WholePort, direct sourcing from China
11th July
2014
written by Caelyn

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Need an idea for your lit­tle one’s next birth­day party? Make a sweet, fluffy lamb cake with this sim­ple cake dec­o­rat­ing tutorial!

Hi every­one! It’s Lyn­d­say from Coco Cake Land, and I’m so excited to be a new con­trib­u­tor to Hand­made Char­lotte. I’ll be around twice a month with some super cute, fun cakes and other bak­ing DIYs cre­ated just for you—sweet! So here goes my first post: my lit­tle pink lamb cake DIY. This lamb was based on my 2-year-old niece Brooklyn’s can’t-sleep-without-it stuffie named Lamba!

Don’t be intim­i­dated by piping—you can prac­tice first on a plate before try­ing it on the cake. Ready­made fon­dant, gel food col­or­ing, and pip­ing sup­plies can all be found at your local craft super­store or online.

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Left to right: pip­ing bag with plas­tic ring, cou­pler and pip­ing tip; off­set spat­ula, bench scraper

What You Need

A two layer, round cake recipe of your choice—baked from scratch or from the box.
4 cups of vanilla but­ter­cream or 2 cans of frosting
Pink gel food coloring
An off­set spat­ula or but­ter knife
A bench scraper
A pip­ing bag fit­ted with an open star tip—I used the Wilton No.22 Tip
A 4-inch round ball of fondant
Parch­ment paper
Corn­starch for work­ing with fondant
A long wooden BBQ skewer, cut into two equal-length sticks
Step 1
Bake your cakes accord­ing to the recipe instruc­tions. Let cakes cool com­pletely on wire racks in their pans.

Step 2
Make your but­ter­cream accord­ing to recipe instruc­tions. Add a tiny bit of pink gel color (a lit­tle goes a long way with this stuff!) to tint it baby pink.

Step 3
Place a dab of but­ter­cream on a cake plate or card­board cake board.

Step 4
Care­fully remove your first cake layer from your cake pan. Use a ser­rated knife to level your cake so the top is flat.

Step 5
Place the cake cut-side-up on the cake plate (the dab of but­ter­cream acts as glue).

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Step 6
Using an off­set spat­ula or but­ter knife, spread a nice creamy layer of but­ter­cream on top.

Step 7
Remove your sec­ond cake layer from your cake pan. Level your cake layer as you did with the first layer. Place the sec­ond layer cut-side-down onto the first frosted layer. Begin frost­ing the top.

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Step 8
Con­tinue frost­ing until the entire exte­rior is cov­ered in buttercream.

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Step 9
Hold your bench scraper upright against the side of the cake and scrape all the way around to smooth out the but­ter­cream frost­ing. Now you’re ready to pipe your sweet, rosy, swirly lamb “fur”!

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Step 10
Using scis­sors, snip an inch off the pointy end of a dis­pos­able pip­ing bag. Place the open star tip on top of the cou­pler and place inside the pip­ing bag so the tip is stick­ing out of the end. Screw the plas­tic ring onto the cou­pler (over the out­side of the bag) to keep the pip­ing bag in place

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Note: I use this nifty trick for fill­ing my pip­ing bags: I fold my bag over a glass or yogurt con­tainer and use a spat­ula to fill the bag.

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Step 11
Ready to pipe! Yay! Prac­tice your rosette swirl a few times on a plate if you like. Hold your pip­ing bag upright and pipe start­ing from the inside out in a coun­ter­clock­wise cir­cle to cre­ate a mini rosette.

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Step 12
Start pip­ing your cake! I always start from the bot­tom and go up in lines.

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Keep going until the exte­rior sides of your cake are cov­ered in rosettes.

Okay, now on to the face and the floppy lamb ears!

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For the ears: Using your hands and a bit of corn­starch to avoid stick­i­ness, mold two pieces of white fon­dant into ears. Color a lit­tle bit of fon­dant pink by knead­ing a tiny bit of gel food col­or­ing into the white fon­dant, then make two tiny tri­an­gles for the “inner” ears. Adhere the pink tri­an­gles to the white ears with a drop of water. Using your wooden BBQ stick, cut into two. Place each ear onto a stick (kind of like a marshmallow).

For the nose: Use the pink fon­dant to make a lit­tle tri­an­gle and your fin­gers to make indents for nostrils.

