Category Archives: Events

Brainchild of Halloween

I feel like I’ve been having the greatest kind of days. You too? Nice.

Each day deviated from the original plans. I met one of my closest friends the other day,with the intention of being all big-girl-like and having a fancy dinner followed by drinks at a swanky new joint. Only thing is we made it to the most cliche old-school dinner place in town (the kind that used to be cool when your mom was your age), cheap manicures, flea markets and a much-deserved foot massage. Oh, and those drinks? Swapped it with bubble tea instead.

And yesterday was meant to be productive, only thing is I spent it watching Harry Potter and baking cupcakes. But it was pretty awesome. And today, the beach was on the agenda, but after a late night of dancing, I think it’s going to be more Harry Potter and eating cupcakes. Probably a horror movie thrown in somewhere all in the spirit of Halloween.

My point is, no matter how you plan things, anticipate the scenarios, draw up a five-year route you’re going to take,it’s really rather amazing to go along with a bit of hope that someone’s got a plan you never thought of, but brings you along anyway. I used to get panicky every time I felt the pressure to come up with something, like I needed to conjure a well-thought of road map, with all my back up plans in place. Plus, the hazard that comes with the work I do requires I think of the worst case scenario in every scenario. But the greatest thing comes when you see that it’s okay to not have a plan, or have a plan different from what people expect you to have. I can deal with different.

I can deal with dancing to the music inside my head. I can deal with laughing at things people don’t find that funny. I can deal with eating ice cream for dinner. I can deal with picnics in the living room. And the best thing is, he can deal with me.

To get started, let’s not make pretty cupcakes. Let’s go all cool and CSI-like. Let’s go with brains.

Brain Cupcakes (Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream)

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook)

3 tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
250g butter, unsalted
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups GF flour blend
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line three 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.

2) Dissolve coffee in hot water. Put the butter, chocolate and coffee into a metal bowl, set over a bain marie, and stir gently until butter and chocolate are thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and buttermilk until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until homogenous.

4) Divide evenly between the 28 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:

1) Fit a piping bag with a 6 or 8 mm round piping tip. Fill bag with the buttercream.

2) To get the design, pipe 2 straight lines down the centre of the cupcakefollowed by a repeated swirl on either sides. For the ‘blood’, the consistency of lightly warmed cherry/raspberry jam works well. Ensure the jam has NO seeds.

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Filed under Chocolate, Cupcakes, Events, Frostings, Inspired, Recipes

Banana Cream Pie

This evening’s quite exciting for me. I have a date with two guys no less. Tall, slim and smart- The Boy better watch out! Just pulling you. I’m heading out for dinner with my two cousins. Their birthdays are coming up and I won’t be here so we thought we’d better have a dinner to celebrate.

And just when I thought I had the better of evening plans, The Boy tells me he’s off to watch Shutter Island. BLAH. I think he secretly know I’m itching to watch it but am too much of a wuss to without him.

I am a bit of a scaredy cat. But not today. Today I tried to make banana cream pie. That immediately makes me a brave soul since the the very word ‘pie’ instills some shaky fear into the baker in me. It really shouldn’t. Regular gluten pastry is a breeze to make, the rolling out may be slightly trying in 32 degree C weather, but nothing enough leave you an exasperated mess.

But gluten-free pastry making is a whole new other game plan. It’s lotsa work and personally, I find that the results are usually not worth to effort I put in. Bland, too hard, too ‘chewy’, too oily…it just isn’t the scrummy, buttery and flaky masterpiece. I HATE PIE.

I know I’ve had 60 percent success with this plum galette once but it really lacks all that is pie beauty. So I tried again. Craving banana and custard, I opted for a banana cream pie variation without the usual whipped topping since I didn’t have cream on hand. So pie crust filled with dark chocolate, sliced bananas and pastry custard was the order of the day!

The result?

The sides of the crust were yummy and crisp but the bottom just wouldn’t listen! It was pleasant but short on the BAM! YUM! factor. The chocolate, bananas and custard were superb friends though, lifting the mediocre crust to delicious heights. But yeah, I guess this Sugar High Friday challenge: Personal Feats of Dessert hosted by Jasper of Vampituity wasn’t too much of a uber success. But hey, I tried! So, anyone with a killer gluten-free pie crust recipe?

