The very first time I met Mr NQN I confess that thought that he was terribly handsome and interesting. I was however attached to another human being (not literally) at the same time. He and my then sort-of boyfriend worked at the same website design company and I recall them discussing a website they were working on which was Australian version of Elle Magazine. Mr NQN said something in passing that he was editing a picture of a girl wearing a scarf and thought that she was the most beautiful looking girl he had ever seen.
So I did what any girl who thought that a man was handsome and delicious would do. When I got home I quickly grabbed my copy of Elle and flicked through it until I found the photo. She couldn’t have looked more opposite to me, she had blonde hair and freckles whereas I was nicknamed Morticia after Morticia Addams. The next few times I saw him I was still interested in him but I had pretty much counted myself out as not his type. I did try and ascertain his type, as you do, and there was the screensaver of Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw and the occasional reference to other famous blonde models. I mean if the guy likes models then forget it then!
That’s actually a quote from Roger-what a smoothie!
That of course is all history. We ended up getting married and he has absolutely no recollection of liking any of those women or having a type. In fact he has vehemently denies having a screensaver of SJP and he remains so nonplussed whenever any of those famous faces appear on the screen I actually do believe that he had no idea who they really were.
One evening, we were watching one of my favourite TV shows Mad Men and I asked him who he thought was his favourite female character. He pointed at Joan Holloway.
“Her, I guess…” he said non-committally. The same way that a guy usually answers these questions i.e. with a measure of “I don’t really care and in fact I hate being asked these questions because I know they’ll come back and bite me in the ass during an argument”.
A little part of me expected him to say Betty Draper (who I think has great style if terrible mothering skills) just based on his previous taste of course. I decided to make Mad Men cupcakes as I had been planning to do this for about six months ever since I saw the end of Season 4. As someone that was formerly in advertising I have plenty of laughs and grimaces at how little it has actually changed over the last few decades. Sure some things have but within an agency, the roles are very clearly defined and I could name a Don Draper, a Pete Campbell, a Peggy Olsen and a Joan Holloway at any of the agencies that I worked at.
And what did Mr NQN say when he came home and saw the cupcakes?
“The blonde looks good. I like the blonde one”.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you your significant other’s type?
And lovely news! I was featured in the new Home Ideas magazine. They have a Little Bites section where they ask people five questions about food. How exciting!
As seen in HOME ideas www.homeideasmagazine.com.au-click to enlarge
Mad Men Cupcakes
The cupcakes themselves are almost, and I said almost a secondary thought to the actual toppings. Now I’m not advocating serving just any cupcake but by the time you’re done with the faces you won’t really care that much about the actual cupcake. Unless you’re a sucker for punishment like me.
Step1: the hair
Start with a circle of orange fondant and using the same round cutter, cut out an ellipse shape so that you get a crescent moon
Take the medium leaf cutter and cut out a little wedge from the crescent moon
Using the same medium leaf cutter, cut out a leaf of orange fondant
Then cut out a small circle (I used a flower cutter but you just want to make the bun so a small circle cutter will do).’
Using the small leaf cutter, cut out little pieces to make a fringe
You will need: orange fondant.
Joan’s hair was all about the swept fringe and the bun and was actually the most fun to do as playing with fondant in vivid colours always brings it to life. Joan’s hair is actually in three pieces, the main part, the swept fringe and the bun. I perhaps messed up with the proportions (she ended up with the largest head) but I don’t think the hair is too bad. But you be the judge. I ended up doing two lots of Joan’s hair as that seemed the most complicated. Good thing as my father broke one.
You now have three pieces which you will adhere to each other using water and a small brush
The “bun” is on the bottom, then the larger piece and then the fringe on top
You will need brown fondant and a little white fondant for his always present cigarette.
Quite honestly I don’t remember how I cut out Don’s hair-I didn’t even take any photos of it being done. It was quite difficult with the thin parts at the side and I just keep cutting pieces off until I got something that was an approximation of his hair. The women’s hair was more complicated but it seemed much easier to me. But that may be because I’ve never had short hair so I don’t know how to style it.
Start with a yellow circle
With a leaf cutter, cut out a little on the right9this will end up looking like a flick of the hair
Cut out her face using the medium leaf cutter
And then do it a second time
Then using the medium leaf cutter, cut out a piece of yellow fondant for the front of her hair
You will need yellow fondant. Betty and Peggy have a similar flick to their hair which can be hard to do with fondant. I used the leaf cutter to give her hair a bit of a sweep like Joan’s.