For the sleep­ing eyes and mouth: Roll some black fon­dant in between your hands until it is thin and even. Shape it into lines for the eyes and mouth.

Make The Face!

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On the top of your cake, place your eyes, nose, and mouth. The fon­dant will stick to the but­ter­cream so you needn’t worry about adher­ing it. Gen­tly push the wooden stick ears into the sides of the cake for floppy lamb ears.

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Finally, pipe around the edges to cre­ate some more “furry” rosettes, to frame in your lamb face. Ah, the cuteness!

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Front view of your new pal Lamby!

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I always make a lit­tle cus­tom birth­day flag for my cakes: sim­ply write a per­sonal mes­sage on a piece of craft paper and tape it to a wooden BBQ skewer. For this one I used a 2-inch wide cir­cle craft punch.

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Hello, happy lamb! All ready to party. Hope you enjoyed this tuto­r­ial, see you again real soon!

6th June
2014
written by Caelyn

My parents were in town last week for my son’s birthday party, so they were around when I was making and photographing some SugarHero desserts. When my mom walked into the kitchen and saw this cake, she stopped, smiled and said, “Oh honey, everything you make is so—”
A pause.
What was she going to say? Beautiful? Gorgeous? Stunning beyond measure?
“—time-consuming.”

BUSTED.

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My mom does not lie—many things that I make and post here are time consuming. Let’s be honest about this. I’m no Rachael Ray, and very few of my recipes could be described as quick or easy. This is something I think about frequently, both because it causes me to be working in my kitchen at unholy hours of the night, and because I’m aware that fast and easy foods are the flavor du jour. We live in a Pinterest world, and that means few ingredients, minimal steps, and instant gratification. Basically, the exact opposite of everything I make.

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On one hand, I want to give the people what they want. Of course. What good is a recipe blog if no one ever makes the recipes? On the other hand, what’s the point of having a personal blog if you’re writing to popular opinion and not your own tastes? I go back and forth on this issue on a weekly basis, but what it usually comes down to is the fact that I can’t bring myself to make and post things that I’m not really, really excited about.

And what excites me most are semi-ridiculous things like are sky-high mousse desserts, homemade stuffed doughnuts, eight layer cakes, and swirled tarts topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls and homemade truffles. In my world, more is more, and I just need to own it. If people pass by my recipes in favor of ones made with a cake mix*, well, that’s the way the overly complicated cookie crumbles.

*I should point out that this particular recipe does make use of a cake mix, though, so y’all should come back here right now!

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Now that I’ve effectively talked you out of ever making one of my recipes, let me sell you on this polka dot cake. I won’t tell you it’s fast, because I like you too much to ever lie to your face. But I pinky-swear to you that it truly is easy. The polka dot pattern on the outside is made by pressing candy into frosting, which requires zero planning and very little thought.

The polka dots on the inside start as mini cake balls, which every single person on this planet and a few intelligent apes have probably made by now. Cake + frosting + rolling = instant cake balls! The cake balls are suspended in yellow cake batter before being baked, which again doesn’t take many brain cells. Both aspects are simple on their own, but when you combine them, you end up with a whimsical cake with a super-fun surprise inside.

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To make this even more Easter-appropriate, you could roll your cake balls into egg shapes, and decorate the outside with an Easter egg pattern. You might be able to see in some of the pictures that I got a little ambitious and tried to make multi-colored cake balls with stripes or dots inside. It worked, but I didn’t think the effect actually looked very appetizing, so I abandoned the idea–but you could certainly experiment with combining colors to form cool patterns! The cake itself is a lemon cake with coconut buttercream, so it tastes light and springy. It’s the perfect way to end a special Easter dinner, or you can use this technique to make any special occasion cake. Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays all call for surprise polka dots, in my opinion.

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And don’t worry, this story with my mom has a happy ending. To punish her for her brutal honesty, I served her a big slice of this cake that as soon as I was done taking pictures. That’ll show her.

