How’s your year going? Yeah. I hear ya. I don’t think I’ve been the only one in a braindead, uncreative funk. What, with a pandemic to worry about and all. BUT – December 2020! It’s frigging Christmas again! So here we are, keeping to ourselves, with provincial health protocols banning social gatherings of any kind, inside or outside – and we’ve got a gingerbread house or three to bake, build and decorate. It was a weekend long project – but what else is there to do!? It’s kind of the best time to upgrade your ginge-b making skills!
I’ve been wanting to try the whole “melted Jolly Rancher candies as stained glass windows” effect for years. Last year I bought the candies, made the dough … but was so pooped out by the holiday season the dang houses never got made, let alone the cool candy windows. The Jolly Ranchers ended up being little power pellets on our long, solitary daily walks through the Spring Covid months. Teddy’s tongue would be blue or green or purple, but at least we got to see cherry blossoms and get fresh air, hehe.
Is that a gingerbread house door with a gumdrop doorknob just lying there strewn in some sugary snow? It sure is. BUT LOOK AT THOSE WINDOWS! It’s as simple as can be – before you bake your house, punch out windows in your gingerbread house panels. After you’ve done your initial baking of your gingerbread house pieces, drop a few candies into each window hole and bake at 375 degrees for around three to six minutes – the candy melts, fills the hole and … WINDOW PARTY! Let cool completely before assembling your house.
Now onto Rich’s amazing little Hospital on Fire gingerbread house! He did a LOT of windows, which I recommend, because the effect is shiny and cool. (Did I mention Jolly Rancher windows? Haha). One tip: make sure you have a big enough entrance way (door, archway) somewhere on your house to easily insert those little battery powered flickering tealight candles. Or, jam a bunch of fairy lights into the gingerbread house holes like I did for these photos.
Okay, on to Teddy’s ADORABLE gingerbread house! He had the idea to make a sugar moat around the house with gummy fish floating in the water (leftover Halloween candy, yay!). We turned to the internet to teach us how to turn regular old white sugar blue – super duper easy. Dump a few cups of white sugar into a zip top plastic bag. Squeeze a drop or two of blue gel food colouring into the bag, seal it up – then gently knead the colouring into the sugar. Took about two minutes to turn blue.
We have a very exciting plan for these houses. We are going to… eat them. Throw on a Christmas movie, each sit with our houses in our laps… chomp chomp. I’m an idiot for not adding any caramel M&M’s or much candy to my house. No, I won’t eat my plastic horse. I asked Teddy how many days it would take him to eat his house. He said three. I don’t think I’ll be able to get through too much of mine, but – CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE.
I got the delightful gingerbread recipe AND templates from my awesome friend Erin Gardner from her book Procrastibaking! The book is absolutely jammed with so many delicious easy recipes, and it’s kinda the perfect book to bake through during these stay-at-home-and-gain-pandemic-weight times. She loves crunchy sweet and salty peanutty caramelly things like me, and I’ve dog-eared the whole darn book. Isn’t her gingerbread house ADORABLE!? Honestly, staring at my ginge house is bringing me some quiet joy. Like, yesterday I just tripped out on the house, staring at it dreamily, imagining I was in some Bavarian Christmas Fantasy on a brisk but pleasant evening.
I’m not sure if I’ll get around to posting anything else before 2020 is over but my other Christmas plan is to make a pretty rippin’ Buche De Noël – found this recipe that looks like a blast! If I happen to photograph my buche I’ll post it. Otherwise, I am wishing you all health, happiness and peace through this holiday season, and into 2021. xo Lyndsay
Kawaii Chewbacca cake!!! I made this cake for my newest nephew, baby Elliott, future Star Wars mega fan, ha. Cute right?? Well lemme tell you… this Chewbacca cake started off the opposite of cute. In fact, he started off as a big old cake-stuck-in-the-pan mess. I forgot to spray my cake pans with my usual vegetable oil spritz. Just dumped the old batter into the pans… and of course it baked right on to it. It took some woman power to wedge the round cake out, but in doing so, a whole chunk of it broke apart. But, if at first your cake looks like a piece o’ poo, persevere! Push through! And you may end up with this guy:
Kawaii Chewbacca cake is essentially my Wilton sports ball cake pan baked up with two other layers of chocolate cake, crumb coated in chocolate buttercream then piped in Chewbacca’s frontal cowlick hair growth pattern. Teensy white teeth, and a black strip of fondant with white fondant rectangles on top to mimic his bandolier strap (I obviously googled the strap name, I am not that Star Wars deep-nerd.)
