Monday, November 26, 2012

Ginger Wine Cocktails.

Today I had a bit of a revelation.....

So it turns out I have spent the better part of this year stressing about what to do next year. Once I started to realise that my two year course would come to an end in no time, I was surprised to find I had no back up plan. I mean yes I have long life plans (open a cafe, start a catering company, write for food magazines, open a bed and breakfast, teach yoga classes)......but no immediate ones. I had spent so much time and effort just getting myself to culinary school, working two jobs, saving all my money and then moving to Melbourne. So it hadn't really occurred to me until this year that pastry school would come to an end.....and I probably wouldn't yet be able to launch my career as a cafe owner/yoga teacher/writer just yet.

Suddenly its dawned on me that things will probably be ok, as I have landed an amazing job in a lovely pastry kitchen. Once I finally let myself believe this......I started to realise how much time I have wasted stressing over next year. I mean for goodness sake, I'm young, I'm single, and I'm in a wonderful city.....I should really just be having the time of my life pretending Im in the show 'Sex and the City.' 

In all honestly though....who really does that (I'm talking about who really lives without stress.....not who really pretends they are in the show 'Sex and the City' because I totally do that all the time)? Who really glides through this life without a worry? Without being at least a little scared that the things they are pouring their hearts into wont pan out for them.

 I sometimes think that when we are born, we should come with a little manual, or guide book to help us through life. Mine would say something like "Dear Cherry this is the guide book for an insanely creative, ambitious girl. Mainly you will bake a lot of cakes. You will fall in love A LOT (like every few weeks.....and sometimes just with strangers who make your coffee in the morning.) You're going to feel everything A LOT. And love your friends, family and lovers really really passionately. Here's some tips for you....Its all going to be ok. Sometimes your cakes wont rise. Sometimes you will wear outfits you really shouldn't have. Sometimes you wont fit into skinny jeans. All of this is ok. Just keep loving people so much, even when it hurts, stop worrying about life so much, and for goodness sake stop dating boys with dreadlocks who cant hold down a steady job (they smell)."

Unfortunately life doesn't come with one of these. If it did though, what would yours say?

Would it make you want to change something in your life?

What would you change?

I don't have all the answers to my own questions or worries......but I can make a lovely ginger wine cocktail. So while you ponder all this I suggest you make one.

Ginger Wine Cocktail

You will need:

  • Ginger wine
  • Sparkling water
  • Lime
  • Strawberries
  • Ice

What to do:

1.  Find a glass....any will do, it all depends of how much cocktail you need. When I wrote this post I needed a lot of I made them in a jar (don't judge.)

2. Fill one third of the glass with ginger wine.

3. Cut a lime into quarters. Squeeze half of the lime into the class and add whole.

4. Cup up some strawberries and add them to the mix as well.

5. Add ice

6. Top the glass up with ice and sparkling water,then give it a stir. 

If all of this doesn't make you feel super happy about life......I highly recommend that you go into a formal shop, tell them you have a Christmas ball coming up, and try on all the dresses. It makes you feel like your in 'Sex in the City.'

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes

Im just going to start this blog post by saying: CAKE and NUTELLA.


I've had another crazy few days getting ready for a little catering job I had this week. It was so lovely to have the work......but I still have a head cold so the whole ordeal was just a little draining. Goodness I'm so board of being sick. I just want to put on my runners and go for a big 5k run, but instead Im stuck at home.

Yesterday when I went into my local coffee shop to get a latte one of the waitress' ran out the back to get me some cold and flu tablets. It was such a lovely gesture, and nice nice to think that even my local coffee shop is looking out for me, with coffee and flu drugs. Its so lovely when you realise that you have built a little community of people around you, who know, and care for you. 