Easter Polka Dot Cake

Prep time :3 hours Cook time :25 mins Total time: 3 hours 25 mins

Recipe type: Cake,
Serves: 12-16

Ingredients
For the polka dots:
1 box white or yellow cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
Assorted food colorings
2 cups prepared frosting (from a can is fine)

For the lemon cake:
9 egg yolks
1½ cups milk, at room temperature (2% or whole recommended)
1 tbsp lemon extract
Zest of 2 lemons
15.75 oz (2¼ cups) granulated sugar
15.75 oz (3⅔ cup) cake flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
9 oz butter, at room temperature

For the coconut buttercream:
9 egg whites, at room temperature
14 oz (2 cups) granulated sugar
1 lb butter, softened but still quite cool
½ tsp salt
2-3 tsp coconut extract, to taste

To Assemble:
Pastel sixlets, sugar pearls, or other sprinkles

Instructions

To Make the Polka Dots:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the box mix according to the package directions. Divide the batter between five or six small bowls. Add a small amount of food coloring to each bowl to make different pastel shades. Scrape the colors into small cake pans, pie tins, or other small oven-safe containers. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. The baking time will vary depending on how much batter you use and the size of the pan, so watch the cakes carefully and start checking for doneness after 10-15 minutes of baking.

After the cakes are baked, let them cool completely. Crumble the cooled cakes into separate small bowls, then add a spoonful or two of frosting to each bowl. Work the frosting and cake together with your fingertips until the cake is moistened and holds its shape when rolled into a ball. (If you have ever made cake balls before, you are looking for the same texture as cake balls.) If necessary, add more frosting until you get a consistency that’s easy to work with, but stop adding frosting before the cake gets greasy or gummy. Roll the cake into small balls of different sizes, and place them on a wax paper-covered baking sheet. Cover the sheet with cling wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your cake layers. The polka dots can be made up to a week in advance, and kept in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

To Make the Cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line three 9×2-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the yolks, ½ cup of milk, and lemon extract in a small bowl, and whisk gently to combine. Set aside for now.

Combine the lemon zest and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix together with a paddle attachment on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the room temperature butter and the remaining 1 cup of milk to the flour, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until the dry ingredients are moistened. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 90 seconds. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the egg yolks in three batches, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. At the end, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides with a spatula so that the batter is well-mixed.

Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Take the cake balls and press them into the batter, pressing some all the way to the bottom, some into the middle, and leaving some on top. You don’t have to use all of the cake balls, but do use a lot of them—it takes a surprising amount of polka dots to make the cake slices look well-dotted!

Bake the cakes at 350 F for about 25 minutes, until they’re puffed and golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cakes completely.

To Make the Coconut Buttercream:
Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.

Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.

Beat the whites on medium-high speed until they are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 15-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again.

Add the salt and 2 tsp coconut extract, and mix until well-blended. Taste the frosting and add more coconut flavoring if desired. The buttercream can be made in advance and kept at room temperature if you’re going to use it the same day, or refrigerated. If it’s been chilled, let it sit at room temperature until it softens, then re-whip it to get the fluffy texture back before you use it.

To Assemble:
Trim the tops of the cakes so that they are level. Place one cake layer on a cake cardboard (ideally) or a plate. Spread a generous cup of frosting on top of the cake, extending out to the sides. Place a second cake layer on top of the first, and top that one with frosting as well. Finish with the third cake layer, then cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, then refrigerate until firm.

Once firm, spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting. To get a very smooth finish, I like to run very hot water over an offset metal spatula, wipe it dry, then slowly run it over the sides and top, rinsing frequently. The heat of the metal helps to smooth out the frosting. Finish the cake by pressing Sixlets, sugar pearls, or other sprinkles into the tops and sides of the cake. For the best taste and texture, serve this cake at room temperature.

23rd May
2014
written by Caelyn

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It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is the coffee capital of the world. There’s a coffee shop on every corner (sometimes two!), and a never-ending thirst for the latest and greatest new drink. The passion for coffee spills over into passion for soapmaking, so when we brought in the brand new Espresso Fragrance Oil, we went to work designing the most coffee-tastic soap we could.

The Espresso Fragrance Oil is a true espresso scent. Whereas Turkish Mocha has hints of sweetness and cream and Chocolate Espresso Cybilla is brimming with chocolate-y goodness, Espresso is for the coffee purist. Along with a recipe that includes Coffee Butter, Cocoa Butter, Hazelnut Oil and real coffee grounds, this is the ultimate soap for coffee lovers everywhere.

