My Top Three Baking Tips

My Top Three Baking Tips

IMG_2808 (2)Fall is my favorite time of year for baking. It’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven but it’s not yet the holiday season so I have more leisurely time to bake. I find baking relaxing and enjoyable so when I have the time to bake I am pretty content.

In light of this, I thought that I would share with you my top three baking tips and what works well for me. I started this blog five or so years ago to encourage myself to cook more. While I think it definitely has served its purpose, I find that I still love to bake more. Here are my top three tips and I hope you find them useful!

Tip #1: Oven Temperature 

One thing that can be a bit tricky is understanding your oven. It really can make a difference in how you bake. I would say this is one part of a recipe that you may need to adjust in order to achieve a perfect bake. For example, I have found that my oven runs slightly hot, but just barely. Most of the time I find that I can just bake cookies or cake at just slightly under the allotted baking time in the recipe and they will turn out perfectly. You may try adjusting the temperature you bake at as well to see if that helps you achieve a better baked final product.

Tip #2: Follow the Recipe

When it comes to baking, following the recipe exactly is an absolute must. Since most of the recipe is based on chemical reactions the measurements need to be fairly exact in order for the result to end up tasty. I think this might be why I enjoy baking so much more than cooking, there are a set of rules that must be followed, and I like to follow rules! It keeps everything organized and in order.

Tip #3: Use an Electric Mixer

If you bake a lot and find that you can invest in a stand mixer, do it!! I promise you will love it and your arms will be so grateful. Unless you enjoy the arm workout from mixing! But I have found that I can’t beat things as well, or nearly as efficiently as with a stand mixer. A hand mixer is a great option as well and is usually a less expensive choice than a stand mixer. This is my stand mixer and I love it, but there are other options out there too that work just as well.

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I find these three tips to work well for me and I hope they help you as well!

xo,

Hillary

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Train Birthday Cake

Train Birthday Cake

As promised in a previous post, here is the train birthday cake I made for my baby’s first birthday party. It actually turned out to be pretty cute and in better than I had expected!

To start, I baked two 9×13 inch funfetti cakes. I wasn’t sure initially how much cake I would need for the train, and I thought one would be enough but I didn’t want to make a mistake with a cut or shape and run out of cake. That is why I baked two sheet cakes the day before his birthday party. I didn’t want to bake them any earlier because I didn’t want to serve dry cake at his party.

My mom was a huge help in creating the cake and she traced out several of the train parts onto paper as a template and then I cut the cake pieces based on that. We crafted the cake from the train image that was on the plates, napkins and decor to keep the theme and decor colors consistent throughout.Ā IMG_2667IMG_2652As I cut the pieces out of the cake, we started to assembly them on a simple tray. This made it much easier to transport to the park for the party. Luckily we were able to use just one of the 9×13 inch cakes for the cutting up of the train so we brought the other cake in case guests wanted more cake. Once all the pieces were placed I started to frost the cake. I had been searching for the specific colors for a while and finally found the black frosting at Hobby Lobby. You can also use food coloring as well with white frosting to develop the colors you need.IMG_2659IMG_2658I did use some frosting in between the pieces to help glue the cake together. I also filled some small bags with frosting and cut a hole in the corner to draw in some of the finer details on the train. The only other items I used to finish off the cake were sprinkles, a Mike and Ike for the front headlight and Twizzlers for the train track below. Ā IMG_2663IMG_2661IMG_2666And there you have it! The whole train cake creation process took us probably three hours total, including baking the cakes, but now that I’ve made one I feel like it would be much faster the next time. At least I have a full year now to start planning the theme and cake for the next birthday party!

xo,

Hillary

S’mores Dip

S’mores Dip

IMG_2759When I think of an All-American treat, I think of either apple pie or s’mores. I’ve shared a delicious carmel apple crisp in the past, but I have a new recipe that you will love. This s’mores dip is warm, gooey and very easy to make, especially when you don’t have access to a campfire for roasting marshmallows.

