Tuesday, May 26, 2009

French Macarons

Discovering new foods and sweets on my travels is often the highlight of the vacation. I come back home hoping I'll be able to find a recipe or restaurant with the newly discovered dish or food. In 2000, a trip to Paris led us to Laduree, a beautiful if somewhat stodgy Parisian icon. I tried the macaron for the first time and have never let go of the memory of the chewy almondy texture.
In 2000 no one in Austin was making them and recipes for true French macarons were hard to come by. I did learn in pastry school how to make them as well as recognize a quality macaron.
Thankfully Luxe Sweets stepped in and began making beautiful and delicious real French macarons! Soraiya Nagree, the owner, also discovered them on a trip to Paris. Hers have the right chew, are shiny, and have the distinctive "crusty" edge around the base of the cookie halves.
The 2" round cookies and the fillings are paired to match. Some of her offerings include passionfruit, chocolate, cardamom honey orange and rose. They make wonderful wedding favors and hostess gifts. More info about ordering can be found on their website.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Kids' Cakes

I always have fun making cakes for kids. It's an opportunity to use bold colors and have fun with my imagination. Oliver's parents have ordered cakes from me before - I'm the cake lady according to their kids. For his 4th birthday, the theme was bug catching. I'm not a fan of insects, but I had fun making cute and innocuous little sugar bugs for the cake. The wings on the bugs are cut gelatin sheets. The books and basket are cake.

The tropical fish cake was for a Bar Mitzvah - not quite a kid anymore, but young enough to want something vibrant and fun. Sam is really into tropical fish, but I wanted to make sure the cake didn't look like a Nemo cake for a 3 year old.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wedding Dress Inspiration

This past weekend was one of the busiest we ever had - 8 cakes! That's not a big deal for larger shops, but it's just me and my intrepid assistant, Chree. My friend Carri, who used to work at the Driskill with me, helps out on weeks like this. Also keep in mind that most of the cakes we do are very detailed and time-consuming, so 8 cakes is quite an undertaking.
Two of the wedding cakes last week were inspired by the brides' dresses. The first cake had 3 tiers of scalloped lace, each with a different pattern. On a small budget, we were able to incorporate some of the detail of each layer on each tier of the cake. By impressing the fondant with a pattern and piping royal icing, we were able to add detail and depth.

The second bride's dress was an ivory satin with lots of folds and ruching. We recreated the folds of the fabric with fondant and then airbrushed the whole cake with a pearl sheen. The camellia flower is made out of sugarpaste and was also airbrushed. All that extra fondant added several pounds to the weight of the cake - it was heavy!