Friday, 22 April 2016

Nothing beats (recycled) cake!

As a complete term of endearment I refer to one of my sisters as an absolute nutter. 
Last June I created a two tier cake for my nieces naming day.
Exhibit A. Original cake June 2015

 With an entire tier untouched (blame me for the enormous cake), instead of cutting it up and sharing it out to all and sundry- she froze the tier and has kept it- waiting for another special  occasion to utilise it. 
Just to picture this "left over" tier size- it was 10" round and approx 9" high. AKA- bloody huge!

It was my mums birthday this week. When discussing what the plans to celebrate were- nutter sister pipes up and says that she's going to prepare the birthday cake utilising the frozen tier she'd been saving. 
Honestly- you'd think she'd have a connection to hook her up with a fresh cake. 
There was no arguing the use of the second hand cake. She reminded me on number of occasions that my own clients successfully froze their top tiers, and enjoyed them as an anniversary/celebration cake within 12 months of their weddings, what's good for the goose is good for the gander right?
So that was that. The tier was to be reinvigorated as the birthday cake for the family birthday dinner. 

It was my mums actual birthday yesterday. I surprised her at work with a (freshly made) Drip cake.

Chocolate peanut butter caramel to be exact. 
Layers of rich chocolate with peanut butter ganache, all drizzled with rich velvety caramel. With the added bonus of dark chocolate mousse quenelles (and a giant one on top). 
Suffice to say both mum and her colleagues enjoyed the birthday day cake!

But tonight's family festivities had us celebrating with the recycled cake. I'm pretty much eating my hat right about now because to my astonishment- the cake was actually perfect. Just like the day it was made. 
Keeping a giant cake is not like freezing a top tier. There was no size Tupperware container available to encase the cake. It had been thoroughly glad wrapped for the last 10 months- sat in a deep freezer- and defrosted yesterday. Amazing. 
I honestly expected it to have been tainted by other freezer items given it wasn't encased in an airtight container. But indeed it was fab. 

I'd forgotten what flavour it was. Passionfruit lime, with lime buttercream. Moist delicious, and not an ounce of drying out!
I'm delighted to report that this time is the last time this tier (in any form) will be making an appearance- I've sectioned it and sent it off with 11 different people. It's being eaten this weekend. 
My husband in his humor suggested my sister could keep wedges and re-ice them as skateboard ramps for an 8th birthday. Thanks Steve, like she needs encouragement or ideas lol. 

So there it was. A cake, used (successfully) twice for vastly different occasions, and enjoyed. The moral of this story is, know that a thrifty sister won't let great cake go to waste- even when she has unlimited supply of it at her disposal. 

What began as a tiny Facebook status update - has turned into me sharing one of the idiosyncrasies that make my sister (and my family) the awesome people they are. 

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Wedding of the Year

Ok. Call me biased. But if you were in my shoes you'd surely be thinking the same way.
My baby sister got married last week. The last one in my family to "tie the knot"! 
Surprisingly we all married in birthed chronological order- and we all celebrated in our own style. 
For years Alex has told me "when I get married I'm going to have......." Followed by lengthy discussions and brainstorming of stunning wedding trends and jaw dropping, crowd captivating things of wedded beauty. 
I said in my speech "if Alex had Pinterest, she'd have broken the Internet!"  
Call it easy to please, or easily excitable, Al LOVED pretty much every beautiful wedding idea there was on offer. Style wise, Elegant Vintage, is what you could coin the look they were working towards..........oh but wait- look at this pretty thing over here!!!!!!! lol. 
You get the drift. 

After many many discussions over time about "when" her wedding came around- it was kind of surreal that these last few months of planning weren't just day dreaming chats- these were real time reality. Stuff was going to happen. 
It was kind of a whirlwind of planning. 
I returned from holidays at the end of January, the date was set in motion- let's plan this April wedding. 
APRIL WEDDING!!!! Whoa. I've just spent 6 weeks eating and drinking my way through the festive season- slothing  about and relaxing "summer holiday" style- now I had to rein in my health regime- I was going to be a BRIDESMAID. IN 10 weeks!!  
I could do it. Who needs sugar anyway šŸ˜
In amongst the freaking out, there was a true sense of excitement as it was now my pleasure to help Ali and Dunc create beautiful sweet treats for their special day. 
A&D has engaged some wonderful suppliers. Together we were a formidable wedding force. 
Karen from Bliss Floral perfectly captured Alex's floral ideas. When the bouquets arrived at my parents home- her squeals of delight and teary reaction to them simply said it all. I knew they'd be magnificent- but if we're measuring emotional responses, they topped my efforts no end. 
It was a real family effort setting the venue. Both families worked hard to turn the blank canvas into a warm romantic room, fit for the fabulous reception that awaited. 
The ceremony itself was performed by the remarkable Anne Campbell. 
We have been blessed to have known (and loved) Anne for many years now. Meeting through the wedding industry, and becoming friends because of her pure awesomeness. It was so wonderful to witness someone so close to our family formally marry Ali and Duncan. I say witness, but honestly, it was such a touching, amazing, warm, genuine ceremony, that emotionally I am still coming down from it (4 days later). I'm looking forward, in time, to reliving it through the professional images. As I stood in line beside my sister and watched the love both she and her new husband not only have for each other, but for their families and friends too, I couldn't help but be overcome with emotion and forgo my previously perfect made up face, replacing it with glazed eyes and blotchiness, engulfed by their heartfelt honesty and openness during such a tremendous ceremony.   It wasn't all tears though. There were laughs and a hell of allot of pride, and abundance of LOVE! Huge congrats all round xoxoxo

It's funny how once a ceremony is over- any nerves are now quashed, and there's just a nice warm glow that fills your insides. 

