about love

 

img_0378

When I was in school our German literature teacher made us read one of his favorite books. A book that was not mandatory for all classes, like “Faust” or “Effi Briest” (one of my favorites btw.). I am still not sure why he made us read it. It was about some woman who was a translator. Or maybe this was not even the main character..  I don’t quite remember. There was a love story involved and one simple, little thing that was said about love just stuck with me and is often making me think until today. “Love is always one-sided. There is always somebody who starts to love and convinces the other person to love back. And the first person will always love more and deeper.” Is that true? Is this what love is about? Convincing the other person that being together is the right thing to do? It might sound a little harsh, but I think that there is some truth in it. Even if both people have feelings from the start – the famous love at first sight maybe – one person always needs to make the first move and show interest.

However, I don’t fully agree with the second part of the thesis. Just because one person started, doesn’t mean the second person will never reach the same level or even higher level of love. Life is unpredictable and we simply don’t know what will happen. Person number one might realize, after just a few weeks, that the feelings start to fade. Or he/she never gets any further than what has been there in the beginning, while person number two  keeps developing deeper and deeper feelings.

So yes, I agree.. somebody always makes the start and invites the other one for the roller coaster called love, but I believe that while taking the ride it can go both ways.. either part can decide to get out at some point or both will keep sitting and enjoying the ride until the wheels stop turning. And if the latter decision is taken and it is made official, one important thing you will need.. is a cake.

A few weeks ago I received a call with those wonderful news that my sister decided to keep it rolling and she would get married.. within the next two weeks. She needed a cake and asked me to make it. Since there were not many instructions, I had no idea what I should make. Two weeks are not really enough time to go crazy. The wedding was small, only the closest family members, so a one tier cake would be enough (the big wedding about to follow.. ). Finally she expressed her wishes that she would like to have flowers on her cake -Lillies and Callas. I have never made those, so this has been quite a challenge. I started a week earlier and needed the whole week for try and error until I finally found a lilly good enough to decorate the cake with. The callas were easier. On top of that I made little white flowers that I would add.

I will have to practice even more for the big cake, but there is enough time left, so I am positive.

img_0379

I made a pound cake as the base and because the bride wanted buttercream instead of fondant, I made swiss meringue buttercream with some lemon flavor as one filling and to cover. The second buttercream was a light raspberry-cream-cheese buttercream with a hint of white chocolate.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 6 egg whites
  • 200 g sugar
  • 360 g butter (or 180 crisco and 180 butter to get it more white)
  • citric acid powder
  1. In a bowl, put into a water bath, whisk the egg whites and the sugar and heat it up until it reaches 60 °C or until very hot to touch
  2. remove from heat and whisk with an electric mixer
  3. add butter gradually and whisk until smooth
  4. add citric acid

RASPBERRY BUTTER CREAM

  • 250g butter
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 125g raspberries / raspberry puree
  • 200-250g confectioners sugar
  • 100-150g white chocolate
  1. whisk the butter until smooth and creamy
  2. add the confectioners sugar
  3. add cream cheese and raspberry puree
  4. melt chocolate and let cool
  5. add chocolate to the buttercream and whisk until smooth

 

 

I put some raspberries onto the first layer of cake and covered it with the raspberry cream. The second layer I covered with the swiss meringue. The third again with raspberries and cream and finally I covered the entire cake with the remaining swiss meringue.

At the sides I used edible lace and used fondant and sugar pearls for the edges.

Because the flowers are put on wire, I used straws that I put into the cake first before adding the flowers.

The cake didn’t even last five minutes :D, but I hope the couple was satisfied.

img_0375

flawless motions

 

There are things I am good at and things I am simply not. There are things I learn quickly and some things I cannot wrap my mind around. There are things I understand and some things which will never make their way into my brain.

I like to learn and I like it even more when I understand and when I see results.. quickly. I hate giving up and often pretend I would, just to sneak back into whatever the task was.. secretly, when nobody is looking. Then I try.. either until I make it or until I realize that I will most likely die not getting there.

