Asparagus cake

asparagus cakeEvery year for my birthday I try to challenge myself to make a crazy cake. This year, I decided on an asparagus cake.
I measured the cake tin’s circumference to figure out, mathematically, how many asparagus spears I needed to make to get all the way around the cake. And how many layers (plus icing) I’d use, to figure out how high the cake would be so that I’d know how tall the fondant asparagus would have to be. Yikes!
When it came to assembling the actual cake, I had made only one extra asparagus spear. Now I know why I needed that math tutor in algebra class. It finally paid off!
Happy birthday to me!

Sanitizer wipes cake

COVID wipesI seem to be on a roll. Last week it was a toilet paper cake. This week? Sanitizer wipes.
That’s what happens when you’re practising self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watching the news and fretting about the state of the world. I guess I’m expressing myself in cake.
It started off innocently enough. I was making a banana cake from some old bananas. Then I thought, “Why not make it into something?” (Like sanitizer wipes, right?)
So, I cut out rounds from a rectangular cake and stacked them with chocolate icing between each layer. I refrigerated it because it was a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Later, I slathered on some buttercream and attached the label, which I had lined with wax paper. I would have loved to have used an edible label but I don’t own an edible printer so I figured this was just for experimental purposes to see if I could do it.
What’s next? Who knows…

Toilet paper shortages

toilet paperWe are living in a crazy world. Watching the news about COVID-19 is so disturbing and nerve racking. In these difficult times I decided to make a cake that reflects these unprecedented days of toilet paper hoarding, self isolation and social distancing. If we can’t laugh…
BTW, the cake is funfetti with a cream cheese buttercream. And as the saying goes, stay safe everyone.

Funfetti

Funfetti cakeMelodie was celebrating a significant birthday and decided she wanted something totally fun. A funfetti cake with a pink drip edge.
Inside the cake that fed 30 partygoers was 4 multi-coloured funfetti layers, with pink funfetti icing in between, enrobed in white vanilla icing, topped with a pink ganache. So much fun.
Happy birthday Melodie!

Conversation heart ice cream sandwiches

conversation hearts sandwichesI always have fun on Valentine’s Day, creating romantic meals with a special dessert.
This year I decided to play with the conversation heart theme but this time make them into pastel-coloured sugar cookies and then sandwich them with chocolate and coffee ice cream between, creating a Valentine’s Day ice cream sandwich. Silly and delicious.

Frozen Two

Frozen A special cake for a special day.
A liver transplant seven years ago is celebrated as a sort of second birthday, since its success gave new life. And Frozen is a favourite theme so celebrate they did.
Characters (in the form of action figures) from the film Frozen Two will be added to this cake which serves as a kind of stage for Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Sven the reindeer.

Canoe engagement

engagement canoeAlex and Tyler’s first date was on a canoe. How romantic! Love at first paddle, perhaps? And then they announced their engagement. Party-time!
The cake was a nod to their first date. Atop the cake (that fed 70 partygoers), was a fondant canoe with Alex at the front (her ponytail under her cap) suited up with a life jacket and Tyler rowing behind her.
Here’s to many happy years of steering that boat and paddling together Alex and Tyler!

Üvegtigris

Hungarian movie“Üvegtigris” is a favourite film of the birthday boy. A few years back, I made a cake featuring this movie for his buddy Andi’s birthday. She asked me if I could make it again for Attila, but this time to feed 60-70 people.
I printed images from the movie on edible paper and surrounded them with black fondant sprockets to make them look like real film strips.
I asked Andi about the movie and she said it was a Hungarian thing that I likely wouldn’t find funny — but Attila and their gang think it’s the bomb. So, without further ado, here’s Attila’s Üvegtigris cake. Many happy returns of the day to him!

YOW-za

luggage cake with hatLouise has spent much of her working life at the Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport so a suitcase cake was a perfect way to celebrate her birthday. YOW is the code for that airport so there’s a sticker with that ID slapped onto the side of her pink luggage cake.
She’s a flamboyant gal who loves pink so pink it was! And hats? She loves to wear hats. Two doggy footprints are a nod to her two companions with whom she shares much of her time.
What more can we say? Happy birthday Louise!

