Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baking Conversion Chart

Sunday, August 19, 2012
I find when I am baking I am constantly converting recipes, and I always have to do all this math in my head.  I finally came up with this baking conversion chart to help with the math and keep it simple.  Print it out and keep it in your cookbooks or on your fridge!


This one is for teaspoons and tablespoons.  My biggest pet peeve is when a recipe has 5 Tablespoons or 6 teaspoons.  Just convert it already and then I don't have to count out all those little spoons....  sheeesh.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baking Essentials : Tools

Friday, August 17, 2012
Want to be a baker?  Love to bake but always feel like you are missing something?  It might be that you need the proper tools.  A small spatula, pastry tips, and a scale make all the difference in the kitchen of baking.  Here are a few tools I can't live without whenever I bake.


My scale and my measuring spoons.  Scaling your recipe by weight can make the difference between a dry cake or a too salty muffin.  I prefer digital scales because they are very accurate and can usually switch between pounds and kilos.  Always a plus if you have a lot of European recipes.  I love these measuring spoons because they are soft and can go in the dishwasher. Super bonus!


I like to have all my ingredients organized and ready to go, so I always use large plastic cambro tubs or tupperware to keep things tidy and easy to find.  Nobody wants to run out of sugar because they couldn't see through their container.  It really puts a damper on a batch of brownies.  


Piping bags make decorating a breeze.  Pipe swirls on a cake or a heaping swoosh on a cupcake and voila!  Instant art.  You can pick up piping bags at your local supermarket, craft store, or Wal-Mart (usually).  I like the plastic disposable ones because you can wash them and use them a few times and they are more sanitary for the average home baker.  If you buy a cloth bag, make sure you take really good care of it and clean it SUPER well.  The pastry tips can be found at craft stores and kitchen stores.  You really only need a basic star tip and a round tip to get started.

'

I can't forget my trusty mixer!  This baby blue kitchen aid can whip up frosting and sponge cake lickety split!  (I use it for mashed potatoes too, don't tell...)  If you don't have a mixer, this is a great investment in your baking future.  They make life simpler and baking faster.  I have a 5 qt. mixer and it is usually the perfect size for home batches.  If you have a big family or think you will be baking in larger size batches, you might want to check out the 6 qt bowl.  


A cake stand is also a great "tool."  Some people might not consider it a tool, but I use mine a lot for cake decorating or cupcake decorating.  You can rotate it by hand when you are frosting a cake and it helps to raise the cake off the counter a bit when you are decorating.  Then if I am just eating the cake myself, I can skip the cardboard under the cake and leave it right on the cake stand.  Ready to cut and enjoy.


Invest in a good cookie scoop and lots of rubber spatulas too.  Heaping cookies is fine, but it is a lot quicker and more consistent if you use a scooper.  These can be found at cooking stores, grocery stores, and online.  I have TONS of rubber spatulas.  I always keep a few on hand when I am starting a new project in the kitchen.  I love the bright colored ones or themed spatulas they sell around the Holidays.  (tip: if you wait until after the Holidays, you can get great deals on themed baking tools!)

These are just a few of the tools I use the most when I am baking at home.  I would also recommend a small offset spatula, bowl scraper, and a serrated cake knife.  Start small and add to your tool collection slowly.  Whenever I travel, I pick up my souvenirs in cooking stores along the way.  A spatula from California, a knife from Germany, a scooper from Colorado.  You get the idea. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Fill a Layer Cake

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
People are intimidated by multiple layer cakes.  Everyone loves layer cakes though and they are nothing to be afraid of.  I like at least 3 layers of cake in my typical layer cake.  Here are some tips on how to build a successful layer cake.

1.  Bake your cake and let it cool completely, unmold it.  I like to place mine in the fridge or freezer to firm up a little before I start cutting/building.  Then you are going to trim the top off so it is completely flat.


2.  Decide how many layers you want in your cake.  I usually bake 2 cakes per layer cake.  That way I can get about 2 to 3 cake layers cut per baked cake.  Take a serrated knife and cut your layers evenly across the cake.  Don't worry if they aren't perfect, that is what filling is for.  


3.  Begin with a chilled cake, frozen works great.  You don't have to freeze it for a year, just a few hours will do.  This keeps the cake firm and makes it easier to stack without it falling apart.  Then begin by filling each layer with about a cup to a cup and a half of filling (for a 9 inch cake).


4. Don't worry if your filling goes over the sides a little.  To prevent this, only fill the cake to about a half inch from the edge of the cake.  Then when you place the next layer on top it won't smoosh out.


5.  I don't mind a little extra filling smooshing out, it gives you something to crumb coat with.  BUT, if you aren't doing the same frosting as filling, you probably don't want to let it smoosh out. Just saying.

What is crumb coating?  This is where you coat the cake in a think layer of frosting, to capture all the crumbs and start shaping your cake.  This helps with the overall look of the cake and keeps your final layer of frosting clean and pristine, free of crumbs.


