February 27, 2012

Yoda Cake & a whole lotta fun!

Hi everyone!

Remember in my last post, I mentioned I was making a Yoda Cake? Well here it is!!!

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I have to say I was really nervous about this cake but I thought just give it your best shot and see what happens and I have to say I'm quite pleased with the result. Having said that though, there's somethings I would've done differently... for one, my Yoda's gotta go on a diet, he's slightly a little fatter than he should be and his nose needs to be a bit smaller and he needs to be grumpier/more serious etc etc I could go on but I'll spare you. Either way it was awesome fun making it. The flavour of the cake was a red velvet with chocolate ganache and a hint of Frangelico (maybe I lie.. think it was a little more than a hint ;)).

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I got to use a new technique I've been wanting to try out for ages. This technique was hand painting on fondant. A little daunting at first because I didnt know how strong the colour would be or how the shades would blend in but I guess I kinda went with it and ended up kinda playing to my artsy side.

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I wish I had some progression shots of it all, but unfortunately when I get stuck in I forget all else so the final product is all I have folks. :) In hind sight I also kinda wished I had put some "hair" on Yoda, I was gonna go with fairy floss but then I thought he might look like a bit of a cross between Einstein and Yoda... mmm dunno, if any of you guys can think of something let me know :)

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I managed to finish the cake well before time which meant I was able to go relax and have some fun!! It was a beeeaauuutttiffulll summers day on Sat, so after meeting the lovely A to drop off the cake for her Beau we headed to the Sydney Cellar Door for the NSW Wine Festival in Hyde Park.

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We went last year so we thought it would be great fun to go again this year and what a good call it was. It was a bit bigger this year, spilling out across 2 sections of the park and there was more spaces to sit and relax. 

After a bit of a commotion with the other lads trying to find us, we finally hit the food stalls. I had the pulled pork roll from Bodegna and Porteno last year so I wanted to try something different. Some of the stalls I saw were Bau Troung - Vietnamese cuisine in Canley Vale, Tony Bilson at Home by Moobi Valley - Modern Australian/French, Bar Coco - really cute stall that had a pull cart and Vespa looking thing that sold icecream and coffees MmmmMmm. 

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In the end I caved into the Black beef Angus Sandwich at the Tony Bilson stall. It was served on a lovely fresh crusty bun with a beautiful onion relish and some mesclun to cut through the fattiness. We made a mini stop over at our first wine stall - Capital Wines from the Canberra Region before heading back to our lovely picnic table. We tried the 94/100 James Haliday rated 2009 Chardonnay. Cynical at first as I've never had a wine from Canberra before, I was really impressed! It wasnt dry and was so light and refreshing, perfect for that scorching summer morning. 

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Out of all the wines we tried that day, heres a list of reviews of the ones I can remember lol:

Audrey Wilkinson - 2011 Moscato - Everytime I head to Hunter Valley I always visit this winery, its got a gorgeous cottage like cellar door overlooking the vineyard. Their moscato has a very distinct floral/rose scent when you first go to take a sip, there after, the fruit crisp taste follows. The difference of this moscato compared to the others out there is that its sweetness is not too overbearing but works well with the both the mouthfeel and the flavours of the wine. Its just such a delight. $22 a bottle.

Savannah Estate - Zibbibo (Hunter Region). This was a sparkling sweet wine also from the Hunter Region. I loved that it wasnt as sweet as a moscato but it was slightly sweeter than a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. Again it was really refreshing and awesome to share with friends by a pool ... or in our case a park ;) $20 a bottle. 

Coolangatta Estate - Savagnin (Shoalhaven Region). The name of this wine intrigued me because I've never heard of it before and like the lady could read our minds she was quick to say it actually had no relation to a Sauvignon Blanc at all. This was a very very very dry white. 

Tyrell's Wines - Sparkling Pinot Noir  (Hunter Region) - Contrary to what the name suggests it was actually a sparkling white instead of red. It's light fresh and not sweet at all. Would pair beautifully with spicy food. 

Lilly Pilly Wines 2011 Red Velvet (Riverina Region) - As it was a really hot day, I tired to steer clear from reds. However this little number caught my eye. Even though its not exactly a red, closer to a rose but the colour of the wine was darker than most roses. Anyways, this wine was lovely, it had lots of robust flavour but it was light to the taste as well. I would have to say that this wine was a gem find. 

As well as wine tastings, there was also alot of condiments, dips and cheese stalls. Too many to mention but if you check this map out you'll find all the stalls that are avaliable. Its free to get into the event, however, you need to purchase tokens and a glass. $25 gets you 5 tokens plus a glass, then extra sheets of tokens are $20 each. Each token is for a 60 ml pour and you can do 2 x 30 mls pour to taste as many different wines as you like. 

It was such a fun and awesome day, would definately recommend it, if you wanna kick back with some mates, try some wines you wouldnt normally and just kick back and chillax. 

