Turntable cake

turntable

Paul still likes to listen to his music the old fashioned way — spinning vinyl. Actually, I was listening to the radio the very day I was delivering the cake and vinyl has had a resurgence and is now more popular than CDs.
So Paul and his propensity for classic vinyl is on trend. And this year, Paul got his turntable in chocolate!
Here’s hoping that Paul’s birthday was one for the record books.

Blue’s Clues

Blue's Clues

My co-worker was celebrating his youngest child’s first birthday and asked me to make a Blue’s Clues cake. Apparently baby Matthew is a big fan of the show and adores Blue!
I really had no idea about Blue and her entourage until I watched a few short clips. Besides Blue and her chair, there’s also Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper (who had children named Sage and Ginger — who knew?), alarm clock, post box, pail and shovel and of course the clue notebook. What fun.
Happy first birthday to little Matthew. I hope his birthday was a special ONE!

Patti’s cake

chocolate PattiPatti is a former graphic designer who also studied architecture. Currently a teacher, she loves salted chocolate and not fond of floral decorations. I was challenged to do a cake for her that struck the right notes.
I decided to go “super chocolate” and do a chocolate iced, triple layer dark chocolate cake and cover it with a dripping chocolate ganache. I finished it with a Jackson Pollock-like white chocolate splash and later, added Australian pink flake salt to the top.
Getting the message to look right on such an elegant cake befuddled me until I remembered the letterpress set my niece had bought me for my birthday. Although it was intended, I think, to be used on cookies, I figured why not try it on a piece of chocolate fondant. I loved how the simplicity of the letters looked on the cake! Apparently, Patti did too!
Happy birthday Patti!

South Lancaster wharf

south Lancaster wharf1A surprise birthday celebration for Todd who was turning 50!
A co-worker and I talked about all the many things Todd loves and we narrowed it down to just a few. His three Labrador retrievers. Fishing. The South Lancaster wharf, with its colourful boathouses. The Glengarry cairn situated on a wee island in the St. Lawrence River just off the wharf…the cairn itself is part of the logo of Todd’s company.
It all came together! Todd’s wife Wendy wrote me and said Todd liked how the yellow and chocolate labs, Jack and Charlie, are about to pounce on the black lab Libby, who caught the fish.
I like how the cake tells a little story and so pleased Todd got a kick out of it. Happy 50th Todd!

Retiring casket salesman

casket1I was asked to do a casket cake. No, not for a Halloween party or a “Here lies your youth” cake. This one was for an actual casket salesman who has been selling caskets for 44 years. His father was also a casket salesman.
It was a challenge to be sure. I studied how caskets were made and the amazing craftsmanship that goes into each one. Like pieces of furniture, caskets come in a huge array of wood varieties and have varying styles. Who knew?
I’m hoping Ron appreciated the faux wood grain on the fondant, as well as the fondant mouldings on the top and around the bottom. Handles were painted with a mix of edible gold and vodka.
Best of luck to Ron with his new found time off!

Summer wedding

wedding cheyanne & tyler
Cheyanne and Tyler chose a gorgeous summer day to celebrate their outdoor nuptials. The setting, overlooking the Ottawa River with a cloudless blue sky was a perfect backdrop for their wedding.
They chose a naked vanilla cake accented with flowers from the bride’s bouquet: pale pink and white roses with eucalyptus leaves. The rustic look of the cake blended perfectly with the tone of the wedding.
A beautiful day for a beautiful couple.
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. McMahon!

It’s a girl!

IMG_8849A friend of mine wanted to make her COVID-19 friendly gender reveal party even more fun by being surprised herself. Her mum and her sister, plus partner and she would bite into cupcakes at the same time. The insides would be filled with either pink or blue icing.
It was all lined up. She would drop by after her ultrasound and hand me an envelope from her doctor which had a note inside indicating whether it was a boy or a girl. On the drive over from the hospital, she said that she and her partner almost tore open that envelope a few times but stopped themselves. She and everyone else were convinced it was a boy.
She handed me the envelope and I joked I was going to put orange icing inside the cupcakes. Or green. But she knew I wouldn’t do that!
Once they pulled away, I opened the envelope and let out a hoot. Under three yellow stickies was a fourth sticky saying “It’s a girl!”
Meggin and Rock got the cupcakes the next day and everyone shared the reveal at the same time. Happy baby you two.

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.