Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Because we had B later than most couples we know, B only has a few baby friends who are close in age. Emma is one of her friends who happens to live close by, making play dates fun and convenient. Big sister Elizabeth has great affection for B, resulting in many kisses and hugs for baby B.
Emma's Kitty Cat Birthday Cake - Cat face

Emma's first word was the name of her neighbour's cat and hence, the cat themed first birthday cake was chosen my mom and dad. Honestly, I designed the cat cake with Elizabeth in mind since Emma really has no clue about cake at her young age. I wanted the design to be bright and feminine but not overly precious and girly. An orange cat was appropriate because Emma is currently a red head, with beautiful silky hair. Admittedly, I am somewhat jealous of babies with thick long locks of hair because poor B has a sparse head of oddly distributed hair, with a short fine spiky top and pseudo-mullet in the back. It is merely a pseudo-mullet because the longer hair only occurs laterally by the back of her ears and not across the nape of her neck!
Emma's Kitty Cat Birthday Cake - Ladybug

I could not resist adding ladybugs to the cake because who doesn't like ladybugs? Inside, chocolate cake and 64% dark chocolate mousse were enjoyed by all. In fact, high praise was given by big sister Elizabeth who concluded that "Charmaine is a good maker of cake". I am humbled by your kind words, Elizabeth. Happy Birthday Emma!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Even though this summer has been one that our family would like to forget because of a very sad event earlier in July, small pieces of happiness can come from the most random things.  For example, when I was asked to interpret a hilarious dream about someone putting fur highlights on a cat into cake form, I could not say no.  The result was the third appearance by Mr. Panda, a recurrent character on Akemi's multiple birthday cakes over the years.  Featured this year is Simba the cat (not our Simba) who is receiving "Back Street Boys highlights" as described by Davis, Akemi's friend who had the crazy dream and ordered the cake. 

Everything was made of fondant with piped royal icing fur, except the aluminum foil was actual aluminum foil because nothing I had could really reproduce the look of foil (except maybe edible silver leaf but that is too pricey).  And whiskers were rice vermicelli noodles. 

[As I am writing this, B is supposed to be napping but I am distracted because instead, she has decided to walk around her crib screaming.  After 14 months, she still won't nap properly.  I need to find my ear plugs before I go crazy...]

Friday, June 1, 2012

In a sentimental mood

There were so many reasons why I loved making this beautiful white on white 5-tiered wedding cake. The bride has impeccable taste and an eye for design. The groom is a chef at one of Vancouver's top new restaurants. And best of all, it was a display cake to be presented at the Terminal City Club which is where we celebrated our nuptials over eight years ago. My love of display cakes is no secret, giving me time to construct and decorate at my leisure, which is very intermittent and scarce these days, as well as not causing any oven/refrigerator space capacity issues.


The white on white piping is so gorgeous because the play of light and shadow brings the texture alive rather than using a contrasting colour. The draped fondant piece hiding behind the flowers provides an elegant detail. But the dramatic pink peonies (my new favourite flowers) elevate the cake to another level, bringing style and flair. Delivering the wedding cake was very sentimental as my husband and baby B accompanied me to the Terminal City Club, where 8 years ago I was set on a path which led to pediatric ophthalmology and the idea of baby B seemed faint and distant. The change in my life has been unimaginable but certainly positive. I wish the happy couple all the best for the next 8 years and beyond!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


May has been an extremely busy month for us, filled with birthdays, un-birthdays, an anniversary, a wedding cake, and my very first Mother's Day. The month started with an Elmo birthday cake for our little friend Maddox. Maddox is a lovely boy who loves trains and will soon be a big brother to a new little sister. His Sesame Street themed birthday party featured Elmo and B had much fun at the huge open gym venue.

Maddox's Elmo Birthday cake

The 10" x 15" sheet cake was topped with a contoured Elmo, made hairy by piped red buttercream. I was glad that Maddox's mom and dad did not want the entire cake to be Elmo, as that much red buttercream (and the red colouring in it) scares me a somewhat. Inside, the vanilla cake was layered with mango curd and mango mousseline.