In my first job, after finishing my studies, my supervisor once told me that I am good in grabbing processes. I understand quickly how things work. I only need to see it once. I went through the process of collection making and the next time I was sitting at my desk alone, clicking through several software tools and files, without anybody looking over my shoulder. Obviously, my brain can do its job.

So, work is done for. But then.. the devastating part of the day is just lurking around the corner. The gym. The place where my brain leaves my body, my legs refuse to work with my arms and my body parts simply develop own lives. I watch other girls easily dancing from one side to the other, moving their arms rhythmically, while their legs follow accordingly. And then I am trying to talk sense into my body parts “left arm up, right leg back… no no no.. not right arm back and left leg up!” One hour of trying to coordinate my legs and arms exhausts me more than the actual workout- it’s like watching four little kids destroying your mother in law’s house. Hip swing, jump, arms up, then only one.. at the same time the right leg to the side.. swing around and jump.. don’t forget to gracefully swing your arm like an umbrella.. double hop, single hop.. no not a single hop with both legs.. the left leg is supposed to make a little twist.. and don’t forget to draw a heart with your arms.. you forgot the right leg.. it needs to follow your arm movements. Last song.. Cool down.. breathe…. iiiiiiiiin, ooooooout, iiiii,n oooooouuut.. great! That I can do! 🙂 iiiiinn, oooouuuttt.. and a slow salsa, graceful arms, hip shake, leg lift, circle… Where is the door?

Fine, if my movements don’t want to look flawless, I turn on my oven and try to make something else look graceful.

A few weeks ago I found something very interesting on the internet. The ultimate guide how to make flawless chocolate covered cakes.

There are basically three things you need: a silicone baking pan, your favorite pound cake recipe and choooooooocolate. I wanted to have small cakes, so I got some mini-gugelhupf muffin cups.

  1. You bake the cake in the silicone pan and let it cool.
  2. Clean the pan and melt the chocolate. If you want, you can mix some coconut butter/oil, to make it more fluid.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the pan and distribute evenly.
  4. Put the cake back into the pan and let it cool in the fridge.
  5. Once you are sure the chocolate is cooled down, you can easily remove the pan and admire the flawless liaison between chocolate and cake.

One more advise: make sure you are using a recipe where the cake keeps it shape and does not shrink. I once used a different recipe and  the chocolate would just stay in the molds instead of covering the mini-cakes. For the mini-cakes on the pictures I used this recipe.

Enjoy 🙂

 

no princess

 

 

IMG_2590

IMG_2596I am not a princess. Shocking news, I know. Maybe you think: “Oh, well… who knows for sure? Don’t we all have some royal ancestors somewhere in the past? Hundreds of years ago there might have been some royal person, who was the grandfather of the grandmother of the grandmother’s grandmother of mom’s grand-grandfather?” Maybe this is true for some of you guys, but I have proof! THE proof!

 

Every night I am getting ready for bed and walk into my kitchen, open the microwave, set it to 2.5 minutes and wait. Beep, beep, beep. I go to bed and get warm, holding my freshly microwaved warming pillow tight to my body. It is a fairly old warming pillow and the many fixed holes show the months of winter nights, only survived through the warmth of little grain.

There were little holes, medium holes and finally, one night, a laaaaarge hole. The grains spill onto the bed sheets and build a solid ground for my dreams. A restful night. I wake up, rested, content and ready for the day. I walk to the bathroom – little grains glued to my arms, legs and back, one by one landing on the floor, drawing a path from my bed to the bathroom. The sheets full of grains make me realize “I am no princess!”. Do you know the story of “The princess and the Pea”? No? Ok, short summary: The tale is written by Hans Christian Anderson and is about a princess whose royalty is tested by placing a pea under several mattresses. The princess does not get any sleep that night, feeling uncomfortable with the pea under her mattresses and this is how her royal identity is proven. I don’t feel 100 grains right under my butt.. I am no princess.