Oh, and after all the fuss, I realize The Boy is watching Shutter (the Thai scary flick) and not the brain-puzzling Shutter Island.


Pie crust: I used the same recipe I used here, hoping to give it a second try. I made half the recipe and got 3 pie shells baked in jumbo muffin tins.

Pastry Cream (taken from The Cook’s Book)

250ml whole milk
22.5 cornflour
40g sugar (increase to 60g if you prefer a sweeter cream)
1 vanilla pod (I use 1 tsp vanilla paste)
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp milk, at room temperature

1) Place the milk in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Whisk it constantly, to prevent the sides from  burning

2) In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Add in the cornflour and whisk to thoroughly blend.

3) Once milk begins to boil, remove from heat and in a slow steady stream, add it to the egg mixture, whisking as you pour it in. Then, strain back into the saucepan, adding the vanilla.

4) With the saucepan over medium heat, whisk the egg mixture as it heats. It will begin to thicken quite quickly. At this point, ensure that you whisk the pastry cream really well. When you see the first signs of bubbling through the pastry cream, remove from heat and immediately pour it into bowl and place a sheet of plastic wrap over it, touching the surface. Let cool in the fridge until ready to use.

5) When ready to use, remove from fridge, whisking to smoothen the cream and adding 1 tbsp of milk to make it less ‘tough’

To assemble tart:

1) Melt 60g of dark chocolate (70%) and paint the insides of the pie shells. Allow to briefly set (10 minutes)

2) For every 3 pie shells, slice 1 medium banana thinly. Place 3 banana slices on the chocolate bottom, topping it with 2-3 tbsp of custard. Top with another 3 banana slices and some chocolate chips.

3) If desired, add a glaze over the bananas to prevent browning. You can use a watered down apricot jam.

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Filed under Chocolate, Events, Fruit, Recipes

Grilled Lemon Loaf

Ideas strike me at the oddest times, but it’s more often than not, when I’m hungry. We’re not talking about change the world type ideas, instead, I prefer tastier ones. Ones that are tangible, crispy-edged, warm, gooey with a little pucker.

Like this grilled lemon loaf with blueberry jam and mozzarella cheese. Well, when life gives you lemons, make lemon loaves. In my case, when life makes you gluten intolerant, and gluten free bread is not-that-cool, make grilled cheese sandwiches out of cake!

Let’s start with the lemon loaf. It’s got to be moist, lemony, dense enough to be held without breaking. You’re looking for a fairly tight crumb, no loose, fluffy sponge types.

And the jam, I used a store bought one, but really if I had an abundance of berries lying around, I would have made it into a thick, chunky jam.

The mozzarella was inspired by my mid-afternoon burger cravings. I couldn’t decide if I was hankering after the juicy burger or the gooey cheese. And if I had to pick one, let’s just say a lovely beef patty didn’t really go with lemon loaf slices.

This inspired creation was really tasty. The good thing was that the loaf itself was really delish (the guys at the office can back me up on this!) and mozzarella isn’t the strongest, most forceful cheese on the block so it really added a good textural contrast and slight moisture without making it too abstract. It’s pageant worthy, definitely worthy for the 2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Pageant.

Miss Congeniality, maybe?

Gluten Free Lemon Loaf (adapted loosely from Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Makes 2 small loaves, 12-16 serves

2/3 c – 1 tbsp almond meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsp non-fat yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups GF flour blend
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup canola oil

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line two small loaf tins with parchment.

2) Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and almond meal together. In the bowl of a KitchenAid, beat the eggs and sugar for 3 mins on medium speed

3) Add in the oil and beat on high for 1 min, or until emulsified.

4) Add in the yoghurt, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat for 1 min on medium speed

5) Add in the flour and beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

6) Pour into prepared pans and bake for 50-60 mins. Or until skewer inserted comes out almost* clean.

7) Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 mins. Remove from tins and continue to cool completely.

