The pretties have landed

I’m so proud to announce the Anita of Cake 2019 apron collection has dropped into the online shop overnight.

Comprised of two styles (Standard and Deluxe Hostess), each apron design has been inspired by wonderful women in my life that enjoy baking. Baking has been shown to have multiple benefits, including creative expression, stress reduction and when gifting the baked treat to someone else, increases the feeling of well-being.

As most of us know, baking can get messy. But not only are these aprons functional in protecting your clothes underneath, they are also beautiful. They will get you in the right frame of positive mind and energy before you even commence your bake – so important when you’re wanting to enjoy the process and practice mindfulness, which will help reduce mistakes and you will achieve a better result in your baked goods.

Best of all, these aprons have been made using mid-to-heavyweight durable 100% cotton drill/duck fabric – they have been made to last. The fabric was also pre-washed and pre-shrunk prior to construction, meaning you won’t face any shrinking issues with future washes. You can also feel good knowing that they have been lovingly handmade using quality materials, and you are supporting a small home business spread the joy of baking.

So, let’s cake some magic! <3

Exclusive sneak peek

Less than 2 days to go now until the launch – this is what I have been working on over the last few months. I’m so excited, I thought I would share an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek with my website blog following 🙂

Selection of designer aprons

The pretties are coming…

A week in this caker’s shoes

I have a hard limit of one cake order a week – sometimes I’ll let a second sneak in if I find both are smaller cakes. Some of you out there may be wondering, why only one? And there is only one way to truly explain this – and that is a weekly diary of all that I do. This is an overview of a week in my shoes (which includes 2 cake orders and a side order for unicorn decorations).

Monday

Morning: 7am wake up, get son ready and off to school. I go to work for the day.
Lunchtime: Go to shops to get some groceries – some are perishable items needed for this week’s cake orders (thankfully there’s enough room in the work fridges to store 2 bags worth).
Afternoon: Pick up son from school, spend time with him before I cook dinner then clean up. Empty the rubbish bins (it’s bin night).
Evening: Bake 8″ hemisphere cake and 8″ round cake. Both fail miserably and are tossed. I’m tired and frustrated, so go to bed “early” (9pm).

Tuesday

Morning: 7am wake up, get son ready and off to school. I go to work for the day.
Lunchtime: Figure out my recipes so I can try again tonight.
Afternoon: Pick up son from school, spend time with him before I pull in wheely bins, cook dinner then clean up.
Evening: Re-bake 8″ hemisphere cake and 8″ round cake – both work this time (woohoo!) While they are baking, I clean up the kitchen, and then make a fondant unicorn horn, eyes and ears (for a side customer order), and I blow up water balloons. While the cakes cool, I make 20 gelatin bubbles in 2 different colours. By the time I have those completed and kitchen cleaned up, cakes wrapped and fridged, and get the dishwasher doing its thing, it is 2am. Time for bed.

Wednesday

Morning: 7am wake up, get son ready and off to school while I go to work. Today is a coffee day.
Lunchtime: Contact customers to confirm pickup times to organise my schedule for the weekend.
Afternoon: Pick up son from school, get the gelatin bubbles trimmed and boxed, ready for use. Get son ready and take him to swimming class. I’m already feeling tired and know I still need to cook more cakes tonight – so opt to get takeaway for dinner tonight. Bonus: no cleanup. But I do need to empty the dishwasher…
Evening: Bake 2x 7″ round cakes. While cooking, cleanup the kitchen and get all boxes, dowels and boards ready for this weekend’s orders. Allow cakes to cool before wrapping and fridging. “Early” bedtime, 9pm

Thursday

Morning: 7am wake up, realise I should have made my ganache last night so quickly make a pot of ganache while getting son ready and off to school before I go to work.
Lunchtime: Organise a custom topper order for one of next week’s cake orders.
Afternoon: Pick up son from school, spend time with him before warming up leftovers for dinner. Cleanup.
Evening: Make a big batch of buttercream for this weekend’s orders. cleanup the kitchen and paint the unicorn decorations gold. Level and torte the cakes, before filling and assembling them. One of them takes a bit longer than usual as it is a carved cake. Once all is done, clean the kitchen and off to bed. It’s 1am.

Friday

Morning: 7am wake up, get son ready and off to school while I go to work for the day.
Afternoon: Stay back at work later today to make up for losses of flex during the week.
Evening: Box up the unicorn decorations. Commence covering the Cauldron cake with fondant and decorate. It’s 9pm and I think up a way to improve the design a bit by adding isomalt flames and fairy lights so it looks like the fire is real. It is midnight when the cake is completed. I box it up ready for pickup the next day and clean up the kitchen. Dishwasher is full and set to run – I go to bed.