6.  Now that you have your cake crumb coated, place it back in the freezer to firm it up again.  This really helps with the overall shaping of the cake.  When it gets warm you end up with a sloped top and bottom and a sloppy looking cake.  It really isn't your fault if you can't get it perfect from here, just freeze it for a little, you will thank me later.  A chilled cake is a filled cake makers friend.  

Now is also a good time to trim off any pieces that are not matching up.  Basically, you want to make your lopsided cake look perfect.  Trim that top layer with the funky edge or the middle layer that is hanging out an inch.  You will have a difficult time trying to add enough frosting to cover these lumps and bumps in your cake.  Just cut them off.  So much better....


7.  Now you are ready to frost and present!  Good luck, more on frosting another time....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tips for Setting Up a Dessert Buffet

Monday, August 13, 2012
No party is complete without an amazing desert buffet.  There is more than just making the deserts and picking out candy though.  The display and set-up of the buffet is just as important as what you put on it.  One of my main responsibilities at my last position was to prepare each buffet and set it up.

 Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning/setting up a desert buffet:

1. Think height.  It is visually appealing to have items staged at different heights.  Use cake stands, platforms, risers, stack plates under linen, etc.  If you don't have cake stands, use pretty plates and cover boxes in linen to add height.


2. Think color.  You don't want to place all items of a similar color in one place unless you are going for a one colored buffet.  It tends to look blah.  As in the photo below, you can alternate colors and still carry a theme.  ( ie: pink and orange )


3. Think pairs.  If you have similar items, put them together.  Ex. sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies/ brownies and blondies/ chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  These fondant covered sugar cookies and madeleines look great together, and have more of a wow factor when paired. 


4. Think grouping.  If you have a lot of different items all over the buffet, try to group them together so they look more appealing.  The cupcakes have been placed into little groups with the candy.  They look more unified and bring out the color scheme even more.


5. Think Signage and Decor.  You can't expect people to know what you are serving, and who wants to eat a raisin cookie you thought was chocolate chip?  


Simple signs and decorations make your buffet look more put together.  No one will be guessing if that is Grandma's fudge cake, or Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes.


Little cupcake decorations, plants, flowers, etc. can make your buffet POP!  Consider setting up a trial before your big day.

Other things to consider:

People love chocolate, always have at least one chocolate item.

Cookies are a no-brainer.  Everyone will eat a cookie.

If you put it on a stick, it is instantly SO COOL.  Try it.

If you are running out of ideas, try filling in your buffet with candy.

Guests will appreciate little bags to take home goodies.  You can find color coordinating paper bags at most local craft stores.  To make them even more personal, add a stamp or sticker with the party theme or name on it.

Top your cupcakes with toppers.  It adds extra height and color.


You can find tons of cupcake topper templates on-line, buy them at Wal-Mart, or make you own with paper and toothpicks.

All of my photos are from my friend Glorianne's beautiful wedding.  She made a huge variety of sweets and did a fantastic job getting everything ready to set up.  She pre-filled her candy containers, packed her items neatly and labeled them, and had a list of everything that should be on the buffet.  She also had the signs ready to go, as well as decor and flower petals.  All I had to do was come and set it up.  It is easy when you are prepared and ready to let your buffet sell itself.  

If you are interested in having a dessert buffet at your next event, contact Scooter Cakes for a pricing consultation.  I can work with any budget and help you plan the perfect buffet!  Cupcakes and petit-fours to cakes and candy.  I've got you covered.  Contact Scooter Cakes at katiekizzier@gmail.com.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fondant Covered Cookie Tutorial

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Do you have a baby shower, bridal shower, wedding, or birthday party to attend/throw and want to wow your friends?  Try making these super easy fondant covered sugar cookies. (Don't have time to make them, call Scooter Cakes!)  They look amazingly perfect with little effort and a lot of style. To start, make your favorite sugar dough recipe.  If you don't have one, you can use this one:

SUGAR DOUGH: \

1 pound butter
1/2 pound sugar
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 eggs
1 1/2 pounds flour

1. cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt for about 4 to 5 minutes on medium speed.
2. add eggs one at a time on slow speed.
3. add flour and mix on slow speed just until combined.
4. chill 2 to 3 hours or overnight
5. roll out and cut shapes
6. bake at 325 degrees about 8 minutes or until golden brown
TIPS:
-don't cream the butter and sugar too long or you will have a fragile and difficult dough
-you can make this dough ahead of time and freeze it well wrapped for a month or longer and pull it out when you need it


Start with your rolled out sugar dough and choose 2 cutters of the same shape but slightly different sizes.  You will cut your sugar dough with the larger one and the fondant with the smaller one.  Cut and bake your cookies and let cool.


Then roll out your fondant, you can find this at places like Wal-Mart now and color it with food coloring or other gel colors.  Cut out your shapes with the smaller cutter.  


Lay them out and set them to the side, then grab your cooled sugar cookies.