Even when I went to get a haircut today my hairdresser was friendly and happy to see me. It was kind of lovely. (Ok just as a side note, I totally cut my hair today because thats what I do when I'm stressed or emotional or anything along those lines. Anyway, I have this really lovely hairdresser. I think its a mans barber shop, because I've never seen any ladies in there. They do do girls hair cuts and they only cost $15 but no girls go. I think I'm the only lady customer, but I love the place. Firstly because its crazy cheap. Secondly because its hilarious, because no one speaks english, so I just point to a picture of what I want while they yell at each other in Lebanese. Thirdly because the guy who cuts my hair is lovely and always assures me "I will make you look nice." At first I think he thought I was really strange because I would make him cut my hair really short at times, or shave one side of my head, but now he is used to me, and kind of views my hair ideas as comedic value. The place is great.)

Anyway.....I have veered way off topic. Lets talk about cake. Lets talk about Nutella. Lets talk about Nutella cakes. I got this recipe from the wonderful hummingbird bakery cook book. 

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g coco powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 40g butter at room temperature
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 120g hazelnuts and chocolate spread
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g butter, at room temperature 
  • 25ml milk
  • 80g hazelnut and chocolate spread


1. Preheat the oven to 170.

2. In an electric mixer or kitchen aid with paddle attachment mix together the flour, sugar, coco, baking soda and butter until the consistency is like sand.

3. Slowly pour in the milk and mix on a low speed until incorporated.

4. Add the beaten egg and mix until incorporated.

5. Scoop mix into patty pans in a muffin tip and fill up to 2/3.

6. Bake for 20 minutes. 

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

8. To make icing beat together the butter and icing sugar until fully mixed and light in colour. 

9. Slowly pour in the milk and beat for another five minutes on a low speed.

10. Fold in the chocolate spread.

11. Cut a small hole in the top of each cake and place a dollop of chocolate spread inside each hole. 

12. Ice the cakes the the frosting. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feeding the Soul

Tonight I'm curled up in bed with a little head cold. It has been another crazy full week, and to be honest it was a bit of a hard week. Over the last few days I was just feeling a big weighed down by life.  I hadn't felt inspired at all, and was getting so bored of all my tests and assessments at school. All I wanted to do was pull my blankets over my head and watch girly movies. Life was just getting to me.

So this is what I did:

I took myself to Jellystone, my favourite cafe where I ordered my favourite breakfast.

I set some goals. I've decided to run a 10 k marathon. So I spend a lot of my free time running all over town, and clearing my head.

I worked on a cookie order, and invented some new cookie designs.
 These remind me of wild flowers
 I think I had a barbie with this dress once
 I love these lace ones (and I hate to do a sales pitch but all these new designs are now selling at Little Cupcakes in Degraves street!)

I Listened to the Lumineers.......and danced and danced and danced in my bedroom.

But best of all, I took a small trip to the country to a private night market. One of my best friends and I made a little road trip out to this tiny market in a tiny town and it was just bliss. I think I turned to my friend about twenty times during the night to say "I'm just soooooo happy."

Sometimes living in the city can be a little strange after growing up on a big farm and a trip to some clean open air is all you need to heal your soul. So we sat out under the stars eating fresh pizza that was coming out of a wood fired over, while we listened to a few bands play. It was so perfect and lovely to remember that there are so many other people out there who care about feeding their souls with creativity, music and fresh country air. It was the best medicine, and I felt like my old self again.

So now....after such a week I'm sick in bed. The thing is though I feel so happy and filled up with beautiful things again. I think I'm ready to face another week at work and school.

I hope sharing these little lovely things with you make your soul feel a little nourished too. I hope your not feeling too worn out by life or tests at school. I hope wherever you are you are feeling content, and creative, and loved and blessed.

I promise to share a recipe next time too.

For now though this little pastry chef is off to bed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

This week while reading a few of my favourite blogs I was surprised to read that some these wonderful, talented women (who I look up to) were feeling a little down about their lack of 'hosting' skills. All of these ladies were expressing how they truly wish they could be the sort of person who whips up a cake at a moments notice. The sort of woman who can host and prepare a dinner party in only a few hours.This however was something that eluded them......and always remained a distant ideal in their heads. 

