birthday cake truffles

Recently Saucy made these amazing Birthday Cake Truffles from the Momofuku Milk Bar online cookbook. They were top-notch and delicious and what Saucy liked the most about them was the imperfect nature of the finished product. Unlike perfect just-so cake pops, these are a little rough and uneven. Almost artsy, one might say.

After visiting the Momofuku Milk Bar in Toronto last month, Saucy is geared up to visit the flagship restaurant bakery this weekend in NYC. She's going to sample a few more of the goods and come home to replicate them. Brace yourselves, kids. It's going to be a parade of compost cookies, crack pie and Froot Loops meringues for a while around here.

Leaving today for New York City, Saucy is looking forward to seeing the city she hasn't visited in almost ten years and to reflect, as we all are, on the terrible events of 2001.  She has plans to visit a dear blogging friend and some friends who relocated there a few years ago. Might she even squeeze in a visit with her Japanese sister, who Loopy visited on exchange in Tokyo last year? If the stars align, if the stars align.

New York City is one of the greatest places on earth. And they have fabulous bakeries. If you haven't been, you need to go. Tell them Saucy sent you.

coffee filter wedding gown makeover

This might be one of the most far-fetched, high fashion wedding gown makeovers that Saucy and The Cheerios have attempted to date. When this dress arrived by bus, it was a head-scratcher, indeed.

The first problem with the gown is that inherently it wasn't a bad dress at all and didn't really need a makeover. It's only drawback? The bride who donated it our way had worn it in a "trash the dress" photo shoot a while ago... in a muddy river. Fabulous shoot idea to be sure, but it was hard on the dress. 

Saucy decided she had nothing to lose and threw it in the wash before taking these shots, before even trying to give it a makeover. If it couldn't come clean, that would determine its fate. Luckily, a hot water wash in a laundry bag with some Tide Boost pods and a few scoops of OxyClean (no paid endorsement) turned it out of the wash perfectly clean and creamy-white again. Then, Saucy had a good look at it in the backyard one day and she decided to haul out the old dance decorations the mother's committee made for the winter formal in 2012. 

She contacted Lashes, one of the junior Cheerios who has just graduated high school this spring. Lashes would be perfect for this gown.

Together, Saucy and Lashes whipped up a Pinterest-worthy hairstyle. It only took a few minutes and off they went, out and about in the neighbourhood.

Saucy can remember the day Lashes came to cheerleading tryouts. She's the kind of kid a coach dreams about, all smiles and dimples. She'd never had a dance or a gymnastics class before - but she jumped up and touched her toes, just like that. And so it went. For the next three years, Lashes picked up on dance steps at the drop of a hat and whenever Saucy could, she popped her into the front row so the judges could admire her smooth moves and the flash of her smile. 

Oh, and she winked at the judges. She's that kid. The smooth dancer/cool smiler/sly winker of the bunch. Once, to hide a messy pyramid building sequence, she was sent out front of it for three counts for a quick wave and wink and just like that - not a person in the stands noticed that Monty had to run from one side to the other while dodging Daisy Duke who had Trooper dangling upon her shoulders.

Are you sick of the nicknames already?

But really, that was how the story went. Lashes was so endearing on the mat she could be counted on to deter everyone her way. It was a slick trick and was employed more than once.

You do have to agree, they are all beauties, are they not? It makes Saucy sad that the weather is getting cold, school is starting up again, and time seems to be running out on wedding gown makeovers and photo shoot opportunities.

The coffee filter pom poms do look pretty amazing on this gown. They weren't even taken off their strings (look closely, above) so that they can be used as decorations for this year's winter dance again. Talk about recycling! Wedding gowns, dance decorations, coffee filters, packing tissue, we recycle it all around here. The Cheerios are a very eco-friendly bunch.

Saucy added a halter strap on the dress made of wide satin ribbon. It had a pinky tinge to it, which worked with the varied shades in the coffee filters.  Look at the poms... they also were stacked with vintage dress patterns from the Home Ec classroom and saved tissue paper from stores like Kate Spade and Tory Burch.

Maybe this really is a high-fashion creation, after all.

An alley behind a Chinese restaurant - and an old fridge

As naturally as she takes to dancing, Lashes takes to the camera. She poses like a pro, constantly moving and needing little direction. The only problem Saucy has with that is that there are way too many photos to choose from at the end of it all.

Cheer Coach Problem #471: working with fun kids who excel at more than several things and eagerly try new things. 
Not that Saucy is complaining, mind you. Not complaining at all.

sk8r girl sweetheart

It started earlier in the summer when Saucy and Snookie found these fabulous roller skates at a vintage store. They were sorely dirty and needed new laces. A visit with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser and some cute Derby Diva laces from eBay made them photoshoot ready.  

Sweetheart was called into action for this event.

She gamely laced them up and took them for a spin around town. They really do look almost new, don't they?  They're missing an eyelet if you look closely.  They might need to go to a skate repair shop... but should we even bother?  Nobody uses skates like this anymore.  They'll just be photo props.

Sweetheart wore an old strapless wedding gown from the thrift shop that Saucy dyed pink. It was full length and not good for showing off the skates so it was safety-pinned into poufy pickups and further fluffed with a vintage petticoat.  

Zoom-zoom!  Down the alleys and back roads downtown.

Gucci gets in on the photo shoot action.

On such a hot, beautiful summer night, model and photographer needed to stop for a cool treat.

Yes, she fell.  Saucy tried to reach around and they both went down.  Old cheerleading coach habits die hard and Saucy caught her around the waist.  There was lots of laughter all round - including from spectators, and there were many.

A little girl passing by squealed to her mother "ooh look Mommy, a princess!" and she was right. ;)

A princess on pink roller skates in front of her castle...

.... with her fairy godmother, in flip flops.

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!