Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer =)

Good Morning Dear Sugar Diary!

I have been M.I.A. for a while trying to gather my thoughts as well as getting things ready for this summer & trying to take a break. Things seem to be slowing down and that is fine by me=) But I have had so many moments in my absence that have been like "Oh this would make a great blog topic!" Then when I come and sit at the laptop they don't seem to translate well and I get frustrated and go do something else! So I will kinda just "play it by ear" and see what happens!

Over the past months I have really connected to lots of you online and that has been a great experience. You not only share my passion for cakes...but you are all also real people somewhere in this wide world going through the same stuff I go through on a daily. You all send me good vibes and I appreciate it! =)

 I had posted about taking a break from cakes for the summer and immediately was bombarded with tons of emails speculating as to my REASON. There is no juicy reason...No...I am not QUITTING.....No I am not angry....NO I haven't had a "fight" with anyone and NO I am not getting into something else. LOL! I simply feel like summer should be spent relaxing and playing with the kids and getting your house and life in order in time for the new school year=) I am not ill.....I am not "OVER" caking. I was doing 6-8 orders a weekend which meant I was on a very different schedule than Josh and the kids....which made it hard for them to do stuff in the daytime because MOM(me) was sleeping or tired. I felt like I was either in the kitchen or at the store getting supplies. So there...that is my reason. I felt I needed to slow down. =) I felt like this most of the time:

Now I have cakes for the summer and cupcake orders but 1 or 2 a weekend....and when I look at my calendar I can breath! So now I can feel like this:


 I have some weddings...birthday cakes...cupcake orders for baby showers....work related events and even an X rated order! LOL..My very first one! I am excited about that one! I will post some pics and even finish up on the last blog post about what to do to get started. I didn't post a Part II immediately because a lot of people emailed me and I was answering that way.=) So I will try and finish that up and then post some recipes I have enjoyed and even talk about the ones that DIDN'T work! Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to continue to post! Keep up the great job you all are doing in your lives and with cakes....continue to experiment and to learn! Love you all! Ciao!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Basics Pt.I

Dear Sugar Diary,

Hi to all you Sugar Skull Cakery Allstars! Good Morning to you all from my garage...lol...yes my garage! Idk why I am in here but I set up my laptop in here for now....it's quiet and I can hear the birds outside.

This post is in response to numerous emails and messages I have received from newbies in the cake world. Questions have poured in asking what equipment would be the best to acquire first etc....so I have put together a list of what I think is a good starting point. =) I will also say I am by no means an authority on the matter...this is all just my own opinion !!! It's the things that I got when I decided to stop thinking about it and just did it! =)

Ok so first things first...You have played with the idea of baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes....but when you get online it becomes overwhelming....you click your way across pages on Facebook looking at other people's creations....and you wonder "How on earth did they make that?!" lol...It happens to me too...everyday and about a million times! Here are 10 things you should have as basics to even begin to start to try out baking and decorating:

1) Cake Pans! Duh! lol....but we see soooo many online....my top choices for a beginner would be : a) One 15x11 sheet pan
                 b) One 10 inch round pan ( I prefer the 3 inch deep ones)
                 c) One 6 inch round pan(again the 3 inch deep ones)
                 d) 2 standard size cupcake pans
                 e) 2 mini cupcake pans
             
2) Utensils! You will need a mixer...hand held...or like a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (what I have) It is an investment you will NEVER regret! Especially at 2am when you need a new batch of buttercream or fondant! TRUST ME! You will also want to have a good silicone spatula(for scraping down your bowls) ..two good angled spatulas (one big and one small for icing) a very sharp fillet knife for carving but  ONLY FOR CAKING...... and a knife that has teeth like a saw. 1 measuring cup and a set of measuring spoons!

3) BOWLS! Big bowls..small bowls...plastic bowls..glass bowls...stainless steel bowls...and bowls with lids!

4) Apron....kitchen towels and a lifetime supply of paper towels and pot holders! But make sure all of these things are ONLY USED FOR BAKING.....don't use them for everything else you do in the kitchen! They lose their magical powers! ;)

5) Go to your favorite craft store or just a WalMart and get a basic set of icing tips and couplers...and disposable piping bags. The bigger the bag the better for starting out.=) They come in many sizes;)

6) Cupcake wrappers...here is a secret...the prettier they are ...the better your cupcakes will be....OK OK ....it isn't a scientific fact but it helps! Trust me!

7) If your planning on baking cakes get some cakeboards....there is nothing worse than baking a cake...pulling it out of the oven and running around realizing your OUT of boards ! =/

8) Buy STOCK (lol) in parchment paper...aluminum foil...wax paper....sandwich bags....and plastic wrap! These things will become your best friends! =)

9) Buy a basic set of polymer clay tools...you can get those in a craft store and even at WalMart! (this is if you plan on working with fondant)

10) a Good non stick rolling pin!


I hope this starts you off in the right direction! Part II is coming very soon! Stay tuned! I have to go unpack some more stuff....last week was a busy one and I didn't get to much stuff....so these couple of days off are gonna be for that! Good Luck on your adventure! =)
                 
           

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Flood

Dear Sugar Diary...!

Hey Hey Hey !!!!!! How are YOU??!! Wow...it has bee FOREVERRRR! But here I am again and there you are and that's all that's all that matters! :wink wink:

I have so much to tell you! A lot of you already know why I was M.I.A. for a while ...but for those of you who do not here is the low down...ready? Ok!

Well...I was in my kitchen minding my own business..washing some dishes when I noticed the sink start to fill up with water....hummm....I thought...."Well let me run the disposal and that usually makes it go down...." WRONG! So then a little bit of panic set in.....why? Well because I heard a drip....then a loud gush of water and when I looked into the bottom cabinet with the same slow caution someone opening a trunk of a car does on those CSI shows....my worst fears were confirmed...I sprung a leak! Well no not ME but my sink did=(!!! OM;Gosh... What do I do? How does this get fixed/ Is it bad? is there something in there? Can I do this alone? Should I wake Josh or wait? Do I call our plumber? Am I over reacting? ..... I shut off the water valve and sat in a puddle...convinced I was the cause....with my potato peels in the disposal! But as I started taking off each pipe I saw that nothing was in them....so I "fixed" it like BOSS. lol....I ran and got a latex glove...fitted it in the pipe like those rubber rings and screwed it back in place....the drip was less but the sink was still full =\.... OOOOO a PLUNGER! That should work...PLUNGE PLUNGE PLUNGE ...and yeah...No ...It wasn't doing anything....-_-.........and then my youngest son came into the kitchen...."Ummm..mom...the toilet in my bathroom...the water is going UP and not DOWN." "WHAT?!" Up? Really? " So I ran in there and low and behold...the water WAS going up! AND...The bathtub also filled up !! OH NO! We need help! Josh finally woke and I showed him the problem...he assessed that we had a leak...LOL.....! He called the realty people and they said a plumber would be out to us in 2 days! WHAT!? 2 days????? But I have orders! I have work! I have things to do!