Ah, my old friend Jabba the Hutt cake, from May the 4th be with you!
So who’s next in the Coco Cake Land Star Wars kawaii cake series?? Kawaii Bib Fortuna?? Lol. (I googled Bib Fortuna cake actually and found nothing. NOTHING! But I totally get it. No one wants to eat that sadistic, ill-skinned face with red eyes and his extended gooey duck penile head wrap-around feature. Or more specifically – “He is a member of the Twi’lek species, humanoids distinguished by the pair of long tentacular appendages that protrude from the back of their heads.” xo Lyndsay
Happy 2020! I’ve been hibernating in a deep January funk, but clawing my way out as teensy signs of Spring appear in our neighborhood. Back in November, my favourite Donna emailed me asking me if I would like to create something for Cherry Bombe Jubilee Seattle. After telling her that I was feeling a bit scared of America, she assured me Trump wouldn’t be at Seattle Jubilee and that I must come! Hehe. The first idea I had in mind was for a giant beautiful buttercream-piped sheet cake. But, I had to test that idea out at home first before building it across the border… buttercream sheet cake testing began! I settled on vanilla cream cake with a vanilla milk soak, topped with swiss meringue buttercream piped in rosettes, drop stars and leaves dotted with cherries and raspberries. CUTE!
When you work from home, sometimes you end up baking in your jam-jams. This cake weighed quite a bit, so lifting it several times meant I could skip the gym.
BUT HOW TO PLATE IT?? I needed it to look modern, colourful and beautiful – it was Cherry Bombe Jubilee, after all – the food is always gorgeous and delicious so I was definitely feeling the pressure. The cake had to be chilled so I could get a clean buttercream cut – but not TOO chilled as I didn’t want the cake to dry out. Hence, the vanilla milk soak.
Option one: clean and simple.
Option two: raspberry for tang factor, and sprinkled freeze dried raspberry for texture and tang.
I sliced many little pieces of cake to test… man I have a lot of cute plates!! I decided on the single raspberry and freeze dried sprinkles… it had such a nice flavour blast. So off I went to Seattle! For the week prior I had been blasting a whole lotta Hole, Nirvana and … the Singles movie soundtrack, hehe, to mentally get in that Seattle headspace. I also wore my Doc Martens to Seattle because – GRUNGE.
My awesome helpers in Seattle – Sid and Chloe!!
All set up at my table, ready to sling cake! I met so many cool, kind folks!
Hehe. Yes I did call it Holy Sheet Cake.
Amazon Home Lounge!! With my sweet pal Antonia, holding a pair of cherry dingle balls.
The wonderful Book Larder was there too and they had my books for sale along with many other incredible cookbooks by the powerhouse crew of authors at Jubilee.
And look at this friendship!! I think Kerry must have 6,000 in real life friends, everyone wants to hang out with her and know her – I always feel lucky when she shines her beautiful light my way, cause she’s the coolest and such a huge supporter of little people big world cake people like me.
The upside down!!! Look at those tiny compostable plates! And I went with the juicy berry blast with a sprinkling of crisp freeze dried raspberries.
I also got to attend a very delicious dinner hosted by Open Table at Rene Erickson’s Bar Melusine. Look at those beautiful tile floors!! I mostly gabbed it up with my main cutie pal Donna, who feels like one of my American cousins, and my cool pal Antonia from Amazon. Rolllled out of dinner, got dropped off at my hotel and snoozed the night away. Twilight was playing on the telly as I packed up all of my goodies from Cherry Bombe Jubilee Seattle – pots and pans from Amazon, silver wrapped sticks of precious Kerrygold butter, beautiful cookbooks purchased from Book Larder and a bag ‘o swag. Another super duper fun Cherry Bombe event…! Chinese pumpkin is blessed once again.