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February 23, 2012

Chanel Bag Cake

I was asked sometime last week to make a cake for a friend of a friend of mine, although I was the busiest little bee ever I couldnt resist when I found out they wanted a Chanel Bag.

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I have always dreamed and wanted a classic Chanel bag, its so sheike, classy and understated ... but a little out of my price range (for now).

So after gruelling 10 hr work days I got home to baking and decorating this cake. I wasnt too worried about the bag itself as it was quite simple to do, however, the chains scared me. I individually made each of the links then put them together with the straps the night before it was due. By 11 pm I was exhausted and went to bed.. only to find myself having night mares about the fondant melting off the cake. This I blame on the Bon Voyage cake I made for a friend a few weeks before.The fondant was too wet and started to melt and drag down the cake, so I had to pull everything off and start again. I was not happy.

Anyways, the day it was due and after getting up and preparing for work I did a little prayer as I slowly crept to the kitchen to check on the bag. There it was staring back at me in perfect condition. Needless to say a little victory dance was done and I was on my way to work.

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Now here was the real scary part. I forgot to stick the chain down. Well rather, I didnt think it necessary but because the driver was a heavy last minute braker (it wasnt me) the chains slid and slided around. So I quickly dashed off to Coles and bought some ready made icing and stuck it down before the cake was picked up. Phew! another cake disaster avoided!!

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Now my efforts are focused on a cake for this Sat. Its a Yoda cake! Im making his head!! Not that I'm a massive Star Wars fan or anything but I was uber excited about this cake too .. its such an awesome challenge I just hope I do him justice. Will keep you guys posted how I go! :)

February 20, 2012

First Ever Market Stall

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If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook you've probably heard that I was opening up a stall at the Crows Nest Markets.

It all started a few weeks ago when I decided that I should do something of the sort to get my name out there and share some love. So I tried my luck and called up the lady at the Rotary Club to enquire about a stall. To my surprise there was room available so onward I charged in making the 18th of Feb deadline. This meant doing everything from ordering boxes, to designing a business card and getting them printed, getting stickers printed, making sure I had enough packaging and of course the buying of ingredients, designing my products and baking everything. All this was done of course whilst I still had a 9-5 full time job, plus additional cake orders coming in. I was pulling my hair out by the last week leading up to the markets, but it gets worse. I planned to bake pretty much everything that week so that it would be fresh and yummy for the weekend (I suffered many late nights)

On the Friday, nerves started to kick in and doubt filled my mind so much that I had a bit of a kitchen break down. "Nothing is going right, people aren't gonna even like it, what the hell am I doing??" were the few thoughts that swam around taunting the very physically and mentally exhausted Rhonda. I had to take a step back, blink back tears and what I saw was a whole heap of inventory grinning back at me. With the very little strength I had left, I told myself to shut up, I had gotten in too deep, cant back out now, bite the bullet, stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on!

I finally managed to get everything baked and packed by late evening, oh except the choux puffs because I didnt want them to get soggy. I had hopes of making some display cakes too but as I was kneading the fondant to cover the dummy cake at 12 am, my knees gave out and I had to go lie down. It was a restless night, worry and panic gripped me until I finally gave in.

BEEEP 5.30 am alarm. I honestly wanted to die at that moment. I had barely had 3 hrs sleep! Of course the snoozer in me takes over, but thanks to my trusty partner in crime he booted me out of bed (albeit I was WELLL cranky at the time).

I waltzed to the kitchen, where I had found that fate decided to throw a spanner in the works. My choux pastry had gone stale. NOOOOO!!!! It was heart wrenching, all those puffs I had made were now useless, well not useless per say but not tasty at least.

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No time to waste as the markets were to start at 9 and set up was at 8. I turned around quickly and made another batch. Crousillant in the freezer, kitchen aid on, puffs in the oven. As 830 hit, the puffs were out and I was hoping that they would cool quick enough for me to pipe them. 845 puffs were filled and we were off!

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Now, like I said, these were my first markets so I thought that we would have designated market spaces but it was free for all so all the road side ones were taken. We must've looked like fools because we had no idea where to go. Initially, we planted ourselves right on the green grassy bit near the fountain but seeing as it was only 9 am and the sun was blazing down with no mercy I made the call to move it to a shaded area for fear my baked ones would melt.

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hahaha Mama Baker enjoying her morning coffee

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I was honestly shaking under the pressure but thank goodness my family were there to help me. Up went the gazebo. oh ahahhaha this made me laugh, I had a moment where I totally thought that my gazebo was wayyyy bigger than it was and I was mildly embarrassed that it would look like a giantic tent next to everyone elses.... but! it was ok coz it was about the same size as some of the other gazebos there phew!! (I always tend to over do things lol). And everything was finally set up. Starving at this point Mr Wobbles went and got me a yummy sausage sizzle from around the corner which I happily devoured!

