What’s Your Baking Style?

I’m a messy baker. You know I’m in the “zone” when there’s flour on my face and butter on my fingers. If you are passionate about something, you have to be willing to get “down and dirty with it!” Getting down and dirty with baking has the added advantage that virtually everything you use is tasty and worth trying!

Have you ever wondered what style of baker you are? While this may not be the first question that comes to mind, it is one that is fun to think about.

The Giver

For example, a giving beaker is one that is enthusiastic about what they do. They don’t really experiment, but rather go “by the book.” They also like to serve desserts that are “tried and true” favorites of their friends and family. I think this is because they aim to please! There is nothing wrong with that and I totally agree with being enthusiastic about what you do – but what fun is life if you don’t experiment a bit?

The Methodical Baker

A methodical baker is one who relies heavily on the recipe and who look at baking as a science. They know they will get the results they want by following the rules and outline. They typically never have baking fails.

While I totally respect this style of baking – I still don’t think it would be much fun, but hey, that’s just my opinion!

The Competitive Baker

I must admit, I love to be the best. I have even entered a few contests and found I was VERY competitive! This is the baker that has a dominant personality (eehhmmm…yes, that’s me) and perfectionists (not necessarily me). I love to win and want things my way – but perfect is way over rated! I want it to be tasty, but if it doesn’t look like the book – I’m okay with that.

The messy baker is not an “official” category, but I feel like that is the best way to describe my style. I use the best ingredients, but there are usually as many in the bowl as there are all over me and on the counter – it’s just my style!

Maybe that’s why friends never want to bake at their place…hmmm…something to chew on!

Whatever your baking style may be, embrace it and enjoy the experience. After all, that’s what it’s all about (and I don’t mean the hokey- pokey)!

As always, happy baking!

The Story of Greg’s Failed Cake and How I Turned a Mess Into a Masterpiece

A few months ago, my boyfriend, Greg decided he wanted to bake a cake. While I was supportive, I was also a bit skeptical. He said he didn’t want my help or input, so I kept my nose out of his buttercream.

Unfortunately, the cake was a complete failure. Rather than being juicy and fluffy, it was compact and a painfully chewy mass (not meaning mess).

We began to discuss how we could use it since we ruled out flushing it down the loo – after all, it would wreak havoc on the pipes. While we could throw it in the organic waste bin, I actually felt bad about throwing out all those costly ingredients. Milk, sugar, eggs….they all cost money.

The solution hit me like a ton of bricks – not unlike Greg’s disastrous cake.

Dehydration.

Dehydrating the cake meant that while it was not the tastiest thing on the planet, it was still full enough of sugar that it could be used for other desserts in the future – like later that night!

Once dehydrated I used some as a streusel topping for a bread pudding I made and even used some in ice cream saving the ingredients (and my poor Greg’s pride). I really worked out great and tasted pretty good, too.

I had some of the dehydrated cake left over, so I took a cue from my Denmark buddies and created some rum balls! I actually had to rehydrate the cake for this, but it worked pretty well. All I had to do was mix the leftover cake with cocoa and a sticky component (I used jam). Then roll the balls in your favorite topping – more cocoa (for all you chocolate lovers), shredded coconut, sprinkles or something else. You can also include some rum essence if you like (I did not in this case).

Honestly, this will work with any type of cake, which is why I know Greg’s mass of ingredients would be perfect for this. I even sent some to his co-workers, where they were a big hit. (I let Greg take credit for these – after all, his cake was the inspiration!)

If you find you have a cake fail, don’t automatically throw it out. There are options out there, all you need is a bit of creativity and a desire to make magic out of madness.

As always, happy baking!

Fun, Easy Ways to Decorate Your Next Birthday Cake

If you are new to baking or short on time, you may find fondant flowers and intricate lattice is simply not possible. However, this doesn’t mean you have to present a dull and boring cake! There are plenty of fun, easy ways to design and decorate a cake that will not only look great but also taste great. Some of my favorite ideas are found here.

Use Trix as Polka Dots

Yes, I’m talking about the cereal. In fact, you can even opt for the generic brand – it tastes the same and looks just as cute! Simply make small “piles” of icing all over the cake and then stick the colored balls on top. It really is that easy. You can choose one or two colors, or make it a multi-color creation.

Cut Up Some Twizzlers

Is it spring? Or, do you have someone celebrating their birthday who just loves flowers? If so, Twizzlers are the answer to a cute, springy cake. Simply cut the Twizzlers into small pieces and create bouquets of flowers. Add some green icing stems and you’re good to go.