Oh deer – I’ve let another few months slip by without posting a single thing to my blog. I had a very busy November and early December – three trips!! And a very busy Coco Cake Land Autumn. Mix that all up with some existential cake career angst. And now here we are, practically deep December as soon as we blink our eyes into tomorrow. Our Christmas tree is up and sparkling and accidentally extra tall. I laced the Christmas lights around the beautiful-scented thing myself – and when I got to the very bottom, all proud of myself, I realized there was no plug-stickie-things to plug into the extension cord, just the… female side (ugh, I do not know electrical plug terminology) of the string of lights?? I make no sense but neither do these Christmas lights. So I haphazardly jammed another string of random lights from maybe the early 2000s into one of the upper strings, dangling down the back of the tree, trying to achieve plug-in status. I achieved it! The whole time Teddy kept saying “just let DAD do it” haha… nope. I PERSEVERED! Then, we played “Night Club” (Teddy’s idea) and at “Night Club” you get to do whatever you want (ok…??) so we had nachos for dinner and watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. If you’re at all feeling the Christmas Blues this season, watch a little Snoopy Flash Beagle to cheer up your mind.
I made this sweet faced little pink deer cake friend for one of my sweet faced little friends – adorable Saya who turned nine years old in September. It’s funny, right now I feel like the Sahara Desert in terms of cake designs and ideas. Like painfully dry of any cake creativity. I wonder if my cake mojo will return? It always has in the past… a surreal and mildly stupid story: I was in San Francisco with my dear mom last weekend, it was her 75th! birthday wish to see Hamilton The Musical – and I was in the hotel room mindlessly watching the Food Network (I don’t have cable so flipping through garbage-goodness TV like Say Yes to the Dress is a real treat) and there’s yet another holiday baking challenge of some kind on the food channel, but this time it’s for cupcake pull-apart cakes. And the example they chose to show for what a cupcake pull-apart cake was somebody’s version of my cake, the very hungry caterpillar cupcakes party train from 2009!!! I laughed out loud and Home-Aloned my face with my hands – bizarre that I should be watching this random show and see my cake design cited like that. I’m sure some lowly paid production assistant just did a quick google and grabbed the image off the internet.
Ah, to be as casual-smiley as this pink deer cake! I should take a page from its pink buttercream emblazoned face. Zen Christmas, everyone!! xo Lyndsay
It’s #TOTOROWEEK – also known as the week leading up to Halloween, as created by my blog bestie Steph of I Am A Food Blog! For the past several years, we’ve been making Totoro themed food and cakes just for the Totoro heck of it. Phewf, I got in just under the wire with this kawaii Jiji The Cat furry buttercream cake! I’ve been wanting to make a black cat cake ever since we got our sweet beloved kitty, Rex. Rex is five years old, and he’s from the local SPCA. He was a mangy skinny thing when we first met him – and he was ravaged with fleas and patches of missing fur all over him. Now he’s a slightly plump, sleek little panther who is almost brutally loving. Like he sleeps on my neck, or on the top of my head like a hat, or on top of my legs like a leg prison, and he’s always purring. You can scoop him up like a rag doll and he never complains! He is a sweetheart. Teddy made him a perch out of cardboard boxes and a glue gun – Rex loves it, though I am scared that it may not be the sturdiest, lol… Jiji the cat is not from Totoro, but Jiji is from Kiki’s Delivery Service, another Miyazaki film – so I gave myself some creative license! :P (I could also have made this into a soot sprite!)
Have you ever made black buttercream? The secret is to use black cocoa powder. It has a slightly bitter and licorice-y taste in my opinion – so make sure to counter it with either melted, cooled chocolate and enough sugar. I also used maybe half a teaspoon of black gel colour – way less than I would normally have to use if I didn’t do the black cocoa powder! Another tip for getting your buttercream black is to let it sit for an hour or so to darken, even overnight. When I started piping Jiji he was a dark greyish shade, but he was a pleasant shiny black by the time I was finished photographing him! I didn’t really have a total plan for this Jiji the cat cake – the face I kind of made up on the fly, and I gave him DILATED PUPILS simply because I was worried you wouldn’t be able to see the black fondant eyes on top of the black buttercream! The bowtie was my albatross – I made it a few different times out of fondant, but then I thought it looked weird just perched on Jiji’s chin, like a red beard-bow goatee mashup:
I dunno, what do you think?? So I ditched the fondant attempts… I thought about making a fondant topper to insert into the cake, but the size of the bow would’ve been too heavy and wouldn’t have anchored into the cake very well. CRAFT PAPER TO THE RESCUE!
