Monday, November 9, 2015

Quick Fix: Baking for Lactose Intolerant Kids

This past week my nephew celebrated his first year of existence outside of the womb and in this world. For 12 months of light, he's super intelligent and alert. He's knows want he wants and he's not to be messed with. It's probably to make up for the fact that he is also lactose-intolerant, something he has no control over.

Birthday Cake one out of four
When I heard he wore his birthday hat for the entire day, I knew there was no way I could bake a cake with any dairy. Anyone who wears their hat all day, intends to eat cake too. I easily solved that by replacing butter with oil. The tricky part was the frosting. No to Buttercream, No to Ganache. No to a lot of things.

I have a weird array of plants in my yard. One of them is Monkey Apple Fruit. Nope, no monkeys live on the true. Acutally, it's a cousing of Soursop and Sugar Apple. The orange flesh is just as soft and grainy as sugar apple but without the sourness of soursop. In fact, it's pretty mild. Perfect.

I quickly pulped it and boiled the juice with spices and sugar. Pretty soon I had something that resembled Apple Sauce. The next day I whipped in icing sugar and I was rewarded with DRIPPILICIOUS dairy-free glaze. Won't He do it! Can I get an amen?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Grenada Cake Wars Finale Report: 'Pure Grenada'

This entire weekend was epic. It was October 24th 2015 which means, as a Grenadian, it was the day before we remember the end of a good thing or the start of a better one (depending on which side of the revolution you were on). So with the theme 'Pure Grenada', it was the perfect opportunity for the decorators to remind us of how far we have come as one people.

Ann Marie's Pure Grenada fruit cupcake 
The crowd at the Grenada Youth Center was hyped and the Grenada Cake Wars finalists Ann Marie Pilgrim, Kellon Maximay, Larneth Slocombe and Sheena Gellineau had their game face on. Today was no kinda jokey matter. Behind the smiles, were people determined to win that first prize. Everyone was on edge, waiting for the buzzer to go off. The crowd drew closer as the decorators placed their hands on their backs, military style and on the signal, jumped into action.

Team Pilgrim was dipping and releasing fondant like a well-oiled Volkswagen. It was obvious that they were used to this and good at it.

Kellon and previously eliminated contestant, Shelly were manning down his station at the other end of the room. Kellon, who was facing the mishap of another broken  piece upon arrival, was going to need all the help he could get to stay in the competition.

Kellon receiving a last word of encouragement from judges Thomas Andrews, Laurel Bruno and Lexan Fletcher
When Larneth and her look-alike son rolled into the arena, I'll be honest I was worried for this team. But by the time I glimpsed the first hand of fig and the neatest basket weave I've ever seen, I knew this wasn't a 'Sanford & Son' situation and this wasn't a junk-yard. Oh no! We were about to be part of a grand exhibition of talent.

Sheena was alone at the back with what looked like Mission Impossible. There lay a map of Grenada cake with a crumb coat. A very accurate map, I must add. I turned my back for like what felt like 5 minutes, and then there is was, perfectly covered in fondant. Who does that? Sheena does, obviously.

You could see that the audience was totally amazed by the cakes as they were decorated. They were willing to stand up for hours just to see how each cake was shaping up and shaping up they were. Even hosts of the event, Shere-Ann Noel and Kareem Alexis were pitting against each other for a winning baker.

Larneth's basket weave was almost complete and the fruits were taking on a realistic shape. Side note to the international folks. We don't eat bananas unless they look like this:

If it ent have tac tay, it ent good yet
Nothing says Grenada more than cocoa, nutmeg and bananas. We cultivate them, sing about them, dance with them. I could remember the primary school days and independence day concerts right now.

When Shelly starting going around Kellon's cake with dark chocolate syrup, I held my breath. Were they going to do what I think they were doing? She slowly traced the piping bag around the edge in a mesmerising, steady rhythm and the syrup slid down in these imperfectly perfect lines. And just like that, delicious jab-jab oil stains trailing down the road.