I accepted the fact that I would have to deal with it.....pulledyh./r up my big girl underpants and DEAL.....so i placed a bucket underneath the sink and dealt. Tuesday finally came and the plumber was late.....-_- then he looked at it and said (I kid you not)
"I can't fix this....the problem is in the wall..I will be back tomorrow."
By this point one thing was on Josh's mind...MOVING. So we looked around and found a place and moved. LOL...it took us 3 1/2 days but we did it! So even though it was all crazy and chaotic...we made it! I even managed to keep all my deadlines! Now we are in a much more comfortable home....and crossing our fingers that the water pipes are a-ok here! LOL....but I think I need a vacation! I want to thank all of you that "helped" me through that crisis...via emails and txts...comments and messages and just thoughts.....I want to thank Chris Mougette for reading her facebook feed regularly and bailing me out of an otherwise horrible catastrophe...(ran out of fondant and I wanted to use her recipe) lol.....I want to thank all of you who stuck it out and sent hello's and "it will ok's" The move left us internet free for two days and I realized how much I use it! You all live in it.!! Well one last thank you to Josh...for taking charge and making sure Sugar Skull Cakery could continue to bake and create on time and in better surroundings!  Thanks Babe! ;) I still have to unpack but that can be little by little....no rush! ;) Wel I have a cake to get to...a promotion cake for tomorrow! So I will be back soon! Love you all!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Internet Cake Friendships

Dear Sugar Diary,
    Hey again! How is it going?? Things will be back to normal soon and I will blog more I promise! Thank you for still finding time to email me ! You all are always so encouraging and just awesome! I have been at my table making decorations while having my "forever full"cup of coffee and answering all your emails makes me smile. I know we are all online and in different parts of the country and  world even but it really has sparked some friendships that make me wish I lived everywhere! A true cosmopolitan citizen of the world! I laugh with you via "lol's" and "ha ha ha's" and we are sad together via "=( or ='(" We even get happy for each other via "Yays! and Hooray's!"  We exchange pictures and critique each other and even just chat about whatever...not even cake related.

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on my Facebook Fan page asking what group or clique you belonged to in high school....I was looking for a common thread ....something that may link all of us even if we didn't bake or decorate cakes back then....and the most common pattern that kept recurring in answers and in emails was this: Most of us weren't the "cool" kids....or the most popular kids.....we were creative types...band geeks...and the ones that had friends in many circles. I myself was a friend of every group.....and very artistic and creative. It is nice to NOT be in High School anymore..but sometimes Facebook makes it seem like we still are huh? You start noticing certain cliques and friends that "hang" together online...like popularity contests....and rivalry. It really is all so funny to me now that I am in my 30's. I don't bake to make anyone upset and I don't bake to get approved by anyone. I don't post pics because I am striving to have a pic "liked" the most .... I have friends and family and clients that  really do want to see what I am up to...so for them I post. Pictures and video are the only way to get noticed for what you do online. I mean ...I could describe a cake in words but I don't think it would have the same effect as a pic...LOL!

All in all the online caking community has been amazing....a place to go where EVERYBODY knows what you are talking about all the time. If I was to call a non-caker friend and say:
" I just spent 2 hours answering email orders and then spent 2 more hours re ordering supplies online...and 4 hours making batches of fondant".....they would (and have) most certainly look at me and say "Well..Shey it sounds like your life is very HARD...chit chatting with friends...shopping and playing with play-doh..while some of us actually get up and GO TO WORK" =\  ...=\

But at any time of the day I can come here and say that very same thing and everyone is sooooo understanding and awesome....saying things like " Can't wait to see what your working on..." or "What site do you shop on? Such and such site is cheaper!"

                                            You guys make my days happy!

You get me. You sympathize with me. You get it....all of it! And for that THANK YOU! So with that said I will have to wave goodbye for now......I am supposed to be making a cake but I fell asleep and just woke up! lol....so Ciao! I will be back shortly! Keep those emails comin! =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes!

Dear Sugar Diary!

  Wow! I am soooo sorry ! I haven't blogged in like FOREVER! It wasn't intentional...I promise! I was swamped here with cakes! Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes! I feel blessed business has picked up. I made 7 cakes in 7 days....and then 1 more last night...and I have 5 more orders lined up for this week! Phew! I remember daydreaming two years ago of having more than one cake a month ... I used to put together montages in my head of me in a frantic baking frenzy....flour all over my face....dirty bowls and spatulas stacked up in the sink....the fire alarm going off.....(sounds like an episode of I Love Lucy ..LOL!) Now I get to be IN the montage! People don't even look at me weird anymore when I run into the supermarket in sugary clothes with a crazed look in my eye....Ha! They know it's just THAT one lady(me) that runs in ...grabs an insane amount of ingredients WITHOUT a cart and makes a mad dash for the cashier....!! I had back to back orders .... sleep came in two and three hour spurts...deliveries were a very sleepy me holding my breath and whispering curses at every speed bump/manhole/sharp turn and red light.... as I was driving to the different events. But again...every single cake made it and no tragedies occurred. Yay! Here are some of the cakes I made while on my crazy cake making binge....I think I need an intervention! lol....Enjoy:)

I made most of these last week....and the Oscar theme cake last night. I will post again soon! =( When I finish the cake I am currently working on=) Pokemon! =) I have some exciting projects coming up that I am super excited to begin! I promise to meet you all back here soon! Thanks for taking a couple minutes to stop by and read. =) Tootles!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mission: Find the YUMMIEST sugar cookie recipe....Status: Accomplished!

