The paper cups saga.

I visit many baking blogs/sites during my daily internet rounds, and I had seen these particular paper cups used a lot. I really love the look of them. They look really cute with all cupcake flavours and colours so I decided that I had to find them and test them out.

I wasn't aware at the time that these are nearly impossible to find in shops in New Zealand. I checked around 5 different kitchen/baking stores in the city and none of them had them. I even asked the shop assistants if they knew where I could try. I showed them pictures of what I wanted and none of them had ever seen them before. I was annoyed and the fact that I couldn't find them made me want them even more.

A month or two later, I finally found someone selling them on TradeMe. They were fairly pricey cups - $6 for 10.

Decided to go with a Rich Chocolate Cupcake recipe, with a cream cheese frosting. I wanted the frosting to be a bright purple colour, just for fun, but my food colouring wouldn't suffice so I ended up with a strange mauve/grey colour.

I'm unsure why but the first batch I did (using these new paper cups) failed miserably. They look fine in the photos but they had actually sunken nearly all the way to the bottom of the cup. The second lot were much better even though it was the same batter and same oven temp. Good thing they still tasted amazing!

After that big hunt for those cups I ended up not really liking them. We found it quite hard to get the cupcake out of them. I had to use a spoon to get the cupcake out and my boyfriend just teared them apart and ended up with cupcake everywhere. Still.... nom nom nom.

Sorry that the photos are so weird and dark. I fail miserably when it comes to cameras and I had fiddled around with some of the settings on my boyfriend's camera. Oops (this is why I don't have nice things!).

P.S. Check out my pretty floral two tier cupcake stand that my friend Anneka got me for my 24th birthday! It's puuuuurdy.

Ready. Set. Bake.

One thing that I love about working in the Auckland office is that every year in December they have an 'Office Support Bake-Off'. I think it's mostly to save costs instead of having the work do a Christmas morning-tea shout for us, but I will look forward to it every year.

Last December was my first bake-off. The bake-off had some rules which was mainly just the obvious stuff like no pre-mixed ingredients etc. And we were also told what the judges would be marking on. Taste, creativity, presentation, difficulty involved and more.

I decided to make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, which I had made once before and they were quite fun. Below is a photo from that first batch. That recipe I had used contained coconut in the cake and the meringue and I wasn't a big fan of that. So I hunted out some new recipes and picked one that looked good to me for this bake-off.

I figured that lemon meringue cupcakes would be sure to give people a run for their money, but I also had no idea what to expect from the others at my work. There were some really great entrants... someone made a fantastic cheesecake which was delicious however it wasn't quite set yet. Everyone was really blown away with my cupcakes. I even went to the trouble to bring my cupcake stand in and set them out on it. Everyone else's baking was sitting in plastic containers, so my stand and the pink and white polka dot cups of mine stood out amongst the rest.

To my surprise, my Lemon Meringue Cupcakes came first! I won my first bake off. I scored very high on the presentation and difficulty involved part - due to having to make lemon curd, put it inside the cupcake, make and pipe the meringue and then re-cook it perfectly.

I was super happy with my win and I can't wait to enter again this year!
But what will I bake??


My family are the best. I don't know what more to say other than that. They've always been there. We've had our ups and downs but got through them all and I couldn't be happier with how everything has turned out.

I'm very lucky and I don't thank them enough for everything they have done for me.

So please, meet my family....

Coombe / Gratkowski (Mother's side)

This is my mother, Marysia. She's just like me. I really am my mother's daughter. Possibly not for the better though... I inherited her forgetfulness and bad listening skills. I'm thankful that I got her daydreaming side. I daydream ALL THE TIME and I believe she does the same.

So many people comment on my mother's looks. "Is she your sister?" Hahaha. Good one. When she was 18 years old she came third in Miss New Zealand (the winner being Lorraine Downes, who went on to win Miss World that year) and when I was about 6 years old she won Mrs Australasia.

This is my step-dad, Mike and step-brother, Ben. Mike is pretty great. Couldn't have hoped for mum to meet a better fellow.

Mum comes from a large family of six children. I don't often see my aunties and uncles but recently my Aunty Ania (on the left below) moved to Tauranga where my mum lives which is the best. She's more pro at baking than I am AND she's a nail technician! The best!

My brother, Cam, is one of the funniest people I have ever met. We have the same sense of humour. He's 18 months younger than me and now lives a 9 hour drive away from me and I don't like that at all. I keep pestering him to move up here.

We have always gotten along pretty well. Had a few little fights when we were little. I recall being punched in the nose twice, and us spitting at each other when we fought over the basin, but apart from that I thought he was awesome. He probably thought I was a loser. :'D I did break his arm once, not on purpose of course! And I've always felt crazy bad about it.

