Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cupcakes from afar

Finally a quiet weekend!  It feels like the calm before the storm.......

I got an email from Jess of Simply favours, who is based in New Zealand, to ask me about surprising her Mum for her birthday.  You see, Jess' mum was in Perth, helping out with the newest addition to the family, baby Chloe.  I was delighted that through the wonders of modern technology (yes, that makes me sound old).... that Jess found me on flickr.

Jess decided on cupcakes of the family.

 The idea that even though all of the family couldn't be together for her Mum's birthday, that they were all there on cupcakes!

I had visitors from out of town staying with us (think carefully when you extend such offers) and too many people in a small house isn't the most ideal environment for cake decorating.  But Jess' thoughtful gift was just an order I could not refuse.  After all, mums are pretty important people!  I hope the cupcakes were all enjoyed and that the lucky mum had a wonderful birthday!

Planet Cake Perth Classes
I am returning to the mother ship next month for the Masters course at Planet Cake Sydney.  I am sooo very excited!   Just a quick reminder to those of you who have not already enrolled, Perth classes start 31 July at Epicurious in Subiaco.  Get onto the Planet Cake site and join us! 

New course Basic 103 features this stunning 2 tiered cake.  Imagine how accomplished you'd feel after completing this fabulous 2 day course!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Winter in the Swan Valley

We picked a lovely Winter sunshined filled weekend to visit the Swan Valley.  Just 20 minutes from the CBD the Swan Valley has improved somewhat since my last visit.  Every day, it feel more like Margaret River, the idea of driving into a whole different world never loses its novelty.

Way, way back when I was a very little girl, when market gardens and fruit growers were so close to the city, I remember weekend trips where we'd pick our own grapes, eat to our hearts content and roadside stalls filled with loquats, lemons and melons were never manned, graced only with an honesty box.  With sunkissed cheeks and with our bellies full of fruit, we'd happily fall asleep on the drive home.

Surprising myself this weekend, I found the great outdoors in the Swan Valley, wonderfully beautiful.   Blue skies, grape vines and autumn leaves everywhere.  It was really quite charming.

When in the Swan Valley, must visit places are,

The Olive farm winery, small family owned estate, producing award winning Chenin Blanc.  Anthony Yurisich the owner and winemaker mostly mans the cellar door on weekends, and loves to have a passionate chat about his wines and grapes.

John Kosovich Wines which is a small producer with a charming sales and tasting area in the working cellar of the winery.  They produce a wonderful Unoaked Chardonnay and I was unable to resist buying one of the last few bottles of the limited Rose Blanc.

Sandalford Winery and restaurant is also a lovely place to stop. The tasting will cost you $2.50 but they have a huge selection of wines produced from grapes both in the Swan Valley and Margaret River.   More commerical than the previous wineries, it is also the venue of 'A Day on the Greens' concerts.  I still have fond memories of Lionel Richie with Marcia Hines in '08 and now we're looking forward to Michael Buble march 2011.

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory is a must stop for fabulous icecreams and award winning truffles.  Chocolate tastings are free and watch the truffles being made whilst oggling at the giant conches of molten chocolate.

When you get hungry there are a whole myriad of wonderful restaurants catering to every taste.  High on my favourites would be, Lamonts, Chesters and they very beautiful Caversham House.

Take time to let the sun shine on your face and to smell the flowers.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Young love

I was delighted to have been asked to make Jessica and Sean's wedding cake this weekend.  Jess managed to pull a wedding for 100 guests together in less than 6 weeks.  Originally scheduled for November, the celebration was bought forward to accomodate Jess' brother visiting from Scotland.

Jess is a lovely, blushing young bride.  At the tender age of 20, she is bright, bubbly and a real pleasure to be around.  Her enthusiam at seeing the cakes was so delightful, it makes all the late nights and the cleaning up, totally worthwhile. 

Jess chose a chocolate cutting cake, with a design inspired by fellow PC graduate, Rouvelee.  Chocolate cupcakes with a dusting of sparkles were coaxed into a small towered display and the others were distributed as bonbonnieres.  Wishing you both much happiness in your new adventures ahead!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ben Ten, bees and cake without the bake....

It was a lovely long weekend here in the Western State of Australia.  There is nothing quite like having an extra day to the weekend.   It is also the start of Truffle harvesting in WA.  So it was a great excuse to sample some of those newly unearthed Manjimup treasures, a group of us did so at the wonderful LoZucchero in Dalkeith, the best truffle pizza and an amazing freshly made Angel hair pasta with shaved truffle.....it didn't even last long enough to be photographed! If you live in WA and you haven't had some, please do, before it all heads overseas.....particularly to Michelin 3 starred Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa Valley, California.

Enough about the food, here is something about the cake.  This weekend Declan turned 4.  They grow up so fast!  I remember making Deckie's 2nd birthday cake, back then, his passion was doggies, and so he got a chocolate cake with a chocolate dog.  Last year, apparently it was spiderman (I didn't make the cake), and this year its Ben Ten.  

It seems that every little boy under 6 is entranced Ben, who can turn into 10 different aliens with the help of his watch/bracelet/omnitrix.....    A cake to cut with family and friends and loads of cupcakes to take to preschool for all his little classmates.

Doting mum Diana was concerned that the omnitrix was far too masculine for the little ladies in the class and so we went politically correct and did half with flowers and half for the ones that wanted turn into little aliens.....

I much prefered the little bees....  

Its so sad to loose a wing!

After all that sugar modelling, baking, caking and ganaching.......I couldn't bring myself to bake for my amazing friend Lilo (sorry Lilo).......

So what does a girl do when a cake is promised and you just can't be stuffed baking??  An icebox cake of course.  Another great American invention.

Layers of graham honey crackers layered with lightly sweetened cream or pudding.  I added Amarula cream liqueur ganache between the layers and stacked it real high, then finished it with a chocolate collar.

It tasted just like an icecream sandwich!  The cream moistens the crackers making them moreish and cake like.  If you can't find graham crackers, I think an oreo cookie icebox cake would be equally amazing!  Next time I attempt it I will not fear the cream, and lather it on thicker.  :) HHmmmmm cream..............