Thursday, July 12, 2012

Canada's Prettiest Cakes

This is all so exciting! I am honoured, humbled, and tickled pink.  A was asked a few months ago to create a unique cake for a project Weddingbells.ca was putting together for the summer. They were asking cake artists across Canada to take part and I was one of them! The company of artists was definitely humbling as many of the cake designers I love and follow were also part of this fun project.

Now, we get to sport this awesome badge!

Here was my creation. It was inspired by Pinkpolka Wedding Design and photographed by Nathan Walker.



Be sure to check out all the spectular edible art created by some of Canada's most talented!

I just want to say, that the past seven years of designing cakes has been a whirlwind. I have been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time and it is a little over whemling to take in at times. My inspiration has always come from various people and places and no amount of gratitude can express how grateful I truly feel. Being part of fun projects like this make it all worthwhile! Thanks again to the gals at Wedding Bells for including me. It was such an honour.

xoxo,
Ailynn

Monday, April 23, 2012

Macarons

Content via My Life Made Sweet (my personal life and food blog) To keep up to date on recipes be sure to "Like" us on Facebook here.

Nothing is more a pain in my keister than making Macarons. There. I said it. Do you still want to try them ;)

About 2 years ago, I attempted to make macarons over a dozen times…and FAILED each and every single time. There was something about these things that just made me want to keep trying to make them perfect. It wasn’t until last Easter that I finally got a recipe to work for me. The skies brightened up and I heard angels singing as I thanked the Lord that I FINALLY succeeded. That one time anyway. Then we went to Paris and I took a class at La Cuisine Paris and learned how to make macarons using an Italian Meringue method. And although the macarons were absolutely divine, the process was not for me.  So, I am sharing with you the method that I use at home and at the cake shop…the French meringue method.
Now, I’m not going to go into the science of making these things as you can go ahead a google all the hundreds of blogs that discuss “how to make the perfect macaron”. I’m just going to jump right in and show you how I make mine.
If you have a sensitivity to flour, these delectable cookies are perfect for you. Made with gluten-free ingredients! Just keep in mind that if you are making them at home (or like we do at the shop) and you have flour around, they are of course not 100% gluten free.

Let’s begin!!! Here’s what you need for the macaron shells (makes about 2 dozen sandwiched together):
 85 grams  almond flour
120 grams powdered sugar
70 grams egg whites
35 grams granulated sugar
Looks simple right? Just 4 ingredients…not to scare you away, but such few ingredients had never given so much of a hard time. Fret not! The reason I am sharing this recipe with you is so you don’t actually have to bang your head against the wall anymore! This recipe is what I use for my clients’ dessert tables and for treats at home (Miss Kenna loves her macarons)!
Step 1. Separate your egg whites from the yolks (save yolks for yummy lemon curd). Many macaron makers will tell you that one of the secrets to the perfect macaron is to age the whites (keep them covered and refrigerated for several days after they have been separated). I have tried aging whites from 1 day to a week. It seems to me that it never really made a difference from when I used fresh, so I leave this step to you.
Step 2. Preheat your oven to 300F.
Step 3. Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar. I tend to need to sift 2 to 3 times. You want to make sure that there are no lumps of almond flour in your cookie so you get that nice smooth top.
 Step 4. With a stand mixer, begin whipping the egg whites at high speed. After about 30 seconds when the whites get frothy, slowly add the granulated sugar.
Step 5. This will take a few minutes, so hang tight. What you want is stiff peak egg whites.
Step 6. I usually add my colour in at this point…and I stick to my ready available gel colours, but you can use powdered colour as well. The colour fades when they bake, so be sure to bump up the intensity just a teeny tiny bit here.
Step 7. Once you get the colour you want, remove the bowl from the mixer and prepare to put some muscle into this process. Pour half of your dry ingredients into the bowl and vigorously mix it with the egg whites with a rubber spatula. You are essentially deflating the meringue your stand mixer just took the time to make. “Macaronage” is the term you’ll read about in your macaron adventures…and some say this the make or break it part of your macaron making adventure.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and continue mixing until the mixture is combined, shiny, and “flows like lava”= slowly, not runny. If your mixture is runny, you have over mixed it and will just need to dry your shells for a longer period of time (they may also be more flat vs. puffy). Your mixture is under mixed, if you go to pipe your meringues and there is a peak left.
Step 100…or 8. Pour the batter in your piping bag with a round tip attached to it. I usually put the piping bag in a tall glass while I do this. It’s ever more tricky to do this while photographing!
Step 9…or 101. Pipe 1″ rounds (or your desired size of macarons) onto a baking pan lined with parchment or silicone baking mats (make sure they are grease free). I once made cookies the day before and didn’t wash the mats before baking macarons. Resulted in puffy macarons with no feet and a big udercooked mess and sobbing lady in the kitchen. NOT PRETTY. And it may or maynot have been the time that I was making them for this particular blog post! Ha.
 
Again…very tricky to focus camera with one hand, press the shutter button, and pipe macarons in another.