I really hate to brag......but I think I am that woman. That kind of hostess skill is my forte. I'm not really sure how it happened, but its just the way I am. After getting up at five a.m, going to work, and doing some food shopping, I can come home and whip up a three course meal for at least five people in about two hours (at most). This I find easy. At any given time that you drop into my house I will have a fresh pot of coffee or tea sitting on the table within minutes along with some cake or cookies. This my friends is just what I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to be perfect,there are many things I can't do in life (read a map, paper work, work out how to use my computer, drive, pick a decent man to date, change a tyre, or remember to shave my legs once a week.....just to give you a few examples) but this is 'my thing.' I'm good at hosting.

So you can understand my surprise this week when I found myself phoning a friend to cancel a dinner party. I was feeling like all the crazy running around I had been doing in the last three weeks had finally caught up on me. I was stressed, cranky, work out.....but mostly tired!  

I'd love to tell you that instead of the dinner party I cleaned my house and whipped up a batch of scones, to continue with the domestic theme, but instead I lowered my blinds, crawled under my blankets, ate chocolate, and watched movies in bed all day.It was bliss.  

Why am I telling you this? Usually I like to keep the appearance that everything is under control. When life is falling apart I just bake a cake, and slap on a smile........but at the moment I'm leaning its ok to just stop, and not try to do EVERYTHING. 

Because lets be honest, it doesn't really matter how wonderful everything looks around you, if your'e not being real with people there is no point in serving them cake, there is no point in inviting them around, and there is no point in being a host. The most important thing, is that we make people feel loved, and sometimes in order to do that we have to take some time to love ourselves (and go back to bed for the day.)

So that's exactly what I did.......and then the next day I got up and made a cake and some cookies, for my friends birthday, packed  it up in a box and took it to her house to celebrate.....and be real. 

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting
Cake Ingredients:
(This cake recipe is adapted from Donna Hay's 'No Time To Cook' cook book. I made a double batch for this cake though.....I've just listed the single batch.)
  • 350g dark chocolate
  • 185g of unsalted butter, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of coffee (I just brew some really strong in my plunger, but if your fancy and have a machine use a few shots.)
  • 1 cup of almond meal
Frosting Ingredients:
(From web sight) 
  • 250g butter at room temperature
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2tbs of golden syrup
  • 1 tbs of milk


1. In a pot melt together the butter and chocolate on a low heat. Stir continually. 

2. Once the butter and chocolate are melted, take the pot of the stove and stir in the coffee, sugar and almond meal.

3. Whisk together the eggs, and whisk into the cake mixture(make sure the mix is off the heat so that the eggs don't scramble.) Mix the cake together until there are no lumps.

5. Pour the batter into a greased and lined cake tin, and place in a preheated oven at 170. Cook for 45 mins -1hour, checking from time to time. Check the cake by sticking a squire into the middle, if it comes out dry the cake is ready. 

6. Let the cake cool on the bench for 20 minutes, and then transfer it to the fridge (this is something I always did with this cake because I ran out of time to cool and then frost it......but then i found that, it actually worked better this way, as the cake sweats in the fridge, and instead of forming a crispy surface, becomes moist and soft.

7. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and sugar for 7 minutes or until lighter in colour. Add the syrup and milk and whisk for an addition minute.

8. Cut the cake in half, and spread one layer with frosting. Place the second half on top and also spread with frosting. 

9. Pile on anything pretty you want. I used candied nuts, and fruit....but you can use anything you like. Sometimes I just use fresh flowers to decorate my cakes, and it looks lovely. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blueberry and Mint Bundt Cake with Lemon Drizzle.

I am a very firm believer in the idea that there is so much beauty everywhere......but sometimes we just have to look that little bit harder to find it. This week my life has surprisingly slowed down a little bit from the normal pace of running around like a mad woman, and I've had time to stop and contemplate all the little lovely things going on in my life. They ranged from good thrift shop stores to bundt cakes....and I'd love to share them with you!

A few lovely things to share with you:

The other day while I was waiting for my tram I did a huge sneeze. A guy driving past with his window down looked over at me and called out "Bless you!" I called back thank you. He told me that I was welcome, and drove off.