* The skewer will have little bits of cake stuck to it, but will be 95% clean. That’s how mine was like and the cake came out fine.

Grilled Cheese Lemon Sanwiches

1) Lay two thin slices of lemon loaf (about 1.5cm each) on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the sandwich.

2) Spread 1 tbsp of blueberry/blackberry jam on the bottom slice. Sprinkle 1 large tbsp of mozzarella cheese on the jam surface. Cover with top slice and wrap in aluminum foil.

3) Place to grill in  a grill oven for 4-5 mins or until cheese has almost melted through. Remove from foil and grill until cheese is completely melted and edges of sandwich are toasty and crisp.

** You could probably do this on a cast iron press or skillet as well! I don’t own one unfortunately.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, Events, Inspired, Recipes

Daim! It’s Easter

Today’s post happens on a slightly more exciting-than-usual day. It’s Sunday, Easter Sunday! Know what that means (for me)? Chocolate for breakfast and no guilt about it! My initial plan was for banana pancakes then I thought I really couldn’t be too fussed standing over a stove, flipping them. And there was nothing too sinful about banana pancakes.

What’s a girl to do? I eyed the bag of Daim chocolate (swedish confection with crunchy toffee and milk chocolate) sitting on the countertop and remembered this lovely drool-worthy recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini. How could I ever resist?

The cake was so much more than I imagined. I thought it would be kind of buttery, dense, with toffee chocolate studded throughout. But this would be such an insult to the moist, tender crumbed cake I pulled out of the oven, sweet and mildly salty from the Daim and oh-so-tempting. I think that the cake itself is so yummy, one could use it as a base for countless happy add-ins. I’ve got big plans for blueberries, raspberries and white chocolate.

Before I share the recipe, here’s a small hug to my friend Vee, who’s turning 22! The first of us 3 girls, definitely exciting (since 22 is the new 21…). She prefers to call it the 6th anniversary of her 16th. We spent her ‘anniversary’ with brunch, hotcakes, french toast, bacon & eggs. Oh and this…

From me to you, Happy Birthday Vee!


Gluten Free Daim Cake (adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)

*Makes a 5 inch cake, this is a halved recipe

1.5 cups GF flour blend
2 tbsp almond meal
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 + 1 tbsp cup non-fat plain yoghurt
150g Daim, chopped roughly (half a bag)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 170 degreesC. Grease and line a 5 inch round cake tin with parchment.

2) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, add the eggs and sugars together. Beat for 4 minutes on medium, or until creamy looking.

3) While the eggs are beating, mix the flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.

4) Add the oil into the egg mix and beat for 2 minutes of until emulsified.

5) Add in half the flour and half the yoghurt. Blend well. Repeat with the remaining flour and yoghurt.

6) Topple in the chopped Daim and mix until evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.

7) Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean *Mine has a few crumbs but I’m guessing it’s normal because of the chocolate pieces*

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Filed under Cakes, Caramel, Chocolate, Events, Recipes

Sweets By Vicky’s 2nd Day Out

Today’s sky was flawless, a striking blue highlighted by the brightest yellow sun. Perfect for a lazy afternoon by the pool, a sleepy nap in an air-conditioned room or some serious catching up on shopping. Quite honestly, it was perfect for anything but cupcake selling, the very thing I was doing. I can handle having pearl-sized beads of sweat or the gross I-totally-need-a-shower-NOW, what I can’t handle is not being able to save my cupcakes from it’s inevitable fate- melting buttercream

Today marked the 2nd edition of the Loewen Garden’s Farmers’ Market and after the great response from the first one, I was all too ready to be a part of this one. I suppose a few factors of today made this 2nd installment less than gratifying (terribly low turnout numbers and the insane heatwave). Well, for the first 2/3 of it I guess. Then, I learned one of the most important lessons of my life.


You see, my parents weren’t here for the 1st market, so today would their first. Call it divine intervention but they couldn’t have been present at a more timely moment. If I had been left to deal with the disappointment of today on my own, I would be sitting under my cupcake table, sooking.

