Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Mocha Spice Cup Cake

I have had a ball this christmas and this is my last cup cake for the year (I think!).

What better way to finish the Christmas entries than on a cup cake that combines so many of my loves: Cup cakes, coffee, christmas spices and chocolate. Mmmmm, that just about covers my vices.

Jennifer from the Crabapple Bakery Cookbook describes this as "a hot spiced mocha in a cupcake paper" and she is right.

The combination of chocolate, coffee, spices, brown sugar and sour cream make you feel like you are eating a mocha and the thin layer of royal icing gives it that sweet kick you need.

I also liked the way it was decorated with a thin layer rather than the compulsory 2 inches of icing on everything these days. I am very guilty of this. Some of my tasters love it and others hate it. One of my tasters would prefer I just gave her a bowl of icing rather than the cup cake, others scrape off the icing and eat the cake. Icing is such a hot topic for cup cakes on all the blogs and especially in this town. There are two of us that make and sell cup cakes, my competitor, far more regularily and seriously than me but our customers choose us based on our icing. Well that is the main thing they talk to me about anyway. "I like yours because her icing is too sweet". Funny, her customers probably say the same to her about me. Like a fine wine - all just personal taste. I did try a different recipe lately recommended by a fellow blogger but it turned out like whipped butter. I will keep searching.

Here I am digressing again. Anyway, this cup cake was topped with the thin layer of royal icing (a egg white and icing sugar mix) before being topped with my hand made holly creations. I had lots of fun rolling and cutting and getting into the christmas spirit.  Not that I need any encouragement.  I love all things baking and all things christmas!

I am about 12 hours off stepping onto a plane back to my hometown of Mornington for 3 weeks. I am really looking forward to the holiday and seeing our family and friends for christmas but am nervous about being away from my kitchen for that long! I will probably break out in a cold sweat after a couple of days. I may have to wrestle my folks out of the kitchen and sneak on the blog to get my fix! LOL.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Christmas Fruit Mince Cup Cakes

I love a good fruit cake. Nothing like it, especially those good old Lions Cakes for charity. I know, it is not exactly "home baked" but I just can't go past it. Dad was a Lion and he always gave us a couple at christmas. I would nibble away at it for weeks, that's if the Workaholic hadn't spied it first and turned it into a pudding by pouring custard over it and eating it swiftly.

This is why I had to try this recipe for Fruit Mince Cup Cakes. It appealled to me because I had so much other baking going on I didn't have time to soak my own fruit. This one called for a jar of ready made fruit mince and 1/2 a cup of brandy.

Alcohol, what could be wrong with a tipple in a fruit mince cup cake? Sounds reasonable. My only problem is that we live in a 'restricted' town where alcohol is not readily available like other parts of Australia. Here in the Northern Territory with a large indigenous or Aboriginal population many people like more than a tipple and alcohol selling has been restricted to certain hours, days, establishments for a couple of years. Not sure it is working but that is an entirely different blog. 

I am not a big drinker, in fact I rarely drink, but with two small children and limited hours to get a drop (ie - usually at the crazy hour before dinner and bath and things go mad) it can be a bit challenging at the best of times. Anyway I managed it and I think I have been black listed for buying the smallest bottle of brandy on their records. I think the people in the queue (and there is always a queue) thought I was completely mad!

Anyway, I have gone completely off topic! The cup cake is filled with spices, fruit mince and alcohol and came up a treat. Very subtle fruit flavour. I would usually like chunks of fruit but I think subtle is needed in such a small cake.

I also seem to find things in the most unusual places. I found the cup cake pans in the local "mad harry's" which is like a $2 shop. They were very cute and complimented the top nicely.

What would be a christmas cup cake without a christmas tree topper. I had such fun making these. I wish Christmas went on and on and on. I love making all the christmas items. 

Here I cut out stars and sprinkled gold glitter on them for the top of the tree, then I decorated the "tree" with silver balls. I loved them.

I think I better ask Santa for a new camera as I have been struggling lately - maybe it is the very late hours of the evening/morning I have been taking the shots! LOL.

Happy 80th birthday to a music teacher

Imagine being lucky enough to reach 80? Oh, all the things you would have seen, all the changes to the world, all the new family members. I think reaching that age, if you fully embrace life and live it to the full, would be sensational.

My 84 year old grandmother was on the back of my cousin's jet ski at the weekend. Now that is what I call embracing life! Go Grandma! She has always given everything a red hot go and I love and admire her for it.

I digress. With about 12 hours until I get on a plane with 2 small children I am up to my ears in cakes. Beautiful flourless chocolate cakes that remind me of the chocolate brownies I have been making, all fudgy and delicious.  They are for a client who's mum in law is having a 80th next week.

She doesn't mind what I do to decorate the cakes except one must have an 80 on it. My other clues are that the lady used to be a piano teacher and loves music and the Adelaide Crows (football team to those not in Australia!). Well, decoarating anything Adelaide Crows is out of the question. So I went with hand made chocolate music symbols with the "80" scattered throughout. The above photo is just a snap of a few of them. I hope she likes them.

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ms Lawson's old fashion chocolate cake

It was brought to my attention by my sister-in-law, Aislinn, that I may have been a bit harsh on her fellow (sort of) country woman, Ms N Lawson in my early blog on Snickerdoodles.

Aislinn is a huge fan of Nigella Lawson and cooks and bakes many things from her books/website.

I decided that maybe I should try something else of Nigella's. Maybe something a little more English, if there is such a thing.

I poured over the only cookbook I have of hers "how to be a domestic goddess". To be honest I struggled. Many things in there don't look very "English". Puddings were out - I live in the harsh, Australian outback and it is HOT! Cookies seemed too American. Many of the recipes called for things Australia just doesn't have. Then I needed something that could be shared, cut up easily or came as individual pieces, I do too much baking to be able to eat everything I cook. I seemed to be stuck.

Then, in chatting with my brother via phone who is quite a cook himself, he found a solution for me. He had baked an "old fashion chocolate ,cake" from Nigella's website for Aislinn's birthday and was so impressed he went on to bake it twice more in the same week. He is a bit of a chocolate lover like me so we hunkered down on the phone and discussed the cake in detail.

The cake is made entirely in the food processor, bit of a change from my multiple mixing, multiple bowls efforts. I felt like I was cheating but at the same time it was so easy and effective. The cake itself does not have real chocolate in it, just cocoa. It is very light weight. The mix is split between two cake tins.