An Un-Birthday/Anniversary/Leftovers cake

Having some leftovers, I assembled a 6" cake for my family which was perfect because it happened to be my parents' 45th wedding anniversary that weekend too. In addition, my two nieces, who both have birthdays in the fall, were going to celebrate their Un-birthdays. Un-birthdays were unknown to me until recently. So, being 3 1/2 and 7 1/2 years old now deserves cake too!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The rain has finally eased off today, giving the cherry blossoms a chance to dry off and to maximize their beauty against blue skies. Life is still regularly irregular with baby B demanding all my attention and spare time. Yet, I recognize the need to make time for myself too and so today is the very first day I have hired a nanny to take B for the afternoon. I'm not sure who is more traumatized, me or B.

To distract myself, I am writing this overdue post about a hamster, a cat, and a puppy with floppy ears. These pets were specifically requested by Simone to decorate her birthday cake back in March. You may remember her previous birthday cakes, including this one. Her mom was aware of my time restrictions and so decided to order the actual cake from somewhere else. I like my fondant animals to be nice and fat, just like the plump ox, monkey and rat from the Chinese zodiac I made several years ago.

B's first birthday is fast approaching too and I have no idea what to do regarding the cake.  Do I go all out and create the most elaborate and spectactular cake just because I can?  Or do I make something simple but memorable?  I haven't decided yet.  Eventually, B will just tell me what type of cake she wants but for her first birthday, this may be the only occasion that I have carte blanche.  Recently, I have been feeling that it is all happening too fast, from the crawling and cruising to the emergence of her personality (seemingly strong-willed and defiant like me!).  Soon, she will be weaned, walking, and chasing after the cat.  Luckily, Simba is still nimble and not as overweight as this fondant cat, so she can hopefully escape B's clutches. 

Monday, March 5, 2012


Obstetrics Retirement cake - details

Motherhood has proven to be a roller coaster of enormous proportions for me. The highs are so high and the lows are sooooo low. As the days and months go by, the challenges have begun to ease slightly but are usually replaced quickly by another test of patience and sanity. It does not help that I find it hard to let go of my control freak ways and OCD tendencies. These qualities have always been the roots of my success but are now hindrances as the parent of a happy but tempermental 9 month old.

Obstetrics Retirement cake - front view

Luckily, I had the opportunity to let my creative juices flow lately, despite limited baby-free time. My obstetrician requested a cake for several obstetricians who were retiring this year from BC Women's Hospital and how could I say "no" to the man that delivered my child??? And since I am currently still in a post-partum state of mind, this cake and its subject matter were quite apropos. He wanted the design to be similar to Dr. Seal's retirement cake but with an obstetrical twist. Secretly, I was hoping for something silly like a giant uterus but he had something classier in mind!

Obstetrics Retirement cake - mother & child

And so, I decided to frame a sculpture of a stylized mother and child, with surgical tools sewing up the background, which was metaphorical uterine smooth muscle. It is hard to see in the photos, but texture was added to the rusty red background to emulate spindle shaped smooth muscle cells. Leftover fondant was used to make the figure by folding a thick layer of fondant and later painting it in edible copper dust. The cake measured 10" x 15" x 4" and featured pistachio, black currant and vanilla flavours, identical to Margaret's birthday cake. Considering that I have not lifted a spatula for months, I was very pleased with the final outcome, both from a design perspective and an organizational perspective because finding the time to construct it was the biggest challenge of all!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crowning glory

Cade's Frog Prince Birthday cake - front

I have only 45 minutes to complete this blog post as my life is now measured in brief spans of uninterrupted time. B is supposed to be down for her second nap of the day and will only give me 45 minutes on a typical day. That is how I made Cade's birthday cake, in many micro-stages of work scattered over two weeks. First I made the crown and then the fondant covered Rice Krispie head and torso. Eventually, all decorative parts were made and only the actual cake was left to finish.

Cade's Frog Prince Birthday cake - frog closeup

The design was chosen by mom, based on the beautiful cakes by Betty's Sugar Dreams. Cade must have liked the first cake he tasted in utero because I made mom's baby shower cake too! The 10" round chocolate cake was layered with strawberry mousseline and fresh strawberries. My favourite detail has to be the gold crown. I usually pipe my own lettering but my new habit post-partum is to shop online so I bought the FMM Funky Alphabet Tappits that I have wanted for a while. Happy 1st Birthday Cade!