26 May, 2011

Cartoon Character Cakes

I've finally finished university!!!!

So, that said, I should really have more time to spend on my blog now. So here goes! Last week I had another cake double-whammy, and was up until 3am on Saturday morning finishing them off in time for a Saturday afternoon delivery. The things I do for my customers...

Fireman Sam
A good friend from university asked me to create a cake for her nephew's 4th birthday. More than happy to oblige, I made this Fire Engine cake complete with sugarpaste Fireman Sam (it's my first attempt at a sugarpaste figure, so please excuse his er... appearance!). The sponge itself is the usual victoria sponge with jam and buttercream concoction, which I had to cut specially into fire-engine shape before covering in fondant. I had a few problems with this cake, firstly, that Sam's head decided to fall off. Then the newly-built Sam fell over mid-delivery, but no harm done. I think I need some lessons on sugarpaste figures, though. Bit peed off with how he turned out :(

Homer Simpson
I am SO happy with how Homey turned out!!! I used a stencil to cut out the shape of him, then covered in the usual way with fondant. Then came the fun part of cutting out special shapes of his beard and shirt to match his body perfectly. Also, for my birthday, my in-laws got me a sugarpaste gun which I had wanted for aaaaaages - ever since Peppa Pig. It helps you create really perfect sausage shapes (and more, it comes with loads of shapes) without the icing breaking. As you can see, this is how I made the black outline of Homer, and I think you'll agree it works perfectly. I managed to keep his hair pieces in place by placing a thick cookbook under them, and left it overnight 'til the icing set in place :P This cake was made for Jim's dad's birthday party, and it went down a storm. It was gone by Sunday, which is what I like to hear!!

I have just recovered from two days filled with baking fruit cakes in preparation for July's cake orders, and am now taking a well-earned break until next week, when it's Jim's birthday :) Getting closer to moving day, too, so I'll have to do a post on my new flat :D

Happy Baking x

09 May, 2011

Come Dine with Kirsten

As part of a uni project, I had to create an interactive model of some sort that related to new media and something that interests me. So what interests me? Cooking? Bingo. I decided to host a dinner party, whereby each of the particpants could choose an ingredient of their liking to be included in the meal, and this was done by text messaging (interactive). The participants were:
1) James
2) Karen
3) Tony
4) Jim
5) Kirsten (myself)
I told the first particpant, James, one item that would be included in the meal. This was mozzarella. He then chose an item to match with this - pepperoni. The next particpant, Karen, knew the previous ingredient that James had picked. She texted me the next ingredient - chicken. I could see where this was going - they assumed I'd be making a pizza because of the generic ingredients of pepperoni and mozzarella. Nope, it wasn't over yet. The next particpant, Tony, knew of the chicken. I requested he suggest a vegetable to accompany this - he texted saying green beans. Jim then knew about the green beans, and I suggested he request a type of potato to accompany them - hence a full meal! He asked for mashed potato. As the host, I decided to add a flavouring now that I knew ALL of the ingredients in the meal and started to plan a dinner - paprika.

So - what to make?! I knew they were expecting a pizza of some sort. But that seemed too easy. I've always been good at New York chicken so I made something similar to this. I sliced the chicken breasts down the centre, but not quite all the way through. Then I added sliced of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. I prayed this was going to taste nice. I chose the paprika because I thought it would complement the spicy chicken well, and not make it too boring. These I then baked in tin foil for around 30 minutes, then removed the tin foil for another 5 minutes to crisp them up. I also like to serve green beans with NYChicken so this was a good match.
Now for the mashed potato, I decided to bring a modern twist on the traditional recipe. I recently went to a restaurant that served "crushed" potatoes - half mashed, half roasted/boiled? I'm not quite sure. But it was yuuuuummy. I thought this would be a good spin on the mashed potatoes, so to make them I boiled about 8 potatoes until they were very fluffy. Then I roasted them in a pre-heated dish for about 10 minutes to get them slightly crispy. Then for good measure, I transferred them to a frying pan and half-mashed them up. Add a little rosemary and garlic for some gooooood flavours!
When serving, I used a metal rings on each plate and spooned heaps of the mash into each ring, then pressed down. When you remove the ring, it gives a restaurant-standard quality of presenting the mash - nifty, huh!?
I chose Vanilla baked cheesecake for dessert, too. This was the majority result of a Facebook (new media) poll in my status - where I simply asked "Chocolate/Cheese/Fruit for dessert?" and six out of 10 friends replied "cheese."