My mum and dad are complete (almost) opposites of each other. My mum’s the one who does all the behind-the-scenes work, the less social, less glamourous part of anything. Dad, on the other hand, is a talkative, loud ball of entertainment. He’s almost akin to a jack-in-the-box, popping out with all sorts of ideas and stories while my mum’s the one who has to make sure everything is running smoothly. I guess that’s how they function as a pair, you couldn’t have 2 of my dads around (total havoc). And that’ how they’ve been present in my life too. So needless to say, mum was the one telling me to keep a smile on my face and not give up. “Positive thoughts,” she said. Dad on the other hand, was galavanting to the other stalls, happily conducting barters (2 cupcakes for a lovely helping of olives). But here’s what they taught me today…

1) Have fun– When I realized that the whole point was to have fun and treat this farmers’ market as a learning experience, I felt less pressure to finishing selling everything.

2) There’s no love like family love– When I sent my elder sister an SOS text, asking her to roll around with positive reinforcement, she got ready in record time and was by my side beforeI knew it. When my dad sent out a text message to my aunt, letting her know that I was having a cupcake stall, she immediately drove round, cash in hand, ready to buy everything. My other aunts popped by too, getting cupcakes for friends, other relatives and tomorrow’s breakfast. My uncle had my mum bring a lunchpack he had specially made for me in case I got hungry.

3) Shit happens, but keep smiling– The slump in attendance numbers, the bad, cupcake unfriendly weather, the wasps, the aching feet…I found myself consumed with being negative I probably drove all the happy thoughts away and attracted every single wasp. I didn’t realize all the storeholders were also having an off-day. But when it reached closing time, we all exchanged our goods, cupcakes for you, lemon slice for me, cookies for you, organic apples for me…And that, is how you make the best of a dratty situation.

Thanks for everyone who came out today (love to Vee, Sling & Ryan too) and for all the words of encouragement in your comments and…for reading this! I HOPE THINGS PICK UP FOR THE NEXT EDITION! But til then, recipe tomorrow!!!

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Marble Loaf

*DEEP BREATH*

It’s a typical Saturday night for me. Home, smelling like a cupcake, satisfied, slightly over’eaten’ and happy that there’s still Sunday to go. But on this Saturday night, I feel slightly nervous. Who knew that at 21, I could feel so tiny as if I’m 17 again, faced with exam stress and stage fright.

My basic theory test for my driving is on Tuesday and after having failed once, it’s clearly a case of once bitten twice shy. The cool ‘I-can-wing-it’ attitude is nowhere to be found, buried under ‘geez-I-can’t-fail-this-again!’ instead. The excuse of not knowing how the format of the test was, isn’t going to work twice. So while I’m busy memorising what white lines and bus lanes do, I am also frantically trying to recall what I had read the page before. Obviously nervous, as you can tell. So stop telling me it’s easy- it isn’t helping!

And as for the stage fright? Well the Loewen Garden Farmers’ Market is on this coming Saturday, March 6th! Over-excited would be an understatement, but so would ‘terribly-nervous-I-am-worried’. There is a problem with fantastic first-times and that’s keeping up with it. I am still preparing myself mentally for any setbacks that may occur. It’s hard to keep my hopes on the ground, it’s like a helium filled balloon.

But to whet your appetite, here’s peek of what Sweets By Vicky has on offer this coming Saturday, March 6!
1) Hungry Monkey: Roasted Banana Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream
2) Summercup: Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
3) Vegan Jam Thumprints (egg-free, dairy-free)
4) Fudge Brownies (dairy-free)
and 2 more cupcake flavours, cookies and loaves!

How can you say no? I’m hoping they’ll find a happy home in your tummy.

Needless to say, I had to bake something for me to stuff my worried face with, to calm me down. And as a compulsive reader of cookbooks, I decided that I really should bake something from the one book I’ve been flipping through, incessantly. Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

And since I felt all sorts of emotions running through me, twirling my mind about, a marble loaf would be more than apt. The waves look alot like how I would look like if you cut me open!UNFORTUNATELY, this is where the story starts getting a little…tragic.

