Thursday, May 30, 2013

Winning cake - Kiwicake's 7th birthday competition winner


Today Kiwicakes' 7th birthday cake arrived. We recently ran a competition asking anyone to design our birthday cake based on the theme "Trixie goes on holiday" (see all the entries here). Karyn Thomas was our winner.

We were very lucky to have wonderful professional photos taken by her brother Daniel Fisk, prior to the cake making its way up to us. Our wonderful cake was expected here yesterday, but due to snow down the country it was delayed and finally arrived today. At least with all the cold weather, it was kept at optimum temperature. Our Fastway courier said that at each change over depot it was treated like a work of art, switched from one driver's front seat to the next and belted in with the seat belt, with instructions for the next driver to guard it with their life.


Karyn had some pretty specific instructions for the courier. It just goes to show that a well constructed cake, that is packed well, if treated properly will arrive at its destination intact. There wasn't a single thing damaged on the cake.




When describing this cake I want to use every superlative I know: "it's breathtaking", "it's stunning", and the inevitable "I don't want to cut it!"


Karyn Thomas's design was chosen from this sketch. Now I know you're going to want to see lots of close ups.


When it arrived at Kiwicakes my girls clustered around and exclaimed in raptures for quite some time:  pointing out the very square corners, how perfectly it was executed and how lifelike the tools and smoothers were. Even the pipe cleaner on the luggage tag is lifelike.











The flavour was described on Karyn's entry as limoncello cake with zesty homemade lemon curd, almond dacquoise and lemon buttercream. I could not wait to try the cake, with a description like that! And every gal here at Kiwicakes LOVES lemon. Just as I went to cut it, we had our first customer for the day, so we were able to share with the lovely Lisa. It was comical when her young son looked at the cake and said "we don't need any of those things." He really thought they were tools. The cake was divine, we all adored it. If you're local, pop in and see us and we'll feed you some - we have heaps to share.


I'll leave you with this parting shot of Karyn, she could only pretend to eat it (I hope she got to lick the bowl). You can follow Karyn on facebook here. Check out all her amazing work. I'm sure she'd love it if you popped over and told her what you think of this cake.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New progel colouring reviewed by the wonderful Lisa Templeton


I have made some wonderful friends in the caking world and I am very proud of my friend Lisa Templeton. Many of you may know of Lisa, together with her husband Donald they run Denheath desserts world famous for their custard squares (amongst other things). Lisa recently reviewed our new range of Progel food colouring gel pastes and gave them a big thumbs up. You can read her review at Cakenz here


The first project Lisa used them on was the roses for her daughter's birthday cake (much of it is dummy tiers).  

Since the review was published. Lisa continues to use them in her other flowers. Look at the vibrant orange she achieved with the "orange" progel.


I love Lisa's roses so much, So does Grandma Kiwicake's - she checks Lisa's facebook page every day to see if there are any new ones to look at. Grandma Kiwicake's adores flowers and declares Lisa's are the most lifelike she has seen.


I would have to say, this graduated coloured rose would have to be my favourite, from recent posts by Lisa. It is so life like. 


Do pop on by to Lisa's facebook page - tell her I say Hi!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wilton Method Instructor training in Sydney



Last week I attended training in Sydney to teach Wilton method classes here at Kiwicake's in Whangarei. It was an exhausting week - but we all had a blast. The classes are designed to teach to anyone at all, even someone who has never picked up a piping bag.


I arrived in Sydney on a sunny Sunday morning, as I strolled to the baggage carousel I heard "are you Sandra from Kiwicake's? " And it was Sharryn and Rachael from the Home Store in Milford. I had 2 new friends instantly! I had booked a car from the airport to our hotel and they jumped in with me and off we went. We arrived at the hotel too early for check in, so I suggested a trip to David Jones food hall in the CBD. Of course the girls said yes, so we jumped on a train and were there after a short ride. (check out the view above from my hotel room taking in Luna Park at middle left and the Sydney harbour bridge).


David Jones department store has a fond place in my memory, we always went there when our family travelled to Sydney. For Grandma Kiwicake's one of the first stops was always the food hall......... and now look at me!. It was just as I remembered it, bustling with people and bursting with exotic foods. I couldn't resist a photo of the candied fruits above.


Of course I spent a fair amount of time in the confectionery section. Every time I went to David Jones with my Granny, she used to buy me one of these chocolate parasols, I was surprised to see they still have them after all these years. (Of course I bought some to take home)


Sharryn, Rachael and I had lunch sitting at the cheese counter - it was amazing, we chose some cheeses, breads and antipasto and washed it down with a nice glass of wine. I couldn't not contemplate dessert, I was in David Jones food hall after all - these berry concoctions had taken my eye prior to lunch and as full as I was, they seemed just the thing to finish a nice lunch perfectly, along the back of the berries, was melted chocolate, which was essentially what held them in place once it set - it was delightfully refreshing.



On the way to the train station we passed this cupcake franchise in the mall, I couldn't resist a photo


Sunday afternoon we had orientation, that lasted until dinner time. And we were treated to a lovely dinner by our hosts. I often heard it said by many, that this week will be remembered as the week of food. Our hosts treated us to an amazing fully catered lunch every day, that far exceeded our expectations. With such a wide variety of choices, all served as a buffet in the hotel restaurant.