Saturday

Morning: 7am wake up early. Put on Rage while I have breaky. Get to work fondanting my second cake order. Prepare all the stuff needed for airbrushing. I airbrush the cake, and get fondant panels ready to make the buildings.
Afternoon: Cake is airbrushed and buildings are stuck on. I clean up the kitchen and workspace area – only thing left to do is handpainting and a few fondant details. I take my son to his school’s fete – even with bad weather, we stick it out and enjoy it for the full 4 hours. Bonus is we have dinner there – no cooking and cleanup at home required, w00t!
Evening: Come home, I spend more time with him as I get 2 loads of laundry done, reading through his newly acquired books and stick on his fairy tattoo (he’s so excited lol). I take him to bed and end up falling asleep too – oops. I wake up at 4am and complete the cake and have it boxed, ready for pickup at 10am.

Sunday

Morning: 9am wake up, take pictures of the cake before commencing our household tradition of cooked Sunday breaky, pancakes. 10am the cake is collected, and I make a start on picture editing while getting the third load of laundry going.
Afternoon: I fix lunch, and cleanup the kitchen. Time to start baking this weekend’s cakes – 4x 7″ marble mudcakes. I can only prep and cook 2 at a time. So I do the first lot, and while they’re baking, spend time with my son and also ring home to have a quick chat with the folks (I try to fit this in weekly). The cakes are done after 2 hours of baking. I proceed to prep the second lot while suffering through a massive headache. While they’re cooking, I pop a couple Panadol and take a nap on the couch. I’ve set the oven alarm and my phone alarm, but ask my son to wake me up if I don’t hear any of it. What a trooper, he’s content with playing with his Lego while I nap.
Evening: The second batch of cakes are done and pulled out at 6pm. I’m still not feeling well.. so we go and get takeout for dinner tonight as I didn’t feel up to more cooking/cleaning. 9pm early bedtime tonight – I’m knackered.

Monday

Morning: 7am wake up, get son ready and off to school. I go to work for the day and quickly organise a click n collect grocery shop on my mobile while I have a cuppa.
Lunchtime: Start mapping out what needs doing for my orders this week (yeah, I have 2 again this week – glutton for punishment).
Afternoon: Pick up son from school, empty the rubbish bins (bin night), go to pick up the grocery order, put away groceries and vacuum the house while dinner is cooking.
Evening: Clean up after dinner – start the dishwasher and mop the kitchen. Another small load of washing for the mop attachment. Do some math work with my son before it’s bed time for the both of us. I decide I will cook the second order’s cakes and make the fondant elephant topper tomorrow… I’m tired.

Summary

As you can see.. it’s a lot of work. I’m basically constantly on the go, between my day job, being a mum and running my cake biz (I didn’t even include spending time answering enquiries, doing up invoices and organising my social media posts). I will have some down time now and then to put my feet up, 10min here, 20min there. I typically use this time to stream a cake show, or jump on Facebook and help others with cake questions (or seek help myself with my own cake questions lol). I have no doubt there are other cake/cookie artists out there with similar looking weeks, and to you guys I say – keep up the awesome work! ^_^ <3

Pretty things are coming…

While I haven’t been taking on quite as many cake orders this year, I have been very busy behind the scenes working on something. Something new. Something pretty. And it will launch just in time for Christmas <3 Stay tuned to my Shop page for the launch!

Anita of Cake label

The Millennium Falcon Cake

OK, so let’s start with – if you haven’t seen Star Wars, then you may not truly understand this cake. If you’re a fan of Star Wars (like me) – then I know you’ll appreciate the details that have gone into the overall design and construction of this one. It is the Millennium Falcon flying over Tatooine – the desert planet where the Star Wars movies first began. I felt like this cake deserved a post of its own – so you can see the amount of work and effort that went into it. A cake sometimes goes beyond just a cake. This is one such creation.

Anti-gravity Millennium Falcon Cake

This isn’t a step-by-step tutorial on how to make one of these.  It is just an overview of some of the tools/hardware that went into it. I had to put on my tradie hat for this one and design the structure myself. I started by first getting the blueprints for the MF. This helped me figure out the size of the cakeboard that I would need and I went from there in tracing the shape and cutting out the cakeboard. In my case, the cake was a 10″ round for the main part of the body. Other components were built up using Rice Krispie Treats and cake offcuts mixed with buttercream.

