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Monday, October 25, 2021

Cake baking tips and tricks for the beginner to the advanced baker

Cake baking tips and tricks


Don't we all want to bake the perfect cake? Well, I am here to tell you that you can!

Let's begin with the age-old question, how do I make my cake moist and fluffy?

There is a process known as creaming. Creaming is when you whisk your butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. This is one essential tip to creating moist and fluffy cakes. When you do this, make sure you whisk together the butter and sugar until it turns a pale yellow color.

If you want to create more moisture for your cake, try adding two additional egg yolks to your recipe.

Basic cake baking tips:

Make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature.

Read through the entire recipe before you begin baking.

Get all of your ingredients out and measured before starting to bake your cake.

Measure your ingredients precisely.

Keep the oven door closed while baking your cake.

Intermediate cake baking tips:

Do not substitute ingredients. Stick to the recipe and measure correctly.

Avoid crumbs in your icing by freezing the cake for an hour before icing.

Dry cake? Pulse in a food processor, add icing, and turn it into cake waste! Coat with melted chocolate.

Try farm-fresh eggs.

Cracked cake? Cover with chocolate ganache.

Advanced cake baking tips:

No buttermilk? If your recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, use 3/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Now, you have buttermilk.

For a special flavor, remove vanilla extract and use almond extract in your vanilla cake recipe.

Ran out of cake flour? For each cup of flour, the recipe calls for, take out 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace it with cornstarch.

Do not pack your flour into the measuring cup. You will add too much to the recipe.


Let's talk about apples 

Is icebox cake really a cake?


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Food Photography tips

Food Photography Tips

Taking and sharing pictures of our baked goods is a HUGE part of the Cottage Baking game.
People eat with their eyes, which makes proper photos super important. Take a look at these easy food photo tips to help you right away:

Use natural light
Indirect sunlight is the ideal light for food photography.

Don't feel stuck to the kitchen. Instead, move around the house, inside and out, to find the ideal light for your pictures.

Try different angles for each dish.

Make your food the focus
Make sure that your props do not take the focus off your baked goods.

Need clearer pictures? Use a tripod. You can get a reasonably priced tripod from Amazon.

Try purchasing different colored poster boards for your backdrop.

Search for and follow food photographers on this channel. You can pick up more helpful tips and tricks.

Upgrade your cell phone
You can take beautiful photos with an updated cell phone. Many are better than actual cameras as far as clarity.

Download a free photo editor app on your phone and edit your photos to make them look ideal.

More photo tips:
Take multiple photos of the same item.
Crop and edit before sharing on social media.
Back up your photos right away.
Create folders on your phone to keep your photos organized.
Create a physical portfolio of your food pictures.
Create your own photo style so when people see your pictures, they know it is you!


Time and money saving tips 

Cheesecake tips and recipe

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

New release: The Ultimate Guide To Easy Desserts


Do you find yourself spending too much money buying store-bought desserts? Have you tried baking desserts at home to find they require too many ingredients that you don't have on hand?

The Ultimate Guide To Easy Desserts offers you a way out of store-bought, expensive, chemical-laden desserts. Learn simple recipes you can make in a snap. Discover desserts you may have never heard of before, what they are, and how to make them.

Deanna will share with you easy dessert recipes along with tips and tricks that make baking fun and easy. Enjoy baking alone for your family and friends or enjoy baking with family and friends, creating memories that will last forever.

Check out my new book...just in time for Holiday baking:

The Ultimate Guide To Easy Desserts 


Other cookbooks:



Monday, October 4, 2021

Frosting vs. Icing (includes cinnamon icing recipe)

Frosting vs. Icing

There are distinct differences between frosting and icing. Frosting is typically thick and spreadable. Frostings are used to coat cakes and top cupcakes. They can also be used as the filling to sandwich cookies.

Icing is usually thin and is drizzled onto baked goods, and will harden when it cools.

Both are important to commercial and home bakeries.

Let's take a look at several different types of frostings:

Buttercream Frosting

The main ingredient of buttercream frosting is, you guessed it, butter. This is the most common type of frosting. It is also called American buttercream.