As a young child I remember that we would have a couple of campfires near the beach throughout the summer and always roast s’mores. As I’ve gotten older and busier we haven’t made the time for such a relaxing evening summer activity as much as I would like to. Plus, with how hot it was this summer and the immense amount of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, I have no desire to have a campfire right now.

So when my husband mentioned how much he would like to have a s’more the other night, I decided to make them but in a much simpler way. You only need a few ingredients and about 15 minutes to indulge in the perfect S’mores Dip!

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Ingredients:

1 bag of marshmallows

1 bag of chocolate chips

Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom of a glass pan (I wouldn’t use a size bigger than an 8×8 inch pan, unless your making this dessert to serve more than four.) Place enough chocolate chips to just cover the bottom of the dish completely. On top of the chocolate chips place several marshmallows to cover the chocolate chips. Miniature or large-sized marshmallows will both work. Place in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven when marshmallow tops are golden brown and serve immediately with a side of graham crackers. Enjoy!

xo,

Hillary

 

Berry Cobbler

Berry Cobbler

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Picking blackberries is definitely an annual event in my family. Almost every August my mom, dad, brother and I would spend a couple of hours on the back country roads and on the beach banks in Southern Puget Sound picking blackberries. Most years we were pretty successful and would end up with several heaping bowls of berries. To be honest, I think it’s a big memory for me because I mixed feelings about picking the berries as I always managed to prick my fingers on the blackberry thorns and my fingers would be stained purple which I didn’t love either.

However, I did love the aftermath of blackberry picking which meant cobblers, pies, jams and syrups my mom and grandma would make. This year my mom and I made a cobbler after we picked blackberries and I realized that I should share the recipe on my blog because it’s very simple and the result is rather delicious.

I know not everyone likes blackberries so any berry will work in this recipe: raspberries, blueberries, marionberries. Take your pick, or use whatever is in season, and with just two additional ingredients you can have a berry cobbler made and ready to eat in under an hour. It’s seriously that simple and delicious!

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Ingredients:

1 white or yellow cake mix

3 cups of berries

3/4 stick of butter melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bottom of an 8×8 in pan sprinkle a layer of cake mix so that it covers the bottom of the pan well. Then add in half of the berries. Cover berries with more cake mix and then drizzle half of the melted butter all over the berries and cake mix. Add in the rest of the berries and add on top the remaining cake mix. Drizzle the remaining melted butter over top of the mixture. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Enjoy!

*Side note: I didn’t have fresh raspberries, but I wanted to make a raspberry and blackberry cobbler so I used frozen raspberries that I thawed and drained. If you plan on using frozen berries make sure that you fully defrost them first and strain them really well, otherwise your cobbler likely won’t set and it will be soupy.

xo,

Hillary

Cannellini Bean Salad

Cannellini Bean Salad

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This past week was a busy one! My husband’s family was in town from all over the country and it was so much fun catching up with all of them over the week. We had several picnics, dinners and even celebrated the Fourth of July with loads of fireworks at the beach.

Then over the weekend we were with my family and had a somewhat second celebration of the Fourth of July as well. We had such a nice time there as well kayaking, paddle boarding and going for boat rides. I felt like I missed out a lot last summer since I was in the third trimester of my pregnancy and being pregnant in the summer just isn’t ideal, so I’m looking forward to making up for it this summer!

For one of the picnics I made this Cannellini Bean Salad. I wanted to make a dish that was a little light but packed some freshness and flavor. This recipe is fairly simple and the prep time is rather quick since you just have to mise en place some veggies and make the dressing. I hope this offers you a new dish that you can take to a picnic this summer or gives you a new idea for dinner this week.

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Ingredients:

2 cans of cannellini beans

1/2 orange bell pepper

1/4 red onion

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 medium cucumber

1/2 cup of cilantro

Dressing:Ā 

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain the cannellini beans. Chop all vegetables. Add all chopped up ingredients into bowl. Mix dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the first bowl of ingredients. Stir and enjoy!

xo,

Hillary