Millennium Falcon Cake - top view

The tools I used to complete the project:

  • Jigsaw – with blades suitable for wood and metal
  • Electric drill – with drill bits suitable for wood and metal (2mm & 8mm bit sizes)
  • Spanner set
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hacksaw – with blade suitable for metal
  • Airbrush
  • General cake modeling tools

Anti-gravity Millennium Falcon Cake structure

The hardware/packaging that went into it:

  • 16″ x 12″ masonite cake board
  • 20″ x 16″ masonite cake board
  • 2x 10″ cake cardboard rounds
  • 20″ x 16″ cake box
  • 3x 6″ x 6″ squares of 1.55mm galvanised steel sheet
  • 8mm stainless steel threaded rod (length is determined by how high you want the MF to fly off the ground – I went with about 40cm)
  • 4x 8mm stainless steel lock nuts
  • 1x 8mm stainless steel flat washer
  • 12x 25mm round self-adhesive felt floor pads – stacked in 3s and hot glued to the underside of the cakeboard to raise it high enough so the threaded rod doesn’t touch the table.
  • String of Blue LED fairy lights, button battery powered (I went with 40 lights/4m) – I adhered them onto a cut strip of cakebox cardboard using sticky tape.

Anti-gravity Millennium Falcon Cake with lights

The cake itself was a 10″ round red velvet, filled with vanilla bean cheesecake flavoured buttercream. Covered with white chocolate ganache and fondant.  I used a mix of crushed Scotch Finger and Gingernut biscuits to create the dessert sand (that wasn’t a typo, I mean to type dessert 😉 ).

Chocolate Macarons

Thought I would share a recipe for chocolate macaron shells. I asked the All Things Macarons facebook group for advice on how to convert a regular mac recipe to chocolate – I was advised to try reducing the almond meal/flour by 5%, and to reduce the icing/powdered sugar by 5%, and then replace that 10% total with cocoa powder. This approach was successful for this recipe.

Chocolate Macarons (Shells)

A chocolate adaptation of the classic macaron shell
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time14 mins
Resting time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate, cookie, macaron
Servings: 12 pairs

Equipment

  • Electric scales
  • 2x Mixing bowls
  • Food processor/grinder
  • Sieve
  • Small saucepan
  • Glass bowl
  • Whisk
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Cookie tray/s
  • Baking paper, printed macaron template (5cm diameter)
  • 12" piping bag fitted with 9mm round tip

Ingredients

  • 45 grams Almond meal/flour
  • 36 grams Icing/powdered sugar
  • 9 grams Cocoa powder Dutch processed
  • 40 grams Egg whites Aged
  • 40 grams Caster sugar

Instructions

  • Follow the method in YouTube video https://youtu.be/n-BS0u3Kqsc - except use measurements in this recipe to get chocolate shells.
  • For additional tips, check out my other blog post https://www.anitaofcake.com.au/macaron-mania/

Notes

Additional notes:
For one batch I subbed out 10% aged egg whites for carton/pasteurised egg whites. The feet came out a bit smaller but were still full and successful
This recipe can be doubled to make 24 macarons (verified)

Macaron Mania

Macarons. You either love making them, hate making them – or you pull your hair out over and over again while trying to find the perfect recipe. Sad news – there is no perfect recipe. You just need to keep trying until you find the one that works best for you and your equipment.

You may recall my previous mac-post boasting about adapting to the Swiss method – as I had never been able to achieve full macarons  with French or Italian recipes. The only issue I had with the recipe I was using: I could only successfully cook about 10 shells onto a tray lol The outer ring of macs would crack if I  filled the whole tray.

That’s OK if you’re only needing a few – but for bigger lots, it’s just impractical and takes too long… So I banked up egg whites in the freezer over a couple months, and when I had a order-free weeks I went back to looking for another suitable Swiss-method mac recipe.

I’d tried a few recipes recommended on the All Things Macarons group on Facebook – but none were working no matter the tweaks I made. So I was running low on egg whites and time; I turned to YouTube. I managed to find a recipe that worked for me and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief as I needed them for an order a week away.

Macarons

Macarons success!

I did take notes on slight adjustments/techniques that I used to get absolute success with these cookies:

  • I didn’t monitor the sugar/egg temperature while on double boiler (#lazycook). I only periodically checked to see if the sugar had dissolved – once it had, it came straight off the heat and I started whipping with my el-cheapo 5-speed hand mixer
  • I did: 2 minutes @ speed 1, 2 minutes @ speed 2, 2 minutes @ speed 3, scrape down sides (can add gel colouring at this stage), then 1 minute @ speed 2
  • Macaronaged as per YouTube video; takes me 3 scrape rotations to get the right consistency
  • Used Loyal plastic tube size 9 (9mm round tip) in 12″ bag (the recipe yields a small batch of approx 12-14 cookies, you don’t need a bigger bag)
  • Piped perpendicular onto Glad baking paper with printed mac template underneath (5cm diameter). Firmly rapped tray onto bench 4x, then used a toothpick to smooth out tops.
  • I set my oven to Fan Bake mode (it is an electric oven – top and bottom elements are on plus rear fan to circulate air around) – looking to get a 175°C reading on my oven thermometer that I have sitting on the middle rack
  • Let rest until matte finish and dry to touch. (In my area it is about 20-30 minutes)
  • Double trayed and put into oven, immediately reduce temp to 140°C setting (I find that my  oven doesn’t start heating again during the 14-minute total cooktime). I place a sheet of baking paper on top of the macarons at the 8-minute mark to help prevent any browning (while the oven elements don’t turn back on, the fan is still going around)
  • After the 14 minutes cooktime, I check that I can remove one cookie without any sticking issues – if so, I pull the tray out. If not, I leave for an extra minute and recheck
  • Once they’re out, I increase the oven temp again to 175°C to ready for the next batch to go in
  • Straight from the oven I tend to crack open a cookie to check that it’s full (om noms). Once they’re cool enough to touch, I match up pairs and place into an air-tight container.