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Boxes for my baked goodies

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Cupcakes - $3.50 each
Flavours included:
Red Velvet with cream cheese icing
Cherry Ripe - Chocolate and sour cherries with a coconut cream cheese icing.
Chocolate with chocolate ganache
Vanilla with white chocolate ganache
Raspberry and white chocolate

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Macarons - $1.50 each 
Flavours included:
Mocha - chocolate and coffee
Strawberry and dark chocolate
Vanilla and chocolate
Vanilla and Orange

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Pate a Choux - choux pastry filled with real vanilla bean pastry cream - $2 each

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Vanilla caramels - $1 a bag

The markets were a great success. There were customers coming in flocks and I got the chance to meet some very lovely people! It was truely worth all that stress. Thank you to everyone who came and made my day. I really appreciate the support and I hope you loved the cupcakes, puffs and macarons as much as I love baking!! ♥

February 14, 2012

Food for the toothless

Happy Valentines day everyone!

We all know that February the 14th is a day where love is thrown around and lovers are showered with gifts and cuddles. But I have never really questioned the origin of it. I knew it was something to do with St Valentine, hence Valentines day but what is the story behind it? Thanks to my awesome investigative skills (google) I found out that it started as a day to honor said saint, but it wasnt until a certain Mr Geoffery Chaucer wrote a poem to honor the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, that Valentines day was associated with love and fuzziness.

The poem he wrote was "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate." Interesting huh? One person, one line has turned this day into a massively 'important' one.

Personally, I'm not too phased by Valentines Day. I think its sweet and I think its nice. And for those boys out there who dont have romantic DNA I suppose it puts you on the spot and reminds you to make your lady feel special, which is a good thing. Yet on the other hand I also believe that showing someone you care or that you love them isnt a once a year thing but it should be apparent randomly all the time. By this I dont mean a bunch of 12 long stem roses every day but you know, the little things. They always make me smile :)

So as I was thinking about all of this and remembering all the little things both my Wobbles has done for me and that I have done for him. I remembered something in particular that I did for my better half earlier this year that I would like to share with you all.

The poor thing had to get his wisdom tooth out. With the maturity (at times) of a 5 year old kid he was mopey and whiny that he had to get it out, so that (blasted windy, rainy, aweeeefulll) Sat morning I took him to the dentist then proceeded to play nurse (not the naughty kind) for the day.

Not being able to eat anything solid I put my culinary "skills" and thinking cap to the test. First I whipped out my 'French Lessons' cookbook by Justin North then decided to tackle the Cauliflower Vichyssoise (mouthful, I know). This was such a full bodied soup. The texture was rich and creamy and really hit the spot especially during those freakishly cold days we were having back in January. The aroma of thyme pairs up brillantly with the cauliflower to make it a lovely moorish starter.

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The second dish I decided on was somewhat an invention of my own. I was seriously racking my brain for something light yet filling and of course soft for my toothless baby. So what popped in my head? A fusion of japanese and chinese. Steamed Ginger Barramundi and Tofu with Dashi Broth

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This was a brilliant success! The sweetness of the fish married perfectly with the saltiness yet lightness of the broth. Although, one would have though that it might lack in texture the silky tofu actually was the perfect solution to this dilemma. I will definitely be making this dish again.

The things we do for love. Have a great one! ♥

Btw - if you havent heard, yes my stall at the Crows Nest Markets is a go ahead, so make sure you come down and say hi! Its this Sat the 18th Feb starts at 9 - 3 pm. I'll be selling an assortment of cream puffs (pate a choux), macarons and cupcakes. The markets are located right next to the Gloria Jeans on the main strip x

February 8, 2012

Be my Sweetheart?

With the impending "V" day coming up, im sure you all out there are faffing around (just like me) thinking of something thoughtful yet not too cliche to woo your partner over with, right? So you think ohhh a wallet, or a tie or something homemade...picture in a frame perhaps? Clothes (nah too 'unromantic')? Roses? (Break my wallet please)

So if its not too tacky or expensive its something you've given them in the previous years....

I'm always one for making something on Valentines day, its personal and they're forced sure to love it. But there's not always enough time and some just lack creative genes (no offence). Ah ohhh? what now??.... I have the perfect solution!!

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This year I've made something cute and funky for Valentines day... Sweetheart cakes!!

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Remember those little heart shaped lollies with little messages printed onto them? Well, I've transformed this miniature classic into mini cakes perfect for two.

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The cake is a luscious yet light Red Velvet flavour with a rich chocolate ganache. I am taking orders until this Sat, 11th Feb. The cakes are $15 each and will be nicely boxed with a ribbon. Personalisations also available at no extra cost. If you are interested, please email me at thedaintybaker@gmail.com

♥ Happy Valentines day Everyone! ♥

Ps. Im opening a stall at the Crows Nest Markets. Details havent been finalised yet but I should be there from 9 - 3 pm on Sat the 18th February, if all goes well. So, if you're not doing anything or just wanna pop around to say hi, please do come by! For regular updates and further information about this you can like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.


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