This is Chloe, my mum's flying dog. She's adorable and I love her to pieces. So glad my parents both got dogs that are hypoallergenic since I have a horrible allergy to furry things. :(

Bourgeois (Father's side)

Like father, like son? This is my grandfather, Raymond and father, Brent. My dad is the biggest beach bum I know of. He lives and breathes the ocean. He owns so much surfing collector items that he's run out of places to put them. He goes surfing as often as possible. He's very lucky that my step-mum, Tracey (who I failed to get a photo of at this Christmas get-together) is just as much of a surfer as he is.

Grandpa and Grandma, Patricia, are some of the funniest people I've met also. They are so hilarious together. Always making fun of eachother. It scares me to death to think that they may be gone soon. My grandma hates that I took this photo of her. I refused to delete it.

Step-sister, Jordan. She's amazing and has quite a personality! Super talented, dramatic and inspirational.

Step-sister, Holly dolly. Gosh she's a cheeky one. I don't know what to say about her other than "Look at that cute face!". I want to pinch her cheeks every time I see her.

As I said, my family are the best.

The big move.

In 2009 my boyfriend and I were both living in Hamilton when a job opportunity popped up for him in Auckland. It was a job he couldn't pass up, since there aren't many opportunities coming up in New Zealand for record engineers, so of course he had to take it. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't move up to Auckland with him, it was just a matter of sorting out what to do about work. The thought of having to job hunt, in Auckland, during a recession was terrifying.

I work for an international consultancy company as an in-house graphic designer. The company has thousands of employees all over the world, and only 4 graphic designers, 3 (including myself) were based in Hamilton, the other in Auckland. So I spoke to the one in Auckland, discussed with her superiors about whether I could transfer there and as luck would have it, they took me on! I couldn't have been happier.

Within the few weeks following this we had to find somewhere to live. Neither of us were keen on living with a random so we thought we would just live by ourselves in an apartment in the city. In Hamilton, I only had a few friends still living there as most had moved away. I had mentioned to Carly a few times, in a jokingly manner, that she should move up with us. I was never really joking and one day she asked if I was serious. We talked and got the ball rolling. I don't think she ever really thought it would happen, but she asked her boss if she could get a transfer to the Queen St, Auckland JB Hi Fi branch. All of us were shocked when he said that there was an opening there and she could transfer.

Within 1-2 months from the time the boy had accepted his Auckland job, both me and Carly had secured job transfers and we had found an apartment in the city within walking distance of all of our jobs. I love our apartment. It's small, as most apartments are, but it's exactly what I wanted. Everything had worked out without a hitch! And as much as I hate Auckland with it's terrible traffic, I've never regretted moving here and I haven't missed Hamilton at all.

Our new apartment kitchen has seen many new cupcake batches since we've moved. One of the first were Red Velvet Cupcakes. They definitely didn't turn out as bright red as I had hoped but they tasted delicious. We will try these ones out again sometime with a different recipe to see if we can improve on that.

Cream cheese icing for the win!

And so it began...

I'm starting this blog a little different to normal because it should have been started a long time ago. So in the beginning I will be posting some things that happened a while ago.

Growing up I never really baked much. I left that up to Mum. She made the most amazing pinwheel scones (cinnamon). I will have to get her to teach me how to make her ones sometime. They were amazing.

In 2009 a few of my friends and I would always end up having Sundays off together so we began to dabble in some cupcake making. I don't have any photos of the first couple of batches we made, but that is probably a good thing. They were quite bad. Not the cupcake itself, but the decorating. We stuck every bit of candy we could think of to them. They were a sugary mess.

On a cold Winter day my friend Carly and I decided to make some cupcakes using Caramel Hershey's Kisses. However, we did cheat. Good old Betty Crocker packeted cupcake mix was sitting on the shelf staring at us, and we were both feeling a little too lazy to make them from scratch.

While we were in the supermarket we found a cupcake stand. PERFECT. We decided we would have to have it and would make cupcakes as often as possible.

These are our Caramel Hershey's Kisses Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes.
That name is a mouthful!
We didn't get any really nice photos but these will have to do.

We bought a chocolate and a vanilla packet and decided to mix it up a little.
We also put a Kiss into each cupcake.

Decorated with vanilla frosting and a Kiss to top it all off.

We enjoyed them. That is Carly on the right. She is one of my best friends and also lives with me so you will be seeing more of her throughout this blog.

So this is where it all started.

Hello world.

Oh yes, my very own blog.

For those of you that don't know me, I'm Danelle. It's nice to 'meet' you.

My posts will consist of my baking, my graphic design and my adventures.
I hope you all enjoy following the journey that is my life.