Back to life

Wow, looks like I’ve had another ‘hibernating’ episode that spanned over 2 years! Yeah, had travelled to and back from some Neverland and Wonderland of mine, and now I’m back to pick up bits and pieces I left behind. Haha!

So, what happened to me in my other world dimensionin the past 2 years? Well, first I was pulled into the world of dog because we got a German Shepherd puppy in August 2014. Just like how a couple having their first newborn added to their family, haha, everything we did revolves around the puppy since then. Had to temporarily ‘give up’ some of our favourite activities and rescheduled our routine.

Life eventually resumed its normality as puppy grew, and I returned to a full time work position in 2015. One year later, I felt exhausted and decided that it’s high time to pursue my interest and passion. So I took off my editor’s cap and put on a kitchen hat, hehe, and became a pastry art student for 3 months.

My plan (hmm, plan) is to start a home-baking business. I diligently cooked and baked (plus lots of cleaning and washing after) to test some cakes and cookies recipes that I could put forward as my main business products. Unfortunately, I developed some form of tendonitis on my right wrist and left heel as a result of wear and tear (overuse of hands? prolonged standing). Oouch!

I figure that my wrist condition is not going to get better if my hand is constantly holding, bending, wringing, squeezing, twisting something while doing kitchen chores. So I am now letting my hand gets the rest it deserves and just let it deal with basic cooking and housework. Heavy chores? Just have to give hubby a shout! 😛

While keeping my hand from dealing with heavy weight tasks, light activities such as writing, drawing and painting are manageable. Calligraphy and lettering are now my new found passion, haha! May be a new career direction even. May be it’s my true calling.

Speaking of one’s true calling or life destiny, I kind of like the idea of understanding oneself through astrology (e.g. the Chinese Bazi) or numerology. It’s not fortune telling, don’t get it wrong. It’s about understanding what your personal traits and life path are that you were born with, so that you know what or how to work with it accordingly to achieve success in life.

There’s one site that I found interesting is, where you can fill in your name and birth date, and get an immediate reading presented in a video! You can go here and try and see if it’s accurate. I will check mine soon!

Fun cupcake ideas for kids party

Color polka dot vanilla cupcake

fun cupcakes for kids party

Have had a ‘short break’ from baking (and hence blogging) due to an assignment that involved a trip to Bali followed by 3 weeks of writing time. Now the assignment is done and it is time to get back into the kitchen to spend some time with my KitchenAid heavy duty mixer. 😛

But before that, I would like to share some photos of the cheerful cupcakes, hee hee, that I made WEEKSSSS ago, just before my left for the working trip. I think these cupcakes are easy and fun to make–albeit spending a little bit more time–and will make wonderful treats in a kids party. I’m not going to write the recipes for the cupcake and buttercream. You can just use any of your favorite vanilla cupcake/cake and buttercream recipes. So here are the fun cupcakes ideas that you might want to consider. :)

Colorful sprinkles

You will need a bottle of colorful sprinkles or confetti used for cake decoration. You can also use additional types of candy sprinkles (e.g. chocolate candy sprinkle, not shown in pic) if you like. A simple idea to cheer up plain vanilla cupcakes is to add the sprinkles into your cupcake batter, mix just enough so that the sprinkles are spread out in the batter. The baked cupcakes will look like the ones in the pic below.

vanilla cupcakes with colorful sprinkles inside

You can also scatter the sprinkles on top of the cupcake before baking. You can serve the cupcakes as they are in this way, or pipe some buttercream on top. For me, buttercream is a must have, as it adds moisture to the cupcake with even more buttery flavor!

vanilla cupcakes with chocolate candy sprinkles on top

If you don’t have sprinkles, another way to add colors to cupcakes is to make a colored cupcake batter by adding a couple drops of food coloring. I used Americolor gel based food color. What I did was I colored a portion of my cupcake batter with pink, and keep another portion plain (no sprinkles). I first poured the pink batter into the paper casing, gave them a light tap to even out the surface of the batter, then poured in the ‘colorless’ batter. You can do it the other way round (i.e. plain batter in first followed by pink batter), or even up to three layers of color if you want to!

pink Americolor color gel

I piped some swirls onto my cupcake, and added more color sprinkles on top!

colorful sprinkles on buttercream

I don’t like how my swirls look like. Need more practice, my piping skill still has much room for improvement! 😛

colorful sprinkles on buttercream

Now, take a look inside the cupcakes – two-color cupcakes and color polka dot cupcakes! 😀

two-colored cupcakes

colorful sprinkles in the cupcake

Oh dear, looking at these pics is making me craving for cupcakes and buttercream~

fun cupcakes with colorful sprinkles inside

Fun time making fondant cupcake toppers

Teapot and teacup fondant toppers

I started ‘playing’ with fondant last year when I attended a half-day class on cupcake decorating, where I learned to make animal face cupcake toppers.

