The renovations at my rental are finally coming toward an end. I’ve spent much of it being without a kitchen or a computer or much of any of my belongings really. Half of my house is still in boxes, and with full time work spare time is definitely at a minimum. Which has meant I’ve been doing little to no cooking most nights, let alone anything fancy. I’ve definitely been missing it, and missing having usable space. But we’re slowly reclaiming the house and getting everything into some semblance of order. I have some usable spaces now, and no more yellow benches and green walls — massive yay! I’m definitely going to try to spend more time in my [new — more yay!] kitchen and in turn make more time for sharing it with you guys.
Speaking of work, though, over the last few months we’ve had a number of people being shifted to new locations or moving on to other things. We’ve celebrated last days with sadness and, of course, with cake. I’m fairly sure I’m getting a ‘the cake lady’ reputation now. A few weeks ago I made a ferrero rocher cake and had a pile of biscuit crumbs and hazelnuts that needed to be used up. The easiest thing to use a pile of biscuit crumbs on is definitely cheesecake (if not truffles), and the hazelnut definitely leant itself to another favourite: nutella.
The fact that it’s endlessly simple definitely helped in the decision making process. You don’t even need to bother with gelatine for this one!
The owners of my rental decided it was time to renovate. After a few decades of wear and tear by its various inhabitants, they probably figured it what cheaper than maintaining it when things break down. While it’s exciting, it also means I have to move out without actually moving out. First on this hit list was the kitchen, so everything went into boxes. Food. Utensils. Pots. Pans. Platters. Cups. The lot of it had to be gone. We were assured it would take a week, so we didn’t think it would be too bad. A few months later they called us to say they’d start work. Sigh.
You guys might know from all the stuff you’ve seen me cook that I have a ridiculous amount of things in my kitchen. And you ain’t seen the half of it. Being without them all, and at times a kitchen has been a nightmare. But it’ll definitely be worth it in the end (and I can say bye to the gross yellow bench-tops that have appeared in all my blog photos since the beginning — ew!). But there’s definitely been little to no cooking during the process.
So in the interim I’ll show you this little cake I made for Cameron’s birthday.
Cam’s a big Lakers fan. I kinda am too, mostly because when I was a kid I decided I loved purple and gold together so they were the team for me. I’ve always been much more of an AFL fan than an NBA fan, mostly cause following a sport conducted on the other side of the planet is too much effort for me. Not so for Cameron, who [I leaned quickly after we met] passionately follows the sport at least as much as, if not more than, AFL. Through him I came to love the Lakers more. Now we play the NBA 2k Sports games on the Wii/PS4 and spend even more time with the Lakers. At least I do. Cam likes choosing a different team every time, whereas I always choose the ’91 Lakers. Magic Johnson is absolutely my favourite player of all time, and going by the posters all over Cam’s bedroom he’s definitely his favourite as well. So when it was time for Cam to celebrate his 32nd birthday, we both thought it would definitely be fitting if the Mr. 32 himself graced the cake.
If you’ve been hanging around this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m an insane Zelda fan. I have been ever since I could hold a controller. I love pretty much every game in the franchise, but the Nintendo 64 games hold a special place in my heart. As a kid our parents could never afford the latest consoles or games, so a lot of my childhood gaming took place in stints at the houses of friends or cousins. But when the Nintendo 64 came out my dad managed to pull together enough to get one. I still remember seeing the commercials for Ocarina of Time and just hoping, only to be greeted with the most amazing surprise one day after school. The same was true by the time Majora’s Mask came out, but by then I’d gotten the entire family hooked on Zelda with our frequent group play-throughs and they were all just as excited about getting it. A lot of my childhood was spent playing those two 64 games over and over. I’d complete the game in its entirety, reset the file and start again. Other days we’d just spend hours playing the mini-games together and see who could catch the biggest fish or get the best score in archery.
When more recently Nintendo re-released Ocarina of time on the 3Ds I was so excited I went out and bought the console, the first handheld console I’d been able to own. The same was true when late last year they announced the 3D remake of Majora’s Mask along with the limited edition console. Since it was released last weekend I’ve been playing it at every possible opportunity on the gorgeous Majora’s Mask-themed console. It’s absolute perfection wrapped in a little bubble of nostalgia.
But while I was biding the time until the game was released, I couldn’t help but make a celebratory cake. I was kind of tempted to make a Majora’s mask cake, but since I’ve done that before I decided I should try something new. The next most significant thing aside from the mask has to be the creepy moon that looms above Termina for the 3 day duration of the game, threatening to obliterate everything in sight.
My summer blogging hiatus has lasted a lot longer this year than usual. The reasons for which are much less exciting than the trip to New Zealand and much less dramatic than the threats of bushfire seasons the summers prior. While our summer heat has certainly kept me out of the kitchen, I’ve also begun a new full time job which has left me with little time to do anything other than sleep. Today marked my third month at the new job, and for the most part I’m not sure where the time has gone. How exactly is it February already? I’m still stuck somewhere in September 2014.
Alas, time marches on and all the annual events are arriving with it. And what is an event without cake? So back in the kitchen I go!
This dessert was partly inspired by the Valentine’s holiday fast approaching, but mostly by my fruit shop. They’ve been selling boxes of 20 mangoes for $10. We have been going mango crazy. We’ve been binging on mango lassi and milkshakes and ice cream and all those wonderful summer desserts that help you beat the heat. This cheesecake is a really quick and easy dessert that doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. Perfect for my air-con-less house.
Christmas baking is definitely my favourite kind of baking. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m a Christmas-a-holic (though it undoubtedly fuels the fire). There’s just something about the whimsical nature of treats, and the sheer quantity of excuses to create them that’s so exciting. The recipients always seem that little bit extra excited to eat the treats when they’re Christmas-themed, too.
I’m kicking it off early this year by bringing you a how to for one of the first cakes I did. Over the last year I’ve received a number of requests for a tutorial on it, so I decided to make a little version of this old thing to show you how it’s done (also wow, how horrible were my fondant skills back then?) Here’s the mini version for the tute:
It’s all achieved by carving, so you can use any cake recipe and make it as big or small as you like. I’ve used two of my favourite mud cake recipes to achieve this, but do feel free to use your own if you prefer. Here’s how to do it:
Here’s a quick little cake I did for a customer who was organising a pirate party for her son’s birthday. She got her son to choose the theme, and he responded with a ‘pirate and green’ theme. While she got to crafting all the decorations for the occasion, I set about making the cake to match.
A few weeks ago my dad turned 60. Many would view this as an excuse to party and celebrate, but my dad loathes being the centre of attention. Knowing he would hate a surprise party, we decided to opt for a simpler affair and took him out to lunch instead. Behind his thinly veiled protests that he didn’t want to do anything lay an actual excitement at getting to spend time out with his immediate family. If there was any doubt as to his desire to mark the occasion, his incessant talking since about how much he enjoyed it enough to put that to rest.
Amidst all his protestations, I did manage to get him to decide on a cake. In fact, the cake was the one thing he agreed to with no hesitation. His cake choices are usually fairly predictable: either sponge or mudcake, but mostly mudcake. I couldn’t even feign surprise then when he asked for a mudcake.
The recipe I used is one I reserve for special occasions as it’s a comparatively expensive cake to make. I made it for an order once: the 35cm version has a whopping 2 and a half kilos of chocolate in it. So when I say this cake is chocolate heavy, I really mean it. But the result is completely worth it.