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Even though I love baking, I don't receive a lot of baking themed gifts.

I usually get new bake-ware instead, but that ends up being the gift that keeps on giving to the person who gifted it as I bake more and more stuff with it.

I think it just slips people's minds that avid bakers could want something besides tools or utensils.

I mean, I'm very grateful for always having new things to test out in the kitchen, but I think something like this would make me equally as happy.

It's just a little token of appreciation to let the baker in your life know that it's not as easy as they make it seem to deliver delicious treats regularly.
apple-shaped-cookie-cutter
Is it too Cliché to say this would be perfect if you are making teacher gifts?

If it is perhaps this fruit shaped cookie cutter could be considered Fall themed as well.

I like how this is colored red to match what it's trying to mimic.  It adds a nice touch.

While we do associate apples with the two things mentioned above, they can be used as great piping practice as well.

The shape is simple, but has a slight amount of detail, and it's something we are all familiar with.  It makes it a good option for beginners.

lightning-bolt-cookie-cutter
Besides a Harry Potter themed party, I'm not really sure when you would use something like this.

I guess it would be good for a "weather" themed party, but you don't hear of those being requested too often.

But that's what great about taste, everyone's is unique.

I would personally use this with cloud shaped one to make a kawaii (cute) themed set.

I would pipe little faces on each and serve them together.

As I said, I can't quite understand why you would need one of these stormy cookie cutters, but maybe that means I'm not being creative enough.


I've been baking for a few years now, and during that time I experimented a lot.  Some people tend to get stuck mastering one thing, which is respectable, but I always need to challenge myself to stay interested.

There are many different types of desserts that I've baked, and yet still many more to try.  However, of the ones that I have made, I feel confident in a lot of them.

I might even consider myself to have "mastered" them to some degree (as much a home baker can anyway).

If you're stuck trying to figure out what to bake next, maybe the list below can help.

My Favorite Desserts to Bake

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cupcakes
  • Cream Puffs
  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Fruit Tarts
  • Blueberry Pie
  • Apple Crumble
  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Homemade Ice Cream with a Custard Base
  • Chocolate Torte
  • Brownies and Blondies
  • Sponge Cake
These are just some of the desserts that I find myself baking over and over again.  I consider these easy for beginners to start with (with the exception of the cream puffs maybe because they are french pastry).  

Did this list inspire you?  What are some of your favorite things to bake?
Having been baking and cooking food for years now, I have a few tips on how to prevent food from getting stuck to cookware and bakeware.

It all comes down to being preventative and using the right kinds of cookware.

Greasing Cake Pans

You may have heard this term before, it essentially means preparing your cakes, muffins, cupcakes, etc. to not stick in the pan.

The most efficient method is to coat the pan with a thin layer of butter, then dust a thin layer of flour over that.

I like to grab the stick using the wrapper to hold one end and spread the butter around my pans.  Then I put a few tablespoons of flour in the pan and shake it over the sink while rotating the pan.

You can also use parchment paper instead.  You can use a little butter to help the parchment paper stick to the pan as well.

I would not recommend using foil.

Using Non-Stick Cookware

There are certain kinds of nonstick cookware that don't really require you greasing your pans at all.  I recently purchased some amazing pans that I can burn cheese on and still have it not stick.

You can do some research online or test out different pans to see if you can find some as well.

Materials like stainless steel and glass are not nonstick and require proper greasing in order to be able to release the food easily after it's finished cooking.

Prevent Food from Sticking

These are just a few tips that I've learned from experience.  When all else fails, don't be afraid to try new things to figure out what works best for you.
bakers-gonna-bake-tshirt
The holidays are fast approaching and that means it's time to think of gifts.

This funny baking tshirt is perfect for that person who always let's you sample their desserts.

Baking is hard work, show that you appreciate that work by gifting them this.

Or just by it for yourself if you happen to be the enthusiast, as it quite cute.

