Thursday, 27 October 2011

So jealous!

I've recently stumbled across a bzillion blogs and websites that do my humble little Maeli's Homemade blog to justice. They include Homemade Markets (Perth and Canberra) and Homemade Shops (Canberra), Fashion blogs between sisters and ideas for DIY cooking and projects. This is my favourite. And this! So I think I should start curating all of the things that I make and bake. Because there seems to be a great market online in design, creativity and boutique funky old school products.
I wish I could figure out how to make funky looking pop-ups on my blog that link to my BurdaStyle projects. But here is one:
I'd also like to start taking more professional photos of my cooking on nice plates so they can look as good as my favourite blogs. Handemadeology is now officially the coolest website too! I'd like to start a Handmade Market in Darwin that only operates 4 times a year. It would really attract the best designers and there are alot of creative people in the Top End.
Not sure how to do this though!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Recent Cookings at Home

Life has been very busy for a while. Preparing for my sister and Dad's visit was a big task as we took on renovating our entire backyard to make more outdoor space and an extra sleeping area for when guests are staying. The visit was fun and I have to show you a photo of the meringues I made for pavlova dessert one night.. I was very impressed! However, I did have the oven temperature up too high, hence the cracks and colour.
 Last night I made this roasted vegetable lasagne stack. Its so easy to make. Roast some vegies and boil some lasagne sheets and layer them on a plate with pesto and boconcini cheese. Superb!

 And lastly here are my famous/favourite apple shortcakes with soft chewy shortbread base and cinnamon apples on top. I skipped the last step with is a bit of a crumble on top but it still tastes amazing.. and there is so much butter packed into that small little tart!
Also, have a look at Josh's new website for his business: We need people to type it into google so it starts coming up in searches.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

My first wedding cupcake tower

So it was a success. A success I hear you say? Yes a success!
I am very proud of what I achieved on the weekend. Here are a few photos of the cupcake tower I prepared and organised for my best friend's wedding. My dearest boyfriend/kitchen hand assembled it for me because I was busy being bridesmaid. And my good mum helped me decorate them all and lent me her kitchen for the preparation. Thanks to you both.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wedding Practice

Since I got back from Italy/Greece I have been preparing for my best friend Lauren's big day. And no, not just because I am bridesmaid but also because I am making her a cupcake wedding tower of about 100 cakes when I live in different city. So for 2 and a half months I have been experimenting with fondant and royal icing and watching numerous youtube videos on cake decorating and buying gel icings and modelling tools and shaping foam and all this stuff that I have never heard of before. At times I got so frustrated with stupid fondant or making a rose out of royal icing for patty papers that were so waxed they didnt even stick to the sides of the cupcakes. I think I may have taken on something really HUGE!
Because I am travelling by plane from Darwin to Brisbane for the wedding, I needed to be able to make the cakes prior so that I wasn't so stressed the day before the wedding. I also needed to be able to transport all the decorations I have made so they can be applied to the plain cakes in Brisbane.
Tonight I fly to Brisbane and tomorrow I will decorate 100 cupcakes for the wedding the following day. Wish me luck.
Here are my experimentations.....................!!
My final royal icing roses

My first attempt at a royal icing rose - it stuck to the paper patty paper!

Marbled fondant heart cupcake toppers with royal icing initials

An experiment... until I found out that yellow was not in the wedding colour palette!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Science Week Cupcakes

I haven't been back to the markets since returning from Europe. I found that with all the work I put into baking each weekend for a stall at the markets, there wasn't enough reward. I enjoy baking and putting in the effort for details but only when people appreciate it. The market in Darwin is different to the rest of the Australian population, made up of people who don't really desire a cake at 10 o'clock in the morning at a market filled with the smells of asian cooking.

