Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wilton's Better Baking Series 1

This is the International Center of Cake Artistry's baking room. I've signed up for a 4-week course in Better Baking (Series 1) by Wilton. I've always wanted to learn how to bake and this course is superb for beginners - like me.

The fees are RM600 but starting from July, it's RM750. Well, that explains why this June class is super full! Over 20 students! Anyway, the instructor is Michael Heng and he is assisted by Kelvin and Amanda.They are very helpful and give lots of personalized attention to you.

For each class we learn how to bake 2 different cakes and prepare 2 different frostings/icings - no plain looking cakes here! The first lesson : Butter Cake with Buttercream frosting and Chocolate Fudge Cake.

The instructor will give a demo first before we bake on our own (fully hands-on). Everyone works in pairs on stainless steel kitchen tables.

I like the Kitchenaid mixer - very quiet and steady. Too bad I already bought my Kenwood mixer..... but I don't quite mind another stand mixer around in the kitchen if I bake very very often.... otherwise how to justify the RM2000++ for the Kitchenaid? By the way, my Kenwood basic mixer was below RM1000.

Lots of butter cakes! Mine is the one on the right lower corner, nearest to the camera. Learnt a new method and technique of baking butter cakes - my butter cakes will never be the same again!

This very first class lasted over 7 hours with an hour's break for lunch. This was because we were still new to the environment and have yet to familiarise ourselves. The instructor said it's typical of the first class.

Anyway, this is the butter cake with buttercream frosting. Very very delicious.  Hopefully will be able to duplicate the results at home. Didn't take pics of the chocolate fudge cake - cos was already too tired! Looking forward to the other classes coming up : Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Butter Pound Cake, Chiffon Cake etc etc etc.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wilton Method Flowers & Cake Design Graduation

After 4 classes, I've finally graduated! Received my certificate in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating - Flowers & Cake Design. The course syllabus includes the piping techniques for various flowers eg. apple blossom, violet, the Wilton Rose, daffodils and stargazer lilies. We were also taught how to make Royal Icing from scratch and simple cake design. Another piping technique which I forgot to mention was basketweave. Used it for the final graduation cake above - looks rather bare! Should decorate with more roses...here's an upclose pic. As for the colors, they didn't match so well - should not have put in the pink roses.

Looking forward to my next class : Gumpaste & Fondant. Should be real challenging. Oh and the kids were sooooo impressed with my cake.... and both of them enjoyed gobbling up the icing roses!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Surfer Dude

TJC celebrated the end of the 1st semester with a beach party! I made 30  mini cupcakes for Evan to bring to kindy - butter cupcakes with pastel blue buttercream icing and a shark's fin made from cardboard. Here are some pics of the party:

 Evan - the surfer dude - with his class teacher

Hubby made a surfboard for Evan and decorated it with Angry Birds which we printed out on our new Canon printer & Evan crayon-ed it. All the boys were very excited about the surf board!

Someone even brought Angry Birds cupcakes - so cool - with beachy elements. Evan said he ate the black one but he didn't like the cupcake cos it was chocolate flavored.

Many thanks to Buffafly for the above group photo of Petunia class.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The New & Improved Kleenex!

Today I am gonna be blogging about that one thing that most people can't live without - Kleenex. Yes you read it right - Kleenex - a genericized trademark synonymous with facial tissue.

My family and I use lots of Kleenexes. We buy it by the truckloads during J-card Day - hey, good stuff ain't cheap, you know. I have no qualms spending a bit more on quality. To my delight, the Kleenex company has recently unveiled its new and improved facial and bath tissue. Yes - bath tissue  too! Not for use while bathing (but I suppose you can when you run out of fresh clean towels!) but those rolls of tissue for use in the bathroom, commonly used to wipe you-know-where. It looks like this:

For the uninitiated, the new and improved Kleenex tissues are made from top quality 100% pure virgin fiber using an innovative new technology. This translates into extra softness and superior strength. For those with sensitive skin, fret not, Kleenex's tissues are hypoallergenic! As for looks, Kleenex scores brownie points with their vintage and rose inspired packaging. Indeed, super value for  facial and bath tissues with 101 uses!

In our household Kleenex is often used to Kleen up stuff.
It's an absolute must to facilitate the expulsion of nasal mucus. How convenient. Blow out the gunk and junk it. With Kleenex's new softer 2-ply or 3-ply tissue,  you won't get chapped skin from repeated wiping. As for the kids, if they are not wiping their nasal mucus with their shirts *smacks forehead* then it's Kleenex to the rescue. Besides nasal discharge, Kleenex comes in handy when dealing with tears, sweat, urine, blood and other bodily discharge. Really. No sweat. Just pull out 1 piece, wipe and throw. The best part is, Kleenex is so soft and comfy and doesn't crumble in your hands.

Then there's the all too familiar scenario of spilt milk, spilt water,  split whatever on the floor, chair, etc. Thanks to Kleenex, I can Kleen it up real fast on the spot.

Kleenex is also used for wiping away icing on my face/hair whenever I get a bit too adventurous while decorating a cake..... wiping the earpick clean while digging my kids' ears......  making a carnation during art & craft time........ etc. 