Very Sweet

Thick and creamy

Easy to prepare

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

You may have heard this referred to as Swiss buttercream. This frosting has a more subtle flavor and is easy to pipe.

Milk and buttery sweetness

Smooth and creamy

Medium difficulty to prepare

Italian Meringue Buttercream

You may have heard this called Italian buttercream. It is less prone to melting than other frostings.

Mild buttery sweetness

Highly stable

Creamy and silky

Difficult to prepare

French Buttercream

This frosting is rich but is not a true meringue because it uses egg yolks as opposed to egg whites.

Rich and buttery, similar to custard

Thick and silky

It does not hold shape well

Difficult to prepare

German Buttercream

This frosting type is rare but can be a great option if you are looking for a change.

Slightly rich and custard-like in texture

Creamy and airy

Medium difficulty to prepare


Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting has a tang that other frostings do not have. It is a beaten buttercream, but most of the fat comes from cheese as opposed to butter.

Tangy and sweet

Thick and creamy

Easy to prepare

Whipped Cream Frosting

Have you heard of Chantilly cream frosting? It is another name for whipped cream frosting. This frosting is made minutes before it is served, and it is light and airy compared to other thicker frostings.

Milk flavor

Light and airy

Soft and can easily collapse

Medium difficulty to prepare

Seven-Minute Frosting

This frosting takes seven minutes to prepare! So, you can make it in a flash. There is no butter in a seven-minute frosting, and it has a consistency similar to a meringue.

Marshmallow-like consistency


Light and airy

Medium difficulty to prepare


Ganache is a cross between am icing and frosting. It is used as a coating for desserts. Please take a look at my article about ganache.

Rich, sweet, and chocolatey

Creamy and thick

Easy to prepare

Fudgy Frosting

This frosting is ideal for filling cakes or cupcakes.

Rich and sweet

Creamy and pipeable

Easy to prepare


Fondant provides a smooth look when decorating cakes. There are three types of fondant: rolled, marshmallow, and poured.

Sugary and sweet


Hard to prepare


Ermine Buttercream

You may have heard this referred to as flour buttercream. It is the least recognized of all the frosting types. It is a beaten butter frosting and is usually used in packaged baked goods. It is an eggless alternative.

Mild sweetness


Medium difficulty to prepare

Icing is made from icing sugar and liquid, usually water or milk. It is thinner than frosting but not as thin as a glaze. Icing has a nice shine and can be drizzled or spread.

I like to use icing over my sweetbreads, shortbread squares, and cookies.

Cinnamon Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • milk or water

Combine sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla into a bowl.

Add liquid until a soft glaze forms (the consistency of Elmer's glue)

Drizzle over top of the baked scones.

TIP: You can omit the cinnamon and vanilla and use lemon juice as the liquid for lemon icing.


Let's talk about apples (and apple punch recipe) 

Chocolate filled puff pastry


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

New Taste of Home magazine review: October/November issue


I am a fan of Taste of Home on many levels. I won a taste of Italy contest with them years ago and had my recipe featured not only in the magazine, but in 3 of their "Best Of" cookbooks! 

You can read about my mascarpone cheesecake recipe here. 

Back to the issue at hand...see what I did there? The new October/November issue of Taste of Home has 3 recipes in the first several pages alone that I will be trying.  It is rare that I find 3 recipes at the beginning of a magazine that catch my eye.

What 3 recipes? Oh, let me tell you: piecaken, baked feta pasta, and harvest pumpkin butter. I haven't gotten much further in the magazine, but wanted to share my finds with you!

 If it is this good at the beginning, I can only imagine what the rest of the magazine has in store. 

I recommend running out to buy yourself a copy!

Family history, traditions, and comfort foods 

Let's discuss chocolate ganache




Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Fall baking: Let's discuss chocolate ganache (recipe included)

Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache is made with chocolate and cream and is typically used for icings, sauces, or fillings for baked goods.

Chocolate ganache is a mixture of chocolate and warm cream. It is a staple in a baker's kitchen. It is easy to prepare and comes together quickly, and can also be used as a dip.