Trying to convert a recipe to gluten free AND dairy free, while also aiming to use up a banana that doesn’t even belong in the recipe, is really a sign of overachieving. And while Chemistry may not be my strongest subject, I can pretty much tell that it wasn’t going too well when  it still hadn’t risen at all after half an hour in the oven. The batter tasted weird too (I licked the spoon) since the banana (as mentioned before) wasn’t part of the flavour mingling. By the end of 50 mins, the loaf had risen (thankfully) and it looked so promising I was ready to give myself a big pat on the back. Imagine how amazed I was that it LOOKED like a marble loaf, and was sturdy as I imagined it would be.

HAHA! It was too sturdy, quite damp-ish and quite sticky, making it a real challenge swallowing it in larger chunks. Why does this keep happening to me? Any gluten free experts out there who care to share how the flours can be manipulated?! Or maybe super-seasoned bakers can shed some light on why this might have happened? I seem to be facing it a fair bit. What happened to the fine crumb I used to get? And the tenderness? I haven’t had a cake to squeal about in awhile it’s getting quite rotten in here.

All’s not lost though, I’m determined to make it better! Well, eventually anyway. I’m afraid all the marbling is making me lose my marbles. Guess the recipe isn’t quite ready to make it’s debut so bear with me. Thanks for listening to me pour my heart out!

AND! All the lovelies in the PACIFIC NATIONS…please watch out for the TSUNAMI WARNINGS! I just read about the catastrophic earthquake in Chile and the massive damage it has done. According to Japan’s meteorological  agency, all countries in the Pacific are monitoring tsunami risks. My problems has dwindled to the size of a pea now.

*CROSSES FINGERS* The boy is in Aussieland, I hope hope hope for the best.

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Filed under Breakfast, Events, Inspired

Sweets By Vicky’s Day Out

Firsts are always difficult, much like the first day of school, first crush, first exam, first job, first time falling down in front of a crowd…yeah, you get what I mean.

Firsts are made especially difficult when you’ve put in bucketloads of sweat and love into producing something to share with everyone else. But you know, everyone psyched me up for it, and gave me the ‘at least you’ll have this…’ speech. And it’s always helpful when you’re sitting on the floor, by the phone, sobbing for no apparent reason, because you couldn’t remember if you bought the right plastic bags.

But this ‘first’ story was made a lot easier with the help of many many people. So can I please do the whole ‘awards ceremony’ speech please! I’d like to thank…

  1. My cousins (PY & AW) for coming over the night before and helping out
  2. CW for waking up super early to be my chauffeur (I know it was tough!)
  3. Dajie for running out to buy the buckwheat flour and eating all the samples
  4. G for driving the stuff home and stapling the labels on the cookie bags
  5. The boy for being there ALL THE TIME through everylittlething
  6. SS for making my Friday easier
  7. The bestie + michie for coming to help
  8. Mom + Dad for having backup plans to have friends buy all the cupcakes so I wouldn’t be sad (lucky it wasn’t needed!)
  9. Ollie, for listening to me whine, and cheer me on!
  10. Everyone for coming and for leaving me ‘YAY VIC!’ messages and giving me free hugs!

I’m really overwhelmed (and still am) and am just so thankful the buttercream didn’t melt. One of the best parts was meeting all the people who don’t take gluten, and seeing their delight when they realize gluten-free food CAN taste yum. And nothing makes me happier than filling your tummy with happiness (I still adore a new dress every now and then!)

Photo time!

Production Day – Friday

Cupcakes all lined up, hold your partner’s hand!

Pure creative genius!

Sunlight streaks just before the crowds arrive

Vanilla-almond cupcakes with hidden treasures!

Ooh La Lemon, lemon on lemon.

Come on, say it…AWWW!!!

Funny Bunny- cream cheese on carrot

Well, that’s it for the photos. And to top off my day with a cherry o top, Sandy has awarded me with an award! MY FIRST! My internet is starting to chug though, so I’ll post my 8 new favourite blogs tomorrow, and hopefully, a recipe too. I’m so addicted to the kitchen.

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