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Showing posts from July, 2015

How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Every baker should know how to make a proper Swiss meringue buttercream.  Not only is it one of the best buttercreams with which to ice a cake or a batch of cupcakes, but it is also one of the easiest buttercreams to make.  If you've never had the pleasure of tasting a true meringue-based buttercream before, then you're in for a real treat.    I find this very stable buttercream a pleasure to work with whenever I want to pipe rosettes, stars, pearls, flowers or any number of shapes with my piping bags.  A sampling of Swiss meringue buttercream will call to mind vanilla ice cream with the smooth texture of sweet, softened butter that is light, airy, tempting, and not too sweet.  It's exquisite. Yes, you can most certainly custom flavor the buttercream to your liking with any number of extracts or with the addition of fruit curds, jams (strained of course) or melted and cooled chocolate, and you can tint it from a variety of colors to make cakes that are true works

Favorite Birthday Cake

There's nothing like a delicious cake to celebrate a milestone.  My very own birthday cake this year was a white cake filled and frosted with light-as-a-feather Swiss meringue buttercream, all set on top of a collectible jadeite cake stand. I've designated this particular cake my 'favorite birthday cake' because it has all of the qualities that I like about cakes.  It's light, delicately flavored and bakes beautifully, which is just what I'm after whenever I bake a cake.   I've told you before that I bake my own birthday cakes because I can't abide by store bought. What's more, the tradition of homemade birthday cakes has been the standard ever since I was a kid.  Mom spoiled us that way and I certainly wouldn't have it any other way.  Not now.  Not ever! As is typical in the weeks leading to my birthday, I scour baking books in our home library in search of cakes that pique my interest, concentrating on those I haven't tried before

Oatmeal Tea Cookies

Of late, I've been obsessed with a particular recipe from a book I recently added to my cookbook library.  The book is called, 'Crumb', and it's written by British food columnist, Ruby Tandoh.  I simply love the style of her writing, the sweet recipes that she has gathered in one volume, along with all of the practical information which makes me go back to it time and time again.  If you can say that about a cookbook, then it's a keeper and worthy of one's library. Oatmeal Tea Cookies & Tea on Wedgwood Drabware Ruby calls these little gems, Rye Oat Cookies, and compares them to graham crackers.  Called digestives in England, the cookies are perfect morsels to have with one's tea or even for breakfast with a cup of coffee.   Oatmeal Tea Cookies with Fresh Berries Ever since I got Ruby's book, I have been making these 'biscuits' every single week, because they are good.  Having said that, however, I have taken liberties wit

Homemade Raspberry Jam

Homemade jams are one of life's little luxuries.  An abundance of raspberries, can be found at farmers markets right now which can be enjoyed as is, but if you want to extend the pleasure of these summer berries, I suggest making a bit of jam so that you can stir some into a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, or to have on buttered toast with your tea.  Because it is homemade, you don't have to worry about preservatives, corn syrups or other unpleasant ingredients that are often found in supermarket jams and jellies. Here at home we've been having a bumper crop of raspberries, and now it appears as if we'll have an abundance of blackberries in the near future.  We picked a few blackberries a couple of days ago, but there are many more waiting to be plucked.   Can you blame us for being tempted just to eat these raspberries in their natural state? Small, dark red and very juicy, the wild raspberries that grow on the property are always anticipated

How to Organize a Cookie Decorating Area

If you decorate cookies and cakes on a regular basis, chances are you have accumulated a good amount of sweet edible embellishments and decorating tools to help you in the decorating process.  It's a good idea to dedicate a space in your kitchen, no matter how small, to house the various tools and sweet, sparkly sprinkles in an orderly way. I don't have a large kitchen with an infinite amount of storage space, but everything here has its place.  Working with what I have, I try to make the most of the cabinets, shelves and drawers.  With an infusion of cookie cutters that were purchased recently from a dear friend and cookie decorating items which were given to me by that very same individual, my need for a specific cookie decorating station has forced me to move and consolidate my tools. This small area in the kitchen next to the center hall is where I used to have all of my cookie decorating equipment, so naturally that's where I began to put everything when