Dear Sugar Diary,
Sugar Cookies (made from scratch) decorated by my kiddos<3)
         So yesterday was Easter ..... I was on a quest for the yummiest sugar cookie recipe. And yes....YUMMIEST is a category to me when it comes to Sugar Cookies. ;) I have made about 5 different recipes...all slightly different on amounts of ingredients....and each one was very different from the next. I tried a recipe that produced little thin crispy cookies...when I say crispy I mean CRISPY. I could have used them to patch a hole in drywall. -_- I am by NO means a cookie baker or decorator...but when the kiddos convene and want cookies to decorate one must always comply! I mean...how many kids still want to do that nowadays? Mine are 13,12 and 8 ...so whenever they express they want to do something NON-ELECTRONIC I am overjoyed and JUMP at the chance to spend sit down NON-ELECTRONIC time with them!;)  

Ok so the next 3 recipes were all OK....but OK isn't yummiest. So I looked at all my recipes and compared them to the one I hadn't tried yet. There was really only one significant difference...this one I had left to try called for a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar and 3 1/2 cups of flour. I have only used Cream of Tartar in icings....to stabilize it...but never in cookie recipes. And a lot less flour. So I happily gathered my ingredients:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Followed the directions EXACTLY:
  1. Cream the margarine and add the sugar gradually. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt gradually to the creamed mixture, stirring in by hand. Cover and chill dough overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut into your favorite shapes. Place cookies onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 6 to 8 minutes or until cookie has a golden appearance.
Immediately with just the dough stage I had that feeling that I was finally on the right track! It was smooth, soft & silky. It didn't stick to everything...and it tasted VERY GOOD! 
I have also learned throughout this experimenting that the "chill dough in the refrigerator" is VITAL in getting your cookies to hold their shape when baking. I always used to skip this part .... being impatient... but they always turned into cookie blobs and that's no fun! I chilled for 2 hours...not overnight...seeing as to how Easter was almost over and the kids wanted to decorate before Easter was over! I rolled out the dough to about  1/4 inch thick and cut out bunnies...duckies....flowers...egg shapes and circles. I placed them on cookie sheets and popped them into the refrigerator again for about 10 - 15 minutes. The oven was already hot by now (I set it to 350...not 375) I baked them for about 8 minutes .. and they looked soooo pretty and held the shapes rather well. I let them cool and harden a little and placed them on a large square cake pan I have. I had already gotten the royal icing ready while the dough had been chilling in the fridge. I use my own royal icing recipe.....one that I have modified to work in my climate....

It is great for cookies as it is runny like "color flow" and it's yummy too! This is how I do it:

 Sugar Shey's Royal Icing Recipe (for cookies):

3/4 cup of warm water
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract(clear)
One 2lb bag of Powdered Sugar
*Food Coloring 

I first place the 3/4 cup of warm water in my mixer bowl and start it on medium..adding the egg whites slowly and let it mix for about a minute until it is all bubbly ...then in high till it looks like meringue all shiny and gooey and peaks on it's own without falling back into the bowl...but not DRY(think whipped cream). Then I add the vanilla and cream of tartar and bring it back to medium speed for about another minute to make sure its all mixed in...then I add the sugar bringing it back to low (or I will have a sugar explosion! ) lol....once all the sugar is mixed up and not loose (remember to scrape the sides of your bowl!) I bring back up to medium/high to get it to a smooth shiny consistency. =) I hadto play with different ways till I came to this one...our weather is kinda strange in Arizona...VERY DRY and this modified by me recipe has endured the test of DRY. =) It doesn't set up as fast as other recipes either allowing for more time to decorate and even to color the icing.
I found the recipe for the sugar cookies on http://allrecipes.com/recipe/michelles-soft-sugar-cookies/  they are called "Michelle's Soft Sugar Cookies" . I don't know who Michelle is...but if I did I would write her and thank her. I LOVED these cookies and so did my fiance and kids! They ARE soft and YUMMIEST...super simple and easy to handle without breaking. I will be using this recipe forever now. I hope you try it too and add Cream of Tartar to your pantry arsenal. It works great in this particular recipe. Well I have to say "Toodles" for now...as this week is gonna kick my butt! Orders are all lined up and I have a ton of fun creating ahead! I will try to get in 1 or 2 more entries before the weekend! 1 of which will probably be a tutorial....just not sure on what yet! So...TOODLES and I hope you all have a great week! happy Baking and thanks for stopping by! ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

10 Caking Things I have Learned (the hard way) !

Dear Sugar Diary,

There are things you don't know when you get into caking. Things no one can prepare you for. So I have put together a list of the top 10 things I have learned the HARD way since I began caking......


1) Everyone  is NOT going to be nice to you. Not everyone will like your cakes...and not everyone will have something nice to say. And it will get you down...it will fester for a while and hurt your feelings...You will need to grow a tough skin and do what you do...because in the end there is more friendly ju-ju out there than negative....use the negativity as creative fuel.

2) Not every recipe you bake will turn out brilliantly. And it isn't always your fault. Sometimes weather...ovens...geography...mood....and ingredients conspire against us....and sometimes it IS  our own mistake....don't let one botched cake drag you down...it isn't the end of the world...it's experience...next time that cake will turn out delicious and you will be a better baker for it.;)

3) Don't try to be a caking super hero. Trying to do more orders than you can handle will only reflect in your work....if you can handle 5 cakes in a weekend then fine ....but if you can handle 1 ...that's fine too! Your clients are after quality ...so quantity isn't really important.

4) Don't compare yourself to other bakers/decorators. You are YOU...and what YOU have to offer and what you bring to a project is YOURS and unique and amazing. Sure we get inspired by our peers and their work....but if you are trying to "compete" your going about it all wrong and should re-evaluate your priorities.

5) Be honest about your skill level and abilities. Don't try something NEW on a real project ...a real order.....leave the NEW stuff for practicing at home when you have the time....

6) It's OK to spend time on caking ...its ok to set time aside to practice...but don't forget that you have a life OUTSIDE of cakes too....so while you have projects...make sure you set some break time in there for your family ... your pet....and your friends...or you will be one lonely caker. 

7) Remember that your non-caking friends don't get your passion as much as your caking buddies do. Try not to bore them with cake talk....I get that we have a million things running through our minds...ideas we want to try out...but if it is ALL you talk about people stop listening.....

8) If your not in a caking mood...if the vibe isn't there on any given day...don't try out that "THING" you've been wanting to try...because if the mood is off you are only going to be frustrated .... so cake when your in your caking mood...=)

9)Saying No to an order is OK....you don't have to take every single order that comes your way. You may not have the time...or are already booked. Let your client know...tell them in a nice way that while you appreciate the inquiry you are unable to accept at this time and hope they keep you in mind for next time. I promise people won't hate you for that...they actually appreciate your honesty. 

10) Have fun. In baking patience is a requirement....almost a law. Breath and remember to have fun...after all when you decided to be a caker....the "fun" aspect of playing with buttercream and fondant is what pulled you in. If it isn't fun anymore then something is wrong .... find out what is wrong and fix it. Cakes are meant to be fun...=)


I hope this helps a little if you are experiencing any of these things.....we are human....and I really believe that projects should be fun and satisfying...NOT frustrating. Happy Caking !! 