Birthday succulents

cupcakes succulentsMy last bake of the year for the past few years, has been for Cheryl who celebrates her birthday on December 28.
I’ve done all manner of cupcakes for her so this year her daughter suggested succulents.
I love doing succulents out of buttercream. When I make succulents, I experiment with different piping tips so they turn out a little differently each time. Always fun!
Cheers to Cheryl on her birthday and Happy New Year!

Christmas spice cake & eggnog icing

Xmas spiceWe were invited to a late lunch for Boxing Day at my partner Richard’s sister’s house and I offered to make dessert.
I wanted to try something new and found a recipe for Christmas spice cake with eggnog frosting. Ooh, sounded fantastic.
It came out great, the cake baked up beautifully. My only issue was the icing was too sweet, so I alternated the 1/4 cup of heavy cream with freshly squeezed lemon juice and it made all the difference in the world.
I decorated it with the last of my gingerbread snowflakes and topped it with snowy icing sugar. Delightful.

Riff on Rifle Paper Co.

Rifle paper riffMy friend Anick is a graphic designer and a few years ago, opened a charming card and gift shop on the main street of our little town.
She curates an amazing array of stationery and wrapping paper as well as unique tchotchkes that I want to own.
When I found out it was her birthday I toyed with all sorts of ideas: her love of calligraphy, her graphic design career and…well, the things in her shop are so lovely so I wanted to give a nod to her impeccable taste.
One company stands out and it’s Rifle Paper Co. If you don’t know it, you’ve likely seen it. Their designs are appearing on all sorts of things but their initial business was cards and paper goods. Anick sells many of these in her tiny shop and I knew I wanted to attempt to base a cake on their designs.
When Anick saw the cake for the first time she said, “Rifle Paper Co.!” And so, I was delighted that she recognized my vision, which to me screamed, “Anick”!
Many happy returns Anick and here’s hoping your year is filled with beautiful design and joy.
If you want to see Rifle Paper Co.’s website, and why we love it so, click here: Rifle Paper Co.
To see Anick’s shop, click here: Left and Write Paperie

Coffee in a cardboard cup

coffee in a cardboard cupMy partner Richard celebrates a November birthday and I always like to think of wild and crazy ideas for his cake.
He and I love road trips and one of our favourite singalong albums is Mandy Patinkin’s Broadway CD. One of the songs, “Coffee in a cardboard cup” is a particular fave and we sing it all the time. So I figured it was a perfect subject for a cake.
I ruminated about how to actually do it. At first, a fondant cup with coffee (icing really) pouring onto a cake. But then I thought, it really should be cardboard! I mean, that’s what the song is all about, right?
So I baked actual coffee cakes inside cardboard cups. And it worked! I topped it with buttercream swirls to look like a latte, popped in a few tall candles and sang him happy birthday.
After he blew out the candles, we each grabbed a cuppa and dug in.
Happy birthday Richard!
To see the video of Mandy singing our favourite tune, click here: Coffee in a Cardboard Cup

Emergency landing

HGMH campusEvery year, the foundation of our local hospital, Hopital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, hosts a special evening, the Christmas Jubilee Gala. It is a hallmark event, a sparkly evening with a lavish dinner, culminating in a live auction, all funds going to buy special equipment for the hospital.
I’ve made cakes for this event for the past couple of years and this year we decided on a mini cake version of the hospital and its grounds.
In this case, it looks like an emergency situation with the toy helicopter landing on the landing pad and an ambulance on its way to greet it.
I heard the cake did super well at auction! Money was collected and the cake itself was donated to the staff at the hospital. I’m so pleased.

Nature journal thanks

Thanksgiving cake 2019For the past 15 years I’ve gone up to my partner’s family’s cottage to celebrate Thanksgiving. Every year I’ve brought a dessert to add to the Thanksgiving table.
This year I decided to do something different. Most years when I’m up at Lake of Bays, (in the stunning Muskoka area of Ontario), I’m astounded by the beautiful scenery: the lake and its changing colours and waves, the leaves and that amazing sky. I usually record the things around me in my nature journal, not only the scenery but small finds lying on the ground: an American Black duck feather, acorns, oak and maple leaves in their fall splendour and mussel shells found along the shore.
This year I decided to do a riff on my nature journaling and recreate it in fondant.
We do indeed have so much for which to be thankful.