Freshen Things Up

Fresh mint, raspberries, blueberries and virtually any other type of fresh fruit will make great cake decorating accessories. Use them on the sides and top for a beautiful and tasty cake creation that party-goers won’t be able to wait to dig into.

Create an Embroidered Cake

How, you may wonder? After all taking a needle and thread to your cake probably wouldn’t turn out too well! No worries, all you need is some colored sprinkles and a bit of imagination. You can create countless embroidered looking designs in any theme the birthday boy or girl likes!

Use Cookie Cutters to Create Clean Concoctions

Creating a birthday party for a first birthday party? Use a “one” cookie cutter, dog, cat or anything else and fill in, or around with icing, sprinkles or anything else to create the design of choice without the need for much time and effort. Once the design is complete, simply lift the cookie cutters away and you are ready to party.

As you can see, with a bit of creativity, you can create a fun, fully-decorated cake quickly. Even better, none of these ideas cost very much and you may have some of the ingredients in your cabinets! Talk about a win-win!

As always, happy baking!

Bizarre Baking Equipment that’s Actually Quite Useful

The old saying “it’s a piece of cake,” is a bit misleading. While cake may be delicious to eat, there is quite a bit that goes into making it. As a result – baking a cake is definitely not “a piece of cake.” I have never really liked that term, simply because it gives the impression that anyone can bake and, trust me, that is not the case.

My mom, bless her, liked to try to bake. All my birthday parties featured a homemade cake “by mom.” Eventually, my friends learned to smile as it was passed out and then throw it out when she wasn’t looking. One year, my dad took mercy on me and purchased cupcakes to hand out while my mom went to clean up. Her cakes tasted like a mix between wet cement and cat food – I love her, but her baking leaves a bit to be desired. (This is one blog post I am hoping she won’t see! If she does, I love you, mom!)

There are quite a few pieces of baking equipment that are considered “must-haves” in the kitchen. However, there are a few that may be a bit intimidating or bizarre to those new to the art of baking. Some of the strangest tools I use on a regular basis have been described here:

  • Sieve: Honestly, this tool was designed after the equipment that is used to mine for gold. The small screen helps to mix dry ingredients and also helps you keep “big” things out of your mix. It’s a handy tool to have especially if you are trying to dust surfaces or decorate with cocoa or icing sugar.
  • Zester: This tool typically has a blunt end with a small blade that allows you to grate off small pieces of orange or lemon rind. It is not used by all bakers, but great for summer cakes and desserts that have a citrus twist.
  • Baking parchment: This isn’t exactly bizarre, but essential in the kitchen and often forgotten about. This is paper that is both moisture and grease proof. You can use it for virtually anything – lining baking trays and cake tins and setting desserts out to cool. You can even put it in the freezer and oven.

If you are planning to bake, be sure to have these essentials on hand. While this is a short list, it is a good one! As always, happy baking!

Hi, I’m Elaine and I Love to Bake

I don’t want baking to define me because there is much more to my life. I have a boyfriend and great friends – who all love my cakes. When they come over to our small apartment in Malta, they expect some type of sweet to be there – if not, they know I must be dead…

Maybe baking does define me, after all. When I’m in a good mood, you can expect light and fluffy – such as a vanilla cake with delicious whipped vanilla bean frosting (drool!). But, if I’m not so happy – like when my BF, Greg, is too busy to go supply shopping with me – I bake heavier desserts, such as a Reese’s Overload cake.

Don’t get me wrong, Greg is great, but working for an online gambling company means he is glued to his computer screen managing those silly free spins campaigns for 14 hours out of the day so people can play those casino slot machines for free – on a good day. He loves when I bring him a sweet treat in the middle of a long day though; he says my smile and delicious baking make his day better.

Okay, enough with the mushy stuff. Back to why you’re here.

Cakes. Desserts. Treats. Anything Sweet.

If it is out there and sweet, I know about it. I love getting a little crazy and inventive with my concoctions. In fact, just this past summer I made a Fruit Loop topped cheesecake – it was the hit of our summer BBQs!

Keep in mind, baking wasn’t always my job – but it has always been my passion. After working several years in a mail room at a prestigious Malta magazine, I knew it was time for a change. It took a leap of faith and tons of support from my friends and BF, but now – here I am – ready to share with you everything I know and can do.

I want to help other people who have a passion for baking. While I will definitely be sharing some of my tasty treats and new ideas, you will also find quite a few tips, tricks and time savers to make baking more fun, easier and ensure success!

So be sure to visit often, ask questions and share your own ideas and treats. I hope this blog helps you find a passion for baking and creating sweet treats for everyone in your life. Chances are they will thank me for your newly found abilities!