Anyway- you're probably wondering "what about the cake?!?" 
Yes the cake. 
Let me tell you, shed loads of ideas were bandied about before the final design was decided a mere 7 days prior. Yes you read correctly. 7 days. I believe my sister thinks I am super woman. That I can pull amazing creations from virtual thin air- without even blinking- right? 
Lucky for her we are related. What wouldn't slide with an ordinary client, means "rule" bending for blood relatives. 
So after a desperate "you need to come over tonight and DECIDE" style call - another brainstorming session was in effect, and the Dream Wedding cake design was being processed. Duncan had full faith in my skill set (or at least that's what I'm telling myself) as he pretty much gave up the reigns to Al and let us run wild with the cake!
Trying to come up with a point of difference that hasn't been "done" before is virtually impossible. Everything has been done at one point or another- it's just tweaking it, or reinventing it to make it your own. 
"We" (read I REALLY wanted to try his look) decided to put the cake in a frame. The room was completely blank and at our styling disposal. 
A block frame would highlight the cake and make it sit as the centrepiece of the sweets table. 
Of course if you're having a frame you need a custom pedestal stand too (Thanks Husband Steve- you've got no plans this weekend before the wedding do you?) 
Both the stand and the frame were painted in the Bridesmaids blue. A cross between a Royal and a Navy. Elegant, classy and timeless. 
Alex wanted to incorporate shaped tiers. We played around with tins until we came up with a combo that fit. 
I needed some foam as this size cake was far too large for the intended guest numbers- and of course there was no reason to downsize a design for the sake of practicality- so I called upon my supplier who custom cut the foam within hours and had me on track to conquer this epic masterpiece, all the while not upsetting my "real" cake schedule (my paying clients who decided on their designs long before miss last minute ;p ). 
I am honestly blessed to have such fab suppliers. 
Anyway- I immediately set myself to task to complete the abundance of sugar and paper flowers required to finish this design. 
I baked, and fast tracked, a whiskey, pistachio and craisin rich fruit cake, to send home with guests. I started on the list of sweet treats for the dessert and sweets stations (yes that's plural) and roped in our other sister to help me with all the finishing touches, sign & label making, ribbon tying, packaging and menu balancing (she's much better at culling than I). 

Luckily I like a party, and whilst my dear husband often curses my selection of table decor and styling items- they do often come in handy. Those crates he wants to throw out every other weekend, all my glassware, countless linens and frames were all used to create a stunning reception for the newlyweds. 
Alongside the cake sat a white themed sweet station. A mixture of homemade treats such as Meringues, cookies and Rocky Road, and white lollies.  

With the groom being a chef, and both our families enjoying great food- the reception was a roving gastronomic event. Guests were welcomed with an Antipasto and Charcuterie station that satisfied so deeply, that if you didn't eat again that night- you'd have gone to bed happy. But of course that was only the beginning. 
Dux Gutz Catering shined with moorish canapĆ©s (including a divine Asian duck salad) and a wandering buffet and noodle box station for mains. 
Then the antipasto was turned into a delectable Dessert station, with Belgian chocolate Mousse cones, Chocolate Cherry wedding cake (with brandied cherries and vanilla bean filling) and a selection of mini cupcakes, rounded off with"boozy" fruitcake. 
Personally I didn't make it past the canapĆ©s. I had eaten my weight in cheese and had ruined myself for anything more lol. 
From guest feedback I know others who have a much more reserved appetite and greater self control than I, enjoyed all that was on offer. I must practice greater restraint in the future. 
I really loved the cake design Alex and I came up with. So much so I'm immortalising it. If you're coming to meet with me you'll see a version of it standing proudly in my studio. 

It's one of those designs where I stand back and surprise myself that I made it. I made something that elegant, and pretty- and best of all it was for my sister!! 

I'm so proud to be able to share my talents with my family, and in some tiny way show them the thanks and appreciation for their ongoing support to me and my little business. 
So here it is. My gift to my sister and new BIL. A tower of love and well wishes, encapsulated in the form of a great big wedding cake. 
I was invited to say a speech at the wedding. It was a tough gig.  When you're filled with so much love, joy and pride for the couple, it's so hard, when you're an emotional being like me, to speak words that truly convey what these two souls mean to you. So for the most part my speech was in the form of what I baked. I spoke few words (and didn't blubber - go me!!) and ended simply with this little ditty I found online:

A wedding is a party
With, of course, a wedding cake
But sometimes by the time it comes
It's hard to stay awake
And so we have to get dressed up,
And eat allot, and wait,
For hours 'till they finally serve
The great big wedding cake! 
(author unknown) 

So huge congrats to my baby sister and her beau Dunc. 
May the euphoria of wedded bliss last for eternity, and may you both enjoy true love and happiness always xoxoxo

It's cool to be able to spoil your loved ones. It's equally as cool to make enormous cakes!! 

To everyone getting married in 2016 and beyond, may you too enjoy the love and warmth of your families on your special day xoxoxo

Thanks for reading