The icing is where the good stuff lies. It is more of a ganache than a icing. It has real dark chocolate, sour cream, golden syrup, butter and all the good stuff in it. It is spread between the two cakes and around and on top of the cake.

I made it for a lovely lady, Jan, who was leaving the Workaholic's office to go back to Adelaide for christmas, before taking on another role at another agency in Alice Springs. She is much like the cake, old fashioned (she loves wear pearls out in the dusty hot communities), classy and rich in character. Nothing like a lady in pearls and suit walking down a dry hot river bed towards you to talk about your family.

She will be missed. You don't know yourself until "you've been Janned"!!

So, Nigella, in this instance, I owe you an apology, I may have been a bit hasty...............

Teacher's christmas gifts - or don't you wish you taught my children!

As you would have gathered by now, I love home baked goods. I love to give home baked goods. I probably should have been European as food translates to love to me! I should have been a big old Italian lady who wanders around saying "you too skinny, you need to eat more" while shoving baked goods at you. You get the point.

This is why I spent many an hour over the last week baking in my hot kitchen (we had a 43 degree day the day before my children's kinder and preschool finished).

This is some of the product. They were quite big boxes full of goodies and I should probably do a photography course soon because my photos are really not getting that across lately! I am struggling with the whole photo thing, which is probably why I am a baker and not a photographer. You need to bear with me and use your imagination sometimes!

Anyway, these boxes were large and filled with shortbread stars, chocolate balls, gingerbread christmas trees drizzled with white chocolate and chocolate brownies.

They are all simple to make and three of them can be made or partially made and frozen, so you can prepare early and don't need to do everything at once.

The shortbread stars and gingerbread dough can be made (and were made) the week before and then the dough frozen until the day I needed it. Both recipes are really simple and I am happy to give them to anyone who emails me.

The chocolate balls are really easy and popular. Sometimes it is the simple things that are the best. These are just Maree biscuits thrown in the food processor. Then you mix in a cup of coconut, a tin of condensed milk and a tablespoon and a half of cocoa. Mix it into balls, roll it in coconut and then put in the fridge.

They are a version on the old fashion rum balls without the rum and I have been asked for them frequently by many friends over many years. In fact, when I first came to Alice Springs I made them at a "meet the new mum in town" function a friend held for me (thank you Kim) and one of the girls that was there swears she is only my friend today because I made them!! LOL.

The Brownies are a new recipe as featured in a previous blog but they are by far the most popular non cup cake item I have made so far. It can be cooked and then frozen too, if you need to prepare in advance. The workaholic can not get enough of them and I am stopped in the corridor of his workplace often in the last month for people to talk about them. What can I say, chocolate and raspberries, how can you go wrong! Again, if anyone is interested in the recipe, just email me.

I even made a "gluten free" version for some of the Workaholic's workers who are gluten free and they went down equally as well as the normal version.

A couple of the teachers wanted to know where I got my goodie boxes from and how they could order them. My friends who have seen them have made me promise that next year I will sell them at the local christmas markets so that they can buy them to give to their kids teachers.

Anyway, thank you to all of the teachers who have influenced my children this year. Oscar has really come out of his shell and is really ready for his first year at Primary School and Alice has only just started at 3 year old kindy but is already painting up a storm!

From little things big things grow........

I had an interesting request from a friend, Tammie, the other day. She wanted me to come over to her house pronto and help her decorate a Grade Six Graduation cake with a Llama!!

Bizarre. Didn't think I would ever be asked for a Llama on a cake, but there you go. I really like Tammie and I thought it was a good chance to catch up.

It was for the school my son will go to next year and she is a teacher there with a reputation for baking too.

We didn't have a lot of detail, just that we needed to collect the premade cake from the school at lunchtime and return it two hours later! We didn't know the size of the cake, the shape of the cake or anything. I grabbed some tools from home and headed to Tammie's house.

Also, knowing my love for the internet, you know I jumped straight on and found the above image of a Llama. I then covered all bases and copied it and enlarged it several times. I kinda thought that if it was a small cake (let's hope) we could put one Llama on it and be done. If it was a big cake we could depict the llama's growing and the journey from being a little primary school kid to a big high school kid.

I then made a stencil out of all of them. Something I have never done before but will do again as you can lay the stencil down and pipe in the middle and carefully remove. Tada!

I can honestly say that when my friend, Tammie, arrived home with the cake I was shocked. I had never seen a cake this size. My picture does not do it justice. It was about 1 metre long and 40 to 50 cms wide (guessing here). It felt huge and was covered in very ordinary cream, which was not as ordered.

I thought it would be best to remove the cream and ice it. Icing is easier to work with usually. However, I was also nervous that they had covered it to hide something. I was right! The cake had a big divet in it. In hindsight, I shouldn't have removed the cream as the cake was so big and therefore the icing was really hard to get smooth without all my tools.

Tammie set to work on making about three batches of icing, while I set to decorating the cake. We thought it would be great to incorporate the colours of the school, hence the red and blue blankets and also there was red and blue piping on the sides and bottom of the cake.

I shy away from writing on cakes. Avoid it as best I can. Never actually found a "cake writing font" as they call it in the trade, so I encouraged Tammie in this endevour!! She did a great job! Go Tammie!

I think we did a pretty good job with 2 hour timeframe and two three year old kids under our feet on a 43 degree day!

The school had to ring around town to find a fridge big enough to hold it until the Graduation Night. It ended up at the catering kitchen of the local University Restaurant.

All in all, Graduation night was a success and we had lots of positive feedback on the cake.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

It has been awhile. I have been really busy putting together some Christmas treats for the kid's teachers, the Workaholic's workers and some paid orders, as well as experimenting with some new things.

This means you are going to see a rush of new entries on my blog of the next day or two as I have been storing them up while I have been baking in the kitchen. And some of them will be brief (ah, sweet relief, I hear you say!).

These little beauties were for love and for my personal challenge to myself to try every flavour of cupcake in my favorite cup cake book, The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook.

I love a good gingerbread. Not the hard biscuit type but the soft chewy type. So I couldn't resist trying this gingerbread Cup Cake recipe. Jennifer, the author, says in her introduction, "now you can have gingerbread all year round". I don't know what was stopping her before. I certainly didn't feel the need to wait for a special occasion to indulge, but maybe that is just me.