I would love to get this in a size or two larger than my normal size and where it when I'm in the kitchen.

I think it's a fun shirt.
espresso-powder-for-baking-king-arthur
I have recently started baking with espresso powder.  I have actually only recently started drinking espresso as well.  I am sad that it took me this long to discover it.

I have always avoided it because I hate the taste of coffee so I assumed it would be pretty similar.  But whereas coffee is quite bitter, espresso has a strong, bold, rich flavor to it that I find very appealing.

I tried using this powder to flavor a cake I was making and loved it.  You can definitely taste it, and it doesn't taste artificial, like if you were using an extract.

In order to find this at you local grocery store, I think you would have some trouble.  I haven't personally come across it at any of mine.  I would recommend checking both the coffee and the baking aisles at your local grocery store if you were looking for it there.

I was able to buy mine from the Kitchen & Company store where I live.  I think you would have a better chance of finding it at similar baking specialty or health specialty stores.

You can also buy it from the King Arthur Flour website, and Amazon.
I have always been fascinated by "dump cakes". The set-it-and-forget-it style of baking that seems to save a lot of time and possibly money.

One woman made this "dump" style of cooking famous, Cathy Mitchell. She is an infomercial queen and has authored numerous cookbooks.

Cathy Mitchell Cookbooks

dump-cake-cookbook

This is the book that got me started on researching dump recipes.

I think you can most certainly make cakes, brownies, and other desserts by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and dumping them in a pan to bake.

In fact, that's what most recipes call for.

But the way she's marketed it - and I'm sure the ingenuity of her recipes as well - make baking using her recipes seem far more appealing.
crock-dump-meals



 As you can see on the book cover, this book has an impressive claim that all recipes require 5 ingredients or less.  The bottom even reads "Just Dump & Slow Cook!".

To be honest, I am a bit skeptical that you make tasty meals with just five ingredients or less, even if it's in the slow cooker.

Slow cooker meals often have extra steps involved such as searing meat or blending vegetables to make a soup.

To put five ingredients in a pot, let it cook for a couple of hours, then have a delicious meal ready to serve, seems a little far fetched.

But, if you look at the picture it seems she's made a beef stew with just beef, potatoes, carrots, stock, and herbs.

It does indeed look like something you could serve for dinner.

dump-dinners-cathy-mitchell-cookbook

I believe these are the equivalent of what we call "sheet pan dinners" today. I am more inclined to believe that these will work out, just based on experience and the cooking method.

I think these could classify as casseroles, roasted vegetables and meat, vegetable tarts, and pizza's (as shown on the cover).

All of which I have successfully made on a sheet pan before.

If you have a large family and are in need of quick weeknight dinner recipes, I think this book would be a good resource.

When I plan my weekly meals, I always make sure to include a few "big batch" meals that I know are easy to make and will last for more than one meal for my family.

With "over 250 recipes" in this book, you are sure to find some inspiration for some good meals.
Rosanna Pansino by Wilton Silicone Gem Shapes Candy Mold, 12-Cavity
I love chocolate molds like these because they are so easy to work with.  And who doesn't want to make some crystalline looking chocolate gems?

I think it would be fun to make them all different colors like the picture on the package, and stack them up to display them.

This mold is silicone, which I really don't prefer.  However, when it comes to chocolate and candy making, it can make things easier.

I purchased this mold on sale at Walmart before, but unfortunately I lost track of it after moving and didn't get a chance to play with it.

I am tempted to purchase it again having coming across it like this.

I truly love the shapes and think you could have a lot of fun decorating, filling, and displaying these.
Cybrtrayd Cross Lolly Chocolate Candy Mold with Lollipop Supply Bundle
I'm not sure of another time you would use these except for Easter, but they are very effective for that purpose.

These are simple pour and set molds.  You can use candy melts or chocolate chips with them.

I like that there is some texture on the front, it isn't a smooth surface finish.  It adds dimension to the finished product.