Musical birthday

Noel Campbell 21st birthdayWhen a super talented young man, who plays cello, guitar and a plethora of other instruments hits the magic age of 21, it’s time to celebrate.
Noel’s birthday coincided with his solo CD launch. A cake to laud his premier cello artistry was made but since the party was expected to reach 200 celebrants, a cake to mark his 21st birthday was also needed.
Happy birthday Noel. Knock ’em dead out there!

Serving up a happy birthday

Tennis 60th bday Greg Byers (2)My friend Greg was celebrating a significant birthday and his partner Bonnie asked me to make a cake to mark his special day.
Greg loves all manner of things including music and politics, but he’s especially fond of tennis. When I suggested a funny spin on a tough match, Bonnie thought it would be an amusing way to poke fun at his getting to the ripe old age of 60.
Here’s a fondant version of poor, exhausted Greg after an especially gruelling tennis match. He laughed when he saw it and said it was the best cake ever.
Here’s to many more tennis matches dear Greg!

Hayley & Mike’s wedding

Hayley & Mike wedding Aug2019My partner Richard’s nephew Mike was getting married and he and his bride-to-be, Hayley, asked me to make their wedding cake. I was touched.
They wanted a naked carrot cake. Decorations would be roses and succulents like the bouquet Hayley would carry. Everything sounded great. Except I live a six-hour drive from the venue! Time to figure out how to take this show on the road.
I baked carrot cakes and froze them, then made lemony buttercream and froze that too. A few days before the wedding we packed the car with boxes and ice packs and hit the road.
We arrived in Lake of Bays, in the beautiful Muskoka district of Ontario, north of Toronto, a few days early and met up with the bridal party and put all our stuff into a fridge at the cottage where I’d be putting the cake together.
On the morning of the wedding, we arrived and I went to work. I assembled the three tiers and when it was time to decorate the cake itself, the roses and succulents looked a bit lonely. I decided that adding something that grew around the cottage would be apropos. Hayley and Mike love the cottage at Lake of Bays. I wanted the cake to feel like it came from there.
Jess, the sister of the groom helped me find acorns, pine cones and wild mint that grows at the water’s edge. We washed them all and added them to the roses and succulents. It was just the perfect thing. The formal roses and baby’s breath contrasted well with the earthier tones of the pine cones and acorns. Formal and natural side-by-side.
The bride and groom loved the cake. And after the charming by-the-water’s edge ceremony and dinner, the guests tucked into the carrot cake.
Congrats to the newlyweds Hayley and Mike. Wishing you many sweet years together.

Fly me to the moon cupcakes

IMG_0075.jpgFifty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
I remember that night so well. It was a hot July night and I was playing in the front yard with my best friend Pammy, who lived next door. Mum came to the front door and insisted I come in to see man’s first step onto the moon.
My whole family was gathered in the dark family room around that big, boxy TV and we watched a grainy black and white figure descend a ladder and say those memorable words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I had to honour the occasion so I made a few lunar cupcakes with little green men on them. Okay, so Neil and Buzz (nor Michael Collins, who was orbiting the moon) never saw little green men, but that’s not to say they weren’t there, right?

Stained glass cake

IMG_9831My friend Dody was turning 80 and I was asked to her potluck bbq. I offered to bring the cake.
Dody is a fine stained glass artist who lately has turned her hand to mosaics. I decided that a nod to her years as a glass artist was just the thing for a cake. I freehanded a design I piped with black royal icing of flowers (which I later painted in pink) against a background of blue sky. All around the bottom edge of the cake is green ground.
Some folks thought it looked like a Tiffany lamp!
Dody loved it and the party gang devoured most of the cake. Happy birthday Dody. You make 80 the new 50!

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Canada Day beaversI had a bbq to celebrate Canada Day this year and decided that dessert was going to be chocolate beaver cupcakes with teeny Canadian flags.
I figured I’d try to use Canadian candy for details: A Canadian classic, Smarties were perfect for ears and noses; Goodies, those nostalgic made-in-Canada licorice candies for buck teeth, waffle pretzels for their tails, and candy eyes.
They were a hit and the dozen cuppies I baked were gone in a blink of an eye.
Happy Canada Day, eh?

