everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Blog Crush: Sally’s Baking Addiction

I have a blog crush. The blog is Sally’s Baking Addiction. I want to make and eat pretty much everything on Sally’s blog – especially the things with brightly coloured sprinkles. Which is A LOT of the things, thankfully. According to her brief bio, Sally is a ‘food writer, recipe developer, picture-taker, lover of peanut butter, and obsessed with sprinkles’. Sounds pretty great to me!

Even if you’re not into baking, you can surely appreciate the food porn value of Sally’s blog – and it’s calorie-free if you just look at the pictures. But don’t just take my word for it – check out these photos of some of my favourites…

This tie-dye cake makes me wish we celebrated 4th of July in Australia...

This tie-dye cake makes me wish we celebrated 4th of July in Australia…

 

'Easy homemade Funfetti cake'? Yes please!

‘Easy homemade Funfetti cake’? Yes please!

Salted Caramel Choc Chip Cookies. Uh huh.

Salted Caramel Choc Chip Cookies. Uh huh.

S'mores Brownie Pie. Yes, that is a toasted marshmallow topping.

S’mores Brownie Pie. Yes, my friends, that is a toasted marshmallow topping.

Ok, I have to stop now or I will go into a virtual sugar coma. But if you’re looking for some sweet inspiration, including healthy(ish) options, gluten-free options, no-bake options and lots of sprinkles, then Sally’s Baking Addiction is the place to visit. The recipes are detailed and easy to follow, supported by amazing photos. As with any temptation, EverydaySparks of course urges moderation in your consumption of Sally’s treats. But there’s no harm in looking…

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Friday Foto – a crazy cake

Happy Friday! I mentioned earlier in the week our trip to the Sydney Royal Easter Show and looking through my photos of the day, I’m sure it’ll become a post next week. In the meantime though, here’s a cake from the prestigious cake decorating competition at the Show.

There were some incredible entries in the competition and we had to remind ourselves that the amazing creations were actually cakes and not sculptures. As for this one – it looked so much like the real thing, it caught the attention of everyone who passed. An amazingly talented person made this giant cake – I’m just not sure why…

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

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Cakes. And Snakes.

My 2010 birthday cake – a giant cupcake

I come from a long line of cake lovers. And my mum was an amazing cake maker – every year, I used to get to choose a most incredible cake, which my mum would whip up the night before my birthday. I would go to bed hearing the sound of the mixer and in the morning, I would sneak into the dining room where the masterpiece would be sitting on the table. Under a barrier to keep it from me (and my brothers), of course.

I remember a large blackboard cake; a swimming pool cake complete with biscuit fence and green jelly as water; a clown; a bunny rabbit; a clock…oh, those were the days. I thought my mum was a magician – the way she could produce a cake that looked exactly like the one I’d seen in the book, overnight, just like that. I wasn’t to know how many hours she’d spent getting everything just right, or how long it took her to source and prepare the ingredients – to me, it was just an annual miracle that proved my mum was a genius. Which of course she was, and still is – even if she doesn’t make me elaborate cakes anymore. (That is probably for the best, as my metabolism seems to have slowed since the fancy-cake-days and that old formula of exercise required to burn off cake calories consumed seems to have tipped out of my favour.)

Last year, for my niece’s birthday, my sister-in-law went with a farmyard theme. We made these cupcakes – I was in charge of the chickens and the sheeps. A lot of marshmallows were needed in order to make a sheep face that didn’t look like he was going to attack the other animals (or the kids at the party). We were pretty pleased with our efforts.

Anyways, all this cake reminiscing was brought about by a link that my friend Ashley sent me the other day. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a lady in the UK had created an amazingly realistic cake for her daughter’s birthday that looks exactly like a Burmese python. Now, before I show you the photos, I should point out that Francesca (the python baker) works as a professional cake baker. My mum was a pharmacist and my sister and I have office jobs. Just so we can keep things in perspective, once I reveal the Burmese python birthday cake…

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And, voila. I’m not sure that I would have ever even thought to request a Burmese python cake. Kids these days. I’m not sure what inspired Francesca’s daughter to ask for it, but it has brought her mum fame across the internet. And presumably scared the life out of many of the party guests.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

The detail is just incredible, as is the colouring. Francesca is clearly an amazingly talented lady – I hope her daughter appreciates this cake as much as I appreciated my swimming pool cake. At this point, I should add some detail about my cake – my mum had even put little plastic people kicking back in Life Saver lollies in the pool. And green coloured coconut around the outside, as grass. I’m just sayin’.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And finally, in what is probably not a faithful representation of the Burmese python, an inside full of delicious cake, jam and cream. Now, if there was a touch of red food colouring or jam that squirted out when the first cut was made, this cake would have been perfect. Almost as good as my mum’s swimming pool cake, I reckon.

You can read the Huffington Post article about Francesca’s cake here and the North Star Cakes Facebook page is here. Neither my sister-in-law nor my mum have a cake business Facebook page or a website, but I will check for some photos of my mum’s early work when I’m next at home and maybe Jane’s cakes will finally get the global recognition that she deserves!

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Pop Charts

Some people need charts and visuals to really make sense of the world. I see how it can sometimes be helpful to reduce the confusion of something big or complex into a series of connected boxes on an A3 piece of paper. In the corporate world, accountants have their ‘mud maps’, HR people have their ‘org charts’, management consultants have their ‘stakeholder maps’ and marketing people tend to have something brightly coloured and written in code, so that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders. But that’s just work. What if there were clever people who used their charting prowess to help us navigate and better understand the real world? Ta-da, here’s Pop Chart Lab.

The Lab began a couple of years ago, founded by a book editor and a graphic designer who joined forces with one modest goal in mind: to render all of human experience in chart form. Uh huh. Their range is amazing – they have tackled everything from beer to culinary devices to the story of a boy’s migration to a town called Bel Air. Here are some of my favourite prints (they also print their charts on t-shirts, in case you want to educate the masses).

(c) Pop Chart Lab

Oh yes, from Bill Haley in the top left to Lady Gaga in the bottom right corner, this is indeed A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Popular Music. It’s a signed, limited edition print that is sure to get people talking. And if you like this, you’ll probably like its cousin: A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Hollywood.¬†(That one even includes Chewbacca’s impressive ‘do, along with several cast members of the Harry Potter franchise.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And here’s the chart that I think is my favourite – a collection of 13 pie charts about pies. Yep, they’re breaking down the ingredients that go into those delicious desserts and it is just as scary as you might imagine. All the old favourites are there – including Fig. 12, Peanut Butter Pie, which is full of gooey goodness: by my calculations, almost 50% peanut butter, around 20% Oreos and almost as much butter, with a fair dose of heavy cream, vanilla extract and bittersweet chocolate. God bless America, I say. (If pies aren’t your thing, you might like The Delectable Kaleidoscope of Candy Bars – a pretty, colourful and super-detailed examination of the common ingredients and textures linking a bzillion different types of sweet treats.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And finally, Constitutions of Classic Cocktails breaks down nearly 70 famous drinks into their constituent parts. Apparently, this is the most elaborate chart that the Lab folk have ever made – it is beautifully designed and unbelievably detailed. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to get shakin’, know a dedicated barfly with a birthday coming up, or just like the design, this is a good ‘un. I love it because to me it looks as though the cocktails are at the centre of a mysterious sort of galaxy. Or perhaps cocktails are like the Wheel of Fortune. And let’s face it, when the drinks are flowing, both of those statements are generally true.

If you’re thirsty for more info, you can check out many more educational works of art at the fabulous Pop Chart Lab site here.

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