I can go on and on about the various uses of Kleenex and its new improved superior features and function but to experience it, you've got to try it out for yourself. So, do yourself a favor, remember to include Kleenex in your shopping list. They have a whole range of facial and bath tissues that you will be spoil for choice! Pocket tissues are also available so that you can enjoy the goodness of Kleenex wherever you go!

Many thanks to Kleenex for the Comfort Kit that I received for this review!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Angry Birds!

Evan is addicted to the popular game : Angry Birds! He loves playing it on the iPad. The rest of us also play the game and I personally find it fun!

I promised Evan an Angry Bird plush toy if he scores 100% for his Chinese spelling test. Previously, he received Lego minifigures for perfect scores. So,  this time he was very happy that he got his favourite Angry Bird - the black one. The small blue Angry Bird was purchased for Marissa. Yes... she likes those birds too. Now Evan wants a Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Set if he scores 100% for both BM Ejaan & Chinese Spelling tests for his first semester assessment.

Angry Birds is a game developed by Finland's Rovio. 
Green Pigs have stolen the Angry Birds' eggs. The birds are now seeking revenge. Launch the birds one by one using a slingshot. The aim of the game is to wipe out all the pigs. Points are scored for each pig defeated as well as for damage to, or destruction of, structures, and bonus points are awarded for any unused birds. Sounds easy? Well, I must say this game requires strategy, logic combined with some knowledge of physics. What we have now on our iPad are a few levels available FREE! Plus, a few other special releases eg Angry Birds Rio and Seasons.

Evan has already requested for an Angry Birds birthday party instead of Lego! Oh no! I hope Marissa is still keen on her Cinderella birthday.... cos her birthday is coming very soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Princess Doll Cake

My maiden attempt at baking decorating a princess doll cake - turned out pretty well! Ahem! It's actually a trial of sorts as I've decided to bake a Cinderella princess cake for Marissa's 3rd birthday next month. The Precious Moments Cinderella figurine which I ordered did not arrive and it's been 2 months already. Most probably missing in the mail. So, the princess doll cake is plan B.

I purchased Wilton's Classic Wonder Mold to make this cake. Very easy to use. It comes with a brunette pick. Blonde ones are available for individual sale. I bought a small tub of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting from Giant Hypermart to decorate the cake. Unfortunately, the frosting was so thin in consistency so much so it was rather runny. With the current hot weather, the frosting was sort of melting. Had to refridgerate tha cake - which was not good cos it will dry out.

After frosting the gown with the runny frosting.... I whipped up some buttercream frosting using my Kenwood kitchen machine. Tinted it pink and stuffed some into a piping bag. Decorated the princess gown with rosettes and stars. Marissa requested for a necklace.

We ate this cake on my birthday (May 13th) minus the candles cos don't know where to put them. Now that I've learnt how to make Royal Icing, will use it when I make the next princess doll cake. Next time round, i will try baking another 9" round cake and then place the princess doll cake on it. Then candles can be placed on that base cake plus the wordings as well.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wilton Method Cake Decorating Course Flowers & Cake Design

Started my second course at the ICCA which is Flowers and Cake Design.  The course pre-requisite is the Basic Cake Decorating Course (which I had completed). Received a 5% discount for this course (normal price : RM650) as part of an on-going promotion for the launch of the new Wilton Method syllabus which began in April 2011.

This course will mainly concentrate on flowers : The Wilton Rose, Pansies, Daffodils, Stargazer Lilies etc and how to do the basket weave pattern. It will also cover some basics on cake design. 

My WMI for this course is Mrs Summer Lee a.k.a. Ooi Lay Pheng who has over 13 years of experience in the Wilton Method, having lived in the USA for about 10 years. 

My homework for the first lesson : making gumpaste button flowers and gumpaste pansy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cake Pops

Cake pops are essentially cake on sticks. My very first attempt at making cake pops. Not too hard but probably as a first timer, I found it tedious. 

Firstly got to bake a cake. Once the cake has cooled, crumble it. Then mix in some frosting to hold the crumbs together. Shape them into balls and freeze. Remove from freezer, insert sticks coated with some melted chocolate into the cake balls. Re-freeze. Once hardened, dip the cake pop into melted chocolate. Then dip them into colorful sprinkles to decorate. I colored the white chocolate hence the pinkish hue.

The kids love them! Evan even brought them to school to eat. It's really sweet cos of the chocolate and candy and frosting in the cake but it's a nice treat! 

Marissa munching on her Hello Kitty shape cake pop.  Used a special Hello Kitty shaped cutter to cut the cake and then just dip it into chocolate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

We passed by this restaurant quite a number of times at the Curve but never tried it. One day, we decided to go in and see what they have to offer. The place is very cosy and well decorated. Staff are attentive and there's a kids' menu (printed on an activity sheet) to keep the kids occupied while waiting for their food. There are TV screen around showing the movie Forrest Gump.

Ordered a blueberry smoothie from the kids' menu. It's absolutely delicious! Evan's favourite.

