momofuku birthday layer cake

For Veto's birthday, Saucy wanted to recreate a cake that she, Loopy and Trooper ordered up while visiting the Momofuku Milk Bar earlier in the month. It was petite and decadent... perfect for a small group to enjoy but also deceptively able to serve plenty of people. It is a six-inch cake, but the height and the layers make even the smallest slices into a very nice serving. 

The problem with this cake - it is a lot of work. It requires much prep before actually baking the sheet cake and assembling it, and you also need some special equipment:

a 6" cake ring (like this one at Sur la Table) - thanks to JL and The Adorables at Girls Glitter 'n Giggles who were kind enough to track one down on their recent Disney vacation 

a deep jelly roll pan or professional sheet cake pan

acetate strips to line the ring and ensure the cake keeps its form (Trooper actually found these for Saucy to try the cake)

special ingredients such as citric acid, glucose, kosher salt, clear artificial vanilla

Saucy isn't going to post the recipe here, it was incredibly labour intensive and it would be more labour to retype it in its entirety. You can find it on the Momofuku website or you can purchase the beautiful cookbook that includes photographs and step by step instructions.  This is just a brief overview.

Days before making the cake, Saucy made a recipe of Birthday Cake Crumb (for the layer filling and the topping), as well as two recipes of the cream cheese frosting.

The frosting is absolutely delicious. It's very smooth and not too sweet. It has a lovely consistency for an application like this and chills beautifully.  Following the advice of another blogger who attempted this cake (and there are many), Saucy made two recipes of the frosting because it was advised that one recipe was scant for this cake. 

On birthday cake day, Saucy made the sheet cake in the jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. After thoroughly cooling it, she cut the first layer of cake, using the cake ring as a template (cut around the inside).

The stacking and assembly was quite quick, after measuring the acetate strips inside the ring and using tape to fasten them together. Each layer of cake gets brushed with a recipe of Cake Soak, this ensures a moist cake but also helps the entire structure deepen and sink into the mould during chilling - making it structurally sound and easier to cut.

After getting brushed with cake soak, each layer gets a generous dollop (in this case, three) of the frosting and a sprinkling of the Cake Crumb recipe:

For the middle layer, you might have to piece together bits of cake to make it work. It's not that difficult, just tamp them into place after you cut them to fit.

Keep building, soaking each cake layer and tamping it down lightly as you add layers of frosting and crumb. You will need to add a second strip of acetate as you build above the ring.

After the cake is constructed within the cake ring, keep it in the ring and place in the refrigerator overnight - but at least four to six hours before serving.  Then it can quite easily be popped onto a serving platter and the ring lifted off, revealing something like this:

Before the cake warms up to room temperature, gently peel back the acetate strips to reveal your "naked cake".

The finished cake is a showstopper.  Saucy and Loopy served it to Veto on the eve of his birthday with just one lone white candle in it and it was really smart-looking. 

If you decide to attempt this cake, here are some tips from Saucy's kitchen to yours:

Locate all of the unusual ingredients and do your very best to find them. For instance, citric acid is called for in the frosting and that adds a very nice "bite" and cuts the sicky-sweet flavour of typical cream cheese frostings against the overpowering sweet flavour of the cake. For local peeps, Saucy found citric acid at Bulk Barn. She substituted glucose with a simple syrup recipe (close enough).

Make the frosting recipes early as well as the Cake Crumb. You can set them aside up to a day or two before actually making the cake, cutting your work on cake day drastically.

Use clear vanilla as instructed in this recipe.  Artificial is totally fine. Chef Tosi who developed the recipe says it made her very nostalgic for the boxed-cakes she was served as a child and she tried to replicate that flavour.

Make two recipes of frosting as mentioned above - you will have extra, but it will come in handy and keeps well in the fridge for a while.

Add extra sprinkles between your layers, and also sprinkle them liberally before you bake the sheet cake. Sprinkles make the entire creation more festive!

As you add Cake Crumb between the layers use the smaller bits, reserving the larger chunkier bits for the topping.  They're showstoppers and having the smaller pieces will make cutting easier. 

Don't let the cake warm to room temperature all the way before slicing it. It slices very nicely if it's still just a little bit cool. 

Save the scraps after cutting the circle layers from your baked sheet cake. There is a recipe on the website to make Birthday Cake Truffles and they are amazing! 

Take plenty of photos to document your success... this cake is labour intensive as mentioned before and you really need to plan ahead but it is foolproof in its assembly, and you will be the hero of the party for it. 

More Momofuku recipes coming soon... Saucy has tried the Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookies and a few others.  Thumbs-up, all the way around.

If you try this recipe, let Saucy know. She'd love to find out if these tips helped you. Good luck!

bubble baby

This little bundle of fun was in front of my camera last month, but being under the weather caused a delay in my editing - here are some of the shots, finally.

Her crafty mama brought out the collection of Disney Princess dresses and the toy launderette. We rigged up a clothesline.  Even though she had the latest issue of Oprah to read, the Bubble Baby wasn't overly eager to "do laundry".  Can you blame her?

I don't like doing laundry on sultry summer nights, either.

She knew mama had a bubble gun packed along too! That's what she really wanted to play with.  Again, can you blame her?

I love the way the camera caught the light of the bubbles as they burst

Someone was revved up for that bubble gun!

I had some lipstick packed along.  After the bubble excitement died down, she had a little fun jazzing up her pout.