Milk splash birthday

Milk splash 2019It’s my birthday today! Since I love cereal, I decided this milk splash birthday cake would be the perfect way to celebrate a new year. I’d seen it on Pinterest made by Sugar & Sparrow and I loved the graphic look of it.
Problem was that Froot Loops (at least in Canada) no longer come in shiny bright colours anymore; they’re made from all natural juices and turmeric, so my colours are not as bright and carnival-like as Sugar & Sparrow’s version.
Still, it’s a fun cake and I can’t wait to cut it open and reveal its confetti-vanilla interior.
Happy birthday to me!

Celebrating spring

floral Madagascar 2019 xIt’s been a slow ascent into spring this year. Everything seems later than usual with tulips delayed and late frosts, we’re all seeking warmth. And flowers!
For my donation for the fundraising cake auction held to support the Madagascar School Project, I decided to think “floral” and had fun making different sorts of flowers from piping buttercream icing.
I’ve donated to this cause for many years now and hope that the money generated from this cake might help make a difference.

1st birthday cupcakes

cupcakes 1st birthday SimonMy co-worker Scott was having a party for his one-year-old son Simon. I was already making a Mickey Mouse cake so he asked me to also make 12 cupcakes because he was having a crowd and lots of kids.
I stuck with the colour theme of bright blue and added Smarties and little yellow number ones. The kids loved them! And so did the adults. Can’t beat bright blue icing and Smarties, right?

Pot of succulents

Succulents for LivMy friend Julia told me that her daughter Liv was turning 20. I have done Liv’s birthday cakes over the past few years so coming up with something different took some thinking. But Julia told me that now that Liv is away at university, she’s taken up growing plants, mostly succulents. A-ha!
Instead of just topping a cake with succulents, I decided to make the pot that they’re grown in too. A great backdrop for the interesting shapes of those succulents.
Happy birthday Liv. Keep growing!

River Institute’s 25th

River Institute 25thToday, at the Annual General Meeting, the St. Lawrence River Institute marks its 25th anniversary.
The River Institute delivers knowledge, education, technical services and community outreach to improve the health of the St. Lawrence River and other large river ecosystems.
Congrats to the River Institute and here’s to 25 more years of doing such good and important work on behalf of our rivers.

Music man

bassoon & piano birthdayBirthday boy Brian loves music. Not only does he sing, he also plays the bassoon, piano and piano accordion. So for his 70th birthday, I needed to make a cake that showed Brian’s passions.
A first for me, I’ve never made a bassoon from fondant before. What fun.
Here’s to Brian, our very own music man. I’m sure his special day will be filled with laughter, music and song.

Someone’s in da house!

curling cakeTo celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Glengarry Curling Cup, I thought a cake that really screamed curling was just the thing.
“Curling for Dummies” said this…House: Also known as the rings, this is the name of the giant bull’s eye at either end of the sheet of ice. It consists of a set of concentric circles, called the 12-foot, 8-foot, 4-foot, and the Button.
So, that’s what I did and encircled it with a tartan ribbon, de rigueur in this part of the world. It is Glengarry’s Curling Cup afterall. Cheers!

Jim Dine hearts

brownie heartsSince I broke my wrist at the end of last year, I have been on cake rest. I haven’t been able to bake a thing, let alone decorate anything. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I decided to try to make something but it had to be simple. I settled on brownie hearts, each decorated a bit differently. Pretty simple stuff but effective.
They reminded me of Pop artist Jim Dine, who spent much of his career using hearts as subject matter for his paintings.

Christmas tree cupcakes

cupcakes Xmas treesA potluck lunch at work to celebrate the holidays and I opted to bring dessert. I figured cupcakes would be easiest for a crowd.
I’d seen green chocolate Christmas trees supported by pretzel trunks on Pinterest and I was up for the challenge. Working with chocolate and making squiggles that are roughly the shape of a Christmas tree is fun. And the results are satisfying. A few sprinkle baubles and you’re good to go!
Chocolate cupcakes with a snowy buttercream swirl, covered in coconut, reminiscent of snow and voila! The Christmas tree has a perfect spot to rest.