Planets & Solar System Cupcakes

I miss baking so I volunteered to make science themed cupcakes to promote National Science Week at the Parap and Nightcliff markets. Have you ever had to make edible science treats?
Dinosaur cupcakes

I went through a few designs and discarded them for fear of putting people off cake altogether eg. the brain cupcake. Here are my designs... once again I ended up giving them away for free because I don't think people really associate science with food!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Another morning

Passionfruit and Raspberry Cupcakes
Gosh, I'm really glad that I don't have to earn my living from selling cakes at the market because it really is not a lucrative business, nor is it easy! Saturday Parap markets were not so busy this weekend and although I had a different spot in the shade, my cakes did not sell very quickly. Consequently, I had at least 15 leftover at the end of the market.. thank goodness for the invention of the "Special" so I could sell the remaining cakes to market stall holders and market stragglers for half price. So for once I actually sold EVERYTHING!

Additionally, this was my last market stall before I go overseas to Europe for a couple of months. And guiltily I was pleased to pack up my stall and take everything out of my car for the last time in what will hopefully be a while.

Lastly I would like to mention my newest idea for a business venture. As some of you know, I would love to open my own 24 hour cake shop like Greens and Co. in Perth.

It has the most amazing casual atmosphere with lanterns and a huge display cabinet full of cakes.. and for some reason it does really well even in the middle of the night. My idea tries to recreate the atmosphere of this cafe but also allow community business to be supported. It would allow people who don't want to have a market stall to sell their wares or don't have the capital to open a shop, to contribute to the food items or clothing, fashion, accessories items available in the store. But at the same time I would be able to bake my cakes as well.

So this is my last post for a while.. I bid thee adieu!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Happy Yess Markets

Hello again.
Two market stalls in two weeks I hear you say! Yes thats right, I am a Machine! Actually, I enlisted the help of two friends for this market as I was one of only two food stalls and its held in the afternoon.. more of a "cake time" of day. We had been pre-warned that cake would be in high demand even though the market is small and community oriented, so I made sure that we had plenty of product. My two friends were amazing help and made the whole thing a lot less stressful, and I could sit back and let them fuss around the cakes and sell them.
I still didn't make much money, but the stall price was cheaper so thats a bonus.

More cake to display.. so much to sell.. not enough people

I'm beginning to think that the Parap markets just don't suit cake. I will endeavor to try out the Nightcliff Markets on a Sunday morning where people are more likely to sit down and relax rather than rush into the market headed directly for the laksa stalls. The Happy Yess markets were cute and friendly so people bought slices of cake and sat down to eat it off a plate. THAT is the vibe I'm going for!

Look at that cake!.. thanks to chef Sally, it sold very fast

Saturday, 30 April 2011

The great wall of ugly-ness

My third market stall at Parap Markets was Easter Saturday and boy, were there lots of people at the markets. I had gone to great lengths to make Easter nest cupcakes and Cookies n Cream cupcakes for the occasion.
However, being a casual market stall holder (I trade when I please'm) meant that I was put in a new spot in the alleyway of crafts and clothes stalls. Normally this spot would be fantastic for cakes because its well shaded and is a main thoroughfare for people. However, on Easter Saturday, it seemed more like a non stop highway which meant people completely overlooked Maeli's Homemade. It was extremely disappointing watching people glance down at my cakes and continue walking in the throng of people. 
I took some photos for future reference and decided that I need to work on my display and presentation. I got feedback from other stall holders and they suggested I create more colour and drawcards like signage. 
But most of all, when I showed my best mate Josh the photos, he said it was the disgusting boring wall behind me. Notice the difference between the two photos and the backgrounds behind my stall and the jewelery stall across the path from me..
Note Ugly wall behind Maeli's Homemade

So I am working on my signage and Background!

I'm certainly getting a lesson in marketing and store design/display !!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Anyone for Birthday Cake?

This weekend I didn't hold my market stall because I was busy making a custom birthday cake! I was given the theme of red, white and gold and also Lime green. It was so much fun to make.. especially using edible gold glitter for the first time. I displayed them on my Robert Gordon tiered cake stand. And was pretty impressed with myself! 

