Tips-y Tuesday Tip # 1

Happy Tuesday everyone! As promised, here is today’s tip:

Gritty royal icing: is there a solution??

Yes! Some types of meringue powder have a grittier consistency, so put an end to that pesky gritty icing by tweaking the recipe a bit. Try mixing your meringue powder and water together first until foamy, and then adding the powdered sugar. Beat until stiff and peaky, about 5-10 minutes. Your royal icing should turn out nice and smooth!

Until next Tuesday…

M xoxo

Top 10 Gifts for the Cake-Obsessed (guaranteed re-gift proof!)

Baking and cake decorating definitely requires having a lot of supplies. Like, a lot. Some of them are just plain necessary and some just make life so much easier. Since many people will be receiving and giving gifts in the next few days, I though I would compile a list of my top 10 favourite supplies to help out those looking for gift ideas or stocking stuffers for the cake decorator or baker  in their lives. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but these items are my favourites that are guaranteed to be useful and will most definitely not be re-gifted!

1. A Stand Mixer

Don’t worry boys, this is one “appliance” she won’t mind getting. I got my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas two years ago and it was the best gift ever. I use it constantly and it is much better than the old hand mixer I was using. It is also pink, which happens to be one of my favourite colours so I also love to display it. If you’re looking for one gift for the cake decorator or baker in your life, this one is it.

2. A Marble Rolling Pin

Like I said in a previous post, I love my marble rolling pin. It rolls dough and fondant effortlessly and it stand up to a LOT of use. Awesome.

3. Wilton Roll & Cut Mat

This is a necessity. You can roll out fondant and dough on it, and it has a handy grid for measuring. It is easy to clean and store and also very useful for working on fondant and gum paste accents as it contains the mess to the mat.

4. Food Colour Markers

These are like markers you draw with, but filled with food colour so they can be used on edible mediums. They are very handy for embellishing cookies and fondant and gumpaste figures or accents. Definitely worth having.

5. Fondant/Gumpaste/Cookie cutters, X-Acto Knife

These are definitely a must-have. There are different kits out there that include everything from flower cutters to alphabet and numbers as well as ones for different seasons and occasions and they make life so much easier than hand-forming of hand cutting everything. They can all be used for both fondant and gumpaste as well as cookie dough, so they are a real investment and you definitely get your money’s worth. Plus you get some fabulous and professional looking results. An X-Acto Knife used only for edible items is also extremely useful. It cuts fondant cleanly and easily and provides a clean edge you can’t get with a regular old knife. This is great for both covering cakes with fondant as well as for making embellishments.

6. Cake Pans

These are kind of obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t have proper cake pans. You don’t need to buy out the kitchen section at WalMart, but a few good quality pans in different shapes and sizes are definitely necessary. They also come in sets (for tiered cakes) and they are very sturdy and stand up to a lot of use and washing. Another very useful investment.

7. Piping Bags & Tips, Plastic Decorating Bottles

Again, kind of obvious but super useful, not just for decorating cakes and cupcakes but cookies too. It is also a good idea to have several of the most common tips (like the #2 and #3) so that you can use multiple colours of icing without having to empty and re-fill your piping bags. Wilton makes a few very handy sets that come with the most common tips which is a great place to start. The plastic bottles for candy-making are a life-saver for cookie icing. You can use them to decorate cookies and then store the icing in them after. They are reasonably priced, easy to find, and very durable.

8. A Cake Turn Table and Offset Spatulas

This handy little gadget allow you to turn your cake while frosting it so that you get perfectly even sides and tops. Much better then walking around the table in different directions to even out every spot on your cake. Offset spatulas in different sizes are very useful for both smoothing out both the filling and frosting on your cakes, ensuring a perfectly smooth and even finish every time. Way better than spreading frosting with a knife!

9. Icing Colours

Since nobody wants all-white cakes all the time, these are another must-have. There are a plethora of colours and types out there, but they all add some vibrant colour to your edible creations. Use them for colouring dough, fondant, gumpaste, frosting, waffle or pancake batter, etc. They are reasonably priced and can be purchased in sets or individually. A little also goes a long way so they also tend to last for quite a while.

10. Somewhere to Store Everything!

All supplies need a home! Plastic containers with lids are probably the best bet, since they are washable, stackable and sturdy. They keep everything organized and where you need it. Wilton makes some specifically for cake supplies, but really, any kind of sturdy container would do. Different sizes also help to keep those tiny items in place!

There you go, now start (or finish!) shopping! Your favourite baker might just thank you by making you something awesome with all their new supplies!

Have a sugarrific day!

M xoxo

Reusing cake supplies…..because nobody likes a hoarder!

If you have a hobby or business of any type, you know that you can acquire a lot of supplies in a very short time. Which is fun, isn’t it? Ordering stuff and opening packages is great, until you find that you need another house just to store your cake decorating supplies. Yikes.

So, instead of shopping like nobody’s business and having your supplies in a disorganized mess all over your home (that “Hoarders” show will find you eventually), it is better to try to reuse things whenever possible. No, I don’t mean the old reduce-reuse-recycle thing, I mean to reuse the supplies you already have for as many purposes as possible. Which will save you time, money, and space. And possibly a divorce, when your husband says “It’s the cookie cutters, or me!” Not that it’s likely to happen, no man I know ever complained about too many cookies!