Cat got your….?

langues de chats cookiesI’ve always wanted to make “cat’s tongue” cookies also known as “langues de chats.” Today was the day.
Last year I received a copy of Sweet (Ottolenghi and Goh) but the recipes kinda freaked me out. Today I decided to look again and when I saw this recipe, with its few ingredients (I actually had them all in the house!), I decided to give it a try. The recipe was pretty straightforward. The only trick was piping the batter and getting all the cookies the same size.
I suppose practice makes perfect. Next time I’ll decide on one size and try to stick to it. In the meantime, I hauled out an old cookie tin my mum and dad gave me years ago. The cookies from it are long gone but those smiling cat faces still remain. And now I know how to refill that box!

Chocolate overload

chocolate overloadMy cousin Rick loves chocolate and I decided to make him a chocolate overload cake to celebrate his special day.
I made a chocolate layer cake, covered it with chocolate icing and added a dark chocolate ganache drip. Then I went to town! I went to Bulk Barn and loaded up on all different shaped chocolates: chocolate covered pretzels, dark almond bark, rosebuds, small choco squares, chocolate sticks and chocolate candied popcorn. I even chocolate-covered some limited edition peanut buttter chocolate pie Oreos that I had on hand. Then the fun began.
I loaded up the cake in a collage of chocolate. It looked like a mountain. The big challenge was to find a space for the candles. But I managed! The other challenge was to cut it up. But somehow, I found a way.

A helping hand

HGMH broken arm xLast weekend, the annual Jubilee Gala dinner was held to raise funds for our local hospital, Hopital Glengarry Memorial Hospital. For the past few years, as part of the fundraising drive, this gathering included a cake auction.
This year I thought a broken arm, with get well messages scrawled all over it, would be a fun fundraiser. The cake itself was a lemon pound cake slathered with a lemon curd filling. Yum!
I heard the auction was a great success and this cake, amongst others, helped the hospital get closer to its goal. Congrats to us all. Such a worthy cause.

Stack o’ pancakes

Pancake stack Richard 2018Every year, I try to make Richard a fun cake for his birthday. This year I decided on a stack of pancakes, a trompe l’oeuil cake. We have pancakes every Sunday so I thought this would be a perfect way to celebrate his special day.
The pancake stack is really fondant covering a chocolate cake (his fave), slathered with chocolate icing. Blueberries and butter pats are fondant too.
Everyone at his birthday party thought we were eating a pancake cake until I cut into it and surprise! Chocolate!
A super fun way to celebrate a super fun guy! Happy birthday to you, dear Richard.

Good Carma

CarmaOur local municipal elections took place this week and I was asked to make a cake for an “after-the-election” party for Carma Williams, who was running in our township for Deputy Mayor, ostensibly to thank supporters and volunteers, but if all went well, as part of a celebration too.
Turned out, Carma was elected as Deputy Mayor and this cake, an edible repro of her campaign signs, was served at the congratulations party.
Now that’s what I call good Carma!

Blowing his horn

Saxophone jazzI’ve known Trevor for many years and have had many discussions about jazz and music with him. Trevor plays tenor saxophone for his band, The Trevor Clefs. He’s one talented guy! So I was delighted that his daughter asked me to make him a cake for his 80th birthday.
Trevor is involved in all manner of things: he helps out at church, volunteers at the local museum, loves theatre and music. He was a radio announcer and hosted a jazz show and a morning show. But his love of the sax and jazz was my focus for the cake.
The sax on the cake is fondant painted in gold. I tried to make the lettering look like jazz. Confetti and squiggles helped make the sound visual, I think.
Happy birthday Trevor and keep blowing your horn for many years to come.

Autumn birthday gal

Floral JoanCelebrating a fall birthday means you get to use all those gorgeous earth tones of the season. In this case, Joan’s special birthday was celebrated with a lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and topped with tart lemon buttercream.
I tried to pipe a few new buttercream flowers for this one. Besides the red roses, I also added a few yellow chrysanthemums and some orange poppy-like posies. Happy birthday Joan!

Captain Underpants

Captain UnderpantsAt the beginning of the year, Famke starts thinking about the theme for a cake for her September birthday. First it was Frozen. Then it was Strawberry Shortcake. At one point I think there were flamingos being discussed. It’s always fun and always changing and challenging.
Once I did a fairy cake. A piano/cello combo cake when she was learning both instruments. Her calico cat is one of her favourite things so she became a cake too.
This year? Captain Underpants! What a fun challenge. I hadn’t heard of this super hero before but my sis told me that when her son was little, he was a big fan. So here ya go, Famke. Happy Captain Underpants to you!