Raspberry and Cream Cupcakes

Lime and Pistachio Mini Cakes
I also made a bouquet of sweet treats. My first attempt at cake pops was initially hard because the mud cake balls kept falling apart when I dipped them in the chocolate. So after I froze the cake balls, I was able to dip them more easily. I also chocolate dipped strawberries for the bouquet of treats.
Bouquet of Sweet Treats

Monday, 11 April 2011

New Improvements

Passionfruit Melting Moments for sale at work
Last week I missed the markets because I couldn't get on to the market manager to see if I could have my stall again. Instead, I baked passionfruit melting moments and sold them in the tea room of my office at work. What an easy $32! It was the first time that I piped melting moments so I was pretty impressed.. and so were my work colleagues.

Lemon Merigue Cupcakes for Market Day 2
Blueberry and Walnut Cakes - Not exciting enough for paying customers!
The markets this week consisted of Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, Blueberry and Walnut Cakes, and Hazlenut Chocolate Marble Cakes. Somehow I ended up with way more Blueberry Walnut cakes at the end and these were the most unattractive cakes so they didn't seem to attract attention like a cupcake with buttercream might.
So I have learnt that I must have equal variety of non good-looking and good-looking cakes to attract customers and make sure that I have some left towards the end. The most embarrassing thing is sitting at my stall at the end of the day with 5 dismal cakes on a plate waiting for them to sell. I'm not allowed to pack up before 1:30pm so its hard to sit there with only a few things left that won't sell anyway because it looks so pathetic.!!

Monday, 28 March 2011

To Market, To Market

Saturday 26 March 2011 was my official launch of Maeli's Homemade at the Parap Markets. Such a stressful lead up and set up but once I had figured out that the secret to market stall domination is to sit back and look relaxed/un-interested/not desperate, everything seems to just be A-OK. I made 82 cakes, muffin size and mini size, and I only had about a dozen leftover at the end of the market day. By 12 noon, the icing was oozing off the cakes because it was so hot and I felt embarrassed selling such dismal cakes, but next week I will try to rotate them into the esky more frequently. I also will be buying another table for more space.
The stall setup

All in all, I had a successful day. The government Health people came to audit my stall too (on my first day!) and after some discussion about the fact that buttercream cannot spoil in a way that will give someone food poisoning, I was A-Approved. Lastly, a girl at the markets offered to pay me to make her a replica of the self-made dress I was wearing.. such a compliment.
See you this Saturday at Parap Markets

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Afternoon T

So I haven't exactly been in the best mood for blogging but I just wanted to show and tell about my Taste Tester Afternoon Tea I held on Sunday on my verandah. In an attempt to try something new to showcase for my friends, I tried the ice cream cone cupcakes by putting the cake batter into an ice cream cone and baking it using the cone as a patty paper... FAIL! I wish I'd taken a photo of the melted ice cream cones! It was awful. Three batches of cupcake mixture later, I realised that the recipe was way out in the butter measurements and the mixture rose heaps in the oven but then overflowed and flopped. I ended up just using a small cupcake and popping it into an ice cream cone.

I also attempted to make my Grandma's Pink Laminton Balls.. however, needed to let the red jelly set before dipping cake in it!
Overall, it looked pretty nice, but I had only eaten icing and cake mixture all day so I was on a mega sugar low by the time people arrived at 3pm.
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - Success

Pink Lamington Balls

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes 

On another note I have ordered a stamp for stamping my paper bags and a sticker for my cake boxes. Parap Markets have given me the thumbs up to start selling but to be honest its seems like a lot of work. I'm aiming to make 4 varieties of cakes/biscuits and 24 of each. So thats approximately 100 items to make for a Saturday morning. Hence why I am looking into changing my stall to the Nightcliff Sunday morning market just so I have a whole day on Saturday to bake.. Thanks for reading!