Black glitter adds the right amount of splatter

I must have spent about 3 minutes at Sheena's table trying to figure out what was missing. Then it hit me. Where was Petit Martinique? Don't want us to have a Antigua and Barbuda situation on our hands. You know how easily sisters fight over clothes much less for recognition.

Ann Marie and her husband didn't break momentum one bit, covering and piping cake after cake. Those six cakes were done in no time and then they pulled out this amazing spice toppers, all made of fondant.

As you can see, the contestants were firing their best shots in this competition. I couldn't tell who would walk away with the prize. Even the audience gave me conflicting opinions. Some were attracted to the neatness and clean lines of Sheena's map cake whereas others loved the innovation of Kellon's Jab Jab cake, especially the kids (they still believe there's a jab on Sesame Street). Not to mention some already came to support a particular decorator no matter what he did. I mean, Kellon's clan printed t-shirts. Can somebody sing "We are family"?

Pull out your history books with me for a while. We were first called Conception Island by Christopher Columbus and then eventually adopted the nickname, the Spice Isle, after all we do have the best variety of spices in the region. However, a few years back we were given a new handle, Pure Grenada. I think this competition  really helped, not only the bakers, but all of us to understand and accept the meaning of that catchphrase.

Sheena's Guava/Lemongrass and Coconut/Chocolate Pure Grenada cupcakes
Larneth explained that being Grenadian, a pure Grenadian, was what she saw in her mom; an industrious estate worker who would carry the produce of that day in a basket on her head. Now this is one of the most enviable skills in the world and Grenada is one of few Caribbean islands where this still takes place. I wonder if there is anyone in my generation who could carry a basket of fruit or a full bucket of water on their heads, up a hill, WITHOUT using their hands.

Now watch how she made a cake do the same thing. Amazing!

Larneth teaching the model how to balance
Speaking of heads, Kellon managed to fix up his horned helmet, which was great. It is after all the most symbolic feature of J'ouvert morning. Now all that's left was some blood, chains and why not a live snake or two. 

Not only did the participants 'mash up' the decorating section but the baking as well. Ann-Marie brought us the well-loved fruit cake. Now, I need Christmas to come like yesterday.

Larneth gave us nutmeg cake with her own home-made nutmeg jam filling. This is something I've always wanted to buy in a bakery or a cafe with a cup of tea. Home-Made, Sweet Traditions, take notes please. 

To complete his theme of the eerie darkness of the dawn festivities, Kellon came with Grenada Chocolate everything. His cake, frosting and drizzle were full of 72% and 60% chocolate bar goodness. And we can't forget the nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and ginger in the mix. I'm confused though because it's common knowledge that Jabs love their salted fish. To all the professed oil mas revellers reading this, would you be able to resist these cupcakes?

Sheena infused local flavour in everything with a Coconut Rum sponge cake and Grenada Chocolate frosting filling. Oh, did I mention there was a second cake? Wait for it... a Vanilla cake with a densely delicious Guava filling and light Lemon Grass butter-cream. She had me like...

The final cakes looked like this:


Provision Perfection


Pretty ladies in National wear

Oil down bubbling over

Jab twins eating ah food

Spicy explosion

Ann Marie

Elegant pod placement

Ah, look at Jab-Jab

Now giving it to you straight outta the judges' mouths:

People's Choice Award compliments AJ & Associates: Sheena Gellineau

Best Tasting Cake compliments Columbian Emeralds: Sheena Gellineau

Goodness, Gracious Guava filling

Fourth place: Ann Marie Pilgrim

Third place: Larneth Slocombe

Second place: Kellon Maximay

First place winner: Sheena Gellineau

Sheena walked away with the first prize trophy compliments Sports Awards and Trophy Zone, $1000 compliments Real Value Supermarket, a cake mixer compliments Courts, a phone compliments Digicel and one thing any kitchen lover would want: a Rachel Ray Hard Enamel non-stick 14 piece cookware set compliments CC6 and Food network. Not to mention she will have the privilege to study on a world renown pastry chef.