I really have been under the weather this summer. I'm sad because it's usually my "productive time" when I'm taking the most photos and doing the most projects. I've spent too much time upstairs sleeping away the afternoons.  

Let's all hope for a long, lazy autumn so I can get caught up on all the cool things I want to try before the snow flies.

senior photo shoots

It's kind of a big deal here for senior high school students to order matching "senior jerseys" to wear to school events all through twelfth grade.  A couple of years ago Saucy did some photo shoots with small groups of girls wearing their jerseys at the start of the school year, when anticipation for the excitement ahead was at an all-time high.

She got some great results and the premise was simple: gather a small group (no more than five or six grads per session) and meet on a sunny evening right at the school. Saucy brought props and posed the students in groups and individually to capture the moment before senior year began. 

This year, she's decided to do it again.  It was that much fun.

In and around the school makes sense - it's their world. It doesn't have to be a glamorous location. It needs to tell their story. This is where their memories are made.

Plenty of time to take nice individual shots of each senior - they want Facebook profile pictures, you know.

Special friends can pose together 

Detail shots can't be overlooked

This was a bigger group, but Saucy had a second shooter!
If you have a bigger group, contact Saucy. She can bring in a second shooter (one of the former Cheerios is an accomplished photographer now) and we can probably work something out to accommodate you.

Any school within city limits as well as Martensville, Warman, Dalmeny and Clavet can take part in this offer.

Here's the deal: a one-hour session with up to five grads will cost $100.00. That breaks down to the reasonable price of twenty dollars per graduate and gives everyone ample time in front of the camera in the large group, small combos and individual shots. Fully edited images of the entire shoot will be saved to a USB (that you provide - so if each grad wants their own, just bring them to the shoot). No wardrobe changes, just senior jerseys or casual wear (whatever the group agrees on). You can bring your own props and Saucy will bring some as well. Shoots can be scheduled starting August 24 and continue to the end of September. All shoots will take place during evening hours. There will be a small mileage charge for out-of-town schools.

If you or your senior student is interested, contact Saucy at the email below or on Facebook, if you're Facebook friends. 

sasha {dot} libby {at} shaw {dot} ca

an amazing group of grads

Back in June, about a week before graduation, Saucy had a cupcake sale. After putting the deets on Facebook, she was happy to see former Cheerios waiting for her at the venue when she arrived with the goods. The girls - who were probably just there for some cupcakes and a little visit - pitched in and helped Saucy set up. Then, they proceeded to stay for almost the entire event, helping box cupcakes for eager customers. They visited and chatted away about upcoming grad plans and all sorts of things and Saucy realized how much she missed them. 

So, it was decided before the last of the cupcakes were gone (Saucy sent some home with the girls to get them through their scary movie marathon that night) that a graduation photo shoot was in order. Saucy was beholden to the girls not only for coming out to visit, but to stay and help? Those are some good girls right there. 

Saucy was looking forward to capturing these grad cuties in their prom dresses.  She knew they'd be fun to work with and they'd try lots of fun things. Like standing in the middle of the street downtown and then sitting in an alley, in front of giant disposal units. It kind of works, though.

This is Hard-Sell and Porcelain. Hard-Sell got her nickname at her first cupcake sale. She was a little on the shy side and wasn't really a cupcake pusher. We teased her and called her "Hard-Sell" that night. By the cupcake sale this June, she really was a Hard-Sell, and Saucy was grateful for it. They really do grow up, you know?  Porcelain... she also answered to "Lady" as she was the team's true and absolute lady, through and through. Unflappable. She was the Jacklyn Kennedy Onassis of cheerleading. As a matter of fact, Saucy should talk her into posing as the famous FLOTUS sometime, don't you think?

Here she is with K-Pain (say it kinda like 2 Chainz) - the class valedictorian. K-Pain tried out for The Cheerios but decided it wasn't for her, she does a lot of other sports. To say Saucy was disappointed is an understatement. She really, really wanted her on the team.  It was Snookie who put the bug in Saucy's ear and said "she's awesome and she makes me happy when we are at dance class together" so this was a ringing endorsement. Snookie doesn't like most people, but she adores K-Pain.

A trip to Claire's after grad season was over netted Saucy some super-cute props for the shoot. They even matched the gowns perfectly.

Mortar boards on headbands, mini mortar boards, pink mortar boards. Super cute!

Do you see what I mean here?  This girl was a born Cheerio if there ever was one and would have fit in with the crew perfectly. 

Sadly, Legs never came out for cheerleading either.  She was probably busy with all sorts of other awesome things in high school but if Saucy could go back in her Doritos-powered time machine, she would hunt this girl down and talk her into it.  Active recruitment, that's the way to do it. Tall girls with a ton of confidence make excellent cheerleaders. They're the back spots that are the mini-captains of every stunt group. Legs probably had mad, untapped skills for that job.

There isn't much of a better subject for Saucy to photograph than young girls becoming confident young women. It's kind of her passion. She loved doing this shoot so much, tomorrow she will be announcing a special package for girls entering senior year - a chance to get senior photos taken in small groups and individually at a very reasonable price. Check in here if you know any new high school seniors in the Saskatoon area who might like to do something like this! Shoots will be held during the last week of August and the first week of September.

And for these beauties? They're off to China in a week or so to tour Asia. What an adventure awaits.