These ones have freshly grated ginger, crystallised ginger, sour cream, ginger spice, brown sugar and you know with all those fine ingredients, it can't help but be good.

And they were. If you have been following my blog, or know me personally, you know I usually make all my own toppers. Just prefer it. More personalised. However, I could not resist the mini gingerbreads that Coles and Safeway do and at this time of year I needed all the help I could get.

Again they were a hit. Quite frankly I have only marked 2 of the many Crabapple Bakery recipes as "failures" and this one isn't on that list.

Gingerbread all year round!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Raindeer Chow - here comes santa claus!

Have I mentioned I love Christmas? And that I love chocolate? This post is all about the two.

A few weeks ago an American girlfriend, Tammie and I were discussing baking gifts for christmas. She told me that she made Raindeer Chow and her husband's workers likened it to be as addictive as Crack Cocaine. I was intrigued. I had never heard of Raindeer Chow and inquired as to the ingredients.

Later I googled recipes for Raindeer Chow. None of them looked like she described or had the same ingredients. In fact rather than be described as Raindeer Chow, I would describe them as Raindeer droppings, if you get my meaning.

So after much looking Tammie kindly passed on her recipe. Tammie and I have a lot in common and are in many ways alike, we love to bake things with sugar in them and we love to do homebaked gifts. She says its because she is from the Mid West States and people out there don't cook anything without fat or sugar. Sounds perfect to me. If people had "sister cities" like towns have, she would be mine!

I talked in earlier posts about simple recipes and needing more of a challenge. I may have to make an exception for Raindeer Chow. It tastes awesome, looks very festive and is so simple and it is a great fun to do with the kids!

It contains two types of sugary american cereal - honey and chocoalate chex, pretzels, M&Ms, cashews and white chocolate. Simply mix all ingredients (left) except white chocolate and then pour melted white chocolate over it. Refridgerate if you live in a hot climate like me and then break into pieces for devouring. Next time I am going to use the christmas M&Ms and may also add marshmallows. It didn't photograph as good as it looked - it looked very festive and yummy.

This stuff is not for the faint hearted. It gives you a real sugar hit. I told Tammie it made my teeth hurt! It is addictive.

The workaholic took it in to his office with the warning to only let them have once piece each due to sugar content. What can I say, it was a Friday and obviously those Child Protection workers do not know how to exercise restraint as the whole office was described as absolutely "buzzing" and "manic"that afternoon. LOL.

Crack coccaine indeed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Peppermint Bark

Yes, yes, more chocolate, beautiful white chocolate with crushed peppermint candy canes stirred through it, before letting it set and then breaking it up to share and tada... you have peppermint bark.

I have a weird confession. I don't really understand the reconstitution of items to make something that is basically the same as what they started as. Melting chocolate to turn into, well, chocolate is not my first choice to bake/experiment with.

I totally get mixing a variety of raw ingredients to make something else, ie, a cake or biscuit but to do something to have it turn out the same thing just seems strange to me.

However, Peppermint Bark and lots of things like it: White Christmas, Chocolate truffles, etc are wildly popular and addictive. I really enjoy eating them and seeing other people enjoy them but I do not make them often at Christmas. I guess I like a challenge now days and trying new things. Having said that, the simple things in life are often the best and who can argue with CHOCOLATE!!

I made the Peppermint Truffles and yesterday I made Peppermint Bark and little dark chocolate Santas.

All of them require melting of chocolate to then reform in a different shape and are simple, meaning I can whip them up between kinder runs and other household duties, and don't need to concentrate on elaborate recipes.

I must say that all three items where a hit and I will be repeating them at various stages this christmas.

All of them are great if you are time poor, and lets face it, these days most people are. Personally, I could bake 24/7 because it is my thing, but many others would prefer to do millions of other things that give them pleasure like read a book, work in the garden, exercise or play the piano and could think of nothing worse than standing in the kitchen.

And this is why I will be making them and several other things this christmas. As I said in previous posts, I like to give baked goods because I know they give pleasure and I think home made baking is becoming a lost art with huge sections of the population, and that is a shame. Nothing tastes as good as home made.

A few of these easy but delicious items are exactly what I need right now because I fly home for christmas to my old beautiful beach town of Mornington and our families and friends in about 10 days and I have a heap of baked goods to make to give out as gifts. There are lots of demands on my time right now, what with end of year preschool and kinder concerts, christmas carols and other social functions, not to mention the usual demands of two children and a Workaholic husband, I need all the simple but delicious recipes I can find! I will mix them in with the more time consuming, finely decorated cup cakes and biscuits I like to experiment with.

So if you are new to this kitchen caper and are looking for something to make and give this christmas you really should try some Peppermint Bark, White Christmas or Chocolate Balls. They are a good place to start.

I might see you at the local supermarket, I'll race you to the chocolate isle!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Brownies

Okay, Brownies are not the most photogenic things in the world, but these particular ones do taste gorgeous.

Being Australian, the brownie does not feature regularily in my diet. In fact I have only ever made them once many years ago and called it a failure as it tasted like a very dry, crunchy cake.

I can not remember buying one ever. Which is very strange given my love for all things chocolate.

So what changed my mind? Well, this recipe. It is, as I mentioned in my last post, one of those normal everyday things publishers/chefs rename from the simple Raspberry Brownie to the "Christmas Brownie" this time of year to sell more magazines. (Guess who used to work in Marketing and is a bit cynical??!).

The recipe contains white chocolate, frozen raspberries and lots of the standard brownie ingredients. I think the raspberries make the difference. Adding beautiful summer fruit to any desert is a winner in my book, and makes everything more moist.

I have also learnt alot more about brownie baking since my first attempt and really kept my eye on the oven.

The Workaholic's samplers were chasing him down the corridors of the workplace for more - even those on the usual summer "diets" and some who are not fond of the cup cake icing even thought they were better than my cup cakes!

Shame, shame, how can that be, better than a cupcake? Never.....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mmmmmm Chocolate!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love chocolate. Nothing fancy mind. Just good old fashion chocolate - plain cadbury's is fine. However, over the last couple of years, I have developed a hankering for dark chocolate. It is always my reward for finishing what is a massive food shop for my family.

