Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finally, some new pictures...

I didn't realize how much of a luxury being able to do photo shoots of the cakes was until things got busy. I really don't like letting them go without a few poses for posterity, but time won't always permit it. I missed the opportunity to photograph the display for the wedding expo, sad to say because they were really cute. However, this week has given me ample opportunity to shoot three different sets:

For Jessica from her family on her birthday...

Jessie's birthday from his family...

Paul's wife, who likes yellow...

It's been a wonderfully busy three days. I hope everybody loves their cakes!


Monday, November 9, 2009


I get asked by many people whether or not we're able to deliver, especially by parents who want to send birthday cupcakes to their sons and daughters at Queen's. I'm happy to say YES! We only deliver, in fact, because we have no store frontage. Delivery is free and notes and cards can be attached to the bakery boxes, which are tied with a satin ribbon. So forget flowers - cupcakes taste waaay better!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

If you are interested in Cupcakes for this weekend...

We have 3 types available - Lisa Jean Pumpkin Queen, Nilla Nilla and Choclit Choclit - and we don't need 48 hours notice! In anticipation of the article we have premade a few dozen and can deliver them later tonight or anytime tomorrow.

Costs are as follows:

Choclit or Nilla are 26.40 per dozen

Pumpkin Queen are 28.80 per dozen

You can mix up the flavours to get a bit of each and delivery is free within city limits.

Happy Thanks-Giving!
Thank You, Greg Burliuk!

The past week has been long one.

Last Friday I was interviewed by Greg Burliuk of the Whig and had to wait eight days for the article to come out - you can imagine the kinds of thoughts that had time to run through my mind - what if he was just being nice with his positive comments during the interview but really found them flavourless and uninspired? What if the cupcakes were fine but somehow my personality put him off? What if he just thought the whole thing was silly?

I woke up this morning far earlier than usual with an anticipation stomach ache, the kind kids get on Christmas morning, and collected some quarters off the dresser. I didn't know where the nearest newspaper-vendie thing was but I figured my best bet would be to head for Princess Street. A lovely morning, perfect for a 7am walk.

There it was, in front of the Star Diner, which is awesome for breakfast and burgers. So I skipped across the empty street, ready to drop some quarters on a paper that would divine for me the near future of my sugary little venture - but I was a quarter short. I paced about a little - do I run all the way home and come back? Couldn't, take way too long. I shook the handle and checked the coin return. Nothing. Should I go in to see if one of the hard working waitresses would lend me a quarter if I promised to bring one back later? I might come off as a beggar, I had just gotten out of the shower, was wearing Kevin's over-sized hoody and Crocs with paint on them. I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself but, man, I couldn't stand the idea of leaving there without that paper. If I could just explain that I was in that paper and had waited eight grueling days to see what was written, I'm sure they, staff and patrons alike, would be just as excited and multiple quarters would surely be offered up. Maybe I'd get the article out and we would all read it together, there would be congratulations and high-fives all around. It would be a moment to remember.

Just as I was about to do it, a young man crossed the street to enter the diner, "Excuse me," I said, with my hand extended, showing the change that I did have, "do you think you can spare a quarter? I'm short for the paper."

He did the mock-check-of-pockets-pat-down and said "Sorry".

Yeah, I was just looking too homeless. I walked home, no triumphant moment with the strangers at the diner to regale my friends with, and got my quarter, plus two extra, just in case. This time, I got in my car and drove a ways away to find a vendie thing - I didn't need the no-change guy pointing me out as a loiterer by going back to the same spot.

I didn't open it right away, I waited until I got upstairs, woke Kevin up and read it out-loud. By the end of the article, my voice was squeaky with glee and I wanted to rush to call everyone I knew. You're welcome, friends, most of whom are two time zones behind me, for controlling myself. I'll call you tonight and make you listen on the other end while I read it to you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Super-Special Cupcakes...

I've wanted a reason to make extra-pretty cupcakes and that opportunity presented itself when I was asked to make two dozen for a christening. I was asked to make twelve sophisticated ones for the adults and twelve that would be 'magical' for the families two little girls. She was also concerned about them being messy, so chocolate was out. I imagine three-year-olds in fancy dresses with a handful of dark chocolate icing is a disaster waiting to happen.

For the grown-ups, I made 'Blushette' - White chocolate buttercream on Vanilla cake with raspberry cream filling.

And the little ladies had the 'Nilla-Nilla' with fondant roses and butterflies.
It was so fun decorating these! I was very happy with the way they turned out. After I dropped them off I had a pang of remorse because I knew they were not long for this world, but I reminded myself that their beauty is in their fleeting nature and that, uneaten, a cupcake has not reached it's full potential - it's just a rapidly deteriorating heap of useless sticky-sweetness. I suppose it's no surprise that in making something 'magical' you'll feel like you lost a little something when you say good-bye to it. Maybe thats how I'll know when I've done a good job.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Lisa!
Because I live across the country from my family there's not a lot I can do to celebrate my sisters birthdays with her today and since today is the day to present the new fall cupcake, I think I'll name it after her! Meet 'Lisa Jean, Pumpkin Queen' - a Brown Sugar Cream frosting on Pumpkin Spice Cake filled with a Whipped Cream Cheese filling topped with Shaved Brown Sugar and Amber Sugar Rocks.