I cut out a long strip of paper, folded both sides to meet in the center, used scotch tape to adhere and punched out a little red circle using my trusty craft circle punch for the center. I taped it onto a thin straw (I will never buy plastic straws again in my life – GO GREEN – but I had these leftover from my wedding from 2007!)
I inserted the red bow topper into the front of my kitty cake.
SUPER CUTE! I love how this furry Jiji the cat cake turned out! And LONG LIVE TOTORO WEEK!!!! (click on the “totoro week” tag below to see all the past Totoro week cakes!) xo Lyndsay
Have you ever baked with your child? AKA, have you ever BLOWN YOUR TOP in the kitchen because of the flour and sugar sandstorm, the cracked eggs all over the counter, the spilled milk… hehe. Ahhh but thank goodness for this awesome Kickstarter project: the cutest new cookbook for kids – KIDDOZ! It’s an interactive cookbook and colourful measuring cup set, featuring hilarious cartoon characters and illustrated step-by-step instructions, just for kids! Teddy and I had a blast making a buried treasure cake from the book.
The book’s instructions are all adorable step-by-step illustrations, using the faces of the characters as the measurements – so for example, Carlton the cat = 1/3 cup of sugar – but Teddy would read it as “one Carlton of sugar, mom!!” There’s also QR codes (I had to google what those were called, it’s that black and white square thingie that you point your phone at “for more information”, haha) on each page so you can watch VIDEOS of each project being made! Interactive, indeed!
I winced in a little bit of mental pain as Teddy cracked the eggs for this (DELICIOUS!!) cake – lots of eggshell bits, but we fished them all out – the buried treasure cake itself is a very simple recipe, and it bakes up like an angel food cake. Our cake rose up beautifully in the oven but then slumped as it cooled – I think we should’ve baked it for longer, which we will do next time – but it gave us some creative problem solving to do!!
I helped Teddy cut away the centre of the cake to make room for the $38 worth of chocolate gold coins I bought for this project, ha… (more on this later…!) He had a blast dumping the coins in and packing the top pieces of cake back onto it.
The chocolate mascarpone frosting was SCRUMPDIDDLYUMPTIOUS – I helped Teddy smooth out the frosting a bit, as the cake was somewhat fragile and we worried it would tear a little. (It didn’t!)
Teddy had a blast dumping (literally) the Oreo crumbs onto the cake for dirt! He chose two Playmobil characters as “diggers” and then added a big old pile of sprinkles, and sticks of Pocky. I had to restrain myself from doing any of the cake decorating – but I also loved seeing Teddy’s very liberated “freedom of decoration” mindset!! I am jealous of his ease in the casual dumping of Oreo crumbs and random placement of sprinkle piles and Pocky sticks…
Proud of his cake!!!
And the final product! It was so much fun cutting into this cake and seeing the sparkly gold coins inside!
We brought the cake to my sister’s for her birthday, and Teddy’s cousins went wild over the cake, and the Kiddoz cookbook! The amount of coins we used ended up being a little bit of overkill, I think bought seventy or so in the bulk bins at a grocery store – BUTTTTT, I brought the leftover cake and any untouched coins home, carefully wiped each gold coin free of cake debris, and have set them aside for use for another cake! SMART MOVE, ME!!
The KIDDOZ cookbook not only has a whole sweets section, but also a savoury section too! We’ve got PIZZA CAT, the ladybug quiche, magic butterfly cake, and the waffle castle on our to-do list! I was kind of cutely amazed how excited Teddy was about his new set, and he was chuckling his way through the cookbook at all of the little cartoon antics on each page, and marvelling at all the recipes he wanted to make.
Thank you so much KIDDOZ for sending Teddy and I this awesome set! He loved it, and we can’t wait to make more of the recipes! You can learn all about the KIDDOZ interactive cookbook and measuring cups set Kickstarter campaign here! Purchase it now for the Kickstarter price of 32 euros (about $25 USD). Happy baking with kids, my friends! xo Lyndsay This post was sponsored by Kiddoz, but all enthusiastic opinions are all my own!