These 4 lovely ladies were our tutors for the week. There never ending patience and enthusiasm made a crazy week very pleasant.


That afternoon the lovely Cora (second from left in tutor photo said) "what do we all love to do?" "shopping!" was one answer. She continued with "shopping! - well you're going to need to do lots of shopping for the courses this week, only we don't take credit card, we don't take cash............... it's all free!" And it was, we had to traipse past many tables set up like these and take one (or sometimes two) of everything on the tables. It's just as well I took the second empty suitcase they recommended to take it all home with me. It was a fun process we were to repeat again during the course of the week.




Course 1 started with some buttercream piping on day one. A frantic and very MESSY day, that ran from 9.00am to 6.30pm


I was humbled when I was told I had the loveliest ribbon rose in the room.


We had stuff EVERYWHERE! - it was hard to keep your table space tidy


On Monday evening, the Milford girls and I strolled down Blues Point Rd in North Sydney, I was stunned by just how attractively (but not always expensively) the many eateries were decorated, this Thai restaurant we chose for dinner had these amazing lanterns (photo does not do them justice) outside. I could not help but think at home they may have been vandalised or stolen by now. We declared our meal some of the best Thai we'd ever eaten.


Day two was royal icing, a day many would like to forget, I quite enjoyed it, but it sure was messy! In the evening we were treated to an amazing dinner at the Kirribillie Club in North Sydney by our amazing hosts. This also happened to be Rachael's 21st birthday, so we were sure to show her a good time. We must have had too good a time, as I forgot to take any pictures.


Day three was gumpaste & fondant,


We still have stuff EVERYWHERE


Thursday night, we were treated to a night on Sydney Harbour with Sydney Showboat Cruises. We had a lovely dinner and drinks with a show on board. It lasted several hours - the view from the boat was amazing, as we travelled all over Sydney Harbour.


Me, Sharryn and Rachael just before we boarded the boat.


The lovely Rose & Rhonda


We managed to ensure Rachael was called up on stage by the MC to celebrate her 21st birthday


One the final day, as part of the course work we had to cover a cake (normally a student would have 2 weeks to plan their final cake, we had less than 1 hour) 


Many of my fellow students, used the large fondant bow from course three - or placed all of their icing flowers on their cakes, that they had made during the week, essentially meaning they only needed to place the items and they were done. I didn't make life easy for myself and decided I'd do some ruffling. But I managed to knock it all out in 30 minutes, so I was pretty pleased with the end result. More than likely because this cake below is nothing like anything I would ever make, as I don't usually go for girly styles.



My partner in crime for the week Sarah Eduati from "The Cake Stop"


You can see me in this photo, but you'll have to look very hard.


Our course ended on Friday evening with a small graduation ceremony. YAY! we all passed. All 42 of us are now trained Wilton method instructors. We finished with drinks and canapes in the bar. I made so many wonderful new friends during this time away. Fiona who had sat behind me for the week invited those of us left in Sydney on Friday evening for dinner at down at The Rocks at a wonderful German restaurant. She had a wonderful evening planned for us, we caught the ferry to Circular Quay and walked a short distance to our dinner. I couldn't resist taking a photo of Luna Park lit up at night, as our ferry left from right outside.

Friday evening I crawled in to bed just before midnight, and flew home to NZ on Saturday morning. I am thankful for my new found appreciation for teaching, my wonderful new friends and for my amazing week away. You'll see details of the Wilton classes I'll be teaching appear in the CLASSES tab (above under the Kiwicake's blog banner) over the next week or so.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cookie Sampler - from Kiwicakes test kitchen

I decided to make a couple of different cookies for the girls at work today to try. One of my fondest childhood memories was a family friend that would arrive every Christmas with a huge Sampler box of biscuits to share. It was such a treat getting to choose which we were going to eat. Having options is definitely one of the most satisfying freedoms in life!


Let your imagination go wild! I'm sure if most of us scratch around in the pantry we can come up with a varied assortment of chunky additions to a basic biscuit recipie like - raisins, dried apricots, dates, currants, cranberries, almonds, peanuts, mixed nuts, coconut, chocolate, lollies, oats, cocoa, flavourings, even a few tablespoons of dry Milo, jelly or instant pudding mix will give your cookies a unique taste! Use any basic vanilla biscuit recipie (the tried and tested Edmond's cookbook has a goodie) and try different flavour and texture combos! Because the mixture is likely to be chunky its easiest to roll into balls and flatten, rather than try and use cookie cutters.

One hint I do have for baking cookies is to invest in reusable baking sheets. You can buy a big roll and cut to fit your trays and cake pans and they are really affordable! So as well as being better for the environment they cut down the need for additional grease around your baking. Here are my trays ready to go:



To present your cookies, a wee blackboard sign can really make the dish come to life! These come in 6-packs so can be used for all types of labeling uses at events or in displays etc and then wiped clean to reuse over again.


Some of my cookies (pictured left - right):
Fruit and Nut
Coconut Rough
Cranberry and Chewy Oat

Yummy and crisp to enjoy with a cuppa or portable in lunchboxes too!
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