I love this time of year. This is when baking really comes into its own. Over the last month, I have been pouring over my cook books and magazines to plan out my Christmas baking. For years now, I have always baked gifts for friends, workmates, kinder teachers and so on. I am well versed in shortbread, chocolate balls, mince pies, peppermint bark etc. I will always bake those old favorites but I wanted to branch out this year.

I have not been paying attention in previous years, because I had the old favourites. I have discovered that christmas is just an excuse for publishers to wack on the word "christmas" in front of anything. I have seen "christmas brownies" (which I have to say are damn good, but more on that next time), christmas cookies (looked like the recipe for sugar cookies to me), christmas gingerbread men (that sell as plain old gingerbread men the other 11 months) and now we have christmas chocolate balls. Taaadaaa! Funny, I have seen them as Chocolate Truffles in previous issues.

Never mind. I don't care, I love chocolate, I have never made a truffle and even better, this recipe called for peppermint liqueur. Just to digress a minute for the Australian's amongst us, I feel there is a clear side, you are either a Tim Tam fan or a Mint Slice fan. I fall firmly in the Mint Slice camp. Always have. Nothing beats them, you can bring out all your special flavour type Tim Tams you like. Mint Slice wins hands down, which is why this recipe appealed to me. It had dark chocolate AND Mint. You can't loose.

Anyway, the recipe called for melting of dark chocolate, butter and cream. Easy done. You then take 2 Peppermint Crisps (not sure if you can get these outside Australia but it is basically a green coloured peppermint candy bar covered in chocolate) and crush them up. Stir them into the melted mix and cool in fridge for 3-4 hours.

What is supposed to happen next is you take the mix out of the fridge and simply "roll into perfect balls". Are you kidding? The mix was as hard as concrete. I left it on the bench to soften and nothing much happened. I ended up scraping of bits at a time. Then, maybe I didn't crush the Peppermint Crisp enough but my perfect balls weren't so perfect. Tried my best but I have the hottest hands in the Southern Hemisphere so what were hard as rocks quickly started to melt between my hands. I perserved. Who likes a perfect ball anyway? I will give you a hint - obsessive compulsive me, that's who.

Once the balls were done. I had to put them back in the fridge to recover. Then I melted more dark chocolate and dipped the balls into them. Then back in the fridge to harden. Finally, I melted some white chocolate to drizzle over them before popping them back in the fridge to harden.

Phew!!! I then decided they could do with a bit of dressing up and put them in tiny cup cake papers.

They tasted divine and were well received at our dinner party last night and by my 32 week pregnant mother of two girls under 4 girlfriend today who was having a bad day. Chocolate solves everything!

I must say, I now know why those "handmade" truffles in little delis and chocolate shops cost so much per serve. There are a lot of man hours in this delight!

Anyway, this kicks of the christmas baking for me. Lots more to come this month.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Movember" cup cakes

So here we are at the end of "Movember". Thank god! Facial hair is not my thing - even if you are Brad Pitt, so I haveAdd Image endured the month of November as the Workaholic and his work mates grew facial hair for charity. Enough already. It's the 30th. Shave them off!!!

Breathe Kate, just breathe.

I used the whole thing as another excuse for cup cakes. However, it couldn't be a delicate pretty little thing, it had to be a man's mans cup cake. Rich and blokey and full of body. This is why I could not go past the Guinness Chocolate Cup Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Irish Baileys Buttercream Icing.

It is not for the faint hearted. It calls for a cup of Guinness, some whiskey (which I didn't bother with) for the ganche and Bailey's Irish Cream in the icing.

It is full of chocolate. Dark Chocolate in the cake, dark chocolate in the ganache, chocolate everwhere.

They were very easy to make and required me to try something different, in that I had to scoop out some of the top of the cake to pour in the ganache, before icing. I think the tasters will be in for a pleasant surprise tomorrow at the fundraiser. Two of their favorite ingredients - chocolate and alcohol and a new element, ganache filled cup cakes! The recipe didn't require lots of beating which was a bit out of my comfort zone, I just love to beat and I feel a bit weird and not quite worthy when the recipe is so easy.

I had to do something "mo" like for the toppers so I just printed out "cut out moustaches" from the internet (I love the internet - you can find anything!!) and laminated them before cutting them out and sticking them on toothpicks.

I think they turned out well, however I do prefer my toppers edible. Less fidly for the eater that way.

So enjoy my fellow fundraisers and dig deep into your pockets for Movember.

Also, congratulations to the Irish girls who were winners of the silent auction for Movember at the workaholic's office who bid $100 for a tray of my cup cakes - who knows you may change your choice of flavours after this one!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving or any excuse for another cup cake!

Mmmm, how I love sweet things with Pumpkin. Three Americans conspired to bring you this blog entry. 1. Martha Stewart who came up with this recipe. 2. Judy, my blogger friend, who put the result on her blog, and 3. My lovely American friend, Tammy who lives in Alice Springs and happened to have a can or two of Pumpkin she was willing to donate to my obsession!

These Pumpkin Cup Cakes baked so well I even took a photo of them "naked" pre incing. I made mini ones (as per first pic) and regular ones with very big pumpkins on top. In hindsight, those pumpkins should have been smaller but as Tammy said "there is no such thing as too much".

Everything just worked with this recipe, it was like poetry. Martha has come through with the cup cakes! The taste testers loved them and keep urging me to start my own business which is reassuring, they also agreed with me on the smaller pumpkin thought.

This entry will be short and sweet, not much to say when everything falls into place. I have also had a busy few weeks with some paid baking orders and some "love" orders for preschool break ups and camping trips with friends so I am going to stay out of the kitchen for a couple of days - this should be interesting, I usually get withdrawals after a couple of hours!

Next week will be the start of all things christmas and a few other bits and pieces for good measure.

Aunty Chris' Choc Chip Cookies

You heard it here first - this is the best choc chip cookie you will ever taste. Forget Ms M Stewart, forget Ms N Lawson, forget Ms D Hay who have claimed to have the best recipe, they don't! Trust me.

The best choc chip cookie comes from Germany in the form of my "aunty" Chris. These are my cookies of childhood. I loved going to her place and seeing the cookie jar full. I have tried many others and none stack up. Particularly not the lot you see on counters in coffee shops - do not touch them. The only thing you could possibly use these for are to play Frisbee in the park on a sunny afternoon - they are not edible.