Oh we also had a glass of Sky Juice (Marissa's favourite)  - Evan likes to bite or chew on the ice. When a table is occupied, the sign will change from Stop Forrest Stop to Run Forrest Run. There's a huge bucket behind the sign containing towel rolls for messy eaters, cutlery and extra plates. The ping pong bat on the table is actually the alcoholic drinks menu.

Caesar's Salad : very well done. Croutons were huge and crunchy.

Kid's meal : Fried Shrimps & Fries with tartar sauce served in 'newspapers' and a fishing boat. Two thumbs up for this. 
The set menu also comes with a slice of orange and blue jelly in  a cup.

As they are famous for their shrimp, we ordered this linguine with shrimp.  Can't remember the long name but somehow it's very lemony (read sourish). The garlic bread slice that came along with it was very good.

Anyway, the portions are huge and total bill came up to about RM70. Recommended? YES!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baking & Cake Decorating Classes

Compiled a list of places that offer cake decorating classes:
32) Famous Chef  

If you are going to pursue a career in baking/cake decorating, then go for certificate or diploma courses. There are full time courses and also part-time courses. There are even scholarships to apply for. 

The ICCA conducts Wilton Method Cake Decorating Courses (which I am currently attending) and I find that the syllabus provides absolute beginners with a solid foundation. The courses are systematic, concise and usually conducted during the weekends - great for the hobbyist or for those who are already working. Wilton is an internationally known company and a market leader in cake decorating products having been in the business for over 80 years.

Anyway, for those who are interested, there are a few cake decorating competitions on this year 2011:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wilton Method Basic Cake Decorating Course .... Graduation!

Ta-daaaaaa! My graduation cake for the Wilton Method Basic Cake Decorating Course!  Looks ultra messy especially the cake board - I used aluminium foil which made it look so crinkled. 

Did not bake my own cake - just bought off the shelf at Baker's Cottage cos I'm lazy to bake 2 layer cakes.... plus I don't fancy eating cake decorated with frosting from Wilton class (we practice our piping techniques again and again with the same frosting). It's actually one 6" marble cake and one 6" butter cake on top of each other - so that the cake will look tall and make it much nicer. 

Now that I've graduated with a Certificate in Wilton Method Basic Cake Decorating, it's time to move on to the next course : Flowers & Design.... and it's starting on Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Grand Palace

This very opulent Chinese restaurant is located on the 6th floor of Pavilion KL. We were there recently during the Labour Day holiday weekend to collect our repaired wall clock from Molecule. Decided to try out this restaurant which offers dim sum...... yummy! Hubby and I both love eating dim sum lots!

We ordered Pu Er tea and a few dim sum from their menu by using a pencil. The menu is written in both English and Chinese characters. Unfortunately no photos! Just a piece of printed paper with text and columns. Not good...... had to clarify our order with the waitress. Anyway, we ordered the first item on the menu which is the prawn dumplings : 4 in a basket. I've photographed mine above. Prawns are big but not big on flavour. Rather bland tasting. 

Evan's favourite is the Char Siew Pau. The ones served by Grand Palace was OK only..... nothing to shout about. The Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun with Prawns were also very bland. Even their serving style is very plain. Should at least add some green to the dish e.g. a steam vege.

This dish : fried eggplant with chicken floss was not on the dim sum menu. It was actually on the appetizer menu but we decided to try it out. Good decision cos it tasted very good - ultra juicy eggplants and sweet chicken floss. Evan also enjoyed this very much. Marissa? She slept as soon as hubby sat down with her in the restaurant. 

Hubby loves Loh Mai Kai so we ordered one. The glutinous rice was rather soggy and the chicken meat inside was bland. No flavour. Hubby didn't like this dish one bit.

Pan-fried carrot cake - again BLAND (used that word so many times in this post!). Total bill came close to RM60. We definitely will not be going back there again. Nothing beats Oriental's Dim Sum (at Jaya 33) and Reunion's (Bangsar Village II).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Cookbook

My Cookbook is a modern restaurant serving fusion food with a creative twist. It's located in Sunway Giza Mall (Sunway Damansara). Nice interior decor and attentive staff. We ordered a Ribena with Longan drink (RM5.90) and a bottle of  Spritzer Mineral Water (RM3). Water is kinda expensive though but that's what the kids want to drink.

We ordered 2 appetizers from the wide range available : The cheesy mozarella balls with mashed potatoes (RM8.90) and the double boiled chicken soup with shimeiji mushrooms (RM8.90). The soup was especially tasty but the cheese balls were just OK. Marissa ate most of the mashed potatoes and drank most of the soup minus the mushrooms.

This is the fried rice with fried garoupa (RM15.90). Rice was delicious and light - topped with crunchy anchovies. The garoupa was also very delicious. Two thumbs up for this dish! Portions are small though but creatively presented.

This was recommended by our waiter : Char Kuey Teow with duck egg (RM15.90). Excellently done! I counted the cockles : 10 in total plus 3 large succulent prawns embedded in piped mashed potatoes.

Total bill came to RM69.00. Price is equivalent to a meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp..... overall, highly recommended place for couples and even families. They have baby chairs and kids eating utensils. Too bad no kids meals - that's why Evan made an angry face! (Actually the kids were posing for the camera......)