Golden bee cookies

Golden bee cookies

Here are some bee-themed cookies that I made yesterday.  I had been planning to make these for a while… I had an image of the circular ones in my head.  I used my bee cookie cutter for some of them as a bit of an after thought, but I actually like those ones just as much.

I made the little golden bees by piping them with royal icing on parchment paper.  I did this in stages so there would be some definition between the different parts; I did the head and abdomen first, then filled in the middle bit (the thorax), and then added the top wings, and then the  bottom wings.  In between I let them partially dry so that the different parts wouldn’t run together.  Once they were completely dry, I mixed some edible gold glitter with vodka and painted that over top in two coats, then peeled them off the parchment and stuck them to the cookies with a little more icing.

I used yellow icing to pipe the little bees, which gave them a pretty intense gold colour.  In retrospect, maybe I should have just used white icing, so they would match the gold details on the rest of the cookie.  I think they’re pretty cute though!  Especially posed on this saucer.

Golden bee cookies


Knitting, sewing, and treats!

My recent sewing and knitting projects

Today I’d like to share a random assortment of things.  Above are my recently finished knitting and sewing projects.  On the left is the Norby hat designed by Gudrun Johnston for one of Brooklyn Tweed’s “Wool People” collections.  I love the patterns in these collections… I’m planning to start a sweater soon and will probably be using one of the Brooklyn Tweed patterns for that too!  In the center is an apron I just sewed.  I didn’t have enough fabric to follow a real pattern, so I just made the most basic apron possible – basically a rectangle attached to a waistband, using every inch of the pink fabric!  I sewed on a pocket as well.  On the right is a cowl made with double knitting, which is a technique that gives you a double-sided fabric.  This was my first project using the technique, and although it’s very slow going, the finished product is very thick and cozy!  The pattern is called Trapper Cowl and it’s from Interweave Knits magazine.
My recent baking

Here are a few of my edible projects as well!  In the top left are almond pear mini bundt cakes from the book Bake it Like You Mean It.  The cake was tasty although maybe a little too almond-y or a little too sweet for me.  Slices of pear poached in white wine were embedded in the middle of the cake, very yummy.  In the bottom left is a strawberry rhubarb pie following a recipe from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  I bought this book for myself using some Christmas money and have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of it!  So far I have baked the Salty Honey Pie (still my favourite), Black-Bottom Oatmeal Pie, Lemon Sour Cream Pie, Salted Caramel Apple Pie, Junipear Pie, Lemon Chess Pie (except using lime instead of lemon, and honey instead of part of the sugar – tasty but intense!), and Rhuby Rhazz Pie (the one from the photo – I used strawberries instead of raspberries).

In the top right is a blueberry pie (not from the book), and in the bottom right is a birthday cake for my boyfriend’s lovely mother, both baked on our recent trip to Saskatchewan.  The cake was layers of angel food cake with lemon curd in between, and frosted with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, with strawberry purée poured on top.

Hummingbird cookies

Hummingbird and flower cookiesWith all my new free time, I’ve been doing a lot more baking!  I made these hummingbird cookies just because I had a hummingbird cookie cutter.  I decided to do a stained glass style, by piping black outlines and then filling in the gaps with coloured icing.  I did a few flowers as well.  I had some problems with “cratering”, where the icing collapses as it dries in small areas.  Although I’m not sure why it happens, I followed the advice online and started drying them in front of a fan, which seemed to solve the problem (see the top right hummingbird, which dried in front of the fan, versus the one below it, which didn’t).

Anyway, I’m quite happy with them!  Expect more posts in the near future since I’m on a four-month vacation!

Hummingbird and flower cookies

Lemon-blackberry cake

Lemon-blackberry layer cake topped with meringues

My lovely boyfriend had a birthday yesterday, so I made him this colourful cake.  I used a lemon layer cake recipe from Annie’s Eats, and put whipped cream folded with blackberries in between the layers (the last bag of blackberries in the freezer from last summer!).  I frosted the cake with swiss meringue buttercream with lemon curd and yellow food colouring added in.  The frosting was super tasty and very easy to frost and pipe with.

I had seen meringues being used to decorate cakes on Sweetapolita and Sprinkle Bakes, and my boyfriend loves meringues, so I decided to give it a go!  I used this recipe for the meringues, flavouring them with lemon, orange, and lavender.  The stripes are made by painting lines of food colouring on the inside of the piping bag before adding the meringue.  If I were going to do this again, I think I’d use a different recipe for the meringues – they were not quite the texture I was hoping for.  Also the lemon and orange zest in them went a little strange and crystallized – next time I think I would stick to extracts.  The lavender ones worked beautifully, though.

Looking forward to August when we can pick some more blackberries!

Lemon-blackberry cake

Colourful dot cookies

Cookie gift

Friday was a big milestone for me – the last class of my degree!  I still have final exams and a project to finish, but I’m getting closer!  I decided to bake cookies this weekend and give them to one of my professors as a thank-you for his help.  I was inspired by these colourful cookies but had a frustrating time trying to reproduce them.  I don’t have a cookie stencil, so I was trying to get the same effect with piping, but the geometric designs just looked kind of messy free-hand.  I decided to go with simpler designs mostly made up of dots.

I got the cute cookie box and ribbon from a neat craft supply store called Urban Source.  They have tons of cute boxes and bags like this that are perfect for giving away baking, and I had a lot of fun picking them out!  The box fits two cookies stacked, so I included the two below.

