Kia ora! I have been livin' it up back home in Auckland for two and a half weeks. Spring has just sprung, and though weather is still pretty lousy, but I have been spoilt by the warmth of lovely old friends. Waking up to the sound of the waves and the view of the sea is something I've taken for granted before I'd left for the city life in Paris. I am so happy to be home, and for now, I don't even want to think about going back! As clichéd as it is, I have to say, there really is no place like home.
On the first weekend that I was back, one of my good friends' Hongi, was to celebrate her 22nd birthday. I thought it would be great to make her a birthday cake and a macaron tower to mark the momentous occasion. She was pretty excited when I told her of my plans, saying she had never been made a birthday cake before, let alone a macaron tower! So that night, I put on my apron and brought my long-dormant home kitchen to life once again.
I started by making four batches of macarons for the tower. To fill the cone, I needed about 90 macarons, but I made 120 so I could choose the best 90 and have plenty left to nibble on. I had let Hongi choose the flavours, and she went with rose petal, vanilla bean, salted caramel and pistachio. I thought those were a wonderful selection of classic french flavours, and the colours would work beautifully together.
|Pink macaron shells piped and ready for the oven|
|Paired macaron shells ready to be filled!|
|Vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache|
|I love the black vanilla bean specks!|
|My favourite part...|
After all the macarons were filled, I sealed them in an airtight container and left them in the fridge overnight to mature. This is an important step as the filling will soften the inner shells and fuse them together to create the lovely chewy texture we've come to love of these treats.
The next morning I started work on the birthday cake. Inspired by the "momofuku birthday cake" I decided to surprise Hongi with a funfetti cake. I couldn't wait to see her expression when she cuts into the cake and reveals the colourful surprise inside! I achieved this by stirring in sprinkles into the cake batter before baking. I frosted the cake with a not-so-sweet italian meringue buttercream which I coloured pink for extra cuteness.
|The surprise is slowly hidden..|
|A simple border to perk up the cake..|
|A sprinkling of sprinkles on top..|
|And the birthday cake is done!|
The cake was finished just in time for the party in Auckland city, I was a little nervous of how I would transport the monster of a cake safely 22km away by car. So I sat with it on the cake stand on my lap and made my boy Martin drive like a grandma.
When we got to the venue, all that was left for me to do was assemble the macaron tower!
|A light circling of ribbon to discourage degustation prior to cake-cutting.|
|The beautiful birthday girl!|
|After the carnage.|
Overall it was a wonderful night, and I felt really honoured to have been given the opportunity to do what I love for a friend that I adore. The thing that I love most about baking is for me to be able to help mark the important occasions in people's lives and make it an extra memorable moment with sweets. It was definitely worth the late nights baking to see her smile and get excited about her cakes. I can't wait until another one of my friends have a birthday and I can make more cakes and towers!