Rachel Ray cookware as seen on Food Network
Grenada Cake Wars was simply amazing. I hate that it's already over. Seeing these bakers/decorators create under pressure was a rare treat! Congratulations Sheena on your clean sweep and Food Network recognition. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the event. Finally, thanks to Charanel Andrew, the Dream Catcher, for showing us how to reach for the sky and touch the stars.

For more details and pictures about the event you can go to the Grenada Cake Wars Facebook Page:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Grenada Cake Wars Semi Final Report: 'Once upon a cake'

Hey everyone! It's your girl, Kizzy here again with the behind the scenes report on this weekend's semi-finals of the Grenada Cake Wars. If you couldn't make it out this Saturday, don't worry. I'm going to be your eyes. If you were there but didn't get a taste of any of the mouthwatering cakes, let me be your... well I think you get the picture.

The second round of competition was obviously going to be harder. And I don't even think the contestants themselves anticipated how difficult. Saturday was all about decorating. Each participant came with their cakes dirty iced (a.k.a. crumb coat a.k.a first coat of icing) and when the buzzer went off, they were given 1 hour and 30 minutes to bring these cakes to life.

With the theme, 'Once upon a cake' I was filled with all types of expectations. Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Beauty aka Gold Digger and the Beast? (see below).

Of course these talented bakers had even greater story lines and concepts to wow the judges and the audience. I, just like the audience, had no idea what the bakers chose. Many of the guesses were quite amusing. Like Ann-Marie's story book which some though was a bible.

Ann-Marie's Fairy Tale Book
That isn't so wrong though. It does contain the greatest story of all time.

Some thought Larneth's money pot was a basket and that Kellon' shoe was the head of a poodle.. I think some of us were really bad guessers.

Sheena's cake was obvious because of its colour, one audience member said. It immediately reminded her of Cinderella's dress.

Two decorators took the non-traditional interpretation of 'Once upon a cake' by allowing the cake to tell the story of their lives. Shelly hoped to display the transition of cake decorating over time and Teckla gave us a glimpse of her decorating history from beginning to present

Teckla's cake

Shelly's Cake

After about an hour, there was a separation of the pack so to speak.  It was like everyone was speaking different languages...of experience and skill . See by this time most of the decorators knew if their cakes were going according to plan or if were going to let the pressure eat them alive.

Layers were going up

Trimmings were taking shape

and toppers were added.

Meanwhile the judges were serving face. We couldn't figure out what they were thinking. Were they impressed? Who were they impressed with? Were the cakes making them hungry? If anyone was taking this war seriously, it was them.

Time flew even faster than before. In the last half hour, everyone was rushing to fix last minute touches. My goodness, you should have seen these guys. Some were trembling, some upped the pace like a gear shifter,

and others just remained steady and unfazed like Jason Statham in Transporter or any movie for that fact. These are folks you want during a hurricane (God forbid oh!).

The audience were great and when the last 10 seconds were on the clock, we all counted down together and screamed our lungs out. For a moment I thought we were at the stadium. Like the first round of competition, sample cupcakes were provided to the judges while the participants gave the vision of the creation. Then the judges came down for a look at the final look at the decorated cakes to make their decisions.

Now let's see how it went down contestant by contestant.

First up was Shelly. The first layer of the whole cake was cookies and cream, while the second layer was cherry. Don't you love when ice creams flavours can transition to cake. (I still want it served with ice-cream though). Shelly is known for keeping authentic flavour and in this instance it was evident. Instead of using a vanilla frosting to tie in the 'cookies and cream' theme, she opted to use 'Grenada Chocolate' frosting topped with a half-moon Oreo cookie and this really brought out the DARK chocolate flavour of the cake.