Anyway, this is just an example to get you thinking. I went through my cookie cutters, and turned them this way and that, to see what other shapes (besides the intended one) they could be used for. An apple turned sideways became a Ninja Turtle, an upside-down cauldron became a Bad Piggy and Scaredy Squirrel, a spider web became a sun, an Easter basket turned upside down could be a snowman or scarecrow, a Frankenstein cutter looks suspiciously like a slice of bread, etc. I’m sure there are cutters for all of these shapes out there, but really why bother if you already have something you can use? Like a plastic container or a drinking glass for circles. This also goes for fondant cutters. You can use them for cookies or use cookie cutters for fondant.  Oh and you know those old metal cookie cutters that came in weird shapes like mushrooms or crooked stars and diamonds? You can fix them with a little gentle tweaking. Grab a pair of pliers and bend away to fix them or make your own shape. You’d be surprised at how many things you can fashion out of simple items laying around your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Your wallet and significant other will thank you, and your home won’t be bursting at the seams.

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Have a sugarrific day!

M xoxo

Decorating Cookies With Royal Icing

Who doesn’t love sugar cookies? They’re super yum on their own, or decorated with icing. And the best part is that they are very versatile, meaning you can decorate them to look like just about anything.

For my brother’s recent birthday, I decided to make cookies shaped like Ninja Turtles and pizzas. If you know the show, you will know that Ninja Turtles love pizza, so this seemed like the perfect combination. I started by making my sugar cookie recipe, and then cut out the cookies with cookie cutters. For the turtle, I used the Wilton “apple” cutter from their Halloween set, and just turned it sideways. For the pizza, I used a scalloped circle cutter I have from another set.

 Once the cookies were baked and cooled, I set to decorating them. I used my royal icing recipe, and coloured the icing in green, red, black, tan, a pale yellow, and left some white. I used both piping and flooding consistency icing, and used piping bags and candy decorating bottles to outline and decorate the cookies. My piping icing is right from the mixing bowl with just the colour added. I find this thins it a bit and I don’t need to add water. You want a nice smooth line to come out of your piping bag and stick to the cookie. The flooding icing is simply thinned with water, to a creamy consistency that spreads when piped onto the cookie. Oh, I also want to mention that the candy decorating bottles are a life-saver. Easy to use and clean and the icing goes where you want it!

Here are the cookies being outlined. I used the tan colour for the pizza “crust” and the green to outline the turtle’s head.

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I let the outline dry for a while, about 20 minutes, and then set to flooding the cookies. I find that by the time the last cookie is outlined, they are ready to flood. For the pizza cookies, I wanted to add “cheese” to the middle. I made a few squiggles and then kind of spread them around. Melted cheese looks kind of messy, so I wanted to achieve the same effect here. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me, you might have a slight issue with the icing going OVER the edge of the cookie. It’s ok though. Breathe and remember the messy cheese!

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While those dried, I continued with the turtle cookies. I added the red sash to the green outline of the head.

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Starting to look like Raphael! Once all the turtles were outlined, I went back to the pizzas. I added some red to resemble sauce. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect!

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Once again, I went back to the turtle cookies. I flooded with both red and green icing, and then left them alone. I let them dry overnight before adding the mouth and eyes, because I definitely didn’t want the green and red mixing with the white icing. 

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Back to the pizzas! I added some red dots for pepperoni and green squiggles for peppers. Then I let them dry overnight too. The pizza cookies were finished!

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The next day, I went back to the turtle cookies to add the whites of the eyes and teeth. I was in a hurry so I didn’t think to take a picture, but it was pretty simple. I piped two dots on top of the red sash for the eyes, and sort of a figure 8 onto the face for the mouth/teeth. Then I let those dry overnight too. When they were dry and hard to the touch, I went back in with a black food colour marker to add black dots to the eyes and lines for the teeth. 

I think they turned out pretty good, and everyone loved them!

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Have a sugarrific day!

M xoxo

My Friend the Rolling Pin…

So, we all know that in order to make anything, you need certain supplies. I will discuss supplies in more detail over the next little while, but for now I wanted to talk about my awesome rolling pin which makes my life a WHOLE lot easier. Here she is below:

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Isn’t she lovely? This, my friends, is a marble rolling pin. If you are serious about baking and cake decorating (or just want to keep your sanity) ditch the wimpy plastic rolling pins and go with a marble one. I got this one as a gift from my aunt and never looked back. All those wasted minutes struggling with a tiny rolling pin and fondant or dough can now be spent doing something more productive. Like doing my nails, for example. Or having a cupcake.

Seriously though, rolling out fondant and dough is a pain in the butt. But this little beauty makes it so much easier! It is heavy (so watch your toes!) but the weight is what cuts down on the rolling time. Takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s soo worth it. I find that fondant and dough don’t stick to it as much either, so you can cover your cake in a fraction of the time and clean up is a breeze. Also, it’s BIG! Which means you can roll out a whole sheet of dough or fondant and call it a day. Easy peasy! You can find these beauties at kitchen supply stores or online. So go out and grab one, it will be worth it!

Have a sugarrific day,

M xoxo