I had so much fun making this Elmo birthday cake for a 2-year old baby girl. While the cake looks simple, lots of work that goes into this cake. Even simple cake can take up to 8 hours. Custom cake can go beyond 40+ hours. All my custom cakes start at $150. Some people may think they are too expensive. Let me say that a cake designer job is a cross between a baker, an architect and an artist. There is so much math involved that most people do not realize. We spend so many hours of planning, shopping, baking, construction and decorating put into it that we are lucky to be breaking even hopefully.
Custom cakes are edible works of art that require skill and artistry, and can take days or weeks to complete. When you buy a custom cake, you're paying for the baking experience. Truly, it is not just a cake, it is a labor of love--at least in my case. I pour myself into every cake that passes through my door. I beat myself up over every imperfection that the customer never sees.
If you are looking for a cheap cakes, I am not the one for you. But if you are looking for quality and focused attention, I am here to make your day special. I hope this has given you some insight into why custom cakes cost so much and understand what you are getting for your money--quality and experience.
While they have origins in Spain, these cookies are popular in South America. Alfajores are simple shortbread sandwich cookies filled with sweet caramelized milk (aka dulce de leche). There are many versions of Alfajores, but this recipe is from Chef Marisa Guiulfo's cookbook, the beloved icon of Peruvian gastronomy. The recipe calls for cornstarch, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth confection. One of my favorite cookies.
The original recipe comes in grams, but I convert grams to cups in case you don't have a scale. I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter and add some vanilla extract to the recipe.
makes 40 (1.5" diameter)
125 g (9 tbsp.) salted butter, softened
90 g (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
1 lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
140 g (2 cups) cornstarch
70 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1. In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Add yolks, zest and extract. Beat until smooth on a medium speed. Scrape down the sides once.
3. Sift cornstarch, purpose and baking powder together. On low speed, gradually add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate for an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
6. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough out into 1/8" thickness, using 1.5" cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
7. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Freeze for 10 minutes.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should remain pale on top.
9. Cool completely before filling them with dulce de leche.
10. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Buttercream Flower Cake
If you've been waiting for me to add more classes to my calendar, I'm pleased to announce that I have 2 new classes that I'll be teaching in December. Check it out!
Buttercream Flower Cake will be on December 19th at 1 pm. You'll learn how to make and decorate cake with buttercream. Piping the flowers and put them onto the cake. Sign up now : Buttercream Flower Cake
Holiday Cookie Decorating will be on December 20th at 1 pm. You'll learn how to pipe and decorate the cookie with colorful royal icing. Sign up now : Holiday Cookie Decorating
Holiday Cookie Decorating
Just 4 hour flight from home, I was in the country that's been getting a bad travel rap. Mexico City was always one of the cities I wanted to go. I was fascinated by the culture, architecture and food.
The first thing I want to say is that Mexico is not as dangerous as you think. It's a beautiful, rich, magnetic, colorful and unique country. The people I met in Mexico were all friendly and generous. They love music. They love color. They love food and they love to watch sport. In my traveling experience, some places have luxury accommodations, some have good food, some have good weather, some have art or history. To me, what makes Mexico unique is that it has all those elements combined in one place. This time I traveled with my husband. We spent most of our time in Mexico City and a couple days in Teotihuacán and Taxco.
Hitting those Mexico City's hot spots by metro was a fun part for me. I got to see the city as a local. The metro system in Mexico City has to be the best way to travel within the city with very little money (5 pesos = 30 cents). Metro is no more dangerous than any big city subway. The metro trains are pretty much exactly what you'd expect to find in any American or European city, except they aren't air conditioned. My husband and I got on and off metro every day while we were there and we never felt unsafe. We spent our last day on Hop-on Hop-off Bus just to make sure that we covered all the hot spots in the city (which we did already on the first 2 days of our arrival). If you decide to go on the hop-on hop-off bus, don't buy ticket from a tour because it will cost you double. You can buy ticket on the bus. Just make sure you know where to get on the bus. They have 21 stops.