Monday, April 2, 2012

Raspberry Curd

Dear Sugar Diary,

Raspberries. I like raspberries. Red ones....black ones... and golden ones....I just like raspberries! Did I mention I like raspberries? (he he he) 
I wanted to share a recipe for raspberry curd. A fruit curd is basically egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and/or zest that you cook together until it thickens. The fruit taste is intensified . Usually you will see that tart fruits are used when making a curd...like lemons, limes, oranges and raspberries.  OK- this recipe I am about to explain is great with dark chocolate cake....and can be used in cupcakes as a filling. It is also great for writing text on cakes or cookies. =)
  Raspberry Curd:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
4 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 egg yolks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
This is what you do: 
First I puree the raspberries in my blender, I guess you can try the food processor, but I can't really tell you how that will go because I never use mine. After I puree the raspberries I run them through a strainer because I want the puree to be as smooth as I can get it. You need at least 4 oz of raspberry puree.  Pour that into a "non-reactive" pot with the sugar,egg yolks,and lemon juice. (By non-reactive I mean any pot that is NOT aluminum or copper. You CAN use stainless steel, clay, enamel,  glass or plastic.)
Now that you have all the ingredients in a proper pot...cook it over medium heat until you see it is starting to thicken and starts to boil. Take it off the heat and mix in the butter. Strain it one last time and then you can put it in a plastic container and cover tightly .. you can also place plastic wrap directly onto the surface so it does not form a skin. Put the container into the fridge and let it cool off completely. After it is cooled it ready to use. However way you would like.=) I hope you enjoy this raspberry curd as much as I like it. I also like that it isn't messy to make and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. The only thing you will probably have to go and get at the store will be the raspberries. This curd is GREAT as a cupcake filling...especially chocolate cupcakes...but vanilla will also be yum. So I hope that if you have never made a curd you will find this easy and well explained and find the time to experiment.=) You can basically change the raspberries out for lemon, lime, or orange ....You can't zest a raspberry but you CAN zest lemons. limes and oranges...so by all means...DO SO! It can be to your taste or liking. =) Happy Curd-ing! =)






My Always

Dear Sugar Diary,

Hi again!  It feels like it has been FOREVER! But..Here I am once again...and have a ton of things to share and chit chat about=). How was your weekend? Mine?  It was full. VERY FULL. This past Thursday my fiance went to Bullhead City to visit with his kids....but he left me the van ... & while I was happy he was getting time off to spend with his kids and his momma....I  didn't really get what him leaving for 4 days meant till after Friday. It meant I was baking...decorating and running for supplies alone. Deliveries would have to be made on time by ME. Little breaks would be me - sitting alone-with my coffee for one. If something went wrong no one was there to share my frustration....and no one would be there to suggest anything. But I didn't realize that till after Friday.

I have totally overlooked the fact that while I FEEL like I bake and decorate by myself there is so much Josh does for me that I have completely taken for granted. That made me feel horrible. It made me think about how he must feel every time he hears me say "Ugh..I need to run to the store." because when I say "I " I really mean "Him" . He never says no. As soon as I utter the last word of that sentence I hear the car keys jingling and he always says "Txt me the list." and I do. I txt him the same list every time:

                                                        Sugar
                                                         Eggs
                                                          Oil
                                                         Flour
                                                   Marshmallows
                                                        Vanilla

Not always in that order and not always all of it...but basically he runs to the store 3 or 4 times a week for that stuff. We joke that we should move closer to the store or live in it. Then I think about the deliveries....when Josh is here...I finish my cakes and attach address slips and times of delivery to them...then I pass out(after caking all night)  and he always just delivers them...on time every time. We also joke that people may think I don't even exist...because they place orders with me via email and then Josh shows up with the cake....so I never meet my clients personally. We joke that people may think Josh's online persona is "Sugar Shey" like a weird Norman Bates thing. LOL! That makes me laugh. (::Side Thought:: We thought our across the street neighbor was like this...he always talks about his wife ...but we had never actually seen her....then when we did start to see her they were never together at the same time...she would leave in her car...return and then like an hour later our neighbor would come out of his house and leave in his car....so Josh came to the very detective- like conclusion that they were one and the same...kinda freaked me out...and like crazy people we sat at the window looking to see if we could catch a glimpse of them together....hasn't happened yet! ::chills::) lol.. Ok ...well enough of my neighborhood watch report.....and back to Josh and his tremendous ability to make my life easier......

He does all the supply runs...deliveries....pep talks when I am in a state of self doubt...and he doubles as my " Blecha Brothers" (the twin carpenters on Cupcake Wars) lol. But he refuses to wear the plaid lumberjack shirt but DOES have a beard!;)

I think what I am trying to say with all of this is if you have a one man or one woman entourage like I do....remember that while YOU may bake your cakes and spend a million hours planning and decorating them ....and while YOU may get all the thumbs up from your peers....think about your behind the scenes crew....that small bunch that are under the same roof with you day in and day out helping you....even if it is that one person that just sits and talks to you while you decorate a cake...or even the taste tester....whoever your person is..Thank them! Thank Them OUTLOUD....appreciate them....and tell them 100 times over how grateful you are that they help....that they put up with your cake talk....your "Cake Wreck" tears....your long hours and messy kitchen.....that they may even chip in and go buy more sugar at 3am because you just made 3 batches of fondant and they turned out bad and now your in a panic because delivery is 8am and you put it off till the last minute!
That's the kind of help I have...so when he went away this weekend....I felt and realized all  he does....and I will never again overlook anything......ever. I will thank him just for existing....and holding my hand through every great accomplishment and even my not so great ones. Because regardless if it has to do with cakes....or just life...He is always there. Always.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Anti Melt Down Recipe;)

Me...aka..Sugar Shey
Dear Sugar Diary,

 Hi again! I have decided to share my most favorite cupcake ever.....EVER. Also..whenever that picture is at the top..from now on...it will be to let you know a recipe will be shared..ok? Ok. So ..today I am feeling so DRAMATIC...I woke up dramatic and held that emotion through out my day....so what do I do when DRAMA tries to ruin my usually happy disposition? Well I BAKE...and I bake what I want. And then I eat however much I want to. LOL...and then my world is all better again and the Disney birds return to sing on my shoulder....=) and my mice help me with my chores.

Well today I baked my most favorite cupcake....and while I usually bake from scratch...this one guilty pleasure is from a BOX! Oh the SHAME! But when you eat it...all that shame goes right out the door and is replaced with a happy fuzzy feeling right in your tummy! Besides it was just for me...and saves tons of time.