Cut out a little piece for the lower left hair to make a flick-mine isn’t great I know
Start with a circle-mine was a squarish circle but it doesn’t matter as you’ll cut a big chunk out of it to the side and then a little bit at the opposite end to make a flick
Using the small leaf cutter cut out a fringe
You will need brown chocolate fondant (like Don’s). Peggy’s hair is about the flick and that (sorry) awful fringe. Once I managed to sort of figure out how to do the flick (not a great job at it admittedly) I decided to position Peggy’s face slight sideways as I always picture her looking at everyone with a bit of a look-you know the one where everyone at work is acting like a douche and you’re just trying to do your job.
Roger has a very thin rectangular face so using a rectangular cutter with slightly curved sides cut out a rectangle from a circle of white fondant
You will need white fondant and silver lustre dust. Roger’s face is very long and thin and despite the fact that I thought that this would be hard his hair came about the easiest. Perhaps it was because it was the last hair that I did. And yes I have a hard time drawing men’s faces. Women’s faces are so much easier!
Trim the edges with a paring knife and then using the small leaf cutter cut out little bits along the top hairline as shown
Step 2: Faces
You will need: white fondant and rose pink and brown food colouring. A small paring knife, edible ink textas (from Little Betsy Baker), pencil, paper, small brush and water.
1. Knead a tiny amount of rose pink and brown food colouring into a small ball of white fondant.Add this ball to a larger piece of white fondant and knead until a uniform pale pink skin tone. Cut out an oval for the face-you will trim the faces a bit later.
2. Now practice drawing the faces on a piece of paper with a pencil first (don’t waste your edible ink pens on practice). Once you’ve got the face down then you can draw it on the fondant faces. I freaked out so much at the prospect that I asked my father who paints over to help me. As you can see he can draw but he can’t draw Joan Holloway (angry Nicole Kidman anyone?). He also broke one of my pens and Joan’s hair so I had to send him home. So I had to pick up the pens and do it myself. I know my drawing sucks. But how about that Charlie Sheen? Nice subject change right?
My father’s angry Nicole Kidman in the top right
3. Once you’re drawn on the faces you can shape the faces using the paring knife. The men have more square jaws and the women have smaller chins so patiently carve out a shape. Now using water and a brush glue all of the hair onto the face.
If you’ve survived doing this, I’m sure Don Draper himself would sit you down for a glass of scotch and a cigarette and if you were a woman he would probably try and seduce you. But I’m not Don Draper and so I’m going to tell you to bake some cupcakes. Lemon chiffon ones actually. I decided to do lemon chiffon cupcakes as chiffon was a popular dress fabric. I used the recipe from the culinary institute of America which is fitting because I wanted an American recipe to suit the show’s vintage Americana vibe.
Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 1.5 cups cake flour*
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large egg whites
Baker’s tip: If you can’t get cake flour, you can make it. To make 1 cup of cake flour, place 2 tablespoons or cornflour/cornstarch in a measuring cup and top with plain or all purpose flour to make 1 cup.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Place paper cupcake inserts inside cupcake tray.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and half the sugar together into a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl and reserve.
3. In another large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, water, vanilla, and zest. Mix with a handheld mixer or whip attachment until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
4. Add the egg yolk mixture gradually to the dry ingredients, mixing with a handheld mixer or whip attachment on medium speed until a paste forms. When a paste has formed, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and continue adding the remainder of the yolk mixture until it is all incorporated. Beat for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed.
5. In a separate mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, whip the egg whites with a clean whip attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar while beating the egg whites and continue to beat until medium peaks form.
6. Gently blend 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
7. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups.
8. Bake at 375°F/190C until the top of a cake springs back to the touch, about 20 minutes.
9. Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling. The cakes are ready to frost now, or they can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 weeks. I filled mine with some lovely Blue Ox blackberry and durif jam which you can do or you can fill them with lemon curd or whatever you like. Or leave them plain.
Assemble cupcakes by spreading ganache on top and smooth it over as per the instructions here. Then cut out some coloured fondant circles and attach them by brushing a little water on top of the set ganache. Place the faces on top.
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