GENDER REVEAL CAKE

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Ah. Gender reveals.

The new biggest thing for expecting couples and eager families and friends. I don’t blame people for all the hype though. In fact, as I scanned the internet for inspiration for this cake, I kind of got into the idea myself. Having a baby is an incredibly exciting and pretty big deal, so why not celebrate the joyous occasion with a party and a little anxious anticipation?

Oh, and did I mention that it’s a good excuse to eat cake?

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I’ve been obsessed with this cake since the moment I was asked to make it. I don’t usually do cake orders for people. Cookies and cupcakes tend to be my thing because they are cute and they are small. And let’s be honest, if I mess up the design or decoration on one, it’s not a big deal, because I always make back-ups. But cakes, not so much. If something goes wrong with your cake, you are left with nothing but a big mess and a lot of disappointment.

But I wasn’t intimidated by this cake. I decided to take it on because it seemed like a really fun opportunity. I got to challenge myself, learn some new techniques, and have lots of creative freedom. And I can’t deny that I just secretly wanted to make a mini clothes line of baby clothes as a cake topper. Do you blame me though? How cute is that?

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For the cake, I used the Pina Colada Cake recipe that I blogged about last summer. This recipe is one of my personal favourites because it is so moist and flavourful on its own, but tastes even better when paired with coconut cream cheese frosting. Sure, it’s fruity. Sure, it’s tropical. But there’s nothing wrong with that in the dead of winter. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

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For those of you who have never heard of gender reveal cakes before, you’re probably wondering what makes this cake worthy of the task before it. Gender reveal cakes are designed to hide the gender of your baby (represented through either the stereotypical blue or pink colour) until you cut into the cake. Some people dye the batter of the cake itself, some people cut a hole in the middle and fill it with appropriately-coloured candies, and some people, like me, colour only the frosting that joins the cake together. This was the best option for this cake, as the timeframe between the ultrasound appointment and the grand reveal was tight, but I would love to try working with some of the other options in the future. Especially the one that involves candy. You can never go wrong with cake and candy.

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Once I layered the cake with blue icing (surprise–it’s a boy!), I covered the entire thing in a thin crumb coat. As it chilled in the fridge, I watched video, after video, after video of different cake decorating tutorials covering a range of new techniques. I settled on this ruffle technique, as I figured it was delicate and soft and would work well with a baby theme. It ended up being an incredibly simple technique, lending itself well to any minor imperfections that resulted from my lack of experience. I then sprinkled a few blue and pink pearl sprinkles on the top before adding two small swirls of icing to plant the clothesline posts in. Although I am so pleased with the ruffle technique, I can’t wait to try my hand at this other style of ruffles and this blobbing technique.

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It really was such a pleasure making this cake. I can’t wait to see what kind of doors this will open and what types of treats will come next. Man, I love what I do.

Congratulations to the soon-to-be parents as they anticipate the arrival of their little boy!

A WINTERY BABY LAND

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My first baking order for the new year was for 3 dozen winter wonderland baby-themed cookies. I’ve made tons of baby-themed cookies within the past year alone, but this was the first time I was able to stretch the theme a little further than polka-dots and teddy-bears (not that I don’t love polka-dots and teddy bears)! I did a dozen of each of the above designs, hoping to link the baby-theme to the snowflakes by incorporating some little pink snowflakes onto the onsies.

In other baby related news, I was asked to make a gender-reveal cake within the next few weeks. It will be the first time that I have been asked to do this, so I can’t deny my excitement to be involved in the reveal of such exciting news. I’ve been given a lot of creative freedom with the cake, so I can’t help but dream up some ideas and browse the internet for inspiration. I love the idea of having a “surprise” centre filled with appropriately coloured candies [1], a simple and sleek design [2], and I absolutely adore little handmade bunting toppers [3]. We’ll see what I can come up with (maybe a combination of all-of-the-above?)!

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That’s all for now, my friends. Thanks for checking in!

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A new year is once again upon us, which always inspires me to review where I’ve grown, fallen short, and been surprised over the previous year. On a personal level, this year has introduced to me a variety of new experiences; some welcomed and some not. This year has also introduced me to a variety of new baking experiences. I’ve had such an incredible year, watching my (very) small baking business grow more and more with each passing month. It has been such a blessing for me to interact with so many new clients, learn so many new techniques, test and develop so many new recipes, and enjoy every minute of it along the way. I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love the most: bake.

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I loved pushing myself to try so many new recipes and techniques this year. I made sugared blueberries to add the cutest little touch to white-chocolate blueberry cupcakes. I captured one of the best flavours of autumn by making mini pumpkin cheesecakes. I was given numerous opportunities to express my love of florals through different cookie orders. I finally braved my fear of baking with yeast when I made the most delicious cinnamon buns from the most amazing Butter Baked Goods recipe book. I also got obsessed with shortbread cookies and the endless flavour combinations that can accompany them.

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This year I also pushed myself to go the extra mile with details. I believe that beyond tasting great, baked goods should look good too. As a result, I took the extra time to add special little details to the cookies and cakes I made, such as the tiny little gingerbread men that topped a gingerbread cheesecake. I also took a lot of time developing a business card and brand that I was happy with to represent my business. One of my favourite little details were the tiny chocolate teddy bears I made as cupcake toppers for a baby shower. At times, going this extra mile can be frustrating, tiresome, and seem pointless, but in the end, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to present a product I am happy with, both taste-wise and visually.

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The number of cookie orders I took on over this past year is unbelievable. Over the course of the year, I had over 53 orders and made over 178 dozen sugar cookies. Yes. That is 2136 specially-decorated cookies. I was given so many opportunities to be creative. I was also challenged in so many ways, especially when I was asked to create specific cookies and cupcakes based on children shows, pop-culture items, and brands. These cookies were some of my favourite to make, because they were so challenging, yet rewarding. I custom made tiny Disney princess cupcake toppers, did so many Minnie Mouse themed cookies, was introduced to Toopy and Binoo, custom cut and decorated the famous Canadian Tim Horton’s cup, was able to support Theatre of the Beat as they embarked on their summer tour, and made my brother’s baseball team custom A’s cookies. Did I mention that his team won the championship? (not that I’m taking credit or anything…)

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My favourite part about making all of these treats was that they were created for the purpose of celebrating some of life’s biggest (and smallest) moments. Whether it be Earth Day, a bachelorette party, the arrival of a new baby, the beginning of a marriage, a second birthday, or the end of the school year and the start of the summer, special treats allow people to be together. It brings me so much joy to know that something that I get so much enjoyment from doing can be so integral in connecting people.

I’ve experienced so many joyous baking moments this year, but it wasn’t all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. I stretched myself to the limit by procrastinating on orders, taking on way more than a single person can handle, and pulling my first ever all-nighter. I experienced a few failed attempts and even had to turn down a couple order opportunities because I just had too much to do. But I learned so many things throughout the entire process, encouraging me to set goals for the upcoming year.

This year has been flat out incredible. I’ll leave it there, as I must attend to my first order of 2014, but I would just like to thank all of those who have supported me this year. Your words of encouragement, helping hands, and faith in me is greatly appreciated beyond words. Here’s to a year of joy, blessings, and endless amounts of cookies!