I baked what I call my "Therapy" ....  I buy a brownie mix....you can buy whichever is your favorite...for me my favorite is what my mom used to make....and she always bought Duncan Hines  everything. Ok so first your going to want to make a cake batter...it can be whatever flavor you want..I choose yellow. You can make it from scratch or if your feeling stressed and on the verge of a melt down... like me ...run to the store and BUY a BOX MIX...I promise the sky won't fall on you and no one will point a finger...well they may point ...but who cares! Your about to go make some of the best nom noms in the known universe! Remember to grab the brownie mix! Now hurry home and set your oven to 350.  Follow the directions on the boxes...once you have those all mixed and prepped...go find your cupcake pan and line it with the prettiest wrappers you have...(it helps..trust me) Once your papers are all sittin' pretty- scoop a tiny amount of the CAKE BATTER into the cups....now switch over to your brownie mix and scoop some of that in on top of the cake batter..keep doing that in alternating layers till it is 3/4 of the way full...by now your oven should be at 350 so pop em in there for let's say 12-15 minutes....I know you guys know when it is ready...but remember the brownie mix will be slightly gooey-er and the cake mix will bake up normally. By the time they are in the oven for 10 minutes you will start to smell your anti-meltdown treat. At 12 minutes they will look done but make sure you check because some of the cake batter may be slightly undercooked. Okay now that it has been almost the full 15 minutes open the oven and ...hear that? Its an angel chorus! I hear it every time! Ha ha ha...what!? I do!
Let your cupcakes cool...(probably one of the hardest things to do EVER) but wait ...it is so worth it....Now that they are out and cooled....pick one up...they are so yum they don't even need icing or anything on top! Peel back that wrapper and sink your teeth into pure happiness....I like to eat them while sitting on the kitchen floor....right next to the warm oven.....bare feet ...and I close my eyes...I simply ENJOY. I really feel sooooo much better and calm after these! I do! If you want to go ahead and make the cake and brownie batter from scratch by all means do that...but every once in a while taking a short cut won't make the world stop turning...I pinky promise! I hope you try these and enjoy them as much as I do....Happy Anti-Melt Down Baking ya'll!;)


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SO FRUSTRATING! My Top 7 Pet Peeves!

Dear Sugar Diary,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
 Sleep is no where to be found so I am here...at my table ...something provoked  me to write...wanna know what that is?            
PET PEEVES!!
YUP!...the little things that annoy the beejeebees out of me about caking. Grrrr .... those little things that I can do without. Like what? 
THESE:
 Let's address Wilton Letter Cutters. It is basically our first set of cutters when we set out on our quest for the basic first pieces of equipment for our passion. Those tiny little rounded letters (that look like alphabet magnets) and seem to stick to the cutter and we can never get out in one piece.....then when we finally master it and get them out all nice and neat we notice that now everyone seems to have a new font.  THESE:

 TAP IT'S!  We look everywhere for them then low and behold there they are on some site ON SALE....we do a happy dance...add to cart....wait for box....and when they arrive we look at them...and in our minds see every cake in our not so far future with beautiful funky curly letters....ahhhh..yes....but these too require mastery....Once this skill of carefully tapping your letters is mastered...yeah you guessed it...everyone has moved on....
Cricut Cake fonts! blahhhh! So again you wait...hunt and stalk every site till finally you see  it ....ON SALE! You POUNCE! You click "Add to cart" and wait.....then the box arrives you hold a ceremonious unveiling of your Cricut Cake machine ...you even read the book and watch the video ... you think the green light is sooooo pretty when you press Power...then ...it shreds your gumpaste...chews up your fondant or rips your sugar sheets. Great ....I could have done that for free!!!!!! Not paid almost $300.00 to get that result. Grrrr! I have resorted to using my tap its and cutting free handed letters with an exacto knife.

                            Then there is fondant.

 My most favorite medium to work with. But how about when you are working with white? Or yellow? Or pastels? How about that one spec of something that will just stick to your fondant even if your in the most sterile environment on earth? That one spec that ruins your whole day! That piece of fondant could be a mile down the road and you would look and still see that spec!!! You pinch it off...you TRY to pinch it off...and if your like me ..you no longer want to work with that piece of fondant , it is ruined..tainted...unclean..TOSS IT! 
Or the fondant that has dried around the edge....you trick yourself to think you can knead it back into soft manageable fondant but instead end up with lumpy dry ugly fondant...UGH!!! Toss it too!

Hummm let's see.....what else? YES! I know!! You spend 15 minutes kneading a piece of fondant into some color....like blue...then you switch to a new piece to make it yellow and .....and...AND....you somehow manage to get BLUE on your YELLOW and it turns GREEN! That drives me NUTS!  These are just some of my biggest IRKS in caking! Oh wait how about air bubbles? Underneath your fondant!!! Doesn't that make you just want to scream???!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! lol
Ok I will stop for now....lol...before my blood pressure gets any higher! I have a million other things I could write about but these are my top ones....;) Now...tell me...what IRKS you ? =\

Monday, March 26, 2012

Working from Home

Dear Sugar Diary....

Hi there! I took a couple of days to get back here but here I am!=) My sleep pattern has been CRAZY lately. Like a baby that stays awake all night and wants to sleep all day...yup..that's me! Bakers and decorators have the craziest hours don't we??(...the sleepless nights and long hours) But I love decorating my cakes at night. When the kiddos are all asleep and the house is all nice and clean and all is quiet and calm. (I guess sleeping in the day time while my monsters are at school is a perk of choosing to stay home and I realize that not everyone has that option=(.  I usually click on Netflix....find my shows(Grey's Anatomy or I.D. or Man vs Wild)...make coffee and turn on all 7 light bulbs in my kitchen...throw on my reading glasses and get in the zone. ;) This is my actual work spot:(click on the pic to enlarge)