Getting around in most parts of Mexico couldn’t be easier. They have a great bus system with many classes of service available to fit everyone needs. Again, we didn't go with the tour. By doing it on our own, we saved a ton of money, a little bit of time and regain complete control of our trip. Basically, we went to the north station for Teotihuacán and south station for Taxco. We bought all the tickets at the station, but you can also buy ticket online here Online Bus Ticket. Not all the destinations can be purchase ticket online, for Teotihuacán you have to buy ticket at the north station--look for Autobuses Teotihuacan which is one of the last desks at the end of the terminal. Just look for the blue pyramid on the sign.
The bus we took to Taxco was really fancy. They provided snacks and a permanent drink station in the back of the bus with hot water for tea and coffee. There were only 3 seats across which almost lie flat, similar to business class airline seats. They also have restroom on the bus. I gotta tell you I was very impressed by this 3 hours one-way inexpensive service we paid for 240 pesos ($15).
This trip, I decided to leave the real camera at home and put the iphone in my pocket. Everyone knows that iphone has a great camera. But how close am I to throwing away my dedicated photography setup?
The truth is iphone is a ton of fun to use as a camera, and I've taken some of my favorite photos with it. It's more than adequate for regular snapshots when out and about during the day. But when I need more creative control, iphone can't beat the real thing. So guess what, I'll be carrying my heavy duty camera for my next trip!
As I mentioned, all photos for this trip are taken by iphone. You can view more photos here : Mexico Trip
It's been a month since my last post. I really need to finish this post now, otherwise it'll drag me longer and I won't be able to write about it because I have 2 more trips coming up!
There're always things to do, no mater how many times I visit Paris. This time I stayed in a different neighborhood so that I can experience a new angle of French local and see a whole new part of this beautiful city. Because I've hit all the highlights the first two times I was there, I focused more on what makes Paris one of the world's best cities. Of course, architecture, art, fashion and food. Paris offers the best of all.
I spent 3 days in Paris, then about a week in the South of France and then back to Dijon for a few days. Traveling to the South in August wasn't a good idea. It was a busiest month there, packed with both international and local tourists, who flock to the French coastlines during the summer months to soak up the sun. However, I managed to have some fun and eat well.
I kept telling myself that I need to learn French because I know that I'll go back there again. I found that French people are more friendly if you speak their language. They are more inviting and willing to continue the conversation. The whole trip I was rely on my sister to translate everything for me. It was frustrated that I can't communicate with people, but at the same time I was so proud of my sister. She's improved her French a lot in the past 5 years.
If you'd like to see more photos from this trip, you can click France2015.
Getting back from Europe was enjoyable, especially when my plan works out the way I wanted it. As I mentioned that I was doing a solo trip in England for the first time, it turned out to be interesting. Without any distraction, I became a better version of myself. I made decision faster and learned to rely on myself more. It was a great experience.
I was in England for 3 days as part of a 3-week trip to Europe. I spent 2 days in London and a full day trip to Bath and Stonehenge. The first thing I did when I arrived in London was having an afternoon tea before I went on a bike tour. Although it was my first time in London, I found that going around the city was very easy. Once I figured out the tube map and bought an oyster card, I was pretty much can roam around the city.
Spending a day in Bath and Stonehenge was amazing. I got to see the ancient Roman bath and discovered the iconic prehistoric stone formation of Stonehenge. The unique thing about this trip was I can get up close and personal with the stones. That was really awesome.
As always, these are some tips I want to share when traveling to London.
- Pack light.
- Always keep a light jacket and an umbrella in your bag.
- Buy an oyster card and navigating the Tube.
- Most hotel provide free wifi.
- Pret A Manger is your friend. This sandwich chain throughout London has free wifi, as well as yummy, cheap, on-the-go food and drink.
- Always carry 50 pence with you at all time for a public restroom.
- Be prepare for poor customer service because the customer is not always right.
- Look both ways when crossing the street. Traffic comes from the right.
- London is not cheap!
If you'd like to see more photos, click England2015.