It’s been quite a long time since I’ve played around with a joconde. I have a terrible habit of getting stuck on one idea: I’ll bake almost nothing but that for weeks, and then forget it ever existed for a year. So when my birthday rolled around and I had the opportunity to make whatever I wanted with no restrictions, I decided it was time to return to this awesome cakey medium.
So far I’ve mostly used decorating combs for making patterns in the joconde paste. I’ve been wanting to use the sponge as more of a canvas for unusual designs. You always see them with uniform designs on the sides, but I wanted something a bit more picturesque. I had a number of food stencils, but all were a bit bland for what I was thinking. I hit up my favourite cake decorating store and started rummaging through the stencils until I finally found something that was more ‘me’.
Easter baking is some of my favourite kind of baking. Perhaps it’s because around this time of year everything is starting to get colder. The woolly jackets find their way from the depths of our closets, the heaters and electric blankets gets their first work out in months, and we start to crave comfort food. Warm dinners and mugs of hot drinks we can curl up with, while nibbling on hot cross buns fresh out of the oven. Everything just feels cosier. And then, of course, there’s all the chocolate!
Amongst all the Easter baking I’ve been planning the cake. I decided I wanted Easter egg-shaped macarons on top, so these little guys are destined to be a garnish, but they’re a delicious treat in their own right.
It was about a year ago that I tried making macarons for the first time. Intimidated by the horror stories, I kept putting it off. I learned then that they’re not as crazy difficult as they seem, and since then I virtually haven’t stopped. I’ve made macarons probably more than anything else this past year, and everyone here sure isn’t complaining. We absolutely love them. I love trying new flavour combinations, and everyone else loves devouring the spoils.
Christmas baking is getting into gear and I’ve made hundreds of the bite-sized treats already. but while I was making standard macarons, I wanted to make some a little extra festive.
Halloween is very much not a holiday celebrated in Australia. Yet we seem to go along with it anyway. We don’t really get into lantern carving thing, and Trick or Treaters are usually met with scorn, confusion or a mixture of both. I couldn’t even tell you what candy corn tasted like. Ask most Aussies, and they’ll tell you it’s an American holiday not to be celebrated here. There’s a clear divide between the lovers and loathers of Halloween.
But we still get a bit of the Halloween fever here. This is probably mostly driven by the commercial side, with supermarkets and retail outlets stocking heaps of Halloween merch and covering their stores in black and orange decorations. People throw Halloween parties, as will pubs and clubs. Some of my favourite local music events happen on Halloween, Creepshow at The Espy being my absolute favourite. It usually involves watching lots of my favourite Melbourne bands playing sets in crazy costumes to a mosh pit of us crazy fans in equally crazy costumes. Good times.
So while we’re not huge on Halloween and while there’s seldom an occasion to bake for, I find myself following my American friends and baking Halloween-themed stuff anyway. It’s well and truly Spring here, but I love being inundated with all the Autumn colours you Northern Hemisphere-ians are experiencing right now. Any excuse to pretend it’s Autumn.
Another thing we don’t do in Australia is sweet pumpkin food things. Pumpkin is the kind of thing we have with a Sunday roast. It’s a savoury fruit. The prospect of making it sweet seems utterly foreign. I keep promising myself I’ll try some sweet pumpkin dessert soon to see what all the fuss is about, but in the interim I thought I’d start with something more familiar inspired by the pumpkin pie.
I’ve been baking a lot of things that needed egg yolks lately, so to use up all the leftover egg whites I’ve been on a macaron baking spree. I’ve been having a play with sizes and flavours and have baked so many macs I don’t even need to look at a recipe any more. This week I decided to have a little fun with the look of the macarons.
The macaron madness continues! And shows no signs of abating. Since moving to using silicone mats I’ve started to run into macaron errors. I guess it’s better experiencing it now then during my first try of them, but it can be frustrating. It happens most when I tweak the base recipe, so that’s gonna be a given.
But making mistakes is an important part of the learning curve. Through making errors and working to correct them, I’m learning. And hey, an ugly macaron doesn’t mean a bad-tasting macaron. Just an unbloggable macaron. I can deal with more excuses to bake.
Perfectly formed or not, these babies seem to disappear just as quickly as I can make them. So while they’re still desired, I’ll keep on baking!
Time for some salted caramel…
I'm addicted to making macarons lately. And I have no intention of stopping until I iron out the little creases that are the imperfections in my biscuits. As if I'm going to stop when I do finally get them perfect. Ha!
They're so addictive and so appealing to make. It's becoming and\ obsession. There are so many colours and flavours and possibilities just begging to be explored.
My major challenge at the moment is getting the biscuits all the same size. No matter how carefully I drew the circles and how carefully I piped, they'd always be different. I'd spend ages trying to match up same-sized biscuits, getting grumpy about the misshapen ones. So I thought it was time to try something new.
Of all the people I make food for, my number one priority in life is my boyfriend, Cameron. He's what motivates me to learn and try new things and attempt to impress him with some crazy dessert. He gets to eat almost everything I make, the only exception being commissions, really. I'll upload snaps of my cakes to Facebook and people will be quick to tell him how lucky they believe him to be. They think he must get the most amazing, whimsical cakes for his birthday. They think him blessed to be able to request from me to bring anything to life via this edible medium. But the reality is that he wants none of that. At heart, he's a simple man.
So when his 30th birthday rolled around I wanted to make him something impressive to mark the occasion.
He just wanted a cheesecake.
What the birthday boy says, goes…
Last Saturday, my boyfriend and I celebrated out 6th anniversary. Where there's a celebration, there's gonna be a cake.
Being so close to Valentine's Day, it's often difficult to think of different and unique present, card and cake ideas. Both of us consider our anniversary as the real celebration, with Valentine's being more of a warm up of sorts. Valentine's is another excuse to do something a little special for each other, but we both feel it's more of a Hallmark holiday. The 16th of Feb is that day that really means something to us, and in turn I try to save the special stuff for that day. We also don't really want to have to deal with two cakes to finish, either.
This year, having just got back from our holiday I didn't have a lot of time to brainstorm, nor had I had the chance to replenish my cupboard with groceries. I had to make do with what was on hand, so I raided the pantry and fridge for odds and ends to throw something together. I didn't have enough cream cheese for a cheesecake (his favourite), but enough for some cream cheese icing (his favourite icing). Red velvet cake was the next logical conclusion.
Red is the colour of love, after all…
Macarons are one of those things I've always wanted to try but have been too intimidated to. I haven't even tasted one, let alone baked them. From the horror stories to the legends about how hard they are to bake correctly, I put it in the "one day" basket. I decided I was going to finally tackle this fickle beast for this Christmas. I spent many hours researching recipes and advice and all the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos. The more I read, the more confused I became. There is so much conflicting information, sworn by recipes, refuted techniques. It's enough to make you want to throw in the towel.
After one such evening I finally closed my internet browser and decided that was enough. It's only a meringue. I can do meringue. I needed to just get in the kitchen and have a go.
Turns out, there's a whole lot of fuss about not much.These are completely achievable…