 

I don’t know whether one of my friends and colleagues is a princess and whether she had peas or grains under her mattress, while she was stuck in bed for weeks, due to her broken foot. I only hope that she did not feel like the princess in the tale and was able to find some rest. I assume it must have been uncomfortable after a while though. When she finally recovered and got back to work, of course I wanted to welcome her with a cake.

IMG_2601

Because I was not able to make a cake the night before her return, I thought the second day would be good enough as well. I prepared the decoration: a teddy bear with a broken foot, made out of chocolate fondant with white parts made of white marzipan. Sitting on the table, teddy was impatiently waiting for another place to sit. His eyes looked at me desperately, asking for his throne (a prince?). I made a vegan chocolate cake, took it out of the oven and… it slipped and broke into a million pieces. It was late, but I thought I would try again. This time, my oven did not feel the urge to cooperate and the cake turned out to be dry and hard at the edges, but gooey and dense on the inside. Not a throne, rather a plastic chair, thus not acceptable for the royal bear. I was not able to make a third cake, so I postponed the cake again. On the weekend I tried it one more time. I baked a chocolate cake and … nope.. my oven still did not feel like working with me. The cake was undone in the middle, while too dry on the outside. I thought I would go with my ultimate cake, which always works, unless you have an oven like me. Same story.. dry on the outside, undone on the inside. I was about to give up. I walked out of the kitchen and there he was.. sitting on the table, looking sad and disappointed. Why did I have to make that bear, before the cake was ready? Back into the kitchen and cake no.5! Finally!!! The vegan chocolate cake was done inside and outside! Although I was told, it was a little dry, which is most likely due to the fact that it had to stay in the oven for almost an hour instead of 35minutes.. I kind of start to dislike my oven…

IMG_2603

I made white modeling chocolate instead of fondant (yummy.. dark chocolate cake covered with white chocolate.. mmmmmmmhhh). Because it was late and Sunday (=stores closed in Germany) and I did not have much decoration at home, I took nonpareils and tried to make something like a flower bed. With bamboo sticks and normal paper, I made a “Welcome back” banner and placed the teddy in the middle of the cake, on top of some colorful nonpareils. He did not complain about feeling uncomfortable, sitting on top of them.. maybe he is not a prince after all.. or is he? 😉

IMG_2606

Olaf’s summer

IMG_2191

I have a couple of summer recipes in line, waiting to be shared with you and really don’t know which one to start with. Summer is almost over and I am already missing the smell of fresh berries and my satisfied stomach, full of vitamins and fresh berries. Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries.. all waiting to hop into my mouth. Let’s face it.. this summer was AMAZING! We have been spoiled and I demand… I DEMAND!!!! another summer like this next year. And the year after.. and after. And I won’t accept any other summer until the end of my life. I mean, if summer wants to be summer and be called summer, there are certain terms: Rain is fine.. but if possible only at night. It is necessary for nature. Our flowers and fruits need it and honestly, I love rain at night. It is very soothing. Some chilly days below 30°C are also fine. Some clouds are fine.. but let’s not overdo it. Last but not least, if summer wants to be called summer, the sun has to be present, let’s say, 90% of the days 😉 Maybe more, if that is manageable 🙂 Yes, yes.. I am living in a dream world. So what? This year got veeeery close to it.