Fondant animal face cupcake toppers

Following that I took a cake decorating class where I learned to covered a cake with fondant and make simple fondant roses as toppers. (Apologies for the less than satisfactory quality of some photos posted in this post. Those were taken with my mobile phone, hehe.)

Wedding cake covered with fondant

The third class I took was to make cute animal figurines, also toppers for cupcakes.

Fondant animal figurines

I was so excited to try decorating my cakes/cupcakes with fondant decorations, so I bought a big 5 kg packet of fondant. That was last December, when I decorated a red velvet cake for Christmas.

Red velvet Christmas cake

And in February, I played with fondant again on my Valentine’s day mini cakes. They were the ugliest things I have ever made. So I’m not gonna post them here. Haha!

So, that’s about it. All the fun time I had with fondant until a month ago.

I was left with still a big pack of the icing. I can’t eat it straight from the pack. I mean, I don’t even eat the fondant on cupcakes! To me, fondant toppers or decorations are merely for aesthetic purpose, hehe. Looking at beautiful fondant toppers lift up your mood and makes you happy even before you start eating the cake! :)

I can’t leave the fondant to waste. I don’t know if there is an expiry date to fondant, but I don’t like the idea of using it on cakes after the pack has been opened for 6 months! (I do take caution to wrap up the pack of fondant properly after use and keep it in an air-tight container.)

So, one way to use up the sugar dough is to play with it, even if there are no cakes or cupcakes to go with it. 😉 There are many fondant decoration techniques I would like to learn and practise. I have quite a number of fondant cutters and plunger cutters to play with; I also have some sculpting tools that I still don’t know how to use, haha!

Therefore, after watching some online fondant class videos, and browsed through some images on the web, I decided to create four cupcake toppers with the theme of picnic tea party! (The photos from this point onwards are of better quality. ;))

The flowers, topper bases and scallop-shaped plates were cut out using cutters and plungers. The rests, e.g. teapot, teacups, cake, cake knife and birdie were shaped using hands.

Cupcake fondant toppers - tea party theme

I saw photos of fondant teapot and teacup on the web, so I tried to make a set of my own without knowing how to do it. Well, just gotta do it and find out I supposed. 😉 The teacup didn’t actually turn out to be the shape that I had imagined. Still cute though, hehe.

Fondant teapot and teacup

I have bought quite a number of cake decorating video classes from Craftsy. One of the classes (Tiny Cupcake Toppers, with Sheryl Bito) teaches how to make tiny cupcake toppers featuring desserts such as layered cake, jelly roll, strawberry shortcake and macarons. I watched the video lessons quite some time ago. I did not review the videos before doing this, but simply tried to remember the techniques I learned and came up with this purple layered cake. 😛

Cake figurine made with fondant

A piece of cake cut out from the purple cake shown above. The two weird-looking thingy with a green base and pink topping were supposed to be cupcakes, haha! I had no idea how to make them look like what they were supposed to be. Tried to mould them into the correct shape but I guessed I’m not good at handling tiny, delicate items at the moment.

Fondant toppers - a slice of cake and cupcakes

I wanted to show that this is an outdoor tea party. And that’s how the birdie came into the picture. You know how one enjoys picnic in the park, accompanied by birds and flowers in the surrounding. I saw some simple cartoon sketches of birds on the internet and got some idea how I want my birdie to look like.Fondant birdie and flowers

View of all the toppers from the top. I guess I could have made another one with a picnic basket and blanket so that the tea party theme would be made more obvious.Picnic tea party theme fondant toppers

I did not bake any cupcakes when I made these toppers. So I just stuffed some paper towel into the cupcake liners as to support the fondant toppers. That way I could have an idea of how these fondant toppers would look like if they were on real cupcakes. 😉Fondant birdie on cupcake

Teapot and teacup fondant toppers

My favourites among these fondant cupcake toppers are the ones I put on the cupcake liners – the teapot/teacup and the birdie/flowers toppers, hehe. I could have done a better and neater job with the layered cake. It’s all about timing; knowing when to cut/shape, e.g. while the fondant is still soft, or when it is slightly hardened, etc. And I will try to find out or figure out how to make fondant cupcakes that will look like cupcakes, haha!