Anyway, my long time football friends will remember these with nostalgia. I was not allowed to front up to the football (go pies!) on a Saturday without these. They were famous throughout our friendship group in the 90's. One of my friends even started selling them at the local markets. Another friend (Hi Michelle) still talks about them to this day, some 15 years after she first tasted them - and yes, I started baking them when I was 10!

I must admit, I haven't made them for a looooong time - my brother, Andrew and the Workaholic would remember the last time fondly (you know what I am talking about you two troublemakers!). They have been pushed back in the recipe shelf while other things took over, ie, kids, cup cakes, life etc. But my fellow blogger, Judy, reminded me of them when she did hers in the cute little cup cake holders - so arty! It got me thinking about the many hours in my twenties spent making them and, more importantly, eating the cookie dough. It is seriously addictive.

I have researched many choc chip cookie recipes over the last few weeks, as well as baked them, including Martha Stewart's. They are all fairly similar in ingredient make up but I believe they are missing one key ingredient that really sets my Aunty Chris' apart from them - rolled oats! This magic ingredient just gives it more texture, more body, more reasons to eat the cookie dough before you even bake them!

I am going to do something I don't normally do and post the recipe because these are seriously addictive. The Workaholic's colleagues agree and said they were the best cookies they have ever tasted.

Here is to Aunty Chris and her wonderful cookies. I implore you to try them, you will not be disappointed. Enjoy.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats (used to make porridge)
1 cup dark choc chip bits
1 cup flour

Cream butter and sugars until light in colour. Add egg, water and vanilla. Sift flour, soda and salt. Blend into cream mixture. Stir in oats and choc chips by hand. Spoon onto greased or lined trays leaving some room for them to spread and bake in moderate oven (about 190) for 10 minutes or until LIGHT brown. Let sit on tray for minute and then lift off onto cooling racks. Makes about 18.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Workaholic

This "star" or "starfish" cake was just a bit of fun for the kids to help celebrate the Workaholic's birthday.

I always do a kid friendly cake for the Workaholic's and my birthday, as the kids get a real kick out of it. And really, at our age (cue the violins!), birthdays and other celebrations are for the kids. They get so excited, seeing the cake, decorations and presents - even though it is not for them.

This cake called for 79 mini cup cakes and one big cup cake. It was fairly simple to pull together and looked bright and happy, just like my Workaholic.

The only flaw was that summer has hit and we had a 39 degree day today, with 40's expected from now until Easter, and my icing started to melt within the 5 minute drive to town. Never happened before. This means I am going to have to look for a firmer icing. It's a bit of a shame as many people comment that my icing is a better flavour than the sweeter version sold in town. But as my chef friend Mike says, "Presentation is everything, ladies" so I guess I may have to compromise on taste. Not much point in having a great tasting icing if it wont stand up at the markets.

Happy Birthday Honey. Hope you had a great day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Caramel Bliss "Cup Cakes"

I am in heaven.

These are delicious.

If you are a reader of my blog you will know that the Workaholic's work mates had a whip round in support of my baking recently.

I had been eyeing off a couple of recipes that require a hand beater over a stove. So, with a little cash in my pocket, I went down to the local Kmart and purchased one, along with a few other bits and pieces. Thank you, work mates!! However, once you taste these tomorrow (at Victoria's farewell - :( good bye Victoria) you may think it is a fair trade.

I used the hand beater to whip up my first ever batch of hand made marshmallow to top a butternut snap cookie filled with some caramel sauce - Jennifer from The Crabapple Bakery calls it the Caramel Bliss Cup Cake (oops, I have slipped back into cupcakes!) and she is right. The combination of flavours are too die for.

The recipe seems quite simple on the surface, but it is time consuming. The base is just store bought Butternut Snap Biscuits, warmed over patty pan trays and then "pushed" down to form a cup when they are soft.

The filling is a tin of condensed milk, boiled on a stove for 2 hours (yes, TWO HOURS) immersed in water before whipping some cream through it.

Those first two steps are simple, although the boiling is time consuming.

The next step is a little tricky or laborious - hand beating the ingredients for the marshmallow topping. The recipe calls for corn syrup. Corn syrup?? You do remember I live in Alice Springs? Anyway, searched high and low. Finally found it at my local corner store, not the majors, for a decadent $9!! Thank goodness you don't have to use a lot, so the bottle will last for ages.

The whipping of the marshmallow caused chaos in the kitchen, splatters every where, thought I was going to have to call in the crime scene clean up crew! Luckily my trusty apprentice (aka the Workaholic - thank you, thank you, thank you!) was on hand and cleaned up around me as we went. Reminded me a bit of the guy at the end of the cartoons sweeping up the set!! LOL!

Finally, I drizzled some chocolate on the top.

Some of the family had a sneak taste today and loved them, although I do notice the biscuits are a bit soft or soggy, so eating them is a bit messy. Not sure if it is the heat here at the moment or something else. Judging by the oohs and ahhs from the taste testers, I think the whole flavour combination will make the sticky fingers worth it!

So, there you go, another "new" experiment in the kitchen.

It is the Workaholic's birthday tomorrow and I am going to embarrass the man but taking the kids and a cake into work. Happy Birthday honey!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Snickerdoodles - the good, the bad and the ugly!

One of these snickerdoodles is from an American recipe, one is from a very well known UK chef. One looks very appealing and tastes just amazing. The other tastes quite good but looks like something I don't think we should discuss here!

Oh, how I love a snickerdoodle. While an exchange student some 20 years ago in a very small rural town in the middle of Iowa (stop the jokes now!), I knew them as Cinnamon and Sugar cookies. My lovely American friend, Tammie is slowly decoding my descriptions of dishes and bringing me their correct names and sometimes recipes.

This one (the good one) I found myself on an American recipe site, sent in by a reader. Thank you Mrs Sigg!

As for you Ms N Lawson (renowned chef) , please throw away your recipe and start again. Although I must say, what was I thinking??? Using a recipe for an American cookie from a Pommie! Yet another lesson learn't in my journey.

Ordinarily, I would not post a picture of such a failure but I thought, what is this blog about except for the ups and downs of baking? I rarely have a failure, probably because I play it very safe. Whereas over the last week, I have excelled in failures! This is because I have been stepping out of my comfort zone (see sponges) - not that cookies are outside my comfort zone, but obviously this recipe was wrong, just wrong!