So Happy Birthday Lisa, I hope you like your gift and I miss you!

(She's 36! hehehe)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just messing around on a Monday...

Recently, I finished a batch of cupcakes for a birthday party with a golf theme and was left with a good bit of green icing in my pastry bag. Fortunately, I also had some mini's stashed away in the freezer for just such an occasion. I've wanted to do a grass and flowers look for a while - ever since I bought my grass tip, really - I just think it's so funny to extrude icing like Play Dough hair! So, I worked up some flowers and leaves, set the table and took some shots....

Wouldn't they be cute with pale yellow grass and a basket handle for Easter? Maybe with a few jelly beans tucked up under the flowers...

Luckily, I'm a scrupulous cupcake baker and would never let anyone eat a previously frozen cake, so they're all for me!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

HARS Walk For Life...

Yesterday, Poppy Mallow participated in the HIV/Aids Regional Services Walk For Life by donating about 275 mini's to the walkers, fund-raisers, and installation artists. Kevin and I stayed up the night before to twist about a hundred red fondant ribbons for toppers. It was fun - no matter what Kevin tells you.

As I started putting out the cupcakes, one-by-one, I realized it would take me about two days to get them all into position; thankfully, the university student volunteers, led by the lass in pink from the AIDS Awareness Committee of Queen's, jumped in to help. For their efforts, they got first crack at the cakes!

Here we snapped a shot of the gang of helpers.

And here is the finished set-up (with a few missing, pilfered prematurely by quick, hungry hands!).

We were so well received and people were wonderfully generous with their gratitude and compliments, but Kevin and I are equally grateful to have been allowed to participate. It was a beautiful evening and we loved being outside with everybody, meeting new people and hearing some new stories. Thank You HARS staff and we'll see you next year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A little ladies 8th birthday party....

Setting up 108 Chocolate cupcakes with Vanilla Icing and sparkley sprinkles...

Monday, September 7, 2009

I've practiced some fondant techniques and what a difference! These little flowers make cupcakes look special, like they're made for a day of celebration et joie.

These cuty-pantses are part of a bigger order of cupcakes that included Choclit-Choclit, Prairie Girl and Coconut Gale made for a two year olds birthday party. Her mom asked that I make one of the Nilla-Nilla a little more special than the others for the birthday girl, hence the rose and the paper pick...

Sadly, in my haste to deliver this morning, I left the pick at home. I'm so disappointed and I hope the cupcake with its extra rose is special enough.

So now I'm hooked on fondant decorations and, since I've been thinking they all look a little plain, feel the need to redesign the look of the flavours. What could be more fun?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Usually my cupcake styling is all about pretty - the fluffier and pinker, the better. But this doesn't necessarily suit a good portion of the cupcake eating population and I knew the day would come when my creative boundaries would be challenged - I was asked to make a half dozen cupcakes with an army theme to surprise a young miss' boyfriend on break from the air force. The order was Nilla Nilla with army green icing and some sort of whimsical embellishments. I was up for it! (and I was excited to have an excuse to add a new green to my collection of food colouring pastes and buy a new icing tip).

A hand-made air plane pick and little army men defending their buttercream turf!

Young Miss was gracious enough to get back to me the next day to let me know how much he had liked cakes. I had to ask if either of them had choked on one of the men camouflaged in the buttercream 'grass', but she said they had foreseen the danger and had taken evasive maneuvers to avoid the hazard. Thanks to the couple and I'm so glad you enjoyed them!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For me, setting up cupcake shots is the 'icing on the cake' after a day of baking.

Here's the new raspberry cupcake I've been working on - White chocolate Satin Buttercream on Vanilla Cake with Raspberry and Raspberry buttercream fillings. Thats a dollop of the Rasp. B.C. on top sprinkled with white chocolate shavings. They looked okay, but the icing is a no-go. Too sugary and it left a greasy feel in my mouth. Back to the R&D area of my kitchen.

I have a thing against the flash on my camera, so I'll use any other light source I can find, but these could have used a bit more light.

Cupcake heads! I have never been able to use these cutie egg cups until now (who eats hard boiled eggs unless they're on some fad diet these days?).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Some Important Thank-You's

I have been meaning to take a picture of the package I received from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes after winning the Batter Finger draw. Lindsay had that package to me within two days! It was wrapped inside with pretty tissue paper and a cute little recipe card, which I can't for the life of me find right now. She was also lovely enough to throw in two packages of pretty cupcake liners - and she could not have chosen better colours to suit me. I was giddy all afternoon and left my booty on the kitchen table for about a week so I could look at it and think up all the different cupcakes that would look best in them. I'm in the middle of testing a raspberry recipe and, if it turns out a winner, the next batch is going in the pink ones, I think, while the green has inspired me to do something lime-pie-ish - maybe with graham cracker crumbs... So a big, albeit late, THANK YOU! to Lindsay at Sweet Cuppin Cakes in Winnipeg!

