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.