Anyway, the whole bunch of good snickerdoodles went into the Workaholics office, never to be seen again, and loved!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Conquering my baking fears.......

I have a confession to make...there are a few things in the baking genre that I am afraid to try:

1. Sponges

2. Pavlova

3. Souffle

It is irrational really but there you go. When I look at the list now written before me I think I am afraid of "things that rise!" (said followed by dramatic music aka Law and Order style).

I can see now that all of these require spectacular feats in rising and staying that way! The pavlova also has the added complication and fear because it has to be crisp on the outside and really chewy and marshmallowy on the inside. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like the pavlovas you buy in the shop. If you are tempted to buy this shop version, back away quickly and think of something else to bake, take, whatever. It is so second rate. What's more my grandma is the absolute best pavlova maker ever.

Anyway, enough of my fears. I am about to stare them in the face and start conquering them!

Starting with the sponge.

One of my absolute favourite cakes from childhood is a ginger fluff sponge. My mum makes the best one, often for my birthday (oven permitting - we wont mention the 2006 attempt, or should we say 4 attempts!).

I have never been into trying to do it myself. I think I was thinking it would ruin the magic of that once a year birthday treat but I had been eyeing a recipe for it in my favourite cupcake book, The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook, for some time.

I decided that Halloween BBQ night was the night! The kids had their cupcakes and cookies, we needed something all grown up.

The recipe involved lots of beating and eggs before some careful folding of flours into mix. Into the oven it went, all good so far. Out of the oven it went all risen and light looking gorgeous. It sat in the tin on the counter while I watched it slowly shrink into itself. I had a mild panic. How far would it go? Luckily it stopped after about 1 cm. Phew. And lucky I had a plan for its decoration which meant a little shrinkage would not matter.

In a twist on the usual cream filling and top, this recipe called for a apple filling (my absolute favorite combo - cake and apple). So I piped cream around the edges of the bottom cake and then filled in the rest with the apple mix.

I put a thin layer of cream around the edges and then pressed some italian biscuits around the sides (at the BBQ we lovingly referred to them as fence palings - ie "I will have two fence palings of cake). I then tied two pink ribbons around the side to finish it off.

The top of the cake was whipped cream with vanilla and a touch of sugar. I then crushed up some ginger biscuits. The original recipe called for fresh flowers to sit on top - but this is the desert so we need to be practical about this, so I put on some of my hand moulded flowers.

It turned out really well. Most of us didn't eat the biscuits or "fence palings", they are pretty dry and usually dipped in coffee so probably best as decoration.

I am so glad I attempted the sponge cake. It worked out really well. My only regret is that I didn't get a cross section photo of the cake. It was something to behold. Even the host brought it out to show the rest of the guests!

Now, on to stage two of sponge conquering. The "Butterfly sponge". These are probably somewhat old fashion now but if you cast your minds back to childhood you will probably remember the cup cake size sponges. They had the top cut off, jam and cream put in the hole and then the cut out cake, cut in half to make butterfly wings, topped with strawberries and dusted with icing sugar.

Again, I had been eyeing this off in my favourite book but I should have known something was up when in the notes Jennifer says, "we use our vanilla cake at the bakery rather than the sponge recipe but here is one for those who want to try". If the queen of cup cakes doesn't do little sponge cakes, why did I think I could?

They required 15 minutes of beating of the eggs, followed by 10 minutes with the sugar before some very careful folding. The batter looked really good but once in the oven they did not rise as much as expected and they did not look stable enough to cut the hole in them. I ended up swirling the jam and cream mix on top like I do with normal cup cakes and topping with a strawberry.

I decided not to waste them and so took them to the Workaholics office. I figured they had tasted all my successes and they could take the bad with the good. To my surprise they absolutely adored them and they inspired a whip around to the tune of $55. Just goes to show that someones trash is someone elses treasure.

So, to sum up, the big sponge is probably more my thing, rather than the cup cake version. If anyone has a fail proof recipe for the smaller version, I would love to have it.

Onwards and upwards! Now will it be the pavlova or the souffle????

Friday, November 6, 2009

The race that stops a nation........

I love the Melbourne Cup, in fact, I love the Spring Racing Carnival. Not for the horses mind you but the beautiful fashion that parades around the track (and some of the not so beautiful but we wont go there!). Some women and men have just got style.

What I also love and am a bit bemused by is the way Melbourne Cup Day trully does stop a nation (and half of the free world). Many, many kms from the centre of Melbourne and a couple of States away, downtown Alice Springs (and many other towns and cities around the country) went into full race mode. There was a luncheon or two, workplaces closed from lunchtime, girls paraded around the centre of this outback, dusty town all frocked up. The betting centre was full, the talk was all about racing. I have witnessed this in other states of Australia too and am convinced that while us Melbournians get a public holiday for it there are many other Australian's who get an unofficial public holiday.

I was commissioned to provide some cup cakes for a Cup Day Function. I chose to do a new recipe, something befitting the elegance that can be race day luncheons, chicken and champagne, cucumber sandwiches, strawberries and cream, cavier etc and did Orange flourless cup cakes. They were easy and a huge success. They were a bit high maintenence to start as you have to boil the oranges for an hour and then whiz them when cool, so I guess it is not something you start at 9pm as I am want to do.

Once you get the boiling out of the way, the rest is pretty much standard. They turned out very moist and delectable.

I iced half with white chocolate ganache and, due to a bit of a disaster, the other half with orange flavoured buttercream. It was my first attempt at white chocolate ganache and I must say it was very easy. My only problem was when it had chilled and thickened enough to go into the piping bag, half way through piping I came across a lump that I could not shake and blocked the tube.

With only an hour to go (because I like my recipents to get them very fresh), I ditched the ganache and iced the other half with buttercream. No one was any wiser and someone was heard to comment "they are like little drops of heaven".

I have had a busy week and a few more baking attempts to post. I say, attempts, because this has been my biggest week of some flops. I am being a grown up and trying to learn from them and I think they are happening as I am taking a leaf out of a Seattle blogger I admire who tries new things all the time. I am breaking away slightly from the tried and true cup cakes - although I will never really abandon them. I have tried sponge cake and American biscuits (snickerdoodles) this week, so they will appear soon.

Anyway, I hope you backed a winner.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Oh, how I love American holidays, they are so OTT and you can just let your imagination go wild. They give everything a red hot go and I just had to join in this year.

