Tag Archives: germany

Cupcakes for a friend and A Red Ribbon Rose tutorial

30 Aug

Last Monday I had the pleasure of baking some cupcakes for one of my best friends in Frankfurt. We met each other in our Beginners German class and didn’t exactly hit it off. But after bad first impressions and one tram ride later, we actually found out that we could be ‘bestie’ material after all. So here we are, nearly 12 months after the fact and we are in fact besties. She celebrated her birthday this week and I made her some chocolate cupcakes to bring to work and share with her colleagues. This leads me to one definitely bizarre tradition I’ve found in Germany.

On your birthday, in Germany, YOU have to bring the cake. On your own birthday, YOU have to either buy or bake a cake and bring it in to share with your colleagues. All is good in when it comes to cake, but shouldn’t your friends and colleagues be THE ONES surprising YOU with the cake? I ask. Anyway, a little bit of cultural differences aside, cakes and cupcakes are always a good idea-well, that is if you want people thinking it’s your birthday.

For her birthday, I made her favourite –my Belgian chocolate cupcakes and decorated them simply with some cute ribbon roses. I have wanted to make these roses for a while and after a few tries, I finally got the right thickness and shape.

And since I like to keep things fresh, I thought I would post a quick ribbon rose tutorial in this blog post for those captivated by these cute little guys.

Note: Make these at least three days in advance so the fondant has time to harden.

Check out the captions underneath each picture for further instructions.

To make a red ribbon rose you will need:

a pinch of fondant about the size of a large blueberry
a pinch of gum tragacanth
red food colouring
ruler (if you are a perfectionist)
a square (8cmx8cm) cut out of a plastic sandwich baggie (if your hands are warm, the fondant can stick to you)

Step 1:

Pinch off some white fondant and treat it with some strengthening powder by kneading gum tragacanth into the fondant. This will ensure that your rose hardens and keeps its shape. CMC powder is a synthetic version of gum tragacanth and will also do the trick. The size of the fondant you pinched off determines how much gum tragacanth you will use. The rule of thumb is 1 tsp per 250g of fondant, so it’s really just a pinch for small amounts of fondant like the one we are using here.

Step 2:

Next add the food colouring paste. Red is notorious for having a bittery taste, so use it wisely and just for small fondant decorations. i.e. cute ribbon roses

Step 3:

Knead red food colouring paste into the fondant. When kneading, I don't use latex gloves and so I do get red food colouring all over my fingers. A good hint here is, work with light colours, like pink and white FIRST, so as not to mark lighter colours with your red finger tips. Washing yours hands often helps, but not fully, especially when using white fondant which is very easy to stain. So if you are making pink and red ribbon roses, make your pink ones first.

Step 4:

Once a smooth colour appears, pinch off a small bit red fondant, about the size of a blueberry.

Step 5:

Roll a thin sausage in between your palms that will measure about 4cm. It can be a little pointy on the ends.

Step 6:

Take a square you have cut out from a plastic bag and flatten the sausage. I use the square piece of plastic baggie to keep the fondant from sticking to my finger during flattening, however you don’t NEED a square piece of baggie. Make sure that the width is only about 1cm if you want your rose to be short, cute and stubby like mine...if you want a taller rose, ignore the 1cm rule.

Step 7:

Ok, getting close now. Roll the flatten sausage, ensuring that from that very first rolling motion you create a tight roll as this will create the centre of your rose. What is also cute is if you don’t roll in a perfectly straight motion, but instead a little unevenly across the edges as this gives the rose a bit more dimension.

Step 8:

And there you have it! One ribbon rose.

I hope you enjoyed my 8-step tutorial on making your very own fondant red ribbon rose.

Have fun!

We Eat With Our Eyes

2 Aug

The thing I love about giving cupcakes to people is that I get that same wonderful feeling you get when you are giving someone a present. That excited anticipation you feel as you hand over the present and you can’t help but have a huge smile on your face because you know you did your best to find the coolest gift and you can’t wait for them to open it. I get that feeling EVERY time I give a box of my handmade cupcakes that I have spent hours over, preparing every last detail. There is also that little nagging anxiety that creeps into the back of my mind, just like when you give a present, that they may not like what they get when they open the box. You just hope you can please them with the final product. There is of course the additional anxiety that your cupcakes will not stay intact on the drive over to their new homes and end up melting into an unforgivable heap of frosting. Hopefully I will chill-out over time and those nagging feelings will subside, but as of right now I am still a bundle of excitement and anxiety as I hand over my cupcake babies to family and friends.
The best part for me is actually the decorating part. I love working with fondant and making cute pretty decorations. I equally love creating puffy great swirls to add the decorations to.

This week, I was watching some culinary video and the guy on there said that we eat with our eyes. And from now on, I think that will become my motto. Something just registered in me when I heard that. I know that I personally have bought many things before just for their appearance. I know, I am THAT shallow. Funnily enough, not like that with men though.:)

I think that making a beautiful product, that tastes as beautiful as it looks is my ultimate goal. My swirls are not quite equally perfect nor have I perfected the art of fondant, but those are my goals. And I love working towards goals and I look forward to achieving these ones. My thirst for the cupcake world continues to grow and I look forward to a time when I have cupcake orders coming out of my ears! Yes, it’ll be tons of work but that satisfaction I will  get is unbeatable!

Java Cupcake Recipe and some other stuff

21 Jun

There is nothing more satisfying than the feeling I get when I bring home my empty tray after a night of cupcake testing. I swing the empty container gleefully as I get into the elevator and think back about how each cupcake disappeared one by one and each person enjoyed their chosen cupcake. Some unwrap the cupcake as they go, other unwrap it in its entirety and then eagerly dig in, others eat the frosting first and still others give it a quick sniff before they take their first bite. I try not to be overly stalker-esk when it comes to watching people test my cupcakes, but it’s hard to turn away! So alas, I am the cupcake stalker!