Welcome to my very regular kitchen.....in a house that was built around the 1950's....and I am quiet content here. And SEE my laptop is right there too...I spend most of my day in here.....doing a whole lot of caking and keeping up with clients and a lot of YOU on Facebook. It's my space...and while it may not be state of the art...it is mine and I love it.=) I am sitting in that chair now....in front of the laptop..typing this. An Argentinean Tango is playing on Spotify....and I am typing this while trying to calm all the crazy scattered thoughts of cake ideas going thru my mind....I don't think it matters what your kitchen looks like at all....and I have said this before...It is the heart and passion you throw into your work....the sleepless nights....the nerves...every tear you have ever let escape because a cake isn't turning out or every happy tear because it did. I don't have a dishwasher...look again...see? No dishwasher...and a regular old oven...but where there is a will there is a way and there is SO MUCH will in this kitchen!....=) When I got into this wonderful world of cake...my intention was never to own a store front....I just wanted to bake and create while wearing my slippers....make cakes like the ones I saw on TV and online....I am not trying to be a bakery...and that is why I haven't purchased a banner or created a menu (even though I have like 23 different menu layouts saved but not completed) I don't have a pricing chart because I don't make cakes like a supermarket....I DO have a basic per serving price and cupcake prices...but my cakes are all mostly custom and novelty....and pricing is very unique to each one. I have my flavors and am always coming up with new ones...so a menu would always be changing....I have ordered business cards and I hand them out or deliver my cakes with them on there...but even that makes me feel weird...lol...does handing a card to someone seem like I am full of myself? lol....I kinda think it makes me look that way. I bake for fun and am in love with this form of artistic expression....it makes your eyes happy and tummy even happier....I started charging for my cakes when demand grew and I needed more ingredients but a lot of my cakes have been free....especially in the beginning when I just wanted the excuse and free artistic reign over a cake ;)
I have been asked to provide weekly menus of cupcakes for the week as other fellow bakers do but having 4-5 cakes a week makes that hard. I really don't know how bakery's do it! lol...but then again  they have employees...I don't.
I don't know....I think that all this rambling is boiling down to the fact that I am content baking at home...I really am....I know I get friends saying " I wish you had a store front Shey" but a store front isn't what I want....I want to be home with my kids...bake ...be a mom....and one day when they are all grown up I am pretty sure they will have these memories of a mommy always covered in sugar and a color stained apron....answering homework questions while holding a rolling pin or kneading fondant...or of a mommy asleep on the couch because she was too tired to go all the way down the hall to her bed...They will look at pictures of past birthday cakes and reminisce...and their friends will say things like " I remember when your mom made me a "blah blah" cake for my 13th birthday!" I want them to look back and realize I stayed home for them...but also that I was motivated enough to DO something with my time...after all where else can these be my rules? xoxoxoxoxox


Thursday, March 22, 2012

To Shop or NOT to Shop....Blahh..Who am I kidding?


 Dear Sugar Diary,
     There I am...standing in the aisle....looking at cupcake wrappers...cutters...sprinkles...books...flavorings...tools...and everything else imaginable for creating a new cake..
It is kinda like

I am a drug addict standing in an alley waiting for my next fix!!!
                                                                                                                                                I know I have a budget...I know that I need to buy some groceries ... I even need gas later...but the temptation is overpowering! I look at the "new" cupcake wrappers and quickly imagine a cupcake in it with it's cute little swirl hat...all dressed up....I look at the cutters and wonder.."Do I have that one...oh yeah I do! But the one with it in the package...I don't have THAT one!" I go about negotiating with myself..."Well...if I buy these ones...I can always replace that money when I make my next order..I will stick it in with the rest in my cutter basket and no one will even notice!"  Ugh! The decisions! It's horrible. I turn on the pc and try to avoid the online supply stores...but there they ARE all neatly lined up for me on the right side of my Facebook page....waiting.....taunting and making me look! So I click...and the first thing I see is "FREE SHIPPING" Awwww Come ON! Not the free shipping! =\ Then I try to justify that..."But it's FREE SHIIIIIIPPING!"  And who can resist the smile on the Amazon Box? C'mon! LOOK AT IT! It's smiling at me!
     I know you have been there too...even if it isn't cake supplies...we all have  our weakness....but for me getting a new spatula is probably as exciting as it would for any other woman to get purse or shoes. Ha!  I used to be obsessed with getting UPS boxes ..Fed Ex boxes and Amazon boxes....it was soooooo exciting...then from Global Sugar Art....and the endless lists of other vendors....
     I remember the day my KA mixer arrived ....It looked like someone had just handed me the winning lottery ticket! And the day my Cricut Cake arrived ...I could swear I heard a full angel chorus!....I stared at it for hours! (Funny how it lives in a closet or under my work table..hardly ever used at all.)
I think we all do this ...buy things we need then we buy thing we want and then we buy the things we THINK we need and want.  So I have resorted to mental lists...even hand written ones and also emailing myself....GRRR....but it has to be done! At least for me....because I have been known to buy doubles and triples of things. So until I win the lotto and hire a personal shopper .... and an accountant... I will resort to the chicken scratch lists written on scraps of paper that look like trash. I think you could actually play a tune on the piano with my lists....hee hee....they are written in haste and usually in half Spanish & half English (SPANGLISH) ..lol...but I am a woman...and the urge to buy things is overwhelming...I did good today..grabbed only things I will actually USE this weekend! Yay me! Now I will put those things to good use and start all the prep for this weekends round of cakes....I will be back soon to bring those recipes I said I would ...for real this time! =\ Sorry about the delay! ;) Stay Focused and may your day be enjoyed !=)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Humbled

Dear Sugar Diary,

  I just logged into my Facebook Fan Page and saw that we made it to 900 likes....that feels like I just won something. It means that 900 people have at some point stumbled onto my page and gave it a second thought....even if they didn't keep up with it or whatever it was still a moment that they stopped by and liked it.=) I am happy now that more "cakers" have joined and it feels nice to have people that relate to you. I also LOVE the people that get on to just "look" at cakes and leave nice comments. They boost the moral over here and make me feel like what I do is liked. I even appreciate the ones that leave not so nice comments....they make me work harder. I don't spam them or even delete them...I leave them there...they are a reminder that in life you can't please everyone and that is never my intention.

I received a call and an email from the city...complimenting my cakes and letting me know that they are watching and they even knew I had over 500 likes.....They also said that they are proud to have me in town ! Wow! I felt proud for a brief moment then reminded myself that I make cakes...and that in this business being humble is the only way you can grow. Humble....the definition of that is "Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance." I never take myself seriously....never. There is no difference between me and the next mommy/baker. I am sure we want the same things....for our families to be healthy and happy and for a chance to play and practice  our cake passion.

I am a mom and my fiance's best friend before all else.....then when those duties are fulfilled I throw on my super hero costume (which is a plain white apron I think I bought for like $2.99 at Wal-Mart on a sale rack)....It makes me feel like I am on Food Network Challenge...Like I am actually wearing the RED chef's jacket and then that's when the narration starts....in my head..."Our returning Challenge Winner, Shey Jimenez, coming all the way from Sierra Vista, A.Z. to defend her title.....Today's challenge will be ..... blah blah blah cakes for a mystery client....." LOL...ok ok ok....maybe I am crazy.... maybe I daydream way too much....but isn't it fun? hee hee.....

I don't know...I think that all this caking gets to you but in a fun way...maybe it's from breathing in too much  powdered sugar dust...I never think I am better than anyone....I always look at other cakers creations in awe...wide eyed...and always wonder " Wow...so much talent!" I wish I could have started this earlier in life....I love how many young people are getting into it! This world is in for a treat with the amount of young artists getting better and better at this craft. Such new and fresh ideas... It makes me so happy and excited.