The ganache always stays fairly soft, making it ideal for pouring over ice cream and filling cakes and cupcakes. However, chocolate ganache can definitely be made thicker if that is something you would like to do. To harden the ganache, allow it to cool at room temperature or place it in the refrigerator. It will get thicker as it cools. Be sure not to mix it while it is cooling, though, or it will become lumpy.

You may be thinking, "That sounds a lot like chocolate mousse." Chocolate mousse contains eggs, while chocolate ganache does not. In addition, chocolate ganache requires two ingredients, where chocolate mousse requires several. I would say that chocolate ganache is more versatile than chocolate mousse.

Chocolate ganache can more easily be compared to frosting than a mousse. Although, they are not the same either. Chocolate ganache is much heavier than frosting. It contains more cocoa solids and is not whipped. Frosting has a lighter and fluffier consistency and is whipped. Chocolate ganache is poured, while frosting has to be spread into a pastry.

Are you curious as to how to store your chocolate ganache? The ganache will be OK at room temperature for a day or two, but anything longer than that, you should pop it in the refrigerator. It will stiffen up in there, as we discussed earlier, but if you take it out and allow it to come to room temperature, it will soften up again.

If you would like your chocolate ganache to shine like nobody's business, add butter! If you add a Tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until it has melted, it will add not only shine but another level of richness to your ganache.

Ready to whip up a batch of chocolate ganache? Here is a recipe from Alton Brown from the Food Network. I really like his recipe because he explains what to do to create a frosting out of the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

16 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 cups, 16 ounces of heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate into the bowl of a food processor.
Heat the heavy cream in a quart-sized, microwavable container and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until it just begins to simmer; be careful not to allow the cream to boil over.
Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes.
Process by pulsing several times until the chocolate mixture is smooth. Use as-is for glazing.
If you wish to make a lighter frosting, allow it to come to room temperature, approximately 2 hours. Once at room temperature, place in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

Bonus tip: Do not use chocolate chips when making your chocolate ganache. They do not melt to the ideal consistency. 


Let's talk about apples (and apple punch recipe)


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Let's talk about shortbread

Let's talk about shortbread

Shortbread derives from Scotland. It is usually made with three simple ingredients: sugar, butter, and flour. To be more specific, one part sugar, two parts butter, and one part flour.

Shortbread is a thick, denser cookie with a buttery richness and melts in your mouth like no other.

You may be wondering if there is a difference between shortbread and butter cookies and there definitely is a difference.

Shortbread cookies have a higher ratio of butter to flour. While butter cookies still contain a high amount of butter, the amount of flour and sugar is increased, which allows them to hold their shape better than shortbread.

Shortbread can be served as cookies or bars.

Some recipes call for vegetable shortening. These shortbread cookies have a crunchy texture instead of the smooth texture you get when butter is used in the recipe.

You can enjoy your shortbread with tea, as it is traditionally enjoyed, or you can serve them alongside coffee or milk.

If you enjoy spicing things up a bit, try these additives in your shortbread to create a unique flavor:

Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, mint, lavender, cinnamon, ginger, or cloves

Tea: Chai, Earl Gray, or green tea (grind them up)

Fruit: Lemon, lime, or orange zest

Cocoa: Replace 2 Tbsp. of flour with cocoa powder

Nuts: Any variety, chopped

Dried Fruit: Raisins, cranberries, cherries

Check out Martha's recipe for shortbread and butter cookies:

Shortbread Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Step 1 Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sift together flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add sugar gradually, beating between additions; continue to beat until mixture is very pale, about 2 minutes total. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture; beat until just combined.

Step 2 Press dough evenly into a parchment-lined 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut dough in eighths lengthwise, then quarters crosswise, making 32 rectangles. Evenly pierce all over with a skewer.

Step 3 Bake until shortbread is firm in center and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; immediately recut rectangles with a paring knife. Let shortbread cool completely in pan.

 Who loves shortbread? Shortbread recipe

Red, white, and blue shortbread squares