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What You’ll Need:

5.5 oz. Cocoa Butter

13.7 oz. Coconut Oil

2.7 oz. Coffee Butter

2.7 oz. Hazelnut Oil

16.5 oz. Olive Oil

13.7 oz. Palm Oil

7.7 oz. Sodium Hydroxide

18.1 oz. distilled water

Brown Oxide

Titanium Dioxide

3.5 oz. Espresso Fragrance Oil

Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool

5 lb. Wood Log Mold with Slide Bottom and Silicone Liner

3 tbsp. coffee grounds

Click here to add everything you need for this project (except the coffee grounds) to your Bramble Berry shopping cart!

If you’ve never made Cold Process soap before, stop here! I highly recommend checking out our FREE four part SoapQueen.tv series on Cold Process Soapmaking, especially the episode on lye safety. And if you’d rather do some reading, Bramble Berry carries a wide range of books on the topic, including my newest book, Soap Crafting. You can also checkout the digital downloads for that instant gratification factor.

SAFETY FIRST: Suit up for safe handling practices! That means goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Make sure kids, pets, and other distractions and tripping hazards are out of the house or don’t have access to your soaping space. Always soap in a well-ventilated area.

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COLOR PREP: To ensure that the Titanium Dioxide blends smoothly into the soap batter, we recommend micronizing it before dispersing it in oil. To micronize colorant, simply use a coffee grinder to blend the colorant to break up any clumps of color and prevent streaks of white from showing in the final soap. We like to use a coffee grinder that has a removable, stainless steel mixing area for easy cleaning. Then, disperse 1 teaspoon of the colorant into 1 tablespoon of Sunflower or Sweet Almond Oil (or any other liquid oil). Then, disperse 1 teaspoon Brown oxide into 1 tablespoon of light liquid oil. Use a mini mixer to get the clumps of color worked out smoothly.

COFFEE GROUNDS: You can use either dry or used coffee grounds for this project. If you do use dry grounds like we did, be aware that they may “bleed” and form a small halo of color around them. If you don’t want the halo effect, make yourself a pot of joe and use the leftover grounds!

ONE: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has fully dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.

TWO: Combine the Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Coffee Butter, Hazelnut Oil, Olive Oil and Palm oils (remember to fully melt then mix your entire container of Palm Oil before portioning). Once the lye water and the oils have cooled to 130 degrees or below (and are ideally within 10 degrees of each other), add the lye water to the oils and stick blend until thin trace. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that releases faster from the mold, you can add Sodium Lactate to the cooled lye water. Use 1 teaspoon of Sodium Lactate per pound of oils in the recipe. For this recipe, you’d add about 3 tsp. Sodium Lactate.

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THREE: Once the batter has reached a light trace, pour 3 cups of the soap batter into a separate container.

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FOUR: Add 1 tbs. of coffee grounds into the small container, and 2 tbs. of coffee grounds into the larger container. Use a whisk to gently combine.

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FIVE: Add 3 tps. of the dispersed Titanium Dioxide into the large container. Use a whisk to mix in.

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SIX: Add 3 tps. dispersed Brown Oxide to the small container, and use a whisk to thoroughly combine.

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SEVEN: Add half of the Espresso Fragrance Oil to the small container, and half to the large container. You can eyeball it, but if you want to be exact then add 1.7 oz. of fragrance to each container. Use a whisk to mix in.

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EIGHT: Gently pour the brown soap into the center of the Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool. To help the soap batter evenly spread throughout the middle section, you can alternate pouring from each end.

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NINE: Once the center section is full, pour the white batter into the outside sections.

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TEN: Pour slowly, and alternate pouring into different ends to evenly disperse the batter in the Multi-Pour Sectioning Tool.

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ELEVEN: Once all sections are full, slowly remove the center piece straight up out of the soap. Set aside.

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TWELVE: Slowly pull the long center dividers straight up, and set aside.

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THIRTEEN: Pull the small end liners straight out, and set aside.

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FOURTEEN: Once all the pieces have been removed, tap the soap mold firmly on the table to smooth out the sections and release any air bubbles. Beginning in the corner of the mold, insert a wooden chopstick or dowel to the bottom of the mold and make a zig-zag pattern at a 45 degree angle down the length of the mold.

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FIFTEEN: Once you have created the zig-zag down the length of the mold once, it’s time to go back and do it again! Starting on the opposite corner on the same end of the mold you began with the first time, use your chopstick or dowel to cross through the existing lines, creating an argyle-like pattern.