My stamp - Self Designed

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Four Birds Cake Review

Today we went to Four Birds, on Smith St Mall in Star Arcade for a morning coffee. I noticed a huge cake on their bench so I thought this is a good opportunity to review one of Darwin's cake shops. Four Birds is one of the most cutest, funky coffee shops in Darwin. I like it for its milk crates with seat cushions outside and minimal shop interior with a few corner seats and nice cushions. Its amazing how the little touches make such a big difference to a coffee shop. It is cool and airy inside the shop and you can sit outside where its warmer but fairly shaded.

My moist and luscious piece of Four Birds Carrot Cake.  
For $4.50 I received a HUGE piece of Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing served in a container in a stamped brown paper bag. I am pleased with the moistness of the cake although it contains pineapple which I wasn't expecting. I would have to say that it is a good quality home made raisin-filled cake and definitely tastes and looks fresh. I am now rather full!

The "Freshness Factor" is a big deal for me in my products to be sold at Maeli's Homemade market stall. I have tasted extra large cupcakes sold at the Mindil Beach Night markets that have amazing looking icing toppings and garnishes but the cake inside tasted like it was made from packet mix. I think my biggest pressure on myself is ensuring that my baked goods stay fresh inside as well as looking appealing to customers. I am worried about the heat melting my buttercream and I know that I cannot have whipped cream or cream cheese toppings. Such a shame. So now I am researching and experimenting with different products and cake covers to see what I can display on a table for about 6 hours at a Saturday morning market.
An example of how I will need to cover my cakes so they don't dry out.
I have bought some cake boxes (fits about 4-6 items) that look really professional and acrylic cake covers like those shown in the photo above. I also bought a 500 pack of white paper packets for an individual item which seem to be too small now that I can experiment with them. I would ultimately like to stamp each packet for advertising purposes but now I'm considering that brown paper packets would look better. Oh the choices and opportunities!

Lastly, I will find out tomorrow from the Parap Market Committee if my market stall application has been accepted and then I can zoom ahead and finally open my stall. Arrivederci !!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Blogging moment # 1

So, in an attempt to start a fantastic blog like Sheryl on, I do endeavor to learn to write in a more "readable", "internet-friendly" manner that will hopefully keep people interested. I can't say that I'm into the whole BLOG thing; it seems a bit Julie and Julia which didn't work out so well for the modern day Julia (ie. her employer was reading her posts). And it kind of seems a bit self-involved, assuming that people actually care about your life happenings enough to read several blog posts. However, I do enjoy the idea of recording my progress in opening my first cake stall at the Parap Markets in Darwin.

Ok, so a bit of a run down on Darwin. NO CAKE SHOPS and NO INDEPENDENT BAKERIES! I'm sorry, there is a Greek Bakery in the suburbs that makes greek sweets like chocolate coated Baklava and vanilla slice but its a shame there isn't more of the sweet here. Sure Darwin is becoming more metropolitan with the young southerners moving up here for jobs (guilty; I immigrated from Brisbane) but the advent of funky little Melbourne coffee shops hasn't quite taken off yet. Likewise with the 4 different markets that are held in Darwin. You'll find a large array of fresh produce and asian cuisine (think laksa, satays and noodle soup) but currently I am lucky that there are only a couple of cake stalls at the markets held in Darwin.

And so appears Maeli's little Niche! A market cake stall and potentially, one day, in another far away place, my own real cake shop with funky furniture and good coffee.

I think I like baking a bit too much. In fact I use it as an excuse because it makes me feel good, relieves stress and hits that sweet craving feeling you get at work about 4pm everyday. I admit I've still got a long way to go in presenting my baked goods professionally, but I can happily say that thanks to my mum and granny being amazing bakers (and sweet tooths), I have the process of ingredient, ingredient, beat, ingredient, stir, ladle, open oven door, wait and eat, down pat pretty well now.

So now is my chance to make the rest of Darwin fat instead of torturing myself into eating most of my cakes/biscuits because my boyfriend and housemates just don't enjoy eating them as often as me. Isn't that weird!!?