Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fun day with Julie Bashore

Last week, I spent the day with Julie Bashore (and some other great people, all looking to learn). She is one of Satin Ice's ambassadors. She was in New Zealand to teach us how better to use Satin Ice Fondant. Now I knew I would learn a lot - but I learnt HEAPS!

Julie is a very giving person, such a wonderful lady, who says the only stupid questions, are questions not asked.
I was particularly thrilled to learn Julies marbling technique. She has a You Tube video here on this technique.

It starts like, this after a few folds and twists, it begins to morph in to............................

Then it gets a bit of a wiggle on

When she told us, we'd be rolling our Satin Ice to 2mm, without any cornflour or icing sugar, using only a silicone mat. I only-kinda-sorta believed her. But you know what, everyone of us did it, and no one's icing tore.

In the end, we had a very crazy cake dummy, covered in marbled icing with ruffles, drapes, broderie anglaise, bows & more.

Julie demostrated making bows, our gumpaste was only 1.5mm thick. She explained a thin bow, that dries in 15 mins, is actually much stronger, than a thicker bow, which after 2 days might still not be hardened. We all made the bows too.

It was amazing covering a cake in only 2mm of fondant, how very little fondant is actually used. Providing great value for money. Julie explained she came up with this technique, after noting how people always peeled fondant of their cake, because it was too thick & rubbery. She did go on to explain, at only 2mm thick, your layer of buttercream or ganache must be very flat and smooth, so the fondant also very flat on the finished cake.

We also did fun things with crimpers - that I never knew were possible.

She also showed us one more great technique, that I didn't get photo's of. I will create it for you, in a blog post to come (once we get this move to new premises done & dusted)
I've also got more exciting news to share with you a little later from this day (think competition!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kiwicakes is on the move!

The mere thought of moving, makes me quake at the knees, but after nearly 6 years, we've simply outgrown our current location. So we're on the move. From next week we'll be operating from 1c Grant St in Kamo - Whangarei.

Kamo is a lovely village, in fact I grew up here (Kamo Kindy, Kamo Primary and Kamo High). Grant St is a quaint little street. I have always loved this giant tree right out in the middle of the road. I just adore how it hasn't been sacrificed for the road, you actually have to veer right out round it. And now I'll be able to look at it every day.

The main part of our move is this weekend (we've spent the last 2 weeks organising new shelving, paint, alarms and all sorts of other things needed for the move)

I would like to take the opportunity to ask you to bear with us, during this mammoth undertaking, we will endeavour to answer emails and ship orders in a timely manner, but please don't be offended if you call for a same day order and we just can't manage it.

Our move will mean many changes, but for those in the North, or just visiting, we'll have drop in hours, no appointment needed between 10am and 2pm daily.

Here's a sneak peek of the front our our new digs - I'll update you with an "after shot" soon.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Monkey cookie cutters in stock at Kiwicakes

I just adore these new monkey face ccokie cutters in stock at Kiwicakes. Special thanks go to Lisa from The Whole Cake & Caboodle for the photo of cookies she made using these cutters.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Salted caramel cupcakes - a taste testing adventure

This post is titled adventure. Because that is sure what it was! I've often pondered why something I adore has little or no affect on others, yet people rave about things I can take or leave - I'm talking about taste!, the taste of things that is (specifically related to cake).
I adore chocolate and mint paired together, yet we never have it here in the house, because I am the only one that thinks so, my hubby thinks its like trying to eat chocolate after you've brushed your teeth and he hates it (I'm not sure what he's on about, the thought of chocolate after brushing my teeth sounds great!)
I decided I would play around with salted caramel cupcakes, as it is a flavour I adore. I found some wonderful natural pink salt and this post grew from that purchase.
I learned an awful lot along the way. I selected a few taste testers at random (well people who were available and near by and would agree to do it), I have had to look beyond my family, as when you're surrounded by sugar all the time, like my family is, they can often complain about having to eat more cake (yeah seriously!) I had wanted to also get feedback on Wilton candy melts taste, so included this on my taste testing sheet (each taster was issued with homework). One of my taste testers is a roller derby skater, so in her honour I made the candy melts in the shape of skates.

I decided to use red velvet cupcakes. Cream cheese is most commonly paired with red velvet, so  I made one cupcake like this, as a comparison (spot #1 in top photo). Rows 2 and three are two versions of salted caramel icing. On one cupcake I sprinkled the pink salt, the other was left plain.

Surprise no#1 I had a total of 9 testers (I was the 9th). The results were wild & varied, but what surprised me was I actually had every single cupcake in the box from 1-5 be the favourite of at least 1 person. I had imagined one flavour of Salted caramel would win out over the other, or that salted would lose to non salted. NOT THE CASE.

