Archive | November, 2010

New in Germany-Cupcake mix in a box! A review.

30 Nov

Ok, so it’s official, cupcakes are touching the hearts of the Germans. They have expanded their reach to all corners of the world, from North American to the UK, from the UK to Australia and New Zealand and I think they are about to find a cosey place in the Germany.

Here we have Exhibit A:

Himbeer-Vanille (Raspberry-Vanilla) Cupcakes from RUF. Still need to work on that spelling. No hyphen, guys.

These guys here stood all by their lonesome next to all the Dr. Oetker instant pound cake mixes so I just had to bring one home with me. So only one lone flavour available on the shelves at the moment, but it’s a start! And at €2.49 a pop, not bad. So here is how things went down.

Unlike the packages in Canada, this package comes with everything you need for the cupcakes, ohne (without) the fresh ingredients that is. It comes with the cake mix, the flavour mix for the frosting, white chocolate shavings for garnish and even cute pink cupcake cases.

Once you add the egg and oil, you whip everything together for two minutes and then the Teig (batter) is ready for the oven. With a bake time of 25 minutes, you have time to prepare the frosting.

You mix the raspberry flavoured powder with cream cheese and again within two minutes it is ready to use. As we already know, Germans are scared of the unhealthy stuff, so the frosting is at a minimum. Just look at how little frosting there is! Maybe a cup for all the 12 cupcakes! I later in fact discovered the reason behind scant amounts of frosting on these cupcakes. Approximately 48 hours after the cupcakes were made, the few remaining ones that had the swirls of frosting got really soggy tops where as the ones with less were fine. Vielleicht (maybe) this has something to do with cream cheese frosting as a rule (I’m no expert), but it was gross and I threw the soggy topped cupcakes away.

So how was this German cupcake mix? Good. Not great. The cupcakes were nice when they first came out of the oven. Fluffy and moist, but then something happened and by the following day, they were dense (like the McDonald’s ones) and quite heavy from the moisture in them. The frosting was fine, I mean again, it tasted like stuff they put on the McDonald’s cupcakes except with the tang of cream cheese as the base. The cupcakes certainly aren’t so impressive and no I would not buy them again (ugh, I hate dense cupcakes) BUT the Germans have to start somewhere. Alongside the few cupcake shops sprinkled around Germany, this is definitely a step in the right direction. I would love for cupcakes to go mainstream here so I could introduce Germans to the wonderful world of fluffy cupcakes, Canadian style.

My Favourite Blogs

24 Nov

The good thing is that cupcakes are as much my hobby as they are my blossoming business. So I can always justify splurging a little bit more than you normally would on your hobby, because it’s important, you know, for the BUSINESS. And well it’s also ok to spend a bit more on your business because it’s for a dual purpose, it’s also your hobby.
So let’s just say this was my logic as I added item after item into my online cart this weekend. Tee hee. One for me, one for the business. Two for me, one for the business.
My Spanish Importer Extraordinaire shall bring the goods from the island to the mainland in the next week and I shall be ready to impress with my new cupcake fashions.

And while shopping for cupcake paraphernalia, I made a discovery which I want to share with you all. Silicone is back in, baby. Silicone moulds are all the rage. Easy to use, multi-purpose and re-usable, of course. I’ll introduce you to the world of silicone just as soon as I get my hands on my new goodies next week!

Also this last week, I was honoured by a fellow blogger with the ‘Lovely Blog Award’ The lovely, She Whisks, from Whisk Whisk Whisk shared the love and gave this award to me.

And now I get to pass on the torch to 15 blogs that I love to stalk. So here are my faves:

Spain in a Cupcake (currently running a Christmas give-away!! Check it out!)
The Cupcake Blog
Sweetapolita
Bakingdom
A Piece of Art Everyday
Cupcakes Take the Cake
Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
CakeSpy
Bakerella
Pioneer Woman
Whisk Kid
17 and Baking
Cupcake Project
i am baker
Bake at 350

Take a little break from work and enjoy!

Cupcakes + Blog = Awesome

16 Nov

Ok, so as if baking cupcakes wasn’t cool enough, now cupcakes are leading me to new friendships. One awesome offshoot (great word, people should use it more often) of writing a blog is that people read it. And not just your mom or your brother but also cool people; cool people that could be cool friends.

This month I met Alma who is living in Frankfurt and loves to bake. She introduced me to all her favourite baking accesory shops in Frankfurt and places where you can buy lots of amazing inexpensive cake stands. Tiered cake stands, people! In Frankfurt, under 20€! An amazing find that would not have been possible without the lovely Alma. We also headed to Hugeldugel (HILARIOUS name for a bookshop) and took pictures of recipes in cupcakes books…He he he, so illegal but we will buy the books later! Promise! Alma makes awesome cupcakes so much so they have even been featured on Cupcakes Take the Cake. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.

Now, I didn’t think I could meet any more cool baking English speaking girlies in Frankfurt, but I was wrong! Tonight I just got home from a date with Cati who loves all things baking AND cooking. We had a blast talking about about the Kleinmarkthalle and all the wonderful ingredients that you can find all around Frankfurt. We drank white Sangria in a small Spanish bar in Frankfurt and completely lost track of time as we divulged secret family recipes to one another. With Cati’s help, I think I am actually brave enough to tackle cream cheese frosting again. You can get a taste for her baked goodies on her Facebook page.

I love meeting fellow bakers and Frankfurters and I can’t wait until we all can get together and bake, try new recipes, learn new tricks and basically eat awesome cupcakes and cookies all day long. Ah…I do live a hard life here in Frankfurt.

