cake just for symbolism, we had a 1.2kg Marble Cake adorned with the Chinese character for Longevity (Shou) and 9 longevity peaches to represent long life.
Made a batch of these Superhero-themed cupcakes for a 3-year old's birthday recently. Like Mickey Mouse and Barney, I can't replicate any of these guys well enough to have someone pay me for! I know...it's my pair of eyes...they're flaw-finders. The first time I did some kind of "hero" was Buzz Lightyear and he was awful! He really looked like Sylvester Stallone- disfigurement + botched plastic job. Kid didn't see it that way but I did and I'm sure you do. I kinda vowed I wouldn't even try anymore because it was so frustrating until last year....my nephew's 4th birthday. He wanted Spiderman and he got it. Spidey turned out ok because his face is plain oval with a web design. So, that's pretty do-able but my kids still thought he looked off. Samer's mum called for cupcakes with a superhero theme and of course, we both knew we were going to stick to logos. These Apple and Walnut Cupcakes were supposed to sit on a cupcake rack anyway, so we can't have any 3-D figurines sitting heavily on the cupcakes. The cupcakes were nice and fluffy despite the chunks of apples and walnuts in them. Apparently, the young ones went straight for Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Ironman. Don't think they recognised Captain America's shield, Green Lantern, Flash or the Fantastic Four...
Here's a cake theme I don't fancy doing. Mickey Mouse. Like Barney, this mouse rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the voice or I don't know, his outfit?? But again, the main reason I don't do cakes like these is that these characters have very distinctive hard-to-replicate features. If you Google for Mickey Mouse cakes, you'll see what I mean. Lots of sugar figurines of this very famous mouse are disfigured. I am sure there are very talented sculptors out there who can do a brilliant job on this guy but that's not me. I've rejected a fair share of cakes for this theme but I do have very kind clients who compromise because they love the cake itself. How it looks is secondary. So, I decorate such cakes this way (1.7kg Chocolate Cake) or in its clubhouse format where I add Mickey cut-outs or the client buys a toy Mickey and plonk it on the cake. That would be ideal. By trademark laws, we're not even allowed to reproduce syndicated characters. We can be sued!
Another young teenager celebrating a birthday! This young lady's the same age as my Young Master. She accepted a scholarship to do her high school education in a boarding school and according to her mum, she's been hard at work. So much to do and so little time. I stalked mum's Facebook account for photos of her checking-in to boarding school early this year and found a few useful pictures. I baked Dark Chocolate Brownies in a loaf pan and modelled it to look exactly like her dorm bed. Matched her plain white sheets, blue blanket, orange pail of dirty laundry and her purple backpack. It was a typical scene of in her dorm (well, I assumed that but I'm sure it isn't as messy. But what's the fun if we mums aren't a bit dramatic??!) So, I visualised piled-up laundry to be done, lots of homework to finish, books to study from, skipping meals and snacking on junk, music blaring through earphones. I really enjoyed working on this cake.
The Dark Chocolate Brownies all dressed up, weighed 1.7kg.
Seriously.....don't ask me what this is. I have no idea at all. I don't know what this Totoro character is except that it's a Japanese anime creature. I didn't even Google for more information because the birthday girl was super efficient. She wanted this design for her 30th birthday because it was her favourite character (she has it in various forms as her bedmates). She wanted Totoro in its 3 age phases to stand on a bed of leaves next to a bus stop sign. As simple as that. I was really worried about getting Totoro's look right because she absolutely loves it for its cute factor. So, imagine if I botched its face and cuteness turns into plain ugly! And yes, while it may not look much to do but the face can go wrong in so many ways. She sent me pictures after pictures of Totoro and highlighted that each age phase has to be proportionate...yeah, more pressure. Thankfully, the whole cake was decorated without a hitch and it turned out pretty cute! This Chocolate Cake finished weighing 1.8kg.
This young lady grew up before my eyes. Unbelievable that she was just this 8 month old who used to toddle with my son not long ago...least it didn't feel that long ago. She is now a beautiful 12-year old and from what her mum has requested to be highlighted on these cupcakes, I'd say she's like every teenage girl who loves her make-up, boy band and all things girly! These chocolate cupcakes came in two sizes to make up this presentation. I made girly hair combs, sunnies, teenage magazines, jewelery, make-up, nail polishes etc. Point was to make it colourful and not too serious....like teenagers.
I love this cake. It was a gift from the celebrant's siblings to celebrate his big four-oh. He just returned from a holiday in the US and his sister thought it'll befit the occasion if he can have a cake along the lines of Hollywood. We used old-fashioned film reels to line up photos journeying his 40 years. Because there wasn't enough time to order edible prints of the photos, I printed them on paper instead. No one eats the fondant anyway, so I attached it to the fondant film.The 3 reels stacked on a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star "tile". I used silver hundreds and thousands for the letterings on his name and age. Dusted edible glitter and we've got ourselves a cake with blings! The birthday boy's favourite Lemon Poppyseed Cake finished weighing 2.6kg.
Christmas 2012- a simple design that doesn't steal the thunder from the full-bodied flavour of Great Bakes' Traditional Rich Fruit Cakes. Remember to book your 2013 cakes by the first week of November! Last minute orders simply can't be met because the dried fruits are plumped up a month ahead in freshly squeezed fruit juices and brandy. If you have a favourite rum or whisky and want to personalise your fruit cake flavour, send them over. For our own Christmas cake, I baked a Chocolate Fruit Cake with Tia Maria instead of brandy. It was really good and a pleasant change from the traditional cake.
