Category Archives: baking supplies

New (Old) Cake Caddy

img_7817$1.99 at the thrift shop. Never needed one before, but now I think “How Brilliant!” And it is brilliant, all shiny and bright. That took some doing on my part. But thrift shop shoppers can’t be choosers.

I can see myself carrying cakes all over town in this beauty. I’ll be the woman who brings her signature beautiful, delicious cakes to everyone’s houses…. OK, waking up now.

(p.s. sometimes I feel very old fashioned baking cakes and putting them in my cake carrier ….. but I think old fashioned girls iron tablecloths)

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Coffeecake Collapse

If I can learn from my baking mistakes, this sour cream coffeecake taught me two lessons:

1) Use the pan the recipe calls for. (Lacking a tube pan, I substituted a Bundt pan. Didn’t work.)

2) Follow the directions when it comes to cooling baked goods. (We were hungry, the kitchen smelled good, the coffeecake was our overdue breakfast, the dog ate my cookbook, etc. I inverted the Bundt pan almost as soon as it came out of the oven. Really, really bad move.)

The sour cream coffee cake fell apart when I (improperly) removed it from its (improper) pan while it was still warm hot.

The cake tasted great (Why wouldn’t it, with tons of butter, pecans, cinnamon and sour cream oozing from its improperly fluted sides?) – and we ate it with spoons out of bowls. Except for Bertie Wooster the Standard Poodle, who nabbed a slice and ate it off the floor
right in front of me. So at least it wasn’t like my yucky Date Nut Bread, which even the dog would not eat.

One more lesson learned – when baking a yummy breakfast treat, it’s best to do it the night before. While it’s great to smell breakfast baking early in the morning, it’s even nicer to wake up to something already baked. I am baking my next coffeecake  after dinner.

OK, lessons learned – onward!

Check out these anti-theft lunch bags

lunch_bag_5_thumbWe interrupt this baking blog to tell you about a kitchen product we just spotted and has us thinking “Who thought of that?” and “When can we get them?”

Look! : anti-theft lunch bags


If you’ve ever had your lunch vanish from the office mini-fridge, or had a roomie gobble up something you were just waiting to eat…. these mold-stained plastic  bags may be the solution you need. Who thought of that? The team at the. They also sell a cool Walls Notebook/Sketchbook that lets your inner graffiti artist draw on New York City walls.

They are sandwich-sized. So if you bake your own bread, making your sandwiches that much more attractive to hungry colleagues, well…

Actually, I envision myself using moldy-looking bags more as a prank than a theft-deterrent. But I like pranks.

Thanks, Me, for my KitchenAid Mixer

img_6876I recently posted a tweet of appreciation on my Twitter feed for my KitchenAid Mixer.

Thanks, 24-year-old Me for the KitchenAid Mixer; your best impulse buy ever. The clothes and “classic” car? Long gone. But this is a keeper.

I can remember buying the shiny blue KitchenAid Mixer 20-plus years ago at Macy’s in Colonie Center, which is near Albany. (This is also the mall where I got my head stuck between the rails while watching a dolphin show from above when I was a large-headed toddler – but that is another story that involves my embarrassed older sister leaving me there screaming….) It came with all sorts of accessories (sadly, not the ice cream or pasta maker) and until recently its primary use in my kitchen was whipping cream. Miraculously, I found the dough hook in a box in my basement – never unpacked since I moved to Maine in 1993. Now, I wonder if the Learning to Bake project would ever have happened without the mixer. Doubt it.

I made some good choices at 24, probably some bad ones, too. There are all kinds of things I’d tell my young self if given the chance – things way more important than “buy that mixer!” But I’m glad to thank myself here.

(PS: My head is still big. Only a problem when it comes to buying one-size-fits-all hats. Good thing I knit!)

Baking Supplies for Christmas!

Learning to Bake got a big boost this Christmas in the form of several handy baking supplies under the tree.

Harriet, age 11, gave me a beautiful sifter, a cake decorating kit and a dough scraper. She also gave me a wonderful cookbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. My ex (who I’m told got the idea from our daughter) gave me an extra bowl for my KitchenAid mixer. Santa gave me some pot holders and an elephant hook to hang one. Santa gave Harriet and me a cream whipper.  (Harriet will put whipped cream on just about anything.)

It looks like I’ll be learning to bake bread and cake very soon!

A Very Handy Baking Gadget

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What’s the opposite of idiot savant? That’s me with the digital timer on my stove. Other people probably have no problem setting their stove timer, but my track record with this thing is Not Good. The timer’s minutes race by, then turn into 10-minute increments, then I think I’m supposed to touch another button – but that might be the clock, not the timer…. It’s an invitation to burnt baked goods.

Timer ineptitude doesn’t matter terribly much when roasting vegetables or cooking a turkey once a year. But minutes do matter, it seems, when baking. I saw this idiot-proof timer at the hardware store for $1.99. (Perhaps idiot is the opposite of idiot savant, sigh, I was hoping for something more … French.)

It’s easy to set. Turn the knob, you’re done. (Actually, you have to turn it to 30 and then back to the minutes you need, but even I can handle that.) My only complaint is that the alarm, while pleasant and jingly, is fairly short – so if I’m not in the kitchen when it goes off, I miss it.  I’ve been stuffing it in my pocket. What I really need is an idiot-proof timer I can wear around my neck. Anyone seen one of those?

You know – this could change my life. I could give myself time to do all kinds of things with a timer around my neck. I could turn into one of those FlyLady people who spend 15 minutes at a time cleaning. But the pendant timer has to have a dial. I’m hopeless with digital clocks. (My bedside alarm goes off daily at 6 am, even on weekends; I don’t dare futz with it.)

Sparkle Cookie Gel!

Christmas Cookie Season is almost upon us. I may bake a Christmas cookie or 12 this year – another first for me. I have for years torn out pictures of tastefully decorated cookies or, better yet, cookies that didn’t need decorating because the cookies are just so beautiful and require no adornment.

But. How could I resist these tubes of Sparkle Gel when I was perusing the aisles at JoAnn’s tonight? (Can I just add they have cake decorating kits that look like tackle boxes and are full of tips and bags and tools and things I’m SURE I’ll need some day when I know how to bake cakes. I think I exercised incredible self restraint not buying a toolkit full of cake decorating tools.)

These sparkling red and green gel frosting tubes do not have Martha Stewart’s name all over them. But they do have my daughter’s name all over them. Some day we’ll discuss girls and their love of everything that glitters. And once I find some black and pink cookie glitter, we’ll really be set. Speaking of pink – are you wondering what’s with the Vegas backdrop? That is destined to be my new tree skirt. Just for fun, this Christmas we’re going to have a pink and white tree. I even found some pink reindeer to park in front.

So, sugar cookies – here we come! You may be burnt around the edges, but you’ll be sparkling like a kid with a new bottle of Mary-Kate and Ashley body glitter.