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SIXTEEN: Gently place whole coffee beans in the center of each swirl. Spray with 99% isopropyl alcohol to prevent soda ash.

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SEVENTEEN: Allow the soap to sit in the mold for 3-4 days before unmolding. Cut soap between the coffee beans, so they are in the center of each bar. Allow the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks and enjoy!

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16th May
2014
written by Caelyn

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Thin Mints are the best. They look a little boring… all brown, but WOW do they pack a lot of goodness in them! So I wanted to make a cupcake to match.. all brown but the frosting is pepperminty and cookie-crumbly deliciousness :) I added some awesome green liners and some sprinkles for color and topped them with a cookie!

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The Story:
The house I grew up in had two tall front doors made of glass. No need for a peep hole or wondering whose at the door when it looks like a giant window.
We got the traditional doorbell ringers–salesmen selling security systems, product pushers, political campaign workers, and the kids down the street selling wrapping paper. But nothing made us run faster to the door than the girls in green vests with boxes of cookies.

Thin Mint Cupcakes
Thin Mint Cupcakes
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake:
1 box devil’s food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 C. butter, melted and slightly cooled (or oil)
1 C. buttermilk or milk
1/2 C. sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Thin Mint Frosting:
1 C. butter, softened (NEVER melted)
1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1/4 C. milk or sour cream
10 Thin Mint cookies finely crushed*
2 1/2- 3 1/2 C. powdered sugar
Extra Thin Mints for decoration
NOTE:
*I crush my cookies and then put through a sifter, I only use what falls through! This way, when I pipe my cupcakes the piping tip doesn’t get clogged :)
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners.
2. Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, milk sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth.
4. Stir in cake mix.
5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 16-20 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
6. Let cool.
7. Thin Mint Frosting: Beat butter for 2 minutes. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract and milk and beat again. Add crushed cookies (see NOTE above) and slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
8. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles and extra cookies!
9. Put it in a beautiful cupcake box
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You could also choose this imperial Crown Cupcake Wrappers with 12 Princess Cupcake Toppers

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Or this Birdcage Style Pink Cupcake Wrapper

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Light Yellow Cupcake Wrappers

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A HUGE thank you to all my readers for your support for my first two “Saturday” posts… “I learned to write when I was 17″ AND “You’re living a dream, but it might not be yours.” Thanks for the “likes,” shares, pins and comments! Each one really means a lot to me :)

9th May
2014
written by Caelyn

Glazed donuts filled and topped with sprinkles. These funfetti donuts are baked, not fried and are so simple to make!

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When life throws you a curveball, you have 3 choices.

Let it define you.
Let it destroy you.
Let it strengthen you.
Or just eat sprinkles. So really, you have 4 choices.

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Let’s stick to number 3 and number 4 today.

After quite the chaotic week, we are finally getting back to normal. My mom came to visit and helped us get organized, Kevin set up the office and living room, and the kitchen’s all ready for work. Jude even got some 50 degree weather sunbathing in.

Jude

All I wanted this morning was a donut with my coffee. It was time to test out my new oven, so rather than picking up a half dozen vanilla frosted with sprinkles, I baked a quick batch. And by quick, I mean super quick.

Good news! My oven, though slightly different from the last, works like a charm. If you bake for a living, that’s quite important.

Better news! These sprinkled, glazed donuts taste like an absolute dream come true.

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While they certainly don’t coincide with my “healthy january” plans, they’re still baked. Baked is better for your waistline than frying in a pot of oil, right?

Don’t worry, the double dip of glaze makes up for the baked part. Yep… I said double dip.

The recipe I used to make my baked donuts is similar to a donut recipe in my upcoming cookbook. So consider this recipe an early taste of Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook, ok? A glazed, funfetti preview of sorts.

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You’ll need a few everyday ingredients. Simple, easy, convenient things like milk, yogurt, sugar, and butter. There’s no mixer required at all, but you will need a donut pan. I bought my donut pan for $8. Worth every penny.

If you do not have a donut pan, you may use this recipe to make 8-10 muffins. The baking time will be approximately 18 minutes at the same oven temperature.

Let’s talk sprinkles. I like to use colorful jimmies. I often buy them at the store, but sometimes I order them in bulk here. They’re much cheaper that way.