More recently, I was in Ottawa dropping Kevin off at the airport and decided to use the time afterward to check out the cupcake competition. Unfortunately, there are no 'bricks and mortar' cupcake shops. There are a few suppliers if you want to order a dozen in advance and some bakeries that make them on top of the usual fair, but nobody solely devoted to the cupcake. I was able to get my hands on some at one of the more prominent cake shops, I wont say who, and was sorely
disappointed. Their icing was sugary and flavourless and the cake was dry. However...

I made the drive northward to The Candy Store to see if I could find some novel candies to top my cakes. This made the trip worth while. The woman behind the counter, I wish I could remember her name, was a wealth of info on the cupcake scene in Ottawa and lamented herself on the lack of a cupcake cafe. The shop itself is as cute in person as it is in the pictures in their website and whats more fun than looking at pretty things in pretty jars?

I bought two of each malt-ball flavour (Yum!)and some Milkies to do some decorating, and lovely-counter-girl threw in a handful of saltwater taffy. I am now a huge fan of saltwater taffy - I never would have thought!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Strangely, given my penchant for all things tiny and cute, I hadn't baked mini cupcakes up until last week. With a little left over batter I dug out my mini tins and made a few. Soo cute. Now it's all I want to make and I want to totally fuss them up with sparkley sugar and toppings and yummy bits...

Little guy on a paper pedestal

A bit of a birthday display. I think they need to be embellished more, cupcakes are all about charm and charm is in the details.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I need a new angle...

There are a lot of positive aspects to selling at the farmers markets that would be difficult to find elsewhere - I get to meet the customers, they get to put a face to the product, there's exposure to fairly diverse groups of people, and getting to know the other producers in the community and the valuable experience they can offer. On the other hand, there are things that are completely out of my hands that make sales unpredictable - not having a permanent spot means I am not guaranteed to be able to unload the hundred or so cupcakes chilling in the back of my van, or, if I do get a spot, it could be in an undesirable location where foot traffic and visibility are limited and, of course, there's the weather to consider. Since my product has a short shelf life, they must be sold that day. This means any return on my invested time and money hinges on some conditions that, at one time or another, will inevitably work against me. I'm waiting for the day I spend all of Friday lovingly baking, decorating and packaging only to find there are no spots open at the market - there I'll be, sitting on two coolers full of melting buttercream capped cupcakes that are likely heading to the trash. Its a wretched possibility. So, while I don't intend to turn my back on the market entirely, I realize that if I am truly going to make a go of this endeavor, I need a diversified approach to sales.

I sought feed-back from a couple in the restaurant industry. I felt like I needed a professional opinion, someone who could give me specific, technical advice about taste, texture and presentation , and I'm so glad I did! Mrs. Bistro Owner, whom I had only met briefly once before, was very generous with her time and was willing to sit down with me to field my questions about how the food business works - how do I get my products into cafes or shops, what's the etiquette when approaching a business owner, etc. as well as letting me know if my cakes were up to industry standards. I dropped off three flavours for she and Mr. Bistro Owner to sample and awaited their verdict. I was beside myself ecstatic when, in her message, she described them as "so super delicious", "top notch', and "awesome"! Wheee! She then let me know they had a few more suggestions about marketing and places to approach and that I am welcome to give her a call. I am so grateful to her and her hubby, am encouraged by their input and intend to take her up on her sweet offer. I have to say, Kingstonians have made me feel very welcome in my new town and I can't wait to get even more entrenched here by getting my business going. Somehow my good feelings about this place will translate into yummier cupcakes, I'm sure.

And what does a baker do when they feel good? invent a new cupcake, of course - something raspberry flavoured, I think, since they are just starting to ripen on the bushes....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sun and Buttercream - Natural nemeses

Beautiful day, lots of people, most of them eating ice cream. The cupcakes turned out very well, the 'Sweet Alice' chocolate strawberry were the first to sell out - local berries made all the difference, it was really strawberry-y.

I tried a new chocolate icing recipe - hence the Choclit Choclit II designation - and it was a big winner! It's not a Buttercream but a dense Creme Fraiche-Dark Chocolate number. There's sooo much chocolate in this stuff and its not overly sweet, a little like a lightened up, tangy Chocolate truffle. I do need to work on it's looks a little, it's a bit plain - needs some pizazz.

Thank goodness I brought the display cakes their own parasol this time - the sun was relentless. I had to keep shifting the little umbrella as the sun moved across the sky and at one point it got ahead of me - it melted a Sweet Alice's icing into a puddle in a about 30 seconds - a bit of a sticky horror. Next time I'll bring myself a parasol too, even with sunscreen I got a nasty, albeit funny shaped, burn.

Now, off to try my hand at gum paste flowers - keep you posted.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Menu...

Sunshine and...

Nilla Nilla - Dulcet and intoxicating, A moist vanilla cream cake with rum-vanilla bean buttercream

Choclit Choclit II- Deep and enigmatic, A rich chocolate cake with tangy dark chocolate frosting

Sweet Alice
- Pretty and Summery, Chocolate or Vanilla cake with fresh local strawberry buttercream.

Not pictured but still available -
Coconut Gale - Creamy and tropical, Chocolate or Vanilla cake with coconut custard buttercream.