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Monday, January 30, 2012

A place for everything; everything in its place!

Hi all, just a quick comment about mise en place. Ever heard of it? It's a fabulous french term (ooh la la)used in cooking, which basically means putting everything in its place. It's so important to be organized in the baker's kitchen! That means setting up before you start! I know, I know, sometimes it's hard to know what you need, but read ahead! Take a closer look at your recipe: what are the ingredients? Should your butter be soft first (almost always), eggs room temperature (ditto), and milk at room temperature (you guessed it)? Make sure you've got all of your ingredients prepared, but also take the time to put your dry ingredients together (if recipe permits), put your eggs and vanilla in a bowl together, and get your butter and sugar ready in your mixer. Trust me, if you have everything ready to go ahead of time, making a cake will be a cinch!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Which came first...the chicken or the egg?

This question plagues us on a daily basis. It consumes us, much like the SATs, GREs, and other state tests.

Which do you prefer: chocolate or vanilla? (insert dramatic music of choice here)

Yes, this question is tough to answer! Are you Switzerland and choose both? What is the consequence of choosing one over the other? The thoughts and concerns are endless! But fear not dear readers, because I'm here to help! You don't have to choose just one; there are so many options when choosing either chocolate OR vanilla.

With chocolate, try pairing it with strong coffee flavors. Get a good instant espresso powder from your supermarket and carefully add that into your chocolate cake. It intensifies the flavor of the chocolate and the end result is magnifique!

As for you vanilla-ites (ahem, much like myself), there are a lot of things you can do with flavors. Try adding a few tablespoons of liqueur, chopped chocolate chips (they came in a rainbow of flavors and varieties - chips, chunks, disks), nuts, or an exotic vanilla extract or vanilla bean. The possibilities are endless!

When it comes to baking, there is a science to the amount of ingredients and the order in which they are added, but for the little extras, let your creativity go wild!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfecting Flavor

I'm going to let you in on a trade secret.There IS a difference in the end result of your cakes if you don't use quality ingredients. Seems silly; seems simple; but it's a step that is often overlooked. If you're going out of your way to bake a dessert for someone special, don't you want the finished product to be as tasty as can be? Sometimes it's necessary to spend a few extra dollars to buy the better chocolate or vanilla. Often these ingredients are easily accessible!

For starters, let's talk chocolate. I'll delve into some better brands another day, but for now let's walk through the supermarket together. Put down that Nestle! Don't touch the Hershey's! For a deliciously rich taste and smooth texture, pick up a bag or two of Ghirardelli chocolate chips. This California-based confectionary adds a sophisticated taste to any cake. I often use Ghirardelli in my kitchen, always to rave reviews. The chocolate melts well over a double boiler and has a very creamy taste, unlike the chalky after taste of some of its competitors.

As far as vanilla extract, if you're in a pinch you know where to go in the supermarket but I challenge you to take a trip to the mall instead. If your mall is anything like mine, I'd suggest getting there at opening time and go to Williams Sonoma (one of my FAVORITE stores!). Buy the Nielson-Massey Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract ( Truthfully, I realize $19 for 8oz might seem like a lot, but recipes never call for much and if you want the best result, you need the best ingredients! This elevates the flavor from the regular store-brand bottles, and it's often a better deal.

Good luck baking! Be sure to send me pictures of your finished cakes, and check out my website:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 26, 2012 Tip of the Day

It's important to keep the right tools in your kitchen. Be sure to have a variety of spatulas and offset spatulas at the ready. I prefer spatulas that are heat resistant with silicone heads. My favorites are worth the price ($9.99) at they have metal handles (I just don't love the wooden handles!) and come in a few different colors.

When thinking of offset spatulas, make sure you have at least two - one big and one small. The smaller one is great for leveling flour and sugar as well as working on smaller cakes, and the big one works well for smoothing the outside of an 8in or larger cake. These tools are a must in any baker's kitchen, and you can find them anywhere, even your local supermarket!

A brand new Lizzy Bee's Blog!

Hello friends of Lizzy Bee's Bakery! The new year has arrived and thus the resolutions begin! I have been trying to design my blog to make it more functional so I can post on a regular basis, and I think I've come up with a plan! Keep your eyes peeled for new Lizzy Bee's updates that include recipes, daily tips, and exciting news from the bakery!