Ok.. so here is my dilemma I am having with this post. Like I said, I have some recipes and pictures waiting. I could show you another recipe with strawberries, one with strawberries and nectarines, another with raspberries and also one with gooseberries. All of them really quick and easy to make and all of them worth sharing. Summer recipes you could easily use with other fruits. However, since I started talking about summer and how much I love it, I think that today I will show you a cake made for my sister. I am reminded of that cake, because the theme I chose for this cake was the movie “Frozen” and its most adorable character “Olaf”. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I watched this movie on my way to the US and enjoyed it so much, that I watched this movie four to five times already. I could watch it again 🙂 Have you ever watched it? Do you know Olaf?? For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about (which I can’t really imagine, since Olaf and the Frozen characters are everywhere these days), Olaf is one of the main characters. A snowman who is built by the Ice princess, with a very naive and heartwarming character and positive attitude. When one of the other characters mentions summer, Olaf starts daydreaming about swimming in the sea, tanning, flowers, and sun. He LOOOOOVES summer.. I could tell you the rest, but that would just spoil the real feeling of his summer-excitement. Just watch it, if you haven’t yet 🙂

So, yes.. my sister is not a small kid and yes, she got an Olaf cake. I think this is totally normal! An Olaf in a water barrel enjoying summer 🙂

IMG_2182

I made a sponge cake with a cream cheese-joghurt-blackberry cream . For the water on top I made blue buttercream . The Olaf is made of gum paste and the barrel is made out of KitKats. It was a pretty small cake, 16cm in diameter I think, but I needed approx. 5 packages of KitKats – just to give you a number of what you might need, if you choose to make one yourself. The brown strings around the barrel are gummy worms and some textile strings to stabilize it.

I will post the recipe of the cake next time.

I hope you like the design. 🙂 If you can, watch the movie and enjoy the rest of this summer!! 🙂IMG_2175

school days memories

IMG_2153 IMG_2152

I do remember some little things about my first day of school. Actually, I had two first days of school. My family and I moved to Germany when I was about to go to school. On our journey we were sent to different locations, before we got assigned to a temporary home in the town of our choice. That is at least how I remember it. I remember a huge hall, filled with hundreds of people.. It might have been a gym or something. The showers have been outside, along with all the other sanitary arrangements. My parents sent me and my sister to visit my aunt, so we wouldn’t have to stay there for too long. The next stop was a little apartment in a tall building. I remember a balcony, but this is basically all I can recall. My pictures and memories might be a little disguised with a childish perception of surroundings, with pictures and memories, that are not truly mine, but stories told by somebody else. The way I remember it might be peppered with things that did not even happen. I don’t know how much of all this is true. I was seven years old and my comprehension of what was happening was definitely limited. I did not understand. Probably, for me, this was just a huge adventure. Then, on day x, on a warm day (I think it was, but I don’t know), there it was… my first day of school. I was entering the world my siblings were living in and I was about to follow. I received a cornet full of candy and a bag and walked the steps of the big kids (for those of you who don’t know the customs in Germany: on their first day of school kids get a large cornet, usually made of cardboard, filled with candy and little presents. It is a really nice tradition and many kids make their own, designing it just the way they want to. Some are bought and match the design of the school bag. People do all kind of things 🙂 ). Anyway, I remember I had two and I always thought that this is because just one or two days later we left this little apartment and this school and moved to our final destination, where I experienced my first day of school all over again. I thought that this is when I received my second cornet, but my mom told me now that I received my second from the first school. Usually kids get the cornets from their parents, but at the first school, the kids got one from the school as well. Hmm.. I might stay with my version though, cause I kind of like it more 😉

It was difficult for me in the second school. I didn’t speak German and the only things I was able to say were “Thank you” and “I don’t speak German.” For some reason I remember that my teacher (btw. the best I ever had) told me I had a nice bag. Of course I didn’t really understand, but the words for satchel are very similar in Polish and German, so maybe that’s why I knew what she was saying. Besides, she probably pointed to it and smiled, so I figured she liked it. I learned German, while the other kids were learning math (which I already did in kindergarten in Poland). And I made it 🙂

And that is what I am thinking, when thinking about my first day of school. It is August and many German kids start school these days. My niece is one of them. Last thursday she had her bag ready and her cornet filled with candy. Her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were invited to spend the day with her. We escorted her to school, attended the welcome ceremony, waited for her, while she was sitting in her classroom for the very first time. When all this was over, we celebrated with presents, a nice lunch, coffee and of course cake 🙂 And I was the one honored to make it.

You know me and can imagine that I would not make a plain cake, covered with some sprinkles. It had to be something special.. something to remember. On the Saturday before, I started to make the decorations. After sketching a few designs, I decided for a two tier cake with crayons surrounding the bottom layer and a sitting figure on top of the upper layer. The figurine should resemble my niece and her accessories should very much look like the originals. Her favorite color is blue (at the moment), so I made her a blue dress, decorated with little flowers. I wanted to make her sit next to her cornet and eat the candy, so I made a lollipop and molded a full cheek on one side, with a smile going to the same side.

IMG_2156IMG_2155

From a photo I copied her satchel and cornet and tried to come as close to the originals as I could. I made some little candy out of gum paste and let everything dry for a couple of days. In order to support her feet, while she was sitting on the upper cake, I made school books. I covered wafers and sugar tablets with colored fondant and labeled them with the names of school subjects. I made a whole bunch of them, so I could scatter them a little on the cake.

IMG_2158IMG_2157

For the crayons I made long rolls out of cookie dough and when they were still warm I cut and formed them into crayons. After cooling I covered them with white chocolate, which I dyed in different colors (the colors are not very bright when you use white chocolate and normal food color. There are special food colors for chocolate, which I don’t have, so if you want to have bright colors, you might need to consider getting those). I also used the same cookie dough for the blackboard. I wanted to have the blackboard on two stands, so I could put it on top or at least behind the upper cake, but the stands broke when I was trying to attach it to the cake, so I left it without. I only used a rectangular piece of cookie and scraped out the middle, which I filled with melted dark chocolate (I added some black food coloring, to make it real dark). The frame I covered with chocolate fondant.

When all the decorations were ready, I started to prepare the cakes and the fondant. I decided for a marzipan-apricot cake as the bottom layer and a chocolate egg liqueur cake with blackberry-lemon filling on top. The marzipan-apricot cake is a lot of work, because you need to bake each layer separately, but it is good for hot days, not having any creams or anything that would go bad or melt quickly.

This time I also wanted to try the chocolate fondant for two reasons – number one: because I wanted to try it. I heard good and bad things about it and wanted to see for myself. The taste is supposed to be very good (it is!), but the handling is supposed to be difficult.. (hmm.. I am not sure about this one). The production was a little trickier than the normal, white fondant, but I didn’t have a hard time to knead it and it was soft and chewy. It did melt (maybe because it was so hot) very easily and was not so smooth on the cake. So I was very happy with the handling, but not so much with the look.

And this leads us to the second reason, why I wanted this fondant: because I think that colorful things like the crayons, candy, and books look very nice and bright on a dark background. Don’t you agree? Anyhow, unfortunately the fondant came out very bumpy and did not meet my expectations here.

All in all, decorating the cake was easy and fast, having all the decorations prepared and ready. I glued the crayons with edible glue, but secured them with melted chocolate afterwards. Everything else I glued to the cake with the glue.

When the cake is ready to go, there are always two crucial moments waiting, which I am nervous about each and every single time – the transport and the reaction of the one/s the cake is for. The transport almost ended in a disaster this time. I put the cake into a box and left the top open. Because of the heat and the sun, my mom decided to cover the top with a plastic cover and a blanket. It was very unstable, but it was a short drive, so I thought it would be fine. I kept the box on my lap and when we drove around the first corner, the plastic cover with the blanket collapsed. I thought it fell on the figurine and smashed it, but luckily the figurine was dry enough and survived. Only the blackboard got a little smashed, but I was able to fix that pretty fast (due to the heat it was very soft.. in this case it was good 😉 )

My niece and her parents were very happy and excited with the outcome, which is always the best thank you and payment for a baker. The cake was treated like a star and it seemed like it got the most pictures on that day.
I hope you guys like the design as well 🙂

IMG_2161