Some days I feel so STUCK in my own aesthetic. While I love creating animal cakes and piping buttercream and coming up with super duper kawaii faced creature cakes, I also long to bust outta my cake box. This is what I love about Instagram – coming across new cake decorating techniques and being awe-inspired by fellow cake designers! When I first came across Amanda’s cakes, I fell in loooove with her clean, vibrant and artful style, and immediately hit the Follow button. Then when I saw her recent online Abstract Buttercream Painting Course I bought it IMMEDIATELY. (I also happened to catch it at 50% off – she often has discount sales so follow her for announcements!) This was perfect timing, as I was doing a sponsored Insta post with iDeal of Sweden (a cool phone accessories company!) and wanted to try and make one of their phone case designs into an abstract buttercream painted cake.
The abstract-y painterly phone case I chose, and the quick drawing I made!
Mixing swiss meringue buttercream colours!
This really felt like painting – I used a plastic easy-to-clean placemat for my palette. For tools, I used my offset spatula, palette knives in a few sizes and paintbrushes designated only for cakes.
The phone case, and the finished product! Fluffy vanilla cake layers and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I don’t want to give away all of Amanda’s lovely secrets from her class, so I recommend taking it and supporting her with your dollars if you can – but I will say, as I tell my son Teddy, making art or drawing things or creating is always a work in progress. It’s never too late to learn new things! So, initially when you add the first stroke of colour you might think you’re making a big old mess. But hang in there, keep painting and being thoughtful with your buttercream painting placement – and I think it’s helpful to start with a drawing, too!
I added tiny sprinkles to the cake too, to emulate the splatter marks of the phone case.
I cannot wait to try more buttercream painted cakes! Other techniques I’d love to try but haven’t – chocolate spheres, gold leaf, GALAXY CAKE, watercolour cake, Katherine Sabbath classic ice cream dripping cake, Katherine’s rainbow marshmallow blob covered cake… ! I’d also love to learn about chocolate making, French pastries, bread making… I better get started. Life is flying by! xo Lyndsay
Happy tenth birthday Collage Collage!!!!! A.K.A. one of the greatest shops in all of Vancouver, where you can find the most adorably and thoughtfully curated children’s books, art supplies, ceramics, children’s and adult art classes, MY BOOK, and so much more. This whole brilliant idea belongs to my dear friend Erin Boniferro, one of Vancouver’s sparkling lights.
I frigging love a handmade cake topper. You know I do. So, it seemed to make absolute sense to craft one up to celebrate the cutest and craftiest store around. You need sharp-ass scissors for something like this – no clunky, dull scissors. I free-handed the letters (and used my mini circle punch to punch out a perfect “O”).
I frigging love a stripe. And I frigging love a vibrant colour. Oh, and cake. And I frigging love piping bags piping their cute little drop stars and blobettes all over everything. (On your own blog, you can DO BAD GRAMMARY things like start sentences with And!) Jimmy-jam that all together and you get this colour blast of a celebration cake x 2 – two bright and beautiful cakes to celebrate the bright and beautiful Collage Collage!
Little horses! An ode to the shop, which sells tiny cute fancy animals. I *almost* plopped the horses into the cake but then thought “overkill.”
10 AGAIN!!! If it’s your own blog, you get to post two almost identical pictures in a row!! NEAT!
I mean, wouldn’t this duo (or a trio of something similar) be so cute for a wedding?? And now, here are some beautiful party pics by my other super talented friend Lori Kiessling!
Erin wears amazing rainbow stripes! The cake is rainbow stripes! MIND SYNERGY!!!
Birthday party day! Collage Collage is notorious for their very fun crafts inspired by artists and illustrators. It was so much fun hanging out with Saya and adding to this Bruno Munari-inspired mobile collaboration.
Me trying to get Teddy all stoked on THIS FUN PROJECT! But to be perfectly honest, he was on the train to Grump Town and spent most of the party playing video games on Rich’s phone… aiyahh.
And here, for your viewing pleasure, is Collage Collage x Coco Cake Land YEAR ONE back on my ancient blog. Love ya forever, Collage Collage – the hugest congrats to Erin and her amazing staff for powering through to ten amazing years. CC everything for life! xo Lyndsay