Joconde Imprime with Chocolate, Hazelnut and Raspberry Entremet

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.

Cakecrumbs' Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Joconde 00

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’.

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Lemon Meringue Petit Tarts

I love making tiny desserts. No matter what it is, making it into tiny, single serves always makes it better in my opinion. I also love making lots of desserts, so making them tiny means more people can have more variety. Whenever I have people around for a party or just for dinner I usually crack out as many teeny desserts as I can.

Cakecrumb's Lemon Meringue Tartlets 00

Recently, I bought a set of teeny tart pans and just could not wait for the chance to use them. So when I invited Cam’s parents around for dinner one night I leapt at the chance to bake these.

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Daring Bakers: Chocolate Marquise

I’ve had a slight hiccup with the Jupiter cake tutorial: I have the video done but it just won’t save! All my attempts at troubleshooting haven’t worked so I’m having to sort that out. I’ll have it for you soon!

In lieu of that, it’s time to move on to the Daring Baker’s challenge this month!

This month’s challenge was entitled ‘Eenie Meenie Miney Moe!’ In a celebration of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like. The real challenge was picking which delicious recipe to try!

I set about trying to find the hardest recipe I could. I was going to challenge myself to the most ludicrous challenge I could find. But I struggled to find something that scared me. The most fearsome challenges I’d heard about from other bakers were things I have or now regularly bake: french macarons, joconde, croquembouche. The desserts I hadn’t tried all used techniques I’m familiar with. It was actually a nice moment to reflect on how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned over the last 3 years.

I couldn’t find something as challenging as I’d wanted, but there was one…

Cakecrumbs' Chocolate Marquis

The chocolate marquise. It was the challenge from May 2011. I’d never heard of it before and it looked divine. But the recipe was massive and had a bunch of pressure points that seemed difficult, so I decided to take it on.

I discovered as I made it that it wasn’t that scary, but it does force you to plan ahead. You need to be organised and to think through the components, particularly during plating. You have to have a plan of attack and stick to it. I’m a hot mess in the kitchen so perhaps this was the biggest challenge of all…

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Pavlova Wreath

In my last blog, I mentioned the profound effect the deviantART community has had on my culinary art. One of the most significant impacts has been on the photography of it. Photos were always just snapshots of my food meant to illustrate my blog and my recipes therein. The amazing food photographers over on dA, especially those submitting their work to the same groups as myself, inspired me to want to make the photography art in of itself.

Some time ago, I bought a book on food photography. It soon became obvious to me how little of what I learned I could put into practise with my point and shoot camera. So, right after Christmas, I decided to invest in a DSLR. I'm absolutely loving it and it is definitely one of my greatest investments. Every time I take it with me on a bushwalk, or on a bike ride with my dog, or take photographs of food with it, I am learning something new.

This pavlova wreath was essentially the first photographs I took with my new camera, aside from a few random ones prior when trying to work out how to make the shutter work. These photographs are mostly me not understanding how to work my camera ("how do you photo?"). It's such a steep learning curve, but one I am excited about experiencing.

As a baker, I get asked a lot what my favourite dessert is. Because I enjoy making the complex, most people seem to expect an interesting answer. Some intricate dessert, something complex feat of skill and beauty that is the epitome of perfection on a plate.

It's much more simple than that.

Pavlova

A crisp meringue with a soft, marshmallowy interior. Topped with fresh cream and fruit, I would eat it every day without ever getting sick of it. Most of my favourite desserts, in fact, include fresh fruit. You just can't beat the perfection created by nature in the form of fruit.

Pavlova is a staple at many celebrations in Australia and New Zealand. Such a staple, in fact, that most of us near faint from shock when those from other countries declare they've never heard of it!

If you’re one of these people, it’s time to amend that…

12 Days of Christmas :: 2 Macarons

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…

Salted Peanut Caramel and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Last week I went out to dinner with mine and my boyfriend's immediate family to celebrate the completion of my Masters degree. We went to one of my favourite local restaurants, Azurea's and had a lovely time together. While Azurea's have a gorgeous selection of cakes and desserts themselves, I wasn't about to let go of an excuse to bake! Between mine and his family, everyone's preference for cake is many and varied, so choosing one is always a difficult task — someone is always not going to be happy! I eventually settled on this cake I had been wanting to try for quite a while now.

Hello excuse!