Now here is the funny thing about doing the cookies this way – they look like a macaron (smooth tops and ruffled feet); they taste like a macaron (yummm), and they’re full (#winning). But (there’s always a but isn’t there..) – I find that they are a little on the crunchy side. So I turned to Dr Google lol And here is what I found – this is actually a common practice for some pro mac bakers! (Refs 1, and 2 who themselves reference the expertise of Pierre Hermé).

They tend to slightly overbake their macs (to ensure their macs remain full) but then apply moisture back into the bottom of the cookie by way of simple syrup, milk or sweetened condensed milk! So, I have chosen to use simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar, boiled until the sugar has just dissolved, with a dash of vanilla extract). I quickly dunk and then lay them bottom-side up on a cooling rack and watch the cookie absorb the syrup before piping the filling (using Loyal plastic tube size 11 (11mm round tip)). Maturation took two days (using white chocolate ganache filling). It was perfect – crunch on outside, soft filling that just melts away – divine <3

Can you go to the shops for me please?

So a very good friend of mine has asked me to create her birthday cake for this weekend, and she has kindly offered to help me pay for ingredients/supplies. Without giving away the design, the cake will be a white chocolate mudcake, filled with coconut flavoured buttercream and homemade pineapple curd. Covered with white chocolate ganache and fondant. The cake will feed approx 38.

I thought this might be a fun challenge for you to participate from home (if there’s anyone out there reading this blog lol). Can you (hypothetically) do the shopping for me please? I have broken the lists down into 2 for you – one list is for stuff you’d find at the local supermarket.  The other list is for the stuff you’d find at a cake specialty store. Can you work out how much everything is going to cost? You might like to undertake this exercise if you’re intending to make a cake from scratch yourself and thinking how much it’d cost just for ingredients/supplies.

Stop 1 – The supermarket

  • 2428g white chocolate
  • 1209g butter
  • 898ml milk
  • 693g caster sugar
  • 35ml vanilla extract
  • 11 large eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 359g self-raising flour
  • 539g plain flour
  • 449g icing sugar
  • 20ml coconut extract
  • 120ml canned pineapple juice
  • 2 tbspn cornstarch
  • Baking paper

Now I bet you’re wondering: surely you get these supplies from your wholesaler? Well – no, I don’t. Because while I do have an ABN and do have a wholesale account, I find that because I work my day job everyday, I am not at home and so unable to receive deliveries from my wholesaler. Bummer yeah? Mind you, I do buy in bulk when things are on sale (where possible) and I know where these ingredients are the cheapest so buy things when I just happen to be at a particular store.

Why don’t you open up a new tab and figure out the cost for me for those ingredients – at your supermarket/s of choice. If you find some things cheaper at one over the other – you could take the extra time/fuel to travel between those two or three and get the cheapest options available. But please don’t charge me for that – surely I shouldn’t have to pay you for time/fuel as I am not passing those kinds of costs onto my customers. After all, I’m sure you’re already going to the shops anyway, this is just a few extra things 😉

Stop 2 – The Specialty Cake Shop

  • 1500g fondant
  • 250g gumpaste
  • 20 floral wires
  • Safety Seal (let’s say 50c for this one as I don’t need to use much)
  • 8 bubble tea straws
  • 1 centre dowel
  • 20g gold lustre dust
  • Rose spirite (alcohol)
  • 9″ cardboard round
  • 12″ marble masonite cakeboard
  • 12x12x12 cake box

I’m located in Canberra – so your major options are going to be either Cake Decorating Solutions (Fyshwick), La Torta (Majura Park) and/or Across The Board Cake Decorating Supplies (Greenway). You’re welcome to buy things online – but bear in mind, this stuff would need to be ordered at least a week or two in advance to allow enough time for delivery. Also, postage and handling fees.. surely they can deliver for free so I don’t have to pay for that, right? 😉 haha Oh and again – for the local options, if you could not charge me for the time/fuel for that, that would be grrrreeeeaaat (if you haven’t seen Office Space, I highly recommend you do lol). Again – these are the kinds of costs I don’t pass onto my customers, so I cannot afford to pay you for that.

So – have you got your price?

I came to $92.47. How does yours compare?