Mamas, it’s time. Let the sugar-fest, must impress, baking bonanza begin! With Halloween quickly approaching and Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa (kindly insert your holiday here) coming in hot thereafter, the time is now to get your baking game plan together for the upcoming season.
If you’re like me, my entertaining needs are typically a debit card swipe away. AJs and various CenPho bakeries are my usual go-to however, I do strive for one (I have my limits) full-on bakingpalooza at home, creating with my kids and friends. The memories are priceless, extra Body Lab sessions help remedy my lack of hand-to-mouth self-control, and I achieve my “OMG Z, these are ADORBS!” reaction when serving up my new seasonal dessert. #bestsugarrushever
For this holiday’s sucrose masterpiece, I sought out sassy baking pro, Nina Payne for a fresh idea. Nina owns Sassy Cakes by Nina at 16th Street and Bethany Home and true to her company’s moniker, is as sassy (in the best way) and talented as they come. I recently asked Nina to show me an easy, guaranteed to impress (adults and littles) recipe. Without hesitation, she led me to the bakery’s kitchen, and in approximately 15 minutes (sans prep) we whipped up these deelish Pumpkin Cupcakes. Can you guess which one I made? Not so sure? Check my Insta video. Again, I have my limits. But seriously, so easy and fun, and the bonus is I will use the same recipe and easily substitute colors and shapes for Canada’s Boxing Day, Hanukah, Christmas etc. and no one will know. Except you. Regardless, go on faithful readers and enjoy my early holiday gift to you—a step-by-step guide to your next Pinterest worthy post. (See recipe below)
Better yet, come the end of the year rewind with a few adjustments by simply making a sheet cake, cut out shapes (tree, angel, Star of David…) and repeat recipe steps 1-4. Use appropriate colored fondant and a little creativity to score major mommy points and delight your guests/social media followers once again.
Back to present day… while Nina and I were baking it up in her kitchen, I got the scoop on how her sugary dreams became reality.
With an art degree and love for sweets under her apron, Nina made equal parts elaborate and yummy baked goods for family and friends. Word spread quickly about her talent and a small side business naturally developed. Nina told me when a steady flow of strangers began picking up orders from her home on a regular basis, she knew it was time to take that entrepreneurial leap of faith and Sassy Cakes by Nina opened its doors.
Nina’s customized cakes are her specialty. Starting at $30 and up, her art background comes into play while creating the wildest designs—slot machines, shoes, footballs— if you can think it up, she can most likely make it. Check @_sassy_cakes for some Insta #inspo. Nina also makes and sells in her store Sassy Bites, (little pop in your mouth delights) cupcakes, and Nina’s Sassy Cocoa Bars. The bars were created exclusively for Starbucks when corporate muckety-mucks approached the baker to create a unique dessert for a local Starbucks store. After several taste tests, the Cocoa Bar (think glazed vanilla cake soaked in a cocoa glaze, rolled in shredded coconut) was the winner. I wonder if Starbucks taste-testers hit up Body Lab too?
Nina’s creations are all derived from natural ingredients and made from scratch (overachiever).
Sugar and gluten not your thing? Sassy Cakes by Nina has you covered. Custom requests are welcome and customer service (in my opinion) is her sweetest ingredient. With the holidays upon us, I recommend getting this gem of a bakery on your radar now—Sassy Cakes by Nina is definitely one to watch.
Pumpkin Cupcakes by Nina
- Bake up from your fave box recipe or make from scratch two dozen (or less) standard size cupcakes.
- Once cool, coat entire cupcake with store bought or homemade, vanilla buttercream frosting.
- Make from scratch (overachiever) or follow my lead and purchase orange fondant in the cake decorating aisle at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. Cut the fondant into 10-12 inch circles (one for each cupcake and large enough to cover cupcake).
- You guessed it, cover the frosted cupcake with the fondant. Smooth and trim excess.
- Using a fondant tool (see my Insta) softly run the flat edge from the top to bottom of the cupcake. You are striving for subtle vertical lines to mimic the texture of a real pumpkin’s lumpy, bumpy exterior. Use the tool to indent the tippy top of the cupcake for leaf and stem.
- Make from scratch (we meet again, overachiever) or purchase brown fondant for pumpkin stem. Roll up half-inch tube shaped “stems” and insert into the indentation. Cut top of stem at an angle for effect.
- Make from scratch (just stop) or purchase green fondant sheets for pumpkin leaf. Using a small (as in teeny) leaf cutter and make appropriate number of leaves. Vein your leaves with the fondant tool for effect and insert into pumpkin indentation next to stem.