So Tuesday night. Cupcake development night. I worked on my Java cupcakes. In other words, I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe, with a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the batter and then topped the perfectly baked cupcake with espresso buttercream and coffee-bean shaped chocolate morsel.

What my aim in this cupcake development was, to stick with my tried and true chocolate recipe and try a different frosting flavour, a different frosting method and also try a different size cupcake liner to increase the size of the cupcakes themselves.

The frosting flavour was nice. The feedback from the peeps was that it was a bit on the sweet side and so I may have to work on that. I loves the shine to it and I used way less than the recommended amount of sugar, so I think I am on the right track. I love the fact that my frosting skills are definitely improving. Look at that smooth, smooth swirl, baby! Not at all of them were identical which is what I am after, to get that professional look, but I am getting there.

I also tried a new frosting method this time too. Instead of piping, I am trying out a more circular look, à la Sprinkles Cupcakes. I like the clean, domed look on each cupcake. I intend to practise this some more and see if I can get that real poshed dome, as opposed to the lopsided one I have going on now.

The next trial on these guys was increasing the size of the cupcake liner which worked to an extent. Unfortunately each cupcake hole (for lack of a better word!!) in the tray was about 1cm too small and the liners just kinda of folded in onto themselves but alas, such are the trials and tribulations of a Cupcake Queen Extraordinaire.

Alongside all my baking, I have been in talks with a website designer. I am pushing that part of the project also. I had a good meeting with him last Friday night. A nice Columbian guy who’s been in Frankfurt for 10 years now is really artsy and creative. You can see some of his work here: http://www.ariasmedia.de/

I am excited to get some photography done and work with him on the website development. Ideally, I would like to have something ready for June 26th which when I showcase my cupcakes at the Frankfurt Cultural Parade. I haven’t told you guys about that yet, have I?? A-Viva (the school where I have my Deutschkurs) invited me to crash their booth and sell my bad-ass cupcakes! So overall, the goal has been to develop the recipes until then, hopefully get a website up and running and then distribute my business card and generate some business! Sounds simple, eh? Well, we shall we what happens! I am super excited though to participate and just pray for good weather.

That is all I have this week. No profound revelations or moments this week, but I will be sure to keep you in the loop when they do happen! More exciting battles to come, I’m sure! Next weekend I am jetting off to London for a 2 day cupcake decorating workshop! Woo! Please no volcano explosions Mr. Eyjafjallajökull!

P.S. I invite all readers to find a better word to describe the ‘holes’ in the cupcake baking tray!

The Beginning

14 Jun

So the dream begins to take life. Yesterday I baked my heart out for my first cupcake testing day today. Leading up to my 2am baking session, the work day was a whirlwind and I didn’t get home until 19:15. At which point I began to prep my ingredients, consult the recipe every few seconds and finally bake my cupcakes. Alongside baking, I was also cooking. I totally overbooked myself and scheduled my first cupcake recipe development baking on the same night as an advice night with a good friend of ours who has set up his own business. He is totally the creative type and we chatted and brainstormed for hours. He came up with tons of good ideas for promotions and he really questioned me about my motivations and key drivers behind starting my cupcake business. It was really enlightening because I had never really formally formulated why I wanted to start this business. So he gave this homework assignment. I have to answer the following questions:

Why do I want to live this idea?

How will I live this idea?

What parts of me are in this idea?

Stay tuned for my journey of self discovery. Luckily, while preparing dinner earlier, I managed to cook all the cupcakes, so those were done and dusted. So after dude left at ridiculous o’clock, I started to make the homemade caramel that went into the middle. It was a beautiful process although I was a bit overly paranoid about burning the sugar since I don’t have a candy thermometer, so the process was slow and careful and slowly but surely, the sugar turned amber and started to smell heavenly and I took it off at just the perfect time. Easy does it! is what I say. I added some homemade heavy cream (i.e. what you get when you find double cream (48%) and whipping cream (36%) in Germany and then combine the two to get some percentage in the middle 40ish% (percentage for heavy cream), see how good I am at math!) and viol(insert symbol)à! Homemade caramel…I quickly poured the caramel into little wells inside my perfect chocolate cupcakes. Hey, wait, I never told you about the chocolate cupcakes. Well there are two secret ingredients in there my friends: a cup of freshly brewed coffee and vegetable oil. One to accent the chocolate flavor and the other for moistness. Mmm mmm, good. So it was already 1:30 in the morning and I still had the ganache icing to do. And I did it. I got a blissfully shiny chocolate icing to frost my chocolate caramel cupcakes with…however the frosting would have to wait as I decided to call it a day come 2:15am…I fell into bed and fell into an anxious sleep wondering if it was time to get up and frost cupcakes already and finally woke up, thinking of butter. And what time the grocery store opened so I could get more if I ran out of frosting and had to make more that morning.

My long night and my early morning filled with anxious thoughts about butter and frosting and then onto thoughts about the cupcake testers not liking my cupcakes after I put so much work in, (yet they still looked amateur) really made me realize that this is what having your own business is like. You put yourself out there, you work damn hard and your mind is never free of business improvement ideas. Is this what I really want? That question was unexpectedly answered, as I packed the freshly frosted cupcakes into my car to take to the taste testers and my car filled up with the glorious smell of chocolate. How rich, how decadent. Yes, I am really going to do this.

P.S. How many parentheses did I use in that second paragraph!??