Comments from the participants:
1) James - I really liked the meal. We were all expecting something like Hunter's chicken for dinner because that's what Kirsten always makes - don't get me wrong she does that well, too! So it was a nice change for her to do something different. I admit, when she said mozzarella I thought it was a pizza so that's why I said pepperoni!"
2) Karen - "Tasty, the mozzarella and pepperoni were a good combination with the chicken. Very morish!"
3) Tony - "A unique experience. I had a wonderful time."
4) Jim - "I think the crushed potatoes were amazing. I normally hate mash potato so that's why I challenged Kirsten to try and make me think different - and she definitely did! The chicken was good, too."
So, overall it was a good evening. I initially had doubts that this wouldn't work out well, hence why I chose to have some input in what type of ingredient could be included e.g. a vegetable. But I think the combination of chicken, mozzarella and pepperoni really worked out and I can't wait to try out crushed potatoes again!!!

Any feedback on this post is greatly appreciated and would be included in my final evaluation. I thought it would be an idea to get comments from my followers to see what your reaction to the whole process is, and how it could be improved/changed etc. Again, this is using new media and interactivity, so my tutor will be very happy! Many thanks for anything you say :)

Happy Baking x

Couple of Cupcakes

I'm getting more requests these days for cupcake orders. Naturally, they're the "in" thing right now and I don't doubt they are much more popular than my cakes. I've had two orders to do lately, the first was for Abby's auntie and uncle's wedding favours.

Chocolate Fudge Wedding Cupcake Favours

I had an absolute nightmare with these. They tasted amazing, don't get me wrong (yes, I can feel how big my head is). But because they had risen slightly in the centre, it was awful to ice with buttercream without it sliding off. The cupcakes were to go in clear plastic boxes tied with ribbon, so sliding buttercream was not a good look up the side of the box. So I wiped off the buttercream, started again. And again. And again. I was in tears trying to rectify the problem, and eventually had to cut the top of each cupcake off, swirl on some pre-made buttercream (because I had ran out of icing sugar and time was running out!!) and finish with some home-made chocolate roses. Remember how to make them? No? Find out here!
N.B Although watermarked, these images are actually courtesy of Abby's cousin - how amazing is this photography!!!
The favours came out amazingly (despite the smidgens of pre-buttercream you can see underneath the final swirl). They were finished with chocolate and cream organza ribbon and a label for everyone's names. Technically, these cupcakes acted as 1) favours, 2) name placements, 3) dessert! How efficient! Here's the second order:

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Now this was a challenge. I have never tasted carrot cake. I have never tasted cream cheese frosting. What the hell? I have no idea if they tasted like what they were supposed to taste like, but I made extra for my parents to be a judging panel. They liked them, and carrot cake is my dad's favourite so that had to be a good sign. Okay then, proceed.
My friend Emily from university got married last week - congratulations! She wanted a spin on the general hen party and organised a vintage tea party to have with her girlfriends - bunting included! She asked me to create these cupcakes with an assortment of coloured sugarpaste roses to finish. Suffice to say, this is probably the only cake order I've done where I haven't descended into tears. Wahoo!! She loved them, and even paid more than what I asked for them because of this! How generous?! (I think the gingham cupcake boxes added the extra pzazz, don't you? Oh I love the word pzazz lately!)
The roses are made in exactly the same method as the chocolate ones, with a star cut-out of green icing underneath for the leaves :)
Happy Baking x

Better late than never...

Ooopsie, a month since my last post? I'm a terrible blogger. As I know you're sick of hearing, I'm just awfully busy at the moment trying to finish uni. Good news - only 2 weeks to go and then I'm done! The past month has been a whirlwind of essays, photography, catching up with friends after New York, oh and of course the odd baking order ;)
So the day we got home from our trip, probably not much longer after I last posted actually, Jim and I found out that our family friends would like to offer us their flat they rent out. After 5 years together, we naturally jumped at the chance to finally live together and start an exciting new chapter to our life! We've been shopping around and taking advantage of the great event days homeware stores have been offering, and can safely say that we barely need much more for the new place - Asda have been cleaned out of their kitchenware. I thought Jim might start getting pains in his chest at the amount of stuff his baker girlfriend was picking up for the trolley!

Your blogroll is going to be chocka with a few posts from me now, sorry. But I've been doing loads, and they need to be separated accordingly :P


Easter has always meant a slap-up meal at the in-law's every year. As a thankyou (and dessert!) I baked a chocolate fudge cake decorated with icing and a chocolate cornflake nest with Mini Eggs. Not very adventurous, I know. But mother-in-law was very keen to try this recipe as I had raved about it after using it for wedding cupcake favours, and was annoyed that I just kept raving and not sharing :P

I did try my hand at making easter eggs this year, too. But the layer of chocolate inside the mould was too thin and my patience was wearing it aswell! So the melted chocolate went towards the cornflake nests :P
Also, my business - Cakes by Kirsten - is now up and running on Facebook! Please take a look around and feel free to "like." Plymothians - you're more than welcome to place orders! Haha!

Happy Baking x