Saturday, June 30, 2012

here kitty, kitty

vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam
A cake for a very "girly-girl", as her mom put it. This cake was for Elizabeth who is graduating today. Her mom cuts Chris's hair at Aire Salon here in Jersey City---a wonderful salon run by the enormously talented duo, Aiko and Racheal. 

Aiko and I had a spirited discussion over the origins of Hello Kitty which led to frantic googling of her history. We discovered that Hello Kitty's full name is Kitty White and that she currently resides in the suburbs of  London with her parents and younger sister, Mimmy. She is a baker and an artist and keeps a cat as a pet (that's just twisted, right?) named Charmmy Kitty. She has an on-again-off-again relationship with Dear Daniel, also a cat, but they haven't gotten serious because, given that she measures five apples high but weighs only three apples, she is all looks and no substance. I'd like to thank Hello Kitty Universe for including such salacious details.

Check out the Layers NYC facebook page for a picture of our other cake from this week, a bottle in a box. And Anthony let me airbrush this one! He's an airbrush hog, so this was a treat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

pounds and pounds of butter

vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream
We don't get a lot of requests for chocolate buttercream so I haven't tasted it in a while. I'd forgotten how DELICIOUS something as simple as chocolate buttercream can be. I highly recommend it. We put in 3/4's of a pound of 55% chocolate in there so it was intensely chocolatey.

This cake was for Julianna's Christening. Her mother had a very special Christening gown made for her and wanted the cake to reflect the details in the gown. Anthony and I have been extremely excited to do this cake because we wanted to whip out some techniques we don't normally get to use.

We Ron-Ben'ed this baby.

This is now a phrase by the way.

Ron Ben-Israel, a prominent NYC cake designer, makes good use of silicon molds to customize his cakes and add details from a bride's dress, or a special piece of jewelry. Here's a link to a blog that details the process. It's amazing.

We used silicone molds to make detailed fondant pieces that matched the details on Julianna's Christening dress. We then painted the pieces by hand with silver luster dust and attached silver dragées to add a little bling.

We also made peonies for the first time. It was a nice break from an endless line of roses and daisies.

And we also made a two-tier buttercream wedding cake to go with a slew of delicious cupcakes made by one of Anthony's close friends and cupcake wizardress, Tara Roed.

I'm still reeling from the amount of butter and sugar we went through this weekend. I had fifteen pounds of butter in my freezer and it is GONE now. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

there's nothing like Australia

I would love to move to Sydney. It's just gorgeous---filled with parks and surrounded by water. The downtown area is all walkable and the outlying areas are connected by easy-to-navigate public transportation and a nifty ferry system.

The food was outstanding. I ate either seafood or Thai food every night (apparently Thai is the hot thing right now in Sydney) and drank at least two flat whites (microfoam poured over a shot of espresso) every day. My brand of choice was Single Origin Roasters and their coffee was some of the best I've ever had.

I visited two terrific bakeries, Bourke Street Bakery and Becasse Bakery. Bourke Street was in Surry Hills, the Sydney neighborhood where our hotel was located. My favorite was the rhubarb tart with almond, though the passion fruit meringue tart was a close second.

Becasse was located in a kick-ass mall in Sydney CBD.  The mall had a myriad of mouth-watering options in their beautifully designed food court, as well as all the high-end shopping a girl could wish for. The bakery was classic French, and Chris and I made our way there every afternoon for a petit goûter. I always had the cream puff because I'm such a sucker for them.

I was surprised how expensive restaurant prices were. I talked to one of our waiters about it and he said that it was because the minimum wage is much higher in Australia (just over $15 an hour). Love the idea, but it blew my vacation budget to hell. Apparently Australia in general is riding an economic high due to increased demand for commodities. One tour guide mentioned that Australia is  the third largest provider of coal to China.

Security was quite tight in the airports as well. There was a strictly enforced quarantine for food items. Not even water bottles from the plane were allowed outside the airport. We flew Qantas, and even sitting in economy, it proved to be ten times better than United or American, which we flew from Newark to Los Angeles. Free movies, exremely friendly staff and tolerable food---amazing!

The weather was too cold for me. They had just finished an extremely wet summer and temperatures were already starting to drop into the 60's while we were there (it's fall there right now). It was extremely windy as well. At Cairns, we endured choppy seas which made it difficult to snorkel and made quite a few people sea sick on the boat rides we took out to the Great Barrier Reef. Luckily I have a strong stomach and a good sense of adventure. Everyone I talked to said that the wind (which was at 30 knots every day) was unusual for this time of year. A freakish phenomenon apparently.