My sugar cookies continue to sell at Little Cupcakes. I take so much joy in selling each and everyone of them to customers. Every time one sells, I want to run over to the customer and say "Please, please, enjoy this. I put a lot of love into it," and once they are done demand to know if they liked it (and how much they would rate it on a scale of one to ten?) 

Cute conversations, with cute people that make you smile like this.
(Enough said)

Staying at hone all day on my day off and painting, while sipping green tea. These are the little pictures  I did for my room.

Thrift shop finds. Ok so I'm totally friends with the girl at the cutest vintage store in Melbourne, and she gives me amazing deals on amazing clothes. (So sorry about the posed photo!)

But most importantly.........Lets talk cake! 

I've never made a bundt cake before, but I just love how they look (I also love the way the word is spelt. Whats with the extra 'd'?) So on my day off yesterday (a day in which I was not meant to be spending money) I went down to the shops and bought my first dundt tin (thats an investment right there) and some ingredients to make something beautiful and tasty. 

I felt like the pink cake mould was very me.

Blueberry and Mint Bundt Cake with Lemon Drizzle

You will need:
  • 250g of room temperature butter
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of caster sugar
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1tbs of lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 2 cups of blueberries
For the Drizzle:
  • I cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tbs of lemon juice
  • 1/4 zest of a lemon

What to do:

1. Preheat your oven to 180, and if using a silicon cake mould (like myself) spray the mould with oil. Alternatively if using a tin, oil it and sprinkle with a little bit of flour. 

2. In a food processor add the sugar, lemon rind, and mint leaves. Buzz this on hight speed until the mint is finely chopped (this is how you make flavoured sugars. It can be done with vanilla and other flavourings as well......fancy tip!)

3. Place the butter and sugar into an electric mixer (or use an electric whisk) and cream together until it is pale and thick. 
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

5. Add the lemon to the milk and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes (This is how you make buttermilk! I never have any on hand so I sometimes do this instead......another fancy tip!)

6. Sift the flours together.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk mix, 2/3 of the flour, the last of the milk mix and then the remainder of the flour (This ensures that the batter doesn't split.)

8. Fold through the blueberries and vanilla and spoon into the tin. 
9. Place in the oven and bake for half an hour, then turn down the oven to 160 and bake for another half an hour. Test the cake with a squire and if it comes out clean the cake is done! If not, just give it a little bit longer. When it is ready no wet batter will stick the the squire. 

10. Turn the cake out on a cooling wrack and allow to cool.

11. Mix together the icing sugar (best to sift it first so you don't get lumps!) and lemon juice. 

12. Drizzle over the cake and allow to set. 

13. Invite one of your best friends over and have a little feast. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Charmed Life

Yesterday night I had one of those lovely perfect nights where nothing goes how you want it to, but everything works out just a little bit better than you could have planned it yourself. I was planning on meeting up with someone who I had a small crush on, but when they canceled I was left feeling a little bummed and not really in the mood for a fun night. I ended up spending the afternoon in the sun drinking beers with some of my favourite people, and then going out to dinner at a new lovely bars with one of my best guy friends. I came home feeling buoyed by the idea that everything was right in the world, and left with that naive inclination that things are exactly how they should be.

Its funny how sometimes we have an idea of how we want life to work. I know I can get so set on how I think everything 'should' be and how my life 'should' look, but in reality these things turn out to be so far from what we actually need. I've had so many times where I have wanted to get a job so badly, or just want a relationship to work, when it turns out that there is something so much better for you waiting just around the corner.

The thing I love about life is, you never know what will happen. At times this can be so scary and you can let it overwhelm you.......or you can just get excited. It may be naive, and in all honesty it can be hard to stay excited, but often, if you look for it, there is something so wonderful and beautiful and exciting waiting for you.

And when you cant find this beautiful thing, I suggest you grab a few of your favourite people, some beers, and head to the park to sit in the sunshine.

Speaking of exciting news second batch of sugar cookies hit the shelves of Little CupCakes this week, so please go in and take a look. They are super yummy.

P.s. I promise to post some recipes soon!!