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A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

 A very hungry caterpillar dessert table

When you’re a kid the day of your birthday party is pretty much the most important day of the year (ok, maybe aside from Christmas, and Halloween).  There’s always such a build up of anticipation leading up to the big day.   What presents will you get?  What will your birthday cake look like?  And worst of all, what if you’re friends forget to come?

My favourite thing to do in the days leading up to my birthday party was going to the cake decorating store with my mom to pick out a Wilton character cake pan.  There were dozens of pans to choose from, and they lined the walls of the shop.  I’d stare at the walls for ages choosing my pan, carefully studying the designs over and over.  I’d choose a different pan each year, and over the course of my childhood I had cakes that ranged from disney characters, to dinosaurs, to a big orange Garfield.  
The pans would come with a full sized colour decorating guide that my mom would carefully follow, ensuring that the final cake looked equally as perfect as the one in the guide.  When it came time to make the icing I’d sit in the kitchen while she’d whip up a big batch of buttercream.  Mom would hand me a beater to lick while she divided the icing into tupperware bowls so she could mix up all of the individual colours that were required for the cake. 
The decorating technique for these cakes was simple but effective, and consisted of piping hundreds of little stars in various colours all over the cake.  Thinking about it now, this technique is actually quite similar to following a cross stitch pattern. Nothing could beat the taste of those birthday cakes, with their crusted buttercream icing and a scoop of ice cream on the side.
Even after all the years that have past since my childhood birthday parties a level of excitement still remains whenever a birthday cake is brought out and presented to everyone at a party – no matter what their age.    

A very hungry caterpillar cake

And it’s that level of excitement that I love to re-create when I decorate cakes for other people – especially my little boy.  He turned two this year, and although he’s not quite old enough to choose the design for his cake, I was pretty sure a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake would make him a very happy boy indeed.  And a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed dessert table would make me even happier!  Instead of only featuring a variety of shades of green, I also opted for a rainbow theme to tie all my desserts  together.  

A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
The decorations were just as fun to put together as the desserts were.  I made good use of my elementary school craft skills by making an ombre green tissue paper “2”, and accordion fan circles which I turned into a Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I also made some little menu cards to label all of the yummy desserts which included:

– Rainbow Birthday Cake with a Very Hungry Caterpillar on top
– Chocolate Cupcakes with matching fruit and leaves from the book
– Vanilla Cupcakes
– Rainbow Jello
– “Caterpillar Food” aka mixed fruit candy
– Lemonade 

A very hungry caterpillar birthday party

One of my favourite little details were something I didn’t even make!  The folks over at DotComGiftShop were nice enough to send me some red and white paper straws, and some adorable little vintage style 1/2 pint milk bottles to display my drinks in.  The bottles were the perfect size for little hands to hold.

In the coming days I’ll be posting the recipes and tutorials for some of the desserts I made, but for now I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the party. Enjoy! 

 cake dessert table
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
 A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
 A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
That’s the end of the party.  Time to clean up!

Peggy Porschen Boutique Baking Review

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Peggy Porschen’s new book titled Boutique Baking.  It’s no secret that I’m a huge Peggy Porschen fan.  I’ve made several  recipes from her books including these baby shower cookies last year.  

Boutique Baking is slightly different from Peggy’s previous books which focus more on decorating projects using several key recipes.  Instead, Boutique Baking is filled with recipes – each with their own decorating ideas and techniques that Peggy clearly guides you through with written instructions and visual steps.  

Boutique Baking is made up of 7 chapters:  Sweet Treats, Beautiful Biscuits, Cupcake Heaven, Luscious Layer Cakes, Classic Cakes & Bakes, Delicious Drinks, and The Icing on The Cake. 

Notable recipes include:

Springerle Cookies – I’ve always wanted to make these, but have never found an authentic wooden mould. 

Chocolate Heaven Cupcakes – I’ve made these and they’re delicious, so keep an eye out for the recipe.  I’ll be posting it soon!