So This blog entry was all over the place....it's probably because I just typed my thoughts...like in an actual diary....=) I am excited for the things that may come my way....but I will always remain humble...I will once again thank all my "likers" and say that I hope I can continue to make things that are appealing to eat and look at....also I hope that you are all inpired by my limited knowledge and if I don't know the answer I always find someone who does;) So...with this I say Ciao! (In about 15 min my monsters get home from school with big appetites! ;) )
    I will post again soon and bring along my recipes to share! <3


Quatre Quarts~

Dear Sugar Diary,

  11:50 pm .....I have no work to do right now but still can't sleep! I am in bed with Project Runway on TV....sunflower seeds to munch..my coke zero to sip and a million ideas running through my mind. This ever happen to you? You know you should sleep...but exciting things are going through your mind so you sit up and start writing them down? That's me.

Dreams....they are meant to inspire and motivate...but sometimes it's also enough to make you shake with fear. I made it through this past weekend ...

1) 2 dozen Cupcakes for the Wells Fargo Employees
2)6 dozen cupcakes for our Sugar Skull Allstar competition winners
3)4 dozen cupcakes for a clients son's birthday
4) An ATV style cake
5) A two tier first communion cake
6) a two tier  paint splatter cake with a dozen cupcakes
7)Baseball Cap Cake
8) and the super fun Burger cake =)

I was super spent ...especially after delivering the Communion Cake to Tucson...but I did get to go to Micheal's so it was worth it! I got some really cute cupcake wrappers and some very useful cookie cutters. =) My family went with me and we had fun shopping and people watching. When we finally made it home I fell asleep....FOR 12 HOURS!

I called my mom the next the day....and we had a good chat....she told me to slow down...take it easy on the orders....but I had to tell her how I looked at it....I told her that for now I am loving the rush and the creating and for me it works right now...It makes me feel productive....I may not be saving the world but I am putting smiles on faces and that in turn puts a smile on mine. OH! AND....I came across a new recipe...a pound cake recipe that I had to try....I made half of it to test and it was delish! Yay! So here is that recipe before I forget! I like saying the name of it in a french accent...ha ha ... "Quatre Quarts!" I see the adorable Ratatouille in my minds eye..he he he....

http://myfrenchcuisine.blogspot.com/2006/03/quatre-quarts-pound-cake.html

You will love this pound cake especially for sculpting ! I did. And it tastes buttery...I love buttery! =) I love a cake that you can cut into with minimal crumbs when your trying to get a specific shape. This cake is that cake.;) So now the time is 12:52am and I think my eyelids are trying to tell me they would like to be closed....I will try to get you the other recipes I "discovered" this past weekend....some I haven't even tried out yet but I will! I will do my best to report back to you! Nite nite friends! Stay warm and cozy! =)





Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Clemes Cake

Dear Sugar Diary,

     I finally BEAT Mr. Procrastination! I baked the St Clemens cake=) I will try to explain and describe it as best I can......

  The process was simple...the ingredients were very basic. I mixed it for about 10 minutes because I kept thinking I missed an ingredient. The batter is very thick...I didn't anticipate that but I went with it. As I zested the orange and lemon the aroma was so delicious I just wanted to do it all around the house =) Such a crisp clean smell! Mmmmm...

The inside of my mixing bowl...with the orange zest sitting on the batter...




 Then I scooped it out into a greased and floured 9 inch square pan....I knew I didn't have enough to make it all the way to the edge but since I was just wanting to test FLVOR and not appearance I didn't let it bother me....but my OCD kicked it and I kept trying to make it go all the way to the edge....lol.....I placed it in the oven and kept an eye on it ...it baked for 23 minutes on 350. Immediately I was shocked by how far it rose...it looked like bread! But smelled like oranges and lemons. =) 
Doesn't it look like bread?
Since the edges weren't squared I decided to use a ring and cut the center out into a little 4 inch circle. I let it cool and decided that it is too late to start some lemon curd....so i would just dust this one with powdered sugar .... and let my kids tell me how they think it tastes.
This is a close up of the crumb....it's a large crumb...somewhat dense.

I dusted it using a stencil of some flowers....just to give it some visual appeal....but by this time I was kicking myself for not whipping some cream or making the lemon curd. Nothing new! =\ But it is mid night now and I need to bake some other things before morning!
   So this is what it looked like in the end....mind you it took all just under an hour!


You can smell the citrus...that is undeniable....and the crumb is ok....I will have to go back and re do this with some kind of filling....the taste is good..That's what the kiddos said..I think it could have been sweeter.but then again...maybe it was just the fact that I have very little experience with citrusy type cakes....I would definitely use this recipe again....for a get together with family or friends because the prep and bake time is so short. Raspberries would make it even more cheerful;) So I am happy with it overall...I am also glad I finally got over the "let me try it another day" thing! I finally did it and got that out of my system....until the next time a recipe calls out to me! ;) Good night friends! May you all have peaceful dreams.=)







Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cupcake Week =)

Dear Sugar Diary....

This morning has been a good one so far...got my baking done and am now relaxing with some music that has rain in the background...sipping on some coffee and letting the breeze come in through my kitchen window....yes..my laptop is in the kitchen...;) It is a nice clear 70°F here in the mountains and that makes for a beautiful day.

As I baked the banana strawberry cupcakes...I couldn't help think of when I was a kid. Eating ice cream and not caring as it melted down my arm.....I had no urgency to find a napkin or wet wipe...that was my mom's job. I just enjoyed the cold flavors and made a happy mess. These cupcakes filled my kitchen with the smells of banana split ice cream...one of my mom's favorites next to plain old chocolate. That led me to the idea of baking these cupcakes but next time I will add chocolate to it somehow. ;) I made the banana nut batter and after scooping them into the cupcake wrappers I added a slice of strawberry so it would bake into the cake.  There is something about how cooked strawberries smell...like candy!

Here is how I placed the strawberry slices...before I baked the banana cupcakes.



And this is how it looked after I baked them...=)
This is how they looked finished...topped off with some real strawberry buttercream. =)
      Yesterday I made the Creme Brulee cupcakes....and I can't help imagining a story with each flavor I bake....I imagined being in some fancy French Pastry Shop surrounded by the posh french accent....and the smells of caramelized sugar and warm pastries.
These are some Creme Brulee I made last year....
These ones are the ones I made yesterday for our winner...she commented and said---------------------------------->





You have out done yourself, this is the best cupcake I have ever tasted of yours so far. My daughter is asking for another one lol. Sooooo yummmyyyyyy!!!!

     And the day before that (Monday) I made some Peanut butter/ Chocolate cupcakes. That made me think of happy messy chocolatey hands (the kind they always seem to get just when you dress them nice) my kids would hold up so I could wipe them clean when they were small.;)
                             They also reminded me of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.And here is the comment I received from the winner of these :"Omg, those cupcakes are the most delicious things I have ever had! My daughter said she is in love with them and I agree. My sister says you can make her frosting anytime (she don't do frosting). THANK YOU SO MUCH! Everyone in my home is enjoying them. You truly are an artist! I know where I'm getting all my cakes from now on." ~Leah Baltrus



It feels like I won something instead of them....those comments make me feel like somehow the Cake Gods smiled down on each and every cupcake and gave it their blessing.....today I want to go ahead and try the St. Clemens cake...and hopefully procrastination won't get in the way this time;) Happy Baking friends....=)

WE CAN BAKE IT!