Try not to use nonpareil sprinkles (the little balls) inside the donut batter because they will bleed and turn your batter purple and/or brown. I did, however, use a few nonpareil sprinkles to toss on top of the finished donuts. A little sprinkle “snow shower”, if you will.

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To neatly transfer your donut batter into the donut pan, I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease.

Here’s exactly what I do: cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2 ∕ 3 –3 ∕ 4 of the way full.

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Baked donuts do not take long at all in the oven. Bake them until the edges are very lightly browned (as shown in the picture above). Mine took about 9-10 minutes. So don’t run too far from the kitchen when these sprinkled donuts are baking. They’ll be done before you know it!

The glaze is a little something I taught myself from testing cookbook recipes. You’ll take all of your normal glaze ingredients and heat them together over low heat.

Why heat them and not just whisk them together, you ask? Well, you’re familiar with glazed donuts from bakeries… right? You know how the glaze “sets” on the donuts and cracks when you take a big bite? That’s because the glaze was likely warmed.

Dunk a baked donut into the warmed glaze. Set on a wire rack as you work through the rest of the batch. Then dip each again.

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Breakfast has never been more colorful.

I speak from experience when I say that these are the happiest donuts in the world. You literally can not NOT smile when you eat them. They certainly made my weekend much brighter. So go ahead, let your inner child indulge!

9th May
2014
written by Caelyn

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In our opinion, a holiday table isn’t complete without a big basket of fluffy dinner rolls. How else are you going to sop up the last bits of gravy? These soft and airy sweet potato rolls are perfect for the job. They’re also very nearly fool-proof, making them one less thing to worry about when planning the meal.

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These rolls get a very mild sweetness from the mashed sweet potatoes. We think they go perfectly with all the sweet and savory foods on a holiday buffet table, plus they’re pretty great slathered with jam for breakfast the next morning! You can also substitute regular potatoes, yams, or pumpkin for the sweet potatoes.
When it comes to large dinner parties and holiday buffets, we appreciate no-knead recipes more than ever. The dough can be made the day ahead, refrigerated, and made into rolls the next morning. You can also make them ahead of time and freeze the baked rolls. Warmed in the oven, no one will be able to tell they weren’t baked fresh!

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No-Knead Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls Makes 2 dozen rolls
3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water
1 scant tablespoon (1 package) active-dry yeast
1 cup (9 ounces) mashed sweet potatoes (see note below)
1 cup (8.5 ounces) milk – whole or 2% preferably
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter – melted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups (20 ounces) all-purpose flour

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, the milk, the melted butter, the brown sugar, and the salt. Stir until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add the flour, stirring until a shaggy dough is formed and no more dry flour is visible. This dough will be very sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let stand until doubled in bulk, at least 2 hours or as long as 5 hours. The dough can be used immediately, but it’s easier to work with if you can refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. The dough can also be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

When ready to shape the rolls, sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and turn the dough out on top. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and press the dough into a thick disk. Use a bench scraper or knife to divide the dough into 24 pieces. Shape into balls and place about 5 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until the rolls are roughly doubled in size, about 45 minutes in a warm kitchen.

About 20 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.

Remove the cover and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are puffed and toasted brown. Serve warm or room temperature. Rolls are best the first day, but will stay fresh for several days after if stored in an airtight container.

Notes:

• To make the mashed sweet potatoes, roast a medium-sized (roughly 9 ounce) sweet potato in a 400° oven until completely soft. Strip off the skin and mash.

• For extra richness, brush the tops with melted butter or egg yolk before baking. So good!

• These rolls can also be frozen if you’re making them ahead of time. Allow the baked rolls to cool completely, wrap them in aluminum foil, and freeze them. To re-heat, let them thaw on the counter and then warm them in a 300° oven for 15 minutes.

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25th April
2014
written by Caelyn

Looking for a meaningful gift this Mother’s Day? Well look no further! You can use your baby’s actual footprint to make this extra special gift for grandma. And yourself. I won’t judge. I made myself one, too! Okay two. But I couldn’t help it… you can easily make a bunch of these at once so it’s impossible not to make yourself one while you’re at it. And they are so quick to make, it will probably take you longer to read through this tutorial than it will take you to make them. It’s personalized. It’s inexpensive. It’s quick. And it’s easy!