Step 10. is do nothing! Let these beauties dry for at least 15 minutes. I have been impatient at times and don’t wait (I have been lucky some days and not so lucky other days). JUST WAIT. Walk away, do the dishes, sing a couple of songs, run around the block a couple times…let them sit. They are ready to go into the oven when the tops are no longer tacky. If there is one rule I follow for making macarons, it is this one. Just because the chances of them working out for me is 50/50 if I don’t wait.
Step 10A. WAIT! Before you dry the, you can add wonderful things to the shells. Today, I added some lavender to half of the shells and crushed Smarties to the other half.
Step 11. Now, in MY oven, I bake these for 20 minutes. In our Giant convection oven at the shop it only takes 10 minutes. What I will say is that they are done when you see feet (crinkly texture on the bottom of your cookies) and when you  lift it off your parchment of silicone, the bottoms are smooth. What I have also learned is that if you over bake them, you can “age” the shells in a tightly sealed plastic container in the fridge or freezer. When you take them out to room temperature, they will have softened. It’s a strange magical quality. I  love it.
I filled the lavender macarons with some fresh lemon curd.
And for the smarties ones, I filled with some vanilla buttercream also with crushed smarties!
Yes, they can be a pain in the butt. Yes, some days you will be patting yourself on the back for a job well done and some days you will be victim to the ever popular macaron-mishaps. Dust yourself off and try again. These ridiculous little treats are worth it-most days!

Happy Monday, everyone!

And good luck you if you are just starting out on this journey ;)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Make a Whimsical Smash Cake


If you missed the Fall Issue of Urban Infant, we got featured on how to make your own Whimsical Smash Cake. Ken photographed me step by step as we created this fun little article!

Enjoy!

No Birthday should be celebrated without cake…and a 1st Birthday deserves two cakes: a main cake for serving your guests and a SMASH cake for the 1 year old to, well…smash! If you’re up to the challenge (trust us, it’s more fun than a challenge) of making a cake for your little celebrant, just follow these easy steps and the results will be sweet.

Tools for decorating: cake board for displaying your cake, gel food colouring, small angled spatula for icing, serrated bread knife for cutting your cake, couple of icing bags, icing tips# 5, 18 & 67, lollipop stick, some coloured fondant or fruit rollups, coloured chocolate wafers (smarties or skittles are fun too), turn table (not pictured).


Making a Whimsical Candle:
You can use 2 to 3 colours of pre-made or home-made fondant, fruit rollups or thin liquorice, etc.
Step 1. Snake out 2 colours of fondant double the length of your lollipop stick. Step 2. Wrap one piece around the stick, and then intertwine the second piece. Pinch the ends together so they stick. Step 3. For the “flame”, form a tear drop shape with a smaller piece of fondant and stick on the top of the lollipop stick.


Making the Cake
A smash cake is simply filled and covered with your favourite frosting or buttercream, so you can use any kind of cake you want, but from scratch is always best. For a taller cake, bake your cake in a 3” tall pan.

You will need to cut your cake two times: one simply straight across, and another layer at a sharp angle if you want a wonky shaped cake. Once all the layers are sliced, be sure to flip the top layer over to get a crooked effect.

Place a dollop of buttercream on your cake board to secure the first layer of cake. Fill a piping bag with your choice of buttercream, frosting, pudding, custard, etc. and fill each layer of cake. Once all your layers are filled, ice a thin layer of buttercream to mask your cake. This will seal in any crumbs and give you a smoother surface. Place the cake in the fridge and let it set for about 15 minutes. Once the mask coat is set, you can start adding more buttercream or frosting to the top and sides of your cake until your icing is smooth and you feel there is enough icing.


Fill 3 piping bags with different colours of icing. Using tip#18 (star tip), pipe swags around the cake making an “e” motion” with your wrist as you pipe the buttercream. 


 Use tip #67 (leaf tip) for the base border and pipe a ruffle around the base in a back and forth motion.

 With tip #5 (round tip) pipe a squiggly top border making an “s” motion as you squeeze the icing out.

Finally, add your candies (we used merkens coloured wafers) and the candle you made earlier…be sure to place it in at a slant for an extra Whimsical effect!

To see the published article, visit: http://www.urbaninfant.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/UI-Fall-2011-WebMag.pdf

We can't wait to share more fun and BIGGER projects with you in the near future.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Congratulations to the winners of our 2012 Wedding Giveaways!


I want to thank all the couples who took advantage of our Awesome 2012 Wedding Specials and Giveaways. We had the most amazing vendors take part in our giveaway. The following lucky brides and grooms will be winning prizes from the following vendors. Watch your email for more information if you are a winner!








Winner: Ron & Kim








Winner: Dominique & Shaun








Winner: Heidi & Blair

Prize: Annabelle necklace ($79 value)





Prize: 2 hr wedding planning consultation




Prize: Hanky Panky "Bride" garment and 3 "Bridesmaids" ($120.00 value)










Winner: Alexis & Dustin; Angela & Wayde



Flowers by Jenna


Winner: Miriah & Mason




Winner: Stella & Alex

Prize: 2 draws of $250 gift certificate towards rental d├ęcor (services such as delivery, set up and strike are not included)







Prize: Essentials Wedding Package: Brides bouquet, one bridesmaid, groom, one groomsmen, 2 sets of parents,and one medium arrangement for ceremony or reception. Done in seasonal flowers** and your wedding colors ($595 value)






Prize: 2 Hour Wedding Design and Decor Consultation ($225 value)












Winner:Tina & John




Winner: Susan Austin




Winner: Cyrena & Mike

Prize: A design consultation ($400 value)






Prize: Wine Decanter by Spiegelau






Prize: 1 hour Custom Candy Bar Consultation along with a $100 voucher towards any Candy Bar.














Winner:Leana & Armando




Winner:Cheri & Rob




Winner:Cherie & Jeff

Prize: $80 gift certificate can be used towards anything in the store. No purchase required.



Prize: $75 credit for a purchase of $500




Prize: $200 credit to use towards a photo package of your choice: engagement, couples, boudoir or wedding.










Winner: Amanda & Jesse





Winner: Not yet announced

Prize: $200 credit to use towards product or services





Prize: