Tag Archives: Baking

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Sliding back into the Halloween spirit after all of the intensity with Hurricane Michael has been tough, but I am slowly but surely starting to feel a bit of the excitement again. One of the things I have been doing is watching the new Netflix show The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. While this show isn’t Halloween specific, save for one holiday themed episode, Ms. McConnell’s aesthetic is very Tim Burton meets Martha Stewart, and her nightmarish bakes and DIY’s are perfect for this time of year.Before the Netflix show came out, I was only vaguely aware of her work. I’d seen a few things on her Instagram account and I knew that there was a book, but I had no idea how elaborate her world was. 
Of all the creepy things she makes, these little Caramel Nut Spiders are the thing that truly made me shudder. Spiders are one of my biggest fears, and holy crap, do these look too really for comfort. She even ate one – there was an audible crunching sound; it was awful.Spiders aside, there were some very cool edible creations like the cookie spirit boards and the chocolate tea set.Christine is joined in her twisted domesticity by a number of colorful characters such as Rose, a reanimated taxidermy project, Rankle, a mystical mummified former Eqyptian diety, Edgar, a flesh hungry werewolf-eqse creature, not to mention the handsome and murderous Norman. Oh yeah, and a ghostly Dita Von Tease (Vivienne) lives in her mirror. 
So much fun, and I have to tip my hat to Netflix for such a timely release. For all of you creepy crafters out there, you absolutely need to add this to your watch list.

More about Christine McConnell here

Images from here


I Made A Fancy Cake!

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I like to bake. It started as a way to channel stress and has turned into something that I 85% enjoy and 15% use to punish myself. This past week a friend of mine was turning the big 2-6 (insert eye roll) and I wanted to make her a cake to soften the inevitable downhill slide into 30. She isn’t a huge fan of things that are overpoweringly sweet so I had think about a little bit.

I came up with a few ideas, but what I finally decided on was a Buttermilk Vanilla Cake, filled with Lemon Curd & Raspberry Jam, with the whole thing frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. That’s a lot, right? It sounds super complicated, and it might have been initially, but broken down step by step, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t do decorated layer cakes often, but I am staring to see improvement in my frosting and assembling. I’ve gotten a lot faster and picked up some tricks along the way, like chilling my cake in the fridge for half an hour after doing a crumb coat. It’s definitely one of those situations where you’re going to get a little better every time you do it. 
Decoration-wise I knew two things when I started: the cake needed to be that millennial pink and it needed to work around the fantastic pink “happy birthday” topper I found. I started with a sprinkling of crushed freeze-dried raspberries , put the topper in place, and then I just started piling things on. I used fresh roses, fresh raspberries, white chocolate shards, and edible gold stars… and of course, shimmer dust. Gotta have the shimmer dust. Before I knew it, the cake was chilling in the fridge, and I was trying to figure out how to safely get it across town. I think it turned out okay and the birthday girl was floored so I think this definitely goes into the win column. She also loved the flavor combination and really enjoyed that it was something specifically tailored to her. Lots of fun, but I don’t think I’ll be doing another one of these for a while, a few weeks at lease.


Super Simple Cream Biscuits

Don’t worry, guys: I haven’t died; it’s just the end of tax season. Well to be more specific, it was the end of tax season. Now I am sitting here, in what remains of my life after pulling 10-12 hour work days, and trying to find the motivation to start working reconnecting with the rest of the world. Step one, put on glitter shoes; step two, use the internet for something other than Facebook. Before things went completely to hell, I did manage to work in another recipe from my new challenge book. I figured since my first recipe was from the “muffin” section, it only made sense for me to try something from the “biscuit” sections this time around. It’s all about balance, people. Okay, also what I have in the fridge, but you get what I am saying.

I went for the very first recipe in the section, and I was very, very pleased with the results. So was Andy. And Stanley who got up on the stove and ate the top off of a biscuit or two before we caught him. 

Notes:

  • I only have one teeny issue with this recipe: I had to add a splash more of the cream than it called for, since I just couldn’t get the mixture so come together the way it was supposed to. This led to just a bit over-mixing, which the recipe warns you about. I think with a couple more tries, I will have this down perfectly, and I will be able throw together a batch in next to no time. Andy is already counting the days until he can say goodbye to the canned biscuits forever 🙂

How I Unwind – Man About Cake

We all have those things we love to do when we’re world weary and in need of something fun and inspiring. A few months ago, Andy introduced me to a show called Man About Cake hosted by the delightful Joshua John Russel, and it has been at the top of my YouTube watch list ever since. Now before you click away thinking “well I don’t want to make big fancy cakes so this isn’t for me”, hold on – if you bake at all, there are great tips to be picked up. For instance, using powdered fruit to flavor your frostings so you get maximum fruit flavor without the added liquid. I’ve also picked up some decorating tips that can be scaled down for cupcakes and smaller single tier cakes, like gilded blackberries and using bubble tea straws to hold your multi layer cakes steady. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:

Impressive, right? JJR and the crew put out new videos on their channel every Tuesday. This month the focus is on wedding cakes, so there should be some really great cakes.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

With a month to spare, I have finally completed #3 on my 31 before 32 and made the last of the 12 recipes from my Sweet & Vicious cookbook! There are so many great recipes I still can’t wait to try out, but I am happy to have the ones I “had” to do behind me. Since I’d done a few of the main recipes and a couple of the extracts, I wanted to try something from the back of the book. The frosting area seemed as good as any so I decided to tackle Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

So light and wonderfully fluffy! It made for some very pretty cupcakes.


I took some pictures of the process, just so you’d have an idea of how things were going to look as you went along. I find that sort of thing helpful whenever I’m trying out a new recipe.
The egg white/sugar mixture when I put it on ⇑ and took it off ⇓ the double boiler. 
How the meringue looked when it was ready for the butter. 

Notes:

  • I think the thing I liked best about this was the sweetness. I like sugar as much as the next pudgy American, but I hate frosting that is sickly sweet. Standard buttercream is easy to make, but usually it’s a bit much and has ruined many a cupcake for me. It’s really nice to have this in my back pocket for future baking.
  • This recipe also pipes like a dream; I had wonderful frilly frosted cupcakes with minimal piping bag manipulation, and it held its shape and didn’t dry out overnight.