Dear Sugar Diary,
                     
Yes...we CAN!


        We CAN BAKE it!  Cakes....cupcakes....pies....anything! I have often looked at a recipe and instantly categorized it as "too hard" or "too many steps".....and then file it away for another day....then almost always kick myself for not trying it when I had the time and ingredients. Today I wanted to bake two things....I wanted to try a Blueberry Meringue Roulade ... I didn't have any blueberries....and a St. Clemens Cake...which I had EVERY ingredient for! Somehow I allowed myself to file it away...  and now I wish I had tried it.....Later on I got an email with a request for ...you guessed it....a CITRUS CAKE! Really?! It would be my luck! Sheesh! So tomorrow I will attempt it....and if all goes well...(and even if it doesn't) I will report back how it all went down;)

I would like to share the recipe I have for this cake because it just seems like it would be a delicious cake for spring or summer.....citrus flavors...orange and lemon...AND the best part......you don't have to sift or set anything aside to be added later! You just mix up all the happy little ingredients in ONE bowl..pour..bake...and PRESTO! DONE! Now that's my kind of recipe! =)


                                               St. Clemens Cake Recipe:
3/4 cup of soft margarine
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups of self rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 huevos (eggs) ;)
powdered sugar (for dusting the cake)
Put all of that in a mixing bowl and mix it smooth.
Now grab a good sized lemon ...and zest it...all of it!
Then grab an orange and do the same thing into your mixture and mix it all up.

Now pour that into two greased and floured 7 inch pans ...SPANK the bottoms to make sure you get even cakes and any air bubbles out.....now pop em in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes until it has risen nicely=) Let it cool and dust it with the powdered sugar and VIOLA! You have a cake! If your not in a rush I bet some lemon curd filling would delicious! You can make it at home or buy it... I suggest you make it....I know I know...if your pressed for time just buy it ...but really you gotta try to make it at least once! =) It's so yum.  Oh..you don't know how to make lemon curd? Well why didn't you say so?! here is that simple recipe.....
                                        
                       Lemon Curd Filling (Alton Brown's recipe)

Ingredients:
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
Directions:
Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. 

Oh My ...all this lemon zest talk is making my mouth water! i can't wait till tomorrow ...i really want to try this out! =) I hope you all enjoy trying it too! Please let me know if you make it and how you liked it! Oh and one last thing.....if you don't like powdered sugar on cakes...whipped cream works great for citrus-y flavors. I feel heavy buttercreams don't let the flavors sparkle. ;) have fun! And remember "WE CAN BAKE IT!"
                                                       :Sugar Shey:
HI! This is me! and WE SO CAN! ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Children make your life important. "

Dear Sugar Diary,
  Earlier  this evening I had a moment ... I was laying in bed and my youngest son came into my room and laid beside me. He put his arm around my neck and said " Mom...when are you going to teach me to make fondant?" I looked at him and smiled...."Well how about I teach you when you are sure you won't try to eat it all?" He giggled and said he wouldn't eat it and could I please show him. I asked him why he wanted to learn and he said "Well mom..one day your going to be old and you won't be able to make cakes anymore and I want to make them for you." INSTANT LUMP IN MY THROAT! My eyes teared up and I told him I wasn't going to be that old any time soon and we still had time to learn and experiment together. He seemed satisfied with that answer and headed off twords the living room to watch TV. As I heard him settle into the recliner I started to think about the birthday cake he made me last November....It was one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen in my life ! He made it 100% all by himself and he is only 8yrs old. I stood in the kitchen while he baked it  but other than that he did it all by himself. I only coached him while he MADE buttercream from scratch.....and while he decided if he was going to make a white cake or yellow cake...lol...he decided yellow cake because he said separating the yolks from the whites was too much work...hee hee.....=) Of course I took pics the whole time ....I was in awe that he was so committed to this mission....he really wanted to make me a cake for my birthday! And he said he had watched me enough to know what to do..... of course as any mother would.. I had my trusty cell phone camera ready.....
He made the cake batter with instruction.....

His cake came out beautifully!
He used the left over batter for cupcakes=)

Then mommy let him use the "big guns" for making some buttercream.....

Now it was time to color his batch of buttercream....


Such concentration!
Yays! The fun part ...DECORATING!!!!
Wow! He even wanted to write a message!

The most beautiful cake in the whole wide world!
 I felt so special! Look at it! Isn't it amazing?! I mean I know it was made by an 8 year old and all....but when I look at it I see the heart in it...the concentration and the way he sticks his tongue out when he focuses on something....it is one of the cutest things ever! He did an amazing job and this is his FIRST cake ever! He stuck some animal print candles in it and ran and got the rest of the family and they sung me Happy Birthday....his little face looked so proud and he was standing 8 ft tall! The cake was then cut and we all had a slice and he was so worried....asking over and over "How does it taste? How is the buttercream?" That's when I couldn't help think he had the makings of a baker....he was so worried about how we were liking it. ;) We all assured him it was delicious and that he did a great job. He turned to me and said " Mom one day when I am bigger I am going to go to school and learn things and teach you since you didn't get to go." I cried. I cried the happiest tears ever. I told him that sounded like a great plan! So later that day we went out to dinner......he left the table and I followed him with my eyes.....he went over to a server and said something......I saw the server smile and walk away....my son returned to the table smiling.....2 seconds later the server returned with a cupcake and in it was a lit candle....They sang Happy Birthday to me once again and again my son's eyes twinkled. he made my 33rd birthday the best birthday ever! I still have that cupcake.....i couldn't eat it and I couldn't throw it away. It is 4 months old now and the candle snapped in half and is being held in place by the wick. But I won't ever throw it away...it's one of my most prized possessions.

   I know that sometimes our kids can be a pain in the neck...they can try our patience and make us want to run away or scream...but moments like these make all the not so great moments seem...well not so bad! I hope that he DOES continue to want to bake....I hope that he really does go to school and teaches me a thing or two....but in the end I just want him and my other two kids to be HAPPY. Whatever they choose to do I hope they choose wisely...I always tell them that my job doesn't feel like a job at all...it is what I love to do even if I found it a little late in life.....the important thing is I found it . And I leave you with this .... a quote from one of my favorite women....


                              "Children make your life important. " 
                                                                             ~Erma Bombeck