The cup cakes are the tried and true flourless chocolate ones, although I did some basic chocolate ones for the kids, which one 12 year old boy said were "gorgeous!". The front cup cakes are witches, the middle are hand made pumpkins. I used a toothpick to make the creases in the pumpkin and then some little holly leaves for the top. Topped it off with some gold glitter. The back ones were bats. Don't you just love the orange in the icing? So Halloween.

I had so much fun making them and best of all I got paid to do it! Lets hope more of that comes my way.

The gingerbread mummies were made for a Halloween BBQ we went to. More on the adult dessert in another blog. I have to confess I borrowed the idea from an American website but my Australian hosts were none the wiser. Sometimes it is the simple things that are the best. I just got the actual gingerbread recipe from a coles brochure in store while doing the groceries and it tasted Divine. The top is just melted white chocolate and mini M&Ms.

We took the kids trick or treating in the American section of town for the first time. So cute dressed in costumes. Unfortunately one of our friends scared poor Alice while trying to scare some teenagers and given it was the second house we went to, she only managed to do two more houses before she gave it up. Too scared. Better luck next time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Alice!

It is my baby girls birthday today. She turned three. She is a typical girl in many ways, she loves pink, barbies, Dora the Explorer, pink, playing babies, fairies, and pink. And a not so typical girl in that she refuses to wear a dress or skirt or have her hair put up.

Either way she is gorgeous, spirited, funny and I love her and her big brother.

I thought I would make life easy on myself and do a simple round cake, ice it pink and stick fairies, butterflies and flowers on it. Sound good? Yes.

At the last moment, I discovered, yet again, that if you look hard enough our small town can provide anything. This time I stumbled across a stay at home mum who has just started a business hiring out novelty cake tins. What a great idea. Rather than having to buy a cake tin for $40 and only use it once, you can now hire for a measley $10, any cake tin you desire.

I took this as a sign to do the Dora the Explorer cake my little girl had mentioned occasionally. Next time I will take it as a "wrong way, go back" sign!

I picked up the tin on Friday night, fresh out of the pool from the kids swimming lessons. Had great ideas of baking it that night before my parents arrived the next day from interstate. Alas, I was just too tired.

The next day brought 40 plus degree heat (summer is here!), a really leaky shower, a broken pool pump (both of which translate into a cranky Workaholic) and a house full of people trying to cool off in our pool - which was excellent fun. So no cake.

The Sunday brought more 40 degrees heat but I managed to bake the cake in the morning and after a day of swimming and playing with the kids and my parents, an hour and a half in the kitchen at night decorating Dora.

I have discovered a couple of things:

  • I am really woeful at doing faces

  • Dora now has missing fingers! Who knew?

  • the "easy to use" novelty tins aren't that easy to use

  • I am a bit of a perfectionist and I want to throw out the cake and start again, however, my kids took one look at the cake and recognised "Dora" and loved it - isn't that the main thing??

So I will post it here, just take it at face value, but know I am much better at cupcakes!!! I am very frustrated with the Blog at the moment. I can't get the paragraph breaks to stay in, nor can I get the photo to be the right way!! You'll need to turn your head sideways!

I hope you had a great day, Alice.

not to be left out, some for the workers....the lumberjack cake

Apparently, this is my "best yet" according to some of the Workaholics staff. I could not send in cupcakes for the big wigs from Darwin without looking after my loyal eaters. So I got back to my golden rule and tried a new recipe.

This is a "Lumberjack" cupcake or a apple and date cupcake with cream cheese frosting and gold glitter for the "bling".

The people that know me will LOL as I am not into bling but I think this was subtle enough.

The recipe said to finely chop apple and dates but I kept them fairly chunky as I like a cupcake with body. Last time I did some apple cupcakes I felt that pureeing the apple ruined the whole thing. Note to self: Must try that one again with chunks!

Anyway, this batch ended with a few more people urging me to sell my wares at the Sunday market or from home. So many comments, particularily along the lines of "why are you wasting your talents on us". But I don't feel that way, I love to bake and I can not eat all the wares myself or they will need a crane to get me out of the house, so they are doing me a favour. I also know that a bit of homebaked goods can't hurt the Workholics reputation as the big boss and at the end of the day they are doing big hours in stressful jobs and deserve all the yummy stuff they get. So, enjoy!

Impressing the boss...

So, the Workaholics Director flew in from Darwin late last week with a request for my cupcakes. (the "W"orkaholic managed to read the blog the other day and thought his name deserved a BIG W, so here goes!).
I cheated a bit and went with the Flourless Chocolate one instead of following my rules of always trying a new flavour.
It got rave reviews and I am having so much fun making new cupcake toppers, including this double star.
Also, the Workaholics office have been having a whip round for donations for me in the hope that I keep baking and they see/eat the results. This meant I was able to buy a fantastic cake decorating book I have had my eyes on for a while. Thank you guys! I can't wait to have a couple of spare moments to try some things in there.
In the meantime, I have my youngest's birthday tomorrow, stay tuned for that disaster of a cake, as well as visitors and preschool commitments for the next couple of weeks so the blog might be a bit slow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy 10th Anniversary Trish & Adam!

Made a tray of these to take to our friends 10th wedding anniversary BBQ. Had a great day full of sunshine, conversation and yummy BBQ. Lots of comments on the cupcakes. The host, Trish had made a beautiful looking pavlova reminiscent of my Grandma's. Love a homemade pav! Poor Trish had had a mixer disaster too but hubby had saved the day by whipping out the hand held mixer. Must be the week for mixer blow ups.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coffee & Walnut Cake & Frangapani flowers

Oh, the joys of a moulded flower. The workaholic was off in Darwin again this week, so I spent the night in front of the box making flowers and other moulded things. Had a ball. Gone are the days of putting your flower together piece by piece. This is great.

The cup cake itself is coffee and walnut and got rave reviews in the workaholics office.

Really think I am getting closer to doing a market stall......pity it is going to heat up very soon.

Some oldies I have done for family and paying customers

Smaller cakes are more my thing but I have done some bigger ones. The cars one was for my son.

The butterfly for my daughter - Dora is coming up in the next few weeks

This one was for a client who was having a "bogan party" for her 30th last year in Alice. The cup cakes have the VB logo on them too.......

Obsessed smurf person's birthday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I learnt something new in my search for Banana Cup Cakes......