Summer Berry Cake – this has a beautiful pattern on top that’s created by a simple dusting of cocoa powder over a patterned stencil

Raspberry & Rose Dome Cake – An absolutely stunning dome cake accented with delicate sugar paste flowers.  I also made this, and will be posting it shortly!

Minteani – A light and refreshing iced mint tea and vodka cocktail

Out of all of Peggy’s books (she has 5), Boutique Baking is my favourite.  The recipes are all mouth watering and accompanied by stunning photos, not only of the finished product but also of the steps needed to get you there.  Boutique Baking has something for everyone.  Novice bakers and decorators need not shy away, as there’s recipe and decorating idea to suit every skill level.

With thanks to Quadrille Publishing for my review copy of Peggy’s book.

Boutique Baking is available on Amazon UK here and Amazon US here  

** Now here’s some exciting news for you – if you live in London and you’re a fan of Peggy Porschen you’ll be pleased to know that she’ll be signing copies of her new Boutique Baking Book in her parlour this Saturday May 26th between 3pm – 5pm.  Directions to Peggy’s pink parlour and additional information can be found here.

And finally, I’ve also got some VERY EXCITING Peggy Porschen news to share with you later in the week, so keep an eye on my blog, facebook and twitter to find out what it is!!! Until then I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of Peggy’s book party.

Bubble Tea! Oh How I’ve Missed You!

Firstly, let me just start off by saying this will likely be one of the only non-baking related posts you’ll see on Made With Pink, but I just couldn’t resist posting about this!  Why?  Well, for the past 3 years I’ve been going through withdrawal – Bubble Tea withdrawal!  Bubble Tea you ask? Yes, Bubble Tea!  I’m obsessed with it!  And what exactly is Bubble Tea?  I guess the easy explanation would be that it’s sweetened tea, with some added flavouring (usually fruity), shaken with ice and served with dozens of little jellied chewy tapioca balls inside known as pearls.  Oh – and you get to use a crazy big straw so you can suck up the jelly tapioca pearls. 

Bubble Tea originated in Taiwan back in the 1980’s, and has slowly made it’s way around the world ever since.  It’s been available in Canada for at least 10 years, and maybe even longer thanks to cities such as Vancouver having a larger Asian population who brought this fabulous drink with them.  

I hadn’t had Bubble Tea since I moved to the UK, so when I found out that London was finally getting a Bubble Tea place of our own I was super excited!  I’d been missing Bubble Tea so much, I’d even resorted to making my own by mixing regular Iced Tea with tapioca pearls that I’d purchased from the Chinese Superstore Wing Yip.  Strangely Wing Yip sells the tapioca pearls in both the rainbow and black varieties (they both taste exactly the same), but they don’t sell the flavoured tea mixes, or the large straws to suck up the pearls with, so I have to resort to eating them with a spoon. 

Thank goodness I won’t have to resort to making my own every time I have a craving for bubble tea now.  That’s because London’s first Bubble Tea bar – cleverly named Bubbleology opens this Thursday April 21, 2011.  

The other night I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch event of Bubbleology where I was able to sample different flavours of their bubble teas (which were all amazing by the way!) as well as some of their delicious pastries.  

Bubbleology is run by owner Assad Khan who fell in love with bubble tea while living in New York.  He (like me) went through bubble tea withdrawal when he moved to London, so decided to do something about it and open up his own bubble tea bar. Assad has come up with a totally unique concept to make bubble tea fun and quirky.  Bubbleology is set up like a mad scientists workshop, with the staff all wearing white lab coats while they mix your drinks.

The teas come in 13 varieties and are either fruit or milk based. The fruit based teas are made with green or red tea,  and come in the following flavours:  

Lychee Green Tea 
Strawberry Green Tea 
Mango Green Tea (my favourite)
Kumquat Red Tea 
Passion Fruit Green Tea 
Green Apple Green Tea 
Ginger Red Tea  

The milk-teas, are similar to a watery fun milk-shake, and come in the following flavours:  


In addition to bubble tea, Bubbleology is introducing something else new to the London scene that I’ve never seen before – the “Cruffin.”  I would describe the cruffin as a designer crumpet or English muffin.  It comes toasted with your choice of spread (peanut butter, chocolate spread, etc), and (gummy bears, nuts, M&M’s, etc).  These weren’t on offer the night I was there, but basically what I think Assad was going for when he thought of these was a snack that’s unique and English – think the English equivalent to a French crepe or a Dutch pancake.  