Surprise #2 I had a preconceived notion of which flavour I would like, prior to making the icing NOT THE CASE.
My basis for the start of my salted caramel icing was to take a tin of Highlander caramel condensed milk and mix it with, what is essentially a cream cheese icing base. I expected to love this icing best of all - as I love the taste of Highlander caramel.
The reason I thought I would love this best, was the stovetop caramel I made, following a recipe from scratch was a very subtle flavour, I expected when added to icing, the icing would be too subtle for me NOT THE CASE.

Icing recipe #2 was my clear favourite, it tasted divine and was so light & fluffy, the perfect compliment to the red velvet. I also preferred it with the crunch of the pink salt crystals sprinkled over, rather than just plain.

Recipe #1 Salted caramel icing
1t in Highlander caramel condensed milk
150g butter
200g cream cheese
4-5 cups icing sugar

Beat butter & cream cheese together in electric mixer, add caramel. Slowly add icing sugar to combine, until you reach your desired consistency

Recipe #2 Salted caramel icing

4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea


180g butter at room temperature
200g cream cheese
4-5 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup salted caramel



Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat—stir with a wooden spoon to combine
Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium/medium-low heat for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Be careful. The mixture will bubble up!
Stir the mixture. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick and warm, about 20 minutes.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
Sift 2 cups of icing sugar into the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
Add 3/4 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
Sift rest of icing sugar, in 1 cup increments and beating between each, until you arrive at the thickness and sweetness you desire.

As I previously mentioned, I had a taste tester that chose each and every cupcake as their favourite, which meant none of them could have tasted bad. In fact every tester told me, they actually liked all 5, but had to pick a favourite, as required by their homework.

Some of my questions were ......
Did you prefer the cupcakes salted or unsalted? I had votes for salted & votes for unsalted - the reasons varied. One tester like #1 salted and #2 unsalted. Most agreed the texture of the granules was a nice addition
Can you explain why you prefer one cupcake over the other? The answers on this were quite varied, what one tester liked about a cupcake was what another did not like. One taste tester AKA Grandma Kiwicakes liked salted caramel #1 best "becasue it tastes like Russian fudge" (her favourite) she also preferred it salted
Did you like the red Wilton candy melts? "yes but very sweet, couldn't eat more than 1 at a time", "YES! - it was so good I could eat more" & "YES tastes like white chocolate which I love!" "Yes it had a nice white chocolate taste - not too sickly".

Surprise #3 When you leave salt granules on icing overnight, they actually melt NOT GOOD, so if salting your cupcakes, please do so just before serving.

My final conclusion - I like Salted caramel cupcake icing #2 best and I like salt granules on top. Most of my testers did not agree with me. So in short I will sum up my adventure with some wise words I've heard many times......You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

You can buy
--> the pink salt I used in this adventure at good deli's & food stores, it is a product of equagold.co.nz

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fun record cupcake stand (and Father's Day cupcakes)

This fun cupcake stand I made from three old vinyl records. (You can buy the stand fittings from Kiwicakes for $15, to make your own here). I picked three records up from an op shop. The top small record I chose for the record label "Love letters in the sand" as it seemed a lovely sentiment. I'm a huge fan of the colour duck egg blue, so I chose the bottom record for the label colour. The mid size records are harder to get, so I had to take what I could get.

It was fun to make, and really only took less than 5 minutes to screw together. No equipment is required (well other than a screw driver to tighten). I think it would be a great stand for men's parties, as there is so much pretty stuff out there geared towards ladies, but not so much for the guys. It would also be great for dance, 1950's and rock & roll parties. 

The batch of cupcakes displayed on my stand were made for Father's Day. They are orange flavoured cake - I wanted a grown up flavour. Having only just discovered flavoured drinking chocolate from Cadbury, I decided to try "Caramel Chocolate Cream Cheese icing", and at the last minute I added a dash of Cointreau liquer. Initially I worried the flavour was a disaster. Taste testing it, I couldn't decide if the caramel killed it, or the drinking chocolate did. Or even if the liquer simply didn't work with it. I taste tested it time and time again, and in the end decided it was actually nice. I dashed a sample through to a taste tester (aka hubby) and he declared it good (he is not always complimentary).

I always taste every icing I make, long before it gets near cake. What was a revelation with this icing - was just how much better it worked in conjunction with the cake. Now some might say that is true of all icings, but not me, I am an eat-it-from-the-bowl kind of girl, so this was really a surprise.

The cupcakes are iced using tip 1a The chocolate musical notes ar emilk chocolate moulded using a musical notes chocopick mould (the beauty is the pic is moulded right in to the chocolate)
If you like to try my icing. Here is the recipe.

1 250g block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
115g butter
4 cups icing sugar
1/2cup Cadbury caramel drinking chocolate
2 tbsp Cointreau liquer

In an electric mixer. Mix cream cheese and butter together until well blended. Add drinking chocolate and icing sugar a little at a time. add cointreau. Beat well.
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