Have I told you I am obsessed with baking??

The workaholic was away in Darwin for a couple of nights and at about 6pm on one of the nights I glanced over at the fruit bowl and spied 4 large bananas past their prime but begging to be put in a cup cake. So......

......I promptly fed the kids and poured their tired bodies into the car and hot footed it around to the local IGA for some buttermilk and macadamias. Hey right....something the local will have.

I also reasoned with myself that I was only going to the two supermarkets in my suburb, if I had to go to "town" I would drawn the line. Now, people need to remember that I live in Alice Springs. It is a town of about 30,000. Anywhere in town is 5 minutes away. "Going to town" was not a big deal, in fact, in all honesty that is where I live, "in town". Suburbs where only created in Alice Springs for real estate agent purposes, I don't think the suburbs actually really exist anywhere out of their mind, but anyhow! Apparently, it is a big deal for me to go "to town". Apparently I have lived here too long.

Anyway, surprise, surprise, I could get the nuts at hugely inflated prices at the local but not the buttermilk - go figure. So, dejected and with two bemused kids in tow I went home. After putting the angels to bed I reasoned there must be another way to get my cakes made without compromising on buttermilk.....and after a quick internet search (what did we do pre-internet?), I discovered there was.

Now, this may be old news to everyone else but I love the fact I have discovered you can make buttermilk with white vinegar and milk. No more half used buttermilk going off in my fridge!! Love, love, love it.

So that is what I learnt. However, by the time I "learnt" it, I was over baking, so put it away for tomorrow.

But it doesnt end there. The next day I was in at the kids toy playgroup when I spied a couple of rotten bananas - what parent "donated" rotten banana's for the kids fruit platter?? That's a bit off isn't?? Bit cheeky, but given I know the lady who runs the sessions through netball, I had a quite word and said "I'll take the rotten banana's off your hands in exchange for some Banana Cup Cakes". Got no arguement and here is the result.
They have chocolate fudge icing and are toped with two of my new toppers - the cupcake and the butterfly. They were a big hit with the Play Group, one of my kids friends parents and the workaholic's workplace. I made so much I still have 10 in my fridge.

Anyway, this cup cake is dedicated to the QLDers amongst us who all probably have a great Banana Cup Cake recipe. Mine is actually borrowed from one!


The Kenwood Mixer - from brand loyal to "Sunbeam who?"

Well here it is! The Kenwood.
Anybody want to take a guess at how old it is? Apparently it was purchased in David Jones in Sydney many years ago. To scared to ask the previous owner its vintage but I would say pre 1970's - what do you think?
Anyway, fired it up over the last few days and it has been fabulous. Only down side is the noise, the poor kids leave the house for the safety of the back yard when I turn it on.
I have been experimenting with the mixer and a few new hand made cake "toppers" so you will see the photos in quick succession shortly. I am obsessed with a website called "Little Betty Baker" and have ordered quite a bit of them in the last few weeks, so much so, the owner and I are on a first name basis. Look out for Halloween cupcakes, Christmas cupcakes and even Melbourne Cup Cup Cakes soon.
Halloween & Thanksgiving are huge in Alice Springs, owing to the large American population working at "the base" or Pine Gap. The American side of town is lit up with Halloween decorations and many families sitting out the front of their houses giving away treats. I am told you need to get there by 6pm to score the loot.
And on festivities, why is Melbourne Cup Day celebrated in every place outside of Melbourne??? It trully is a race that stops a nation. The workaholic has commissed me to do some race day cup cakes for their staff function......wonder if I will get an invite!??!!! Hope they remember that Melbourne is an hour and a half in front. Hee, hee.
Anyway, till next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The search for the "perfect" chocolate cupcake...

What a busy, fulfilling and drama filled week at Baked by Kate.
I have been searching for the perfect Chocolate Cupcake for a year now. After many failed attempts of too much rising, to much sinking, inadequate flavours and just plain old disaster which turned into a very nice chocolate pudding thank you very much - I have found "the one".

It is sooooooo fudgy and dense and just performs beautifully in the oven, not to mention the tummy.

There was only one fault - this one blew up my much loved mixer! Well to be truthfull, the icing for it did. The kitchen was full of kids, icing sugar and the smell of burnt mixer, and all just 30 minutes before a school run.

After a rushed email to the workaholic (aka my husband), as usual, the beautiful people of Alice Springs responded. Twenty minutes later I had a borrowed mixer and three offers of a old one I could have along with some money in an envelope after a whip round at hubby's work. Obviously, they saw the disaster in no more afternoon sugar fixes too!!

By the end of the day, the cup cakes were iced, although not to my usual standard and demolished by happy workers.

I have now been given a "keeper" of a very old Kenwood. It is heaven and stayed tuned for my first batch of cup cakes from it.

This is a huge departure from a brand for me. I have grown up with Sunbeam mixers. Three generations (that I know of) of our family have used the old sunbeam. Oh how I long for a sunbeam of old. Mine was at least 15 years old and still I longed for an older one. The one that sat on my Grandma's bench and whizzed around, turning out beautiful cakes (but much to my dismay, rarely a lick of the beater) for more years than she would want me to share with you. It left us around 2 years ago and the whole family could not rest until she got another one. However, after much surfing, from what I can tell from product review sites, the new versions are just not the same.

I will let you know how I go with the new/old Kenwood.

Until then, long live the Flourless chocolate cupcake!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome from an obsessed baker!!

Welcome to my blog!

In my pre kids and moving to a new town life, I was Marketing Manager in the corporate world in the big city struggling with the work life balance, and when the kids did come, just plain struggling with getting enough sleep, getting to work, playing with the kids etc!! Now I relish in the challenges of being a stay at home mum of two young kids, who loves living in Alice Springs (outback Australia) and to bake.

I started baking cakes and muffins for my family and friends and then provided 'samples' to the staff at hubby's work who acted as my testers/guinea pigs, with the thought in mind of opening a small home-made cake business.

I have been inundated with compliments and constructive feedback as well as requests to provide muffins for meetings and similar, prompting me to realise after all these years of struggling to find a place I "fit" I have found my "hobby", my passion, baking, baking and more baking!

I started this blog so I could keep a record of the cakes I do and share them with friends and family. All cakes are proudly home made, no packets or pre mix commercial goods.

So here goes. This blog is a blank canvas...I hope you enjoy the pics and updates.