Using a pastry brush and a small bowl of water, paint a small amount of water on the bottom of the fondant pieces and lay them on top of the sugar cookies.  This will slightly moisten the sugar in the fondant and allow it to stick to the sugar cookies.  


You should have something like this.


You can finish them by piping on an initial, gluing on another shape, like a star or flower, or piping designs.  You could leave them plain and I think they still look amazing!  Your friends will all be wondering where you bought these...  "Oh! these old things?  I made them!"

Order your own from Scooter Cakes today, contact at katiekizzier@gmail.com!  Cookies start at $2.00 each.  Minimum order: one dozen.  These would be great for a baby shower, bridal shower, milestone anniversary party, Valentine's day, party favors, or just for fun!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sports Cakes and Cupcakes

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I love making simple sports cakes and cupcakes for my husband and friends.  He is a huge fan of the Lakers, so a few years ago I made him these Lakers cupcakes.


I occasionally like to surprise him with sports cakes because he is a sport-a-holic.  Seriously, he has an addiction.  I can turn my tv on any day of the week, any time of the day, and it will be on ESPN.  Hands down, no questions asked.


These were fun rival cupcakes for him to take to work.  His co-workers team was playing the Lakers and I wrote "Beat Boston" , "Home Sweet Home" , etc. on the cupcakes.  
Order your sports cupcakes for your next game party!  Superbowl, playoffs, baseball games, kids sports, etc.  Simple sports cupcakes start at $2.00 each!  Contact Scooter Cakes to place your order at katiekizzier@gmail.com.


My husband is also a HUGE White Sox fan.  If you have ever watched a home game for the Sox, you know that I am talking about with this cake's wording... "Put it on the board, YES! YES!"  If you don't know what I am talking about, tune in for one game and you will get it.  This is a common phrase in our house as I hear it all the time on tv and in the re-plays that my husband is constantly watching...


I piped out a field and "raked" the grass so it would be perfect, just like at the stadium.  The plates and the pitchers mound are to scale, WINK WINK.


He likes blue, so I made the frosting blue and then went crazy with the field and the sayings on the cake.  He loved this one!  It would make a great Father's Day cake, birthday cake, or game get together snack!  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Free Printable Recipe Cards

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
I love recipe cards and still use them all the time to share recipes.  Whenever I bake something for a friend, I wrap it up pretty and include a recipe card along with the treat.  My friends love this and whether or not they love to bake, now they have the recipe and can make it themselves.  Here are two recipes cards that you can print out and attach to your packages this year.

Click on the image and then copy and save it to your computer.  You can open it in any word document and then you can size it to a full page or a little index card!



I have a thing for gnomes and this little card is my favorite!

Friday, August 3, 2012

How Many Pieces per Cake?

Friday, August 3, 2012
Here's your answer to the common question of how many pieces can be cut per cake.  IT ALL DEPENDS.  I know, I know, that isn't really the answer you were looking for.  If you are hosting a wedding, you are going to have a significantly smaller piece, therefore a larger amount of servings.  If you have a birthday party, you probably want big slices.  That is traditionally the case, but everyone is different.


I found a fantastic guideline for cake cutting on Lark: Silver Lake Cakes in LA.  They explain very well how cakes are cut for different occasions and how many pieces you can expect to get.

Here is a rough guideline:  
6 inch cakes: serve 4 to 8 people
8 inch cakes: 8 to 24 people
10 inch cakes: 12 to 39 people
12 inch cakes: 30 to 56 people


Wedding Cakes:

I like to cut my wedding cake pieces quite small as many people have already eaten the 5 course buffet, or appetizers at cocktail hour, the 3 course meal and a small dessert.  Another reason to cut them small: guests can come back for seconds if they would like more, but most people just want a taste.

Birthday Cakes:

For some reason, birthday cakes give people a huge appetite.  It is the highlight of any party.  Serve cupcakes and people will take 2, serve cake and you better cut it big.  There are always those people that ask for a small piece, but they will probably have seconds.  Right??  


Hopefully this helps when it comes time to order a cake for your next big event or celebration!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flower Cupcake Tutorial

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Everybody loves a cupcake, and a fancy cupcake gets more ooohs and ahhhs than a new car.  Try these flower cupcakes out at your next dinner party and wow your friends with your crazy cupcake skills.  If yours don't turn out exactly as planned, you can always order a dozen from Scooter Cakes...  


Start by filling a piping bag with your frosting.  I used a #104 tip from Wilton.  I like to use my plastic scraper to get the frosting nice a tight and into the tip.


Start with the fat side down and pipe your first petal.


It should look like this.


Then pipe all around the cupcake in a single layer of petals


Do the same thing on top of the first round, but a little shorter.


Then, for the third layer, turn the tip a little more up and down and make little short petals.


Then top with sprinkles or little pearly dragees.  


They are so easy and turn out beautifully.


Scooter Cakes © 2014