2012’s first birthday cake

The year-end festive period is always rather draining on creative juices. This means at least one out of the three major events, Christmas, New Year’s eve and the husband’s birthday, is usually prepared last minute with spontaneous solutions. Since the spotlight landed on Christmas last year, I was left scrambling to prepare for the special (birth)day all during one last available morning. Thank God for the rather quick thinking of pouring the remaining chocolate cake mixture into two small round tins and baking them together with the Christmas cupcakes, the cake base was settled beforehand. A white chocolate ganache was easily whipped up and used to sandwich the two rounds together. Bam. Cake done! Now what? The tedious part of the cake making of course – decorating it!

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A starry starry bake

I seem to have a knack for tedium; the recipes or craft projects I want to make require either many steps or more effort each step. The higher amount of satisfaction is a most probable reason for these choices although I almost always feel sorry at half point. And then I will simply do it again.

While browsing the latest issue of ‘Lust auf Genuss’, a photo of bright orange stars dusted with desiccated coconut wouldn’t leave my eye alone. I decided they have to appear on this year’s Christmas cookie table. Each year, my mother-in-law prepares a whole range of sweets for the Christmas period besauss we tend to stay home throughout and snack with only breaks made out of real meals. It’s high time I make a contribution too. Continue reading

An Intricate Christmas Macaron

The last round of mad macaron baking was Christmas 2009. I stopped taking orders for macarons in May 2010, a month before giving birth. It wasn’t my intention to be baking macarons this Christmas for sale but when there’s a request, I couldn’t resist. It’s not about making the extra bucks; it’s about the subsequent flow of inspirations that really gets me high. And strangely, this flow seems to be particularly active in the moments leading up to sleep. I would literally be drifting off to lala land and then an idea would hit me. Does this happen to you too? Continue reading

Pierre Hermé buttercream recipe revisited

Pierre Hermé is not fond of buttercream as a filling for macarons, he says in his book ‘Macaron’. Indeed, the only recipe in his book that uses buttercream is the rose macaron. Over the past years, I’ve been relying on a swiss meringue buttercream recipe from a fellow blogger. Out of sudden, I wondered why I don’t use PH’s recipe. I decided to whip up a batch to use for this year’s Christmas flavours. Continue reading

Neat Freak reborn – Storage Box Labels

There never seems to be enough space in the kitchen to store everything that belongs there. If the space expands, so does the collection. But imagine the chaos when the collection expands and the kitchen shrinks. In this current apartment, the cupboards are not built all the way up to the ceiling. The landlady found it pleasant that there’s some ‘breathing space’. I wonder who the hell for and found it utterly silly.That space has to be utilised unless I plan to retrieve items from the basement on a regular basis. Despite initial annoyance, I was subsequently glad that I got to add a little warmth to the otherwise industrial-looking grey that’s one entire panel of the kitchen. Continue reading

The Shabby Chic Craze

The ‘shabby chic’ home decor style has captivated me like no other home trends had done before. I believe the surroundings have a lot to do with it. Before I moved to Europe, it was everything middle eastern. The warm coloured walls, the dark wood furniture, the intricately designed carpets, the colourful mosaic glass lamps… And just before that, it was everything minimalist, hidden away, sleek and shiny. The shift from the minimalist style to one quite pompous began. Upon arrival in Europe, the immersion in European culture for me was visiting flea markets, recycling everything, DIY whatever you can. Totally intrigued by the availability of dead old furniture and antique home accessories, I bought a book on Amazon which presents a guide to buying flea market items. And there, for the first time, the term ‘shabby chic’ appears. Suddenly, it became chic to live in a home decorated with shabby looking stuff. I’m reminded of the holes-in-jeans fashion trend. The farmers must be laughing their asses off that we urbanites are now paying an exaggerated amount of money to buy new furniture made to look like they had been used for generations. Still, I can’t help but fall in love. The pastel colours, feminine touches and sense of history that are overwhelmingly charming. Despite much protest from the other inhabitant of my space, I slyly try to continue the shabby chic assault. Continue reading

My kind of Jawbreaker – Espresso Cantuccini

I have never been fond of baking cookies. Blame it on Famous Amos. There were countless futile attempts to make these small hard little molds of dough without them spreading to form a giant plate of a cookie. Big flat cookies were not at all in those days. (Ok, we have SubWay to blame as well then.) Deeming myself a cursed cookie baker, I devoted all of my oven time to cakes instead. Continue reading