Next we had Kellon, who used his grandmother's orange cake recipe. The judges and audience were in full agreement that the flavour was on point. I loved that it was a sweet, soft yet sparkling citrus taste and not the harsh zest flavour that is sometimes accompanied with these kind of cakes. Another plus in my book was the surprise frosting inside. Perfect place, perfect taste.

Sheena had a beautiful blend of coffee butter-cream frosting and silky chocolate ganache over a original chocolate cupcake. The ganache added such a richness to the overall chocolate flavour
and connected the coffee and cocoa tones together.. Definitely something you would find in Starbucks.

Ann-Marie kept with the fruits theme and made cherry cake. I loved that the cherry pieces were not too chunky, making an attractive middle yet there were enough cherries to taste the flavour. She topped it with clouds of citrus -hinted icing and sprinkles. YUM YUM!

Larneth's cup-cake was a hopeful as the sun coming out after a rainy day. Everything bubbled of rainbows: the plate, sprinkles, icing and most importantly, the inside. I liked how the thickness of the icing made the entire presentation guessed it ice-cream. (Some one please buy me ice-cream next week so I can stop talking about it.)

Teckla's Red Velvet was funky and fresh with its pink frosting and cute candies.  Usually red velvet cakes are so serious, but these guys shouted 'Party over here!'  And that frosting tasted as soft as it looked. The tender inside made a delightful pairing!

Shelly showed us her pretty awesome lace work skills and fondant deco. This is the stuff that wedding cakes are made of and reminded me a lot of the work seen on Cake Boss on TLC. Good potential in this contestant.

Kellon shared with us that his original plan for a Jack and the Beanstalk cake came crashing down...literally. His beanstalk was destroyed right before the competition. He quickly had to come up with a new idea. Look at his 'make it work' moment! The details are exquisite from the thread marks to the gingerbread roof. I think it was a great use of colour and material to create a modern take on the woman who lived in a shoe.

Sheena's cake, as the audience member correctly guessed, was a Cinderella theme. Using the elements such as the pastel blue, princess trinkets such flowers and rhinestones and the carriage topper, she artfully captured the elegance and sophistication of Cinderella's night.

Ann Marie's set up gave her the opportunity to tell many stories at once. She brought together the ghoulishness of Casper, the innocence of Ariel and the rawness of Hulk all into one dynamic piece. Now that's a story teller. Like last week, she brought the fire with her piping techniques. My eyes are on you Ann-Marie.

This pot of gold at the end of the rainbow belongs to Larneth. The gold coins were sprinkled next to the skittles so that you could see and taste the rainbow as it dissolved into fluffy, marshmallowy clouds.

Then fun continues when you cut into it. Look at 7 colours swirl into each other from inside out.

Teckla's cake looked like a beautiful flower garden. The story behind this cake is so powerful. She explained that each layer represented a stage in her decorating journey with each colour capturing a different mood. And from the look of the bright colours, this was a happy journey for Teckla. I'm so grateful that she shared it with us. I loved how the yellow flowers, the colour of joy, framed the walkway and wished there was time so that we could see even more blossoms of her life.

I'm pretty sure the judges had the toughest decision yet. Tension was high in the room as the results were read. The finalists? Ann -Marie Pilgrim, Kellon Maximay, Larneth Slocombe and Sheena Gellineau. Congrats to all you! To those who didn't make it through, I hope you will be proud of how far you made it and I look forward to see more of your work in the future.

In the third round of competition, the finalists will teach us what it really means to be patriotic with the theme "Pure Grenada". My expectations are higher than ever and I'm so hyped, I may even bring a flag.

Thanks again to our hostess Charanel Andrews, who has been working so much. She is such an inspiration, proving that sacrifice and commitment are what dreams are made of.

+This week's Noteworthy participants

Neatest Fondant: Sheena Gellineau

Best decorated cupcake: Shelly Ramdeo

Best tasting frosting: Sheena Gellineau 

Best flavour: Kellon Maximay