Now for some cupcake porn. I donated these for an event that my very good friend had organized. They were very well received and some people even ate two! Woo hoo! That means my less sweet buttercream is working.:) I also got the chance to practice my sugar crafting. I made Calla Lilies, one large pink flower with some left over petals I had and I used some wafer butterflies that I just received from the UK.

Hand-made fondant Calla Lilies on chocolate cupcakes.

Wafer butterflies although affectionately referred to as ‘body of Christ’ butterflies.

And if you are a fellow baker or bakeress in Frankfurt and want to join our little growing network, don’t hestitate for one second to get in touch! You will be welcomed with open arms..and cupcakes!

Cupcakes for Munich and in Munich

9 Nov

This weekend Mr. Cupcake and I drove down to Munich to celebrate a friend’s birthday and as part of the gift, I also brought along a foursome of cupcakes for the birthday girl. I decided to try a recipe that Mr. Cupcake’s mom makes in the form of a cake. As with all German cakes, this one is easy on the sugar and big on the healthy ingredients. This recipe calls for fruits and vegetables in the batter, but is still wonderfully light and fluffy like a true cupcake. As soon as the two words: ‘fluffy and light’ came out the mouths of this recipe’s testers, I knew I had given birth to a new cupcake baby, even if it does have a certain green vegetable in it.

For the topping I made a milk chocolate ganache which was too runny unfortunately. It was my first time using milk chocolate with hot cream and the glaze came out too thin. Either way, the milk chocolate was the perfect accent flavour with the zucchini and nuts in the cupcake. Even if the surface was a bit bumpy due to the nuts, I know that with a second coat of less creamy ganache, all would have been right in the world and although the appearance wasn’t the smooth finish I was after, I was delighted with a new wonderful flavour combination.

After enjoying my cupcakes with the birthday girl, Mr. Cupcake and I headed to find cupcakes in Munich and we found some here.
Donuts & Candies is primarily a donut place but I found out that they also do cupcakes. Four simple flavours, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and another berry flavour, I believe . Unfortunately there was no fresh fruit in sight and the berry flavours were topped with berry candies. I only purchased a vanilla cupcake for trialing purposes and here is what we found:

  • Extremely solid and waxy McDonald’s-like frosting covering a dense de-frosted muffin-like cake.
  • To be honest the frosting wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t too sweet and tasted extremely like white chocolate. The bad points were that it was quite waxy on your teeth and did not even dent when the cupcake fell over in the bag.
  • The dense bottom was not rich in flavour and rather plain. It was also quite dry as the cupcakes are kept refrigerated.
  • Overall, I would go back for the delicious donuts but not for the cupcakes.

After eating it, I explained to Mr. Cupcake my very real concerns. I have now eaten quite a few bad cupcakes in Germany and it seems that an excellent cupcake is hard to come by. And if Germans, start to get bad impressions about cupcakes when they try one at a local McDonald’s for example, then really the cupcake trend will never truly pick up. They will become jaded by bad cupcake experiences and wonder why they should ever buy any. So here is my solemn oath to all lovers of cake (soon-to-be-cupcake converts): Never fear, fluffy, light, deliciously deep in flavour cupcakes are on their way. And there’s more. They will look as glorious as they taste. As I learn the craft of sugar decor, I promise to bring creative and mesmerizing little pieces of individual art to each little bite of goodness.

So stay tuned as I hone my skills, perfect more recipe and bring these cupcakes into reality post by post.

Learning about Cupcake Decor

2 Nov

As I wander around in the cupcake world, gawking at amazing one-of kind creations, constantly inspired by cupcake artists from around the world, I find that I have a wonderful and passionate hunger to learn more. Since I am not professionally trained in a fine culinary school, I seek resources on my own. From little hints off blogs, to amazon book reviews, to flickr photos and step-by step YouTube tutorials.

After my cupcake course at Fair Cake in London, I realize how important it is to get hands on advice and coaching. A lot of the intimidation I felt in using fondant and flower cutters vanished after I completed two wonderful cupcake classes with Shikhita Singh. The bad thing is, is that there are barely any classes in Germany like this. For cupcakes, a grand total of none and for cakes, well there are some but they are old-fashioned in their techniques. Luckily the UK is not far away and there are plenty of talented people, like Shikhita offering classes.
Also luckily, in Canada there are also plenty of opportunities to take classes alongside the professionals. So as of now, I am already bookmarking my way and inquiring about private lessons I could sign up for while I am there. One place that has been strongly recommended is the Bonnie Gordon School in Toronto. They have an excellent reputation for talented teachers and hopefully I can get a some one-on-one lessons from one of the instructors perfectly tailored to all the new things I want to learn. Also highly recommended are lessons at Golda’s Kitchen. Here there are courses, a bit like the Wilton style ones where you learn all about sugarcraft. Hopefully I can participate in two classes and have one private lesson while I am in Canada over the Christmas holidays.

Also on my Christmas list are books! For all those people stumped about what to get me for Christmas, I am preparing a nice long list of cake design books. So books that have already made the lists are:

  • What’s New Cupcake: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion
  • Professional Cake Decorating by Toba M. Garrett
  • Wedding Cake Art and Design by Toba M. Garrett

Everything from piping techniques to sugar flower creation; I want to learn it all. Flower cutters, edible lustre dust and flower veiners are just the tip of the iceberg for me! I want to turn cupcakes into things of art, not just those muffin-like things that sit next to the brownies. That is my mission.

Here are some cupcake creations I have been working on:

Woo hoo! I made these babies again and took some pictures with better light!

Here I am working with melted chocolate. I created Chinese characters. The word I chose was: Happiness.

Here, I am practicing covering cupcakes entirely with fondant and making fondant faces.