Decorated sugar cookies

Chocolate ricotta gradient cake

Chocolate ricotta cake

This cake was based on a recipe from a book called “Bake it Like You Mean It” that I got a couple of years ago.  It’s full of beautiful photos and great inspiration, but for a few reasons I’m always a bit suspicious of the recipes themselves – the book came with a gigantic list of errata, the quantities seem crazy at times (three pounds of butter to frost a nine inch cake?!), and the instructions don’t seem to match up well with the picture of the end product.  So when I finally made this cake, I decided to make some modifications and take the instructions with a grain of salt.

I used the filling recipe in the book, which is a mixture of ricotta, mascarpone, whipped cream, and chocolate (I left out the coffee).  The idea is to divide the filling into five different bowls and mix different amounts of chocolate into each one, so when you assemble it the layers of filling form a gradient.

Chocolate ricotta cake with white chocolate flower

I decided to make a six inch cake instead of an eight inch cake (making half the amount of filling), and used a chocolate cake recipe from my mom, baking three six inch rounds and cutting each in half horizontally.  I’m not sure where the chocolate cake recipe came from originally, but it’s delicious and moist, and I use it all the time for cakes and cupcakes.  I left out the coffee syrup that is used in the book, since the cake was already so moist.  I then frosted the cake in ganache and topped it with a white chocolate flower following Alice Medrich’s instructions in her book Chocolat.

By far the trickiest part of this cake was frosting with ganache, which I have never done before.  Since the lighter filling layers didn’t have much chocolate in them, they were very soft, so it was tricky to get the ganache to stick to this part of the cake.  Also, even when I got the ganache to a nice spreadable consistency, it seemed to get very hard as soon as I started frosting.  I’m not sure what the solution to this is… maybe just get the ganache even softer and just work quickly?  Or maybe try just pouring liquid ganache over the whole thing?

Making the white chocolate rose was a lot of fun and worked surprisingly well.  It’s made from “chocolate modelling dough”. This is just chocolate and corn syrup, which you heat until the chocolate melts, stir together, and pour onto a plate and leave to sit.  I let it sit overnight, and when I went to use it today I just scraped it off the plate and kneaded it until it felt like play-dough.  To make the flower, you just roll nine balls of dough and flatten each one into an oval with a rolling pin.  You then form each one into a petal by gathering one edge and fit it into a bowl lined with plastic wrap, with a little melted chocolate in the bottom.  I made this in a sugar bowl about four inches across.  The rose is a little tall for my liking, so if I did it again I would use a shallower dish or just make the petals smaller.  (You can’t tell as much from these photos, because I chose the photos where it looked best!)

The chocolate dough was very easy and fun to work with, and since it’s almost pure chocolate it’s tasty too.  I think I’ll be making more with this in the future!

White chocolate flower

Chocolate ricotta cake

Chocolate ricotta cake

The filling is very tasty and melds nicely with the cake.  It has a good tang to it that’s a nice change from just plain sweet fillings.

Tea Party

Cardamom rose petits fours

My sister and I hosted a tea party last weekend.  We sent out invitations folded like tea bags, tea included, to a few friends (in the actual mail!).  We had a lot of fun planning the treats – I made cardamom rose petits fours and little chocolate mousse cups, and my sister made mini cream puff swans and cheese scones.  My sister’s collection of vintage Petalware dishes came in handy, and I picked up some flowers and arranged them for the table (this was actually surprisingly fun – who knew that picking out all your favourite flowers in a shop would make such a pretty bouquet!).


It was my first time making petits fours, and I was very happy with how they turned out.  I made a single recipe of Alice Medrich’s hot milk sponge cake in a baking sheet (not sure what dimensions, but the kind that fits in a normal oven), adding freshly ground cardamom and orange zest.  I then made three egg whites worth of swiss meringue buttercream, adding rose water and a small amount of red food colouring.  Then I cut the cake into three rectangles and stacked them with the buttercream in between.  Following the advice of an online video, I put the cake into the fridge with a weight on top for a few hours to make it compact and chilled.  Then, I cut it into 21 squares and poured glaze over each one (just made of icing sugar, milk, and a little vanilla).  The glaze was the most annoying part – I had to keep scraping up the overflow glaze and pushing it through a sieve so I could reuse it.  I watched another video where they froze the cake squares first, and then just dipped them, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to freeze – maybe next time.

Cardamom rose petits fours

My original plan was to make candied rose petals, but I couldn’t find any organic roses for this… I thought that non-organic roses might not be super safe since they’re not intended for eating.  So in the end, I found a gum paste recipe online just made of icing sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup.  I added a little red food colouring, rolled it out, cut out and formed the flowers, and let them dry.  This would have been much easier if I had a flower cutter (I was using the large end of a piping tip to cut circles and then forming petals), but you gotta do what you gotta do!  The next day I added pink “petal dust” in the center (edible dust for this exact purpose!), attached pink dragées in the centres and stuck them on the cakes using more glaze.

I made the mousse cups by painting multiple layers of chocolate on the inside of mini muffin cups, refrigerating them, and then peeling off the cups.

Chocolate mousse cups

My sister followed my mom’s recipes for the scones and the cream puff swans, filling the cream puffs with raspberries and whipped cream.  Tasty and super adorable.

Cream puff swans

Cheese and dill scones

The only sad part of the day was before the party, when we were loading the car to head over to my sister’s.  The weekend before, we had spent several hours decorating some pretty pastel cookies.  I had them in a tin and placed them on the car roof while I put everything else in.  I’m sure you can imagine what happened… there were a lot of happy seagulls on 4th avenue that day.  It was especially tragic because we didn’t get any pictures of them.  Oh well, I’ll make them again another time!

Photos taken by Katie Byatte.