Bubbleology is a small little shop located at 49 Rupert Street in Soho, close to the Lyric Theatre.  They’re open from 8am – 12am so there’s plenty of time to get your bubble tea fix. 

Now here’s the best part!  If you’ve never tried bubble tea before and would like to try it, Bubbleology will be giving away FREE bubble tea between 1:00 – 3:00pm on the day of their launch – Thursday April 21, 2011.

But just in case you can’t make it to London for a bubble tea, you can always do what I did and try making your own.  You can purchase the tapioca pearls (see below) from Wing Yip locations or order them online.  

You’ll need to boil the pearls in water that’s been sweetened with sugar until they’re slightly soft & chewy.  Once your pearls are the right consistency (take one out of the boiling water & chew it to test them) you’ll need to drain them, put them in the bottom of a glass and pour some cold iced tea (such as Liptons) over them.  Add in a bit of ice to help cool the warm pearls down.  The only problem with this is that I haven’t been able to find bubble tea straws anywhere here, so I’m forced to eat them with a spoon while sipping on the actual iced tea.  That’s about as close as you’re going to get to making actual bubble tea at home, but trust me – nothing beats the real thing, so if you do get a chance to visit Bubbleology then I really recommend going!

Vanilla and Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Every once in a while there comes a special occasion that warrants a cake a little more extravagant than your regular sheet cake or cupcake.   For me that occasion comes only once a year.  No, it’s not my birthday – although I can assure you, extravagant things are definitely accepted on that day!  The day I’m talking about is actually my wedding anniversary.  It’s only come twice so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less significant to celebrate than if we were celebrating it for the 10th time.
Our original wedding cake was huge.  It was made up of 5 tiers (each a different flavour) with pink roses in between each tier, and fed nearly 200 people.  This time it was just the two of us, so I felt a single cake with 5 layers was more than sufficient.  I decided to take various elements from our wedding and use them as inspiration.  The actual cake it self was lemon flavoured with vanilla buttercream and lemon curd in between each layer – a similar flavour to the top tier of our original cake.  The outside of the cake was covered in lemon flavoured fondant, with fondant circles in different shades of pink and brown  – the colours from our wedding 2 years earlier.  I had planned on putting a few pink roses or peonies (the flowers from our wedding) on top of the cake, but London was in the midst of a heat wave, and at 31ºC (88ºF) inside our flat (apartment)  I figured the flowers would wilt before I could even put them on the cake. 

I had already made a few tissue paper pom poms (inspired from the balls covered in pink roses we had  hanging  at our wedding) to decorate the table with, so I made a miniature version to use on top of the cake. If you’re interested in making your own tissue paper pom poms you can get the instructions here.

The cake itself was super easy to make – I used a Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Cake Mix (I was too lazy to make my own from scratch) that I brought back from the US, (but available from here in the UK)  some vanilla buttercream and some lemon curd. Spread a layer of vanilla buttercream on the first layer of cake, then add a few spoonfuls of lemon curd on top and spread it evenly over the buttercream.  Add the next layer of cake, and repeat the buttercream and lemon curd process.  Do this for all the layers except the top layer of the cake.  Now you’ll need to cover the whole cake in a thick layer of buttercream icing.  You could stop here and the cake would still taste great, but I wanted mine to look a bit fancier so I covered it in fondant and added the circles. The cake was amazing – a perfect combination of sweet vanilla and tart lemon. This cake would also taste great if you used a vanilla cake instead of the lemon.
Here’s the cake with the rest of the tissue paper pom poms.  Serve it with some Country Time Pink Lemonade (available here in the UK) and you’ve got a perfect afternoon snack for two.