It’s nearly that time of year again. Now, Cam and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s, especially because our anniversary is 2 days later. But I do love the excuse to bake to a theme. Last year I made a set of cookie embossers in the style of Love Hearts, known elsewhere as Sweet Hearts or Conversation Hearts. The embossers are still available for purchase here.
Last year I made cookies with them. This year I decided to switch it up by using them to make little cupcake toppers instead!
Butterscotch is one of my absolute favourite flavours. Drizzle a good butterscotch sauce on practically any pudding and I’m there. But outside of puddings, it’s almost unheard of in cake form here. In fact, the first time I heard of it was quite some years ago when an Indian family commissioned a cake from me and requested it for the flavour. They told me that back home it was quite the common flavour and fairly standard in most bakeries. I remember the sweet aroma that filled my kitchen as it baked. I was so jealous that I couldn’t taste this one and swore I’d make it again for myself soon.
Here we are quite some years later and I’m finally making one!
Something I’ve been working on alongside all the gaming props I’ve been 3D modelling are tools to help me in the kitchen. I started with cookie cutters and have been having a lot of fun putting them to use in a variety of ways, from the cookies themselves to using them in cake decorating. I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach it from a blogging perspective though. Sure, sometimes I’ll make a post just to show you guys a new cake I’ve done or something, but for cookies there’s always a recipe. And when it gets to actually cutting the dough it seemed a bit unfair to suddenly say “uh, now freehand cut out this thing I made myself a cookie cutter for”. So going forward I’m going to provide them for purchase from my Etsy store. You absolutely can freehand it if you prefer. But at least now if you want to replicate exactly how I did it, the option is there!
Of course I have to start with the pikachu cookies. Long time readers know my entire childhood was Nintendo. Not much has changed in my adulthood, including that Pokemon obsession. Only now with Pokemon Go I’ve finally been able to drag my fiance into it as well. He never really had the patience for the main games, but the mobile outdoorsey element of it has gotten him right on board. When Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee came out I was absolutely thrilled for this merger of two worlds: the main series of games combined with the more casual element of Pokemon Go. In the weeks leading up to it I made a bunch of Pokemon-themed baked goods in celebration. So yeah. For anyone who remembers when that was released, this post is a long time coming.
When I was a kid one of the great joys of school was heading to the canteen at lunchtime to buy a packet of lollies. I don’t eat many, if any, lollies these days, but I have such an emotional attachment to those I had as a kid. There’s almost more nostalgia-factor attached to these than anything else. One of the most popular lollies were the sherbet-ty lollies called Love Hearts. There’s a few variations of this lolly. In some places they’re called Sweet Hearts, in others they’re called Conversation Hearts. But we all recognise these little heart-shaped lollies with their corny little lovey sayings emblazoned on them. What better time to recreate them in cookie form than for a Valentine’s Day treat?
Recently I’ve been experimenting a lot with making custom cookie cutters. I’ve gotten into 3D modelling and printing as part of my cosplay/prop building hobby. I started bringing these skills across into my baking hobby, but I never quite knew how to approach it as far as the blog went. How do I custom make a tool to use and then post it here without a way to replicate it?
So I’ve started a little Etsy Shop. It’s cosplay resource heavy at the moment, but as I post the cookies here I’ll also be providing the tools I made for sale there. Some ideas, such as these, will be a bit easier to replicate using standard cookie tools than others. But the option will be there should you desire it.
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.
I’ve been meaning all year to properly get back into the Daring Bakers Challenge… I can’t believe it’s taken me this long! I had a few months there where I even baked the challenge but just never get around to blogging about it. I was determined for this month to be different.
And what a month to jump back in: The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by kürtőskalács, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!
There’s a number of challenges I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with lately. My favourite of which is the Daring Bakers Challenge. Last month I was absolutely determined that I’d jump back in. Well, I did the challenge. But I didn’t get around to getting the blog done in time. ‘Better late than never’ has been my motto lately, so I figured I’d pop these recipes up belatedly. Cinnamon is certainly one of my favourite things on this planet, so skipping it felt like a crime.
The challenge was of course cinnamon rolls. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required! They are one of my favourite things on the planet. There are so many varieties it was so hard to choose any given one. So in the end I went with one very traditional, and the other not so traditional.
A lot of people have a childhood affinity with pop tarts. I have a childhood affinity with pop tart commercials. It was something I always saw on the television, wanted to try but my parents weren’t interested in buying them. A common story from my childhood. My parents seldom had the money to pay the bills so anything non-essential was a giant no. Every time someone in my generation freaks out about something we had as kids, I freak out too but from an I-remember-those-ads perspective. Pop tarts are on that list.
Then one day they just kind of disappeared. I remember the ads disappearing, Cameron remembers them disappearing from the shelves as well. That childhood treat seemed determined to remain in our childhood only.
A few months ago I was grocery shopping with Cam and we came across them. His eyes lit up and he launched into the same nostalgic tales most people do when they hear the words ‘pop tarts’. I decided it was time I grabbed a packet not just to satiate his nostalgia, but also so I could finally see what all the fuss was about.
This was a cake I made when I needed an alternate vegan option alongside my very not vegan birthday cake some time ago. I wanted something that didn’t feel like the vegan option, just something that’s accidentally vegan. Substituting most ingredients in a cake is usually fine, but there’s two I sometimes struggle with: eggs and butter. I deal with the first one by avoiding any cake recipe that relies on eggs for its structure. But butter can be harder. Non dairy spreads are hit or miss sometimes, and I sometimes feel like they give an odd flavour to the cake. It just kinda tastes fake. But one awesome way of substituting butter (or even non-dairy fats) is with a fruit or vegetable puree.
Veggie purees can be used in most cakes to substitute out half the fat content (or all if you’re trying to be super health conscious). Once I’d made the decision to go the veggie puree route, the choice was immediate: pumpkin cake.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday. I spent mine with my partner and his family, eating way too much food and trying not to eat all the chocolate too. His brother and sister-in-law hosted us all on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday his parents did. Both his mother and sister-in-law put on an amazing spread of food that we all ate too much of, and that was before we even thought about dessert.
I bought along a couple of baked goods for the occasion, baking most of it vegan so everyone could eat some. I made a batch of hot cross buns to bring because they’re lots of fun to make, but also because it’s next to impossible to find any here that don’t contain palm oil, especially not vegan ones. And then there was this Easter-themed cake.
Making chocolate cake vegan is so easy. There’s so many recipes that are already incidentally vegan or an easy substitute away from it. This time I decided to spice things up a little with a Mexican chocolate cake.