I.don.t.see.the.point.nor.humour.in.this.cartoon. I caught a trailer of this cartoon just a few days ago and do you know what's under that white bonnet-thingy Jake...or is it Finn?? Well, the boy wears? It's very long hair! How does that even make sense? I don't think I'll ever understand cartoons such as these...ever. But it was an easy cake to do, not much to think about when all the kid want is Finn and Jake. This Orange Cranberry Cake finished weighing 3.2kgs.
Zahira's a huge fan of buttercream and would always prefer to have buttercream icing on her cakes when possible. Her first cake in 2010 was in fondant because of the circus theme. So, her brother's 1st birthday cake was covered in buttercream instead. In 2011, she chose a Princess Ballerina, so I did buttercream ruffles for the tutu. In 2012, she's still girly at 5 and wanted a pink Barbie cake. Applying the same buttercream ruffles concept, I gradually layered tight ruffles from white to rose-pink. This Cranberry Orange Cake finished weighing 2kg. Mum bought and sent over the Barbie.
I'm going to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of using a good knife for my cakes. These 3 cakes had the same problem as one of my customers had 2 years back. The cakes crumbled. In the past 2 years, they've never had such problems with the cakes they got from me. Cakes cut beautifully, no complains. This time, the cakes crumbled. What changed? The venue of the party. The last 2 parties were at home hence the hosts used proper sharp (and preferably serrated) knives to cut those cakes. This time, party was held at a kids' playland and cake cutting was done using their knife by them. We don't know what knife they used or how they cut the 3 different cakes but they all crumbled. The earlier customer I mentioned with this problem had her party in McDonalds and they use....wait for it.....a pastry cutter! That's not even a knife!
So, why do my cakes require good knives? THEY.ARE.FRESHLY.BAKED. Freshly-baked cakes are always softer. And my cakes are not the kind most cake decorators bake for novelty cakes which are Madeira cakes. Madeira cake is a basic cake base which is firm, holds it's shape very well, can be stacked-stable hence very easy to cut. We are also suppose to let our cakes "age" at least 24 hours before we cover and decorate it. This tends to dry out the cake, so many will add fillings such as buttercream or jam in between the cakes for moisture. Flavoured-sugar syrups are also brushed on the cakes before they are covered in fondant. Watch an episode of Cake Boss or Fabulous Cakes, and you will understand I'm saying here. The cakes can be held with two hands like a plank or flipped around like a frisbee and doesn't break. I can't do that with any of my cakes. They are baked in the morning, cooled for a couple of hours and I decorate it by afternoon. Cake's collected the next morning for the party in the afternoon. You see, the cake doesn't even get a chance to age. This is also why, I can only do 1 cake a day!
You can see what good slices I get from my cakes from my baking blog Doing a Julie/Julia, they are all beautifully-cut using simply a cheap steak knife but sharp! It's serrated and cut using a gently sawing motion. Are we good?? *thumbs up*
The party was for 3 children, so mum and I decided that it'll be more economical (and make more sense) to have 3 small cakes, 3 different flavours. Mum knew I was up to my eyeballs during the Christmas period and suggested that I bake one large cake and incorporate the 3 children's theme on it! Imagine Tayo the Blue Bus, Hotwheels and Barbie on one cake....errr, yes *roll eyes*. See, I wouldn't do that to children. There are always ways to get around making our lives simpler...elegant solutions. Small cakes! Doesn't need much sugar work on them, yet will serve the theme, stand-out and the child will smother his/her mum with endless kisses and thank yous. Hehehehehe....yes, I aim to achieve that for all the mums who order their cakes from me, provided she knows exactly what her child wants and not guess or assume. So, here's the second cake for the party - a 1.3kg Lemon Poppyseed Cake with a very simple HotWheels-themed design.
I am soooo post-dated that I cannot believe that myself. 3 months since I last updated this blog! It was the same with Doing A Julie/Julia, it wasn't that I hadn't been working on any cakes since, it was just the matter of short daylight hours. By the time dinner is on the table everyday, I'd be a living dead. Really dead on my feet. I've had to accommodate new school runs starting January and for that, I've also been accepting much less cake orders. Having bursts of 30 minutes to an hour in between school locations and home throughout the day doesn't leave me much time for cake decorating. Sugar modelling and cake decorating are very time-consuming tasks though they make me very happy. So, I've been a grouch of late having to give up lots of beautiful cakes to do. But thankfully, I still get to bake and continue to try out new recipes. You can read all about my stolen trysts with my Kenwood from my other blog.
But when I do get some hard-to-pass cake orders or very simple requests, I sacrifice my tea and book hours, and sleep just to do them. I do that because I have very good and loyal customers. This is one of them. I've been creating cakes for her for the past 3 years I think... always during the Christmas period, for both her children celebrating together. This time, she included her nephew in the party. Rafenzo didn't get a "real" birthday cake for his birthday in July because he lives in Hong Kong and novelty cake designers are hard to come by *lightbulb moment*. So, his folks settled for a cake from the bakery. When they returned in December, Rafenzo got a little 1.5kg Vanilla Bean Cake with Tayo the Blue Bus theme. I spent so much time on those buses but it was time well-spent. Cute aren't they?