They do look quite big as well, maybe enough to plan for one per person.

However, since there are only four per mold, you may need to consider buying multiple molds for a large batch.



I was incredibly lucky to be gifted with the Le Creuset Sorbet Collection Mini Cocottes for my birthday this year.

They are so adorable, I plan on keeping them forever!

As an avid baker and home cook, of course I have always wanted Le Creuset  cookware, but it's not exactly known for being affordable.

So this was a real treat!

I got started right away searching Google and Pinterest for recipes.  Surprisingly though, aside from egg recipes, there weren't that many.  That didn't stop me from coming up with ideas of my own though.

Here is everything I've baked so far in my mini cocottes:

1. Pancakes.  One of the very first things I did was bake pancakes in them using Hungry Jack's Light and Fluffy Pancake Mix.  You just make the mix according to the directions on the box, butter the pans, fill them up about 2/3 of the way, and bake for 325 degrees for around 10 minutes or so.  They are amazing!  It tastes like a cake.  It is so moist and fluffy all at the same time.
2. Roasted garlic.  I've always wanted to try roasting garlic, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I rinsed my garlic, chopped the tops off, and roasted a few bulbs in each pan with about a tablespoon of butter and olive oil in each one.  I roasted them at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.  Wow.  They were so fragrant and soft.  I actually ended up making garlic butter from the roasted garlic and used it on just about everything.  This is definitely a new staple recipe of mine.
3. Roasted asparagus.  I washed my asparagus, broke each stalk into 3 or 4 pieces and filled up the pans with a few pieces each and some butter and seasoning.  I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They came out so tender, if you like steamed asparagus definitely give this a try.
4. Eggs (oeufs en cocotte).  Okay, so just because it's the only recipe you can find on the internet for these mini pans, doesn't mean it's not delicious.  I tried several variations of the dish and was pleased with each and every single one.

Somehow I thought I had cooked more than that.  I am really excited to try baking in them soon as well.  These have definitely inspired me to try new things in the kitchen and I am looking forward to using them for a long time.

Do you have experience with mini cocottes?  I'd love to know some of your favorite recipes if you'd leave them in the comments below!
One of the more fun parts about baking is that it's not always all about what you make or how good it tastes, but about how pretty it looks.

I love learning about new decorating techniques that I can use to make my desserts look as visually appealing as they taste.

In the same vain, sometimes it's nice to display them on pretty things as well, like this light green pedestal cake stand with a dome cover.

Cakes are usually displayed on these very Victorian looking displays.  I think they do the best of making it feel like something grand, which it often times is.

When you go through all the trouble of baking, frosting, layering, and decorating a cake, why not make sure the presentation is nice as well?

Aside from how it looks, it's also just very practical.  It's hard to fit a cake into some tupperware.  You'll end up having to slice up the leftover cake into however many pieces can fit into your plastic containers.

Don't be fooled by the intricate designs either, often times these displays are very affordable.  So you have something that looks great, is affordable, and practical.  That's always a good option.
Silicone bakeware and molds can be amazing to work  with.  You can easily remove anything you make in them due to their flexibility.  Also, they have an unimaginable amount of shapes, from traditional demi-spheres to intricate character molds.

But I have found the trouble with silicone tools (even kitchen tools not used for baking) is that they are hard to clean.

My favorite method

The best method I have found is to hand wash them with soap and water and let them air dry.  Even then, you may see hard water stains leftover after they are dry.

If you wash them and use anything to wipe them dry with, you may see the lint particles from your towel or paper towel.  The material collects particles very easily.

What didn't work

The worst cleaning method I've tried is running them through the dishwasher.  Sometimes it is necessary to do, or you feel it's necessary because hand washing alone didn't remove everything.

Well, often times when I do this, the next thing baked in there tastes of soap.  I haven't tried running them through a second cycle with just water but I doubt it would make much difference as it seems to absorb everything easily and then hold it in for a while.

Do you have any tips?

So that has been my experience in cleaning silicone molds.  As you can see, it hasn't been great and I haven't found a perfect solution yet.  If you have a different method that works, please comment below to share!
This elephant cake pan is perfect for a baby shower.

Lately I have come across a lot of baby shower and nursey decor ideas.  I love the pastel colors and cute baby animals.

Much like this adorable little guy.  This pan may look big, but is a little bit smaller than you may think.

Some may find that annoying, but others might think it's nice to have a smaller sized cake.

For something like a baby shower, I think a smaller cake is nice and it will look more polished.

For something like a birthday party, having a smaller cake could seem more like poor planning.
I am a journal hoarder, this cupcake notebook speaks to me on a personal level.

It's cover had 3D cupcakes printed all over it.  They are all pretty colorful too.

When it comes to buying notebooks, it is absolutely okay to judge a book by it's cover.

Unfortunately, I fall for them every time and have a growing collection of unused journals, sketchpads, and notebooks.

I am slowly trying to designate each of them to something.

At the same time, I am trying to resist buying more, but who can resist when they are this cute?

This ferris wheel cupcake display is truly whimsical.

I absolutely love that fact that it comes in pink as well.  It's perfect for a little girl's birthday party.

Although it doesn't look like it, it can hold quite a few cupcakes.  But certainly not any large amount.

If you had a big batch to display, you might need multiples, or to use this one as a centerpiece and put the rest on a decorative tray.

For some reason I never remember having cupcakes at parties when I was a child.  It was always cake and ice cream.

I think cupcakes are definitely more the norm these days.  They are easier to bake and serve, and they allow for easy clean up as well.
Some may say gold sprinkles are over the top

I think they are absolutely indulgent, yes, but they also can provide a look of elegance or glam.  Sometimes its just fun to make stuff look shimmery or glittery.

Especially when it comes to baked goods, as they often don't have a look of sheen or shine unless there is a glaze on top.

I haven't been a big time sprinkle user in the past, in fact I am only just now discovering that there are actually many varieties of them.

I always thought just the rainbow mix you get in the stores was pretty much the limit.  But I watched a video the other day where a woman used an "Autumn Mix" and it was just so fun.  There were some pumpkin and leaf shaped sprinkles mixed with regular shaped ones, all with very autumn-y colors.

I'm not so used to baking with sprinkles as I've said, but I think they are definitely a fun addition on top of baked goods that can be quite eye-catching.


Mastering the art of baking is something you do over time, and with a lot of practice.  It may seem like it just comes easier to some than others, but it's all down to experience.

With experience comes knowledge and intuition that will help you achieve that level of perfection that we all desire.

Well, I know some of us just desire to have something come out that doesn't taste horrible.  And that's okay too.

The point is, you learn a lot from practicing and you should practice hard and not give up.  After failing many times, you will see that even you can make something good.

I would recommend practicing how to make the following things to help you be a more well-rounded baker. 

These are all the basics of baking, and once you learn how to make them, you can make a lot of different things.

1. Buttercream Frosting
2. Basic Cake (chocolate, vanilla, yellow, red velvet, etc.)
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies
4. Homemade Whipped Cream
5. Homemade Pudding/Custard
6. Caramel Sauce
7. Pastry Cream
8. Cream Puffs or Eclairs
9. Meringue (either Italian meringue frosting/pie topping, or meringue cookies)
10. Chocolate Ganache 

You'll see that with the techniques used to bake these basics, you can feel more confident in many baking adventures.
What could be trendier than a unicorn horn?

We've all seen the recent trend of unicorn cakes and unicorn everything else for that matter.  I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about, the one with the cute eyelashes.

While you could probably achieve the same effect by rolling fondant into strips and then rolling a strip around a tapered (cone-like) object, if you want to make one out of something more fragile - like chocolate or sugar - these are your best bet.

I love using candy molds and sometimes find myself making chocolates just to see what the final product out of the mold will be.