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These are made using Shrinky Dinks plastic, which will shrink down to a third of it’s original size and become nine times thicker when it’s baked in an oven. So keep that in mind when you’re deciding how big of a foot you’re willing to wear around your neck. My daughter is actually a toddler now at almost 14-months-old, and her actual print measured about 4 1/4″ in length. After it was baked, it shrunk down to almost 1 3/4″ in length. Plus a little more for the border. If your little one isn’t so little anymore and you think a necklace might be too big, make a keychain instead!

::Update:: Since writing this post, I’ve seen these made for babies as young as a month old and they are cuuute!

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There are so many different options with this project. You can use different plastic {clear, white, or frosted}, different paint colors, and different necklace chains {or key chains}. You can do handprints too!

Here’s how to make one {or two, or three} of your very own!

You will need:

Shrinky Dinks- I used Crystal Clear {found in a craft store or online}
Necklace chain
Jewelry jump rings
Non-toxic acrylic craft paint
Mod Podge- Gloss
1/8” hole punch- I used the Martha Stewart Screw Punch but any punch should work
Jewelry pliers
Scissors
Brush/sponge/finger

1. Put a layer of non-toxic acrylic craft paint on the bottom of your baby’s foot. Stamp a bunch of prints on a sheet of Shrinky Dinks. We just kept stamping until the prints no longer showed well, and the lighter ones turned out better. The prints will get a lot darker after baking and you can see more detail when there isn’t a lot of paint.

You can also clean up any little smudges with a Q-tip at this point if you need to. Make sure your kiddo doesn’t run off while you’re doing this because she just might rip off her diaper and pee on the floor. Oopsie. :)

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2. Cut out the footprint leaving a small border around the edges. Make sure to round the edges because if you leave any square points, they will be very sharp once you bake it. Also be sure to leave a little more room along the top of the toes so you can punch a hole for the jump ring.

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3. Punch a hole {1/8” size} above the toes at the center of the foot. Don’t forget this step or it’s a fail! You can’t punch the hole after it’s baked.

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4. Now you’re ready to bake! Follow the directions on your Shrinky Dinks package. It doesn’t take long so keep an eye on it! Put your full size print in the oven, and in 1-3 minutes {I didn’t actually time it, I just watched it curl up and flatten out again, and then counted to 30 before removing it} you’ll have a tiny plastic version of your baby’s footprint!

*Important* Don’t skip the part of the directions that tell you to press down on the footprint {with folded paper} after baking. If you want your print to be nice and flat, don’t forget this step!

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5. Put a layer of Mod Podge {I used gloss} on your baked plastic to protect the footprint and keep it from scratching. Let it dry.

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6. Almost done! Use your jewelry pliers to open a jump ring and put it through the hole you punched above the toes. Put it on the necklace and close the ring with your pliers.

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Ta-da!

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Now admire your work and don’t feel bad when you decide to keep it for yourself. Make an extra one… just in case. ;)

I love my sweet little footprint necklace and so does my mom and mother-in-law. I know I’ll be making a lot more of these!

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*UPDATE* Here are some tips I want to share with you after answering some comments and emails to hopefully answer some questions you may have. If you still have a question or run into a problem, just leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll be glad to help!

Tips:

Use only the materials suggested in the Shrinky Dinks directions for applying your print to the plastic. Others may rub off or smear. Craft paint = good. Ink = bad.
Less paint on the foot makes for a lighter print, which will show more detail after baking. The prints will darken after shrinking.
Q-tips work great for cleaning up any little smudges before baking.
Be sure to round all edges when cutting your footprint out. Any square edges will be very sharp after baking.
Resist the urge to pull your footprints out of the oven when they start to curl up and the ends look like they are melting together! I panicked when I first saw them roll up, but I have yet to have one actually stick together. They will flatten back out if you leave them in the oven a bit longer. Or at least they should {I don’t want you to burn the place down waiting for them}. I don’t actually time mine, I just sit on the floor and peek in my oven until I see them flatten back out and stop moving. Then I count to 30 and remove them.
Your footprint will be flat IF you follow the baking directions properly. You MUST press down on the footprint as it explains in the Shrinky Dinks directions or you take the chance of it turning out a little wavy and not being completely flat.
Some have been interested in making these from old baby prints. I have not actually tried it, but have suggested trying Printable Shrinky Dinks. I would try scanning the prints and printing them out on this plastic {while following all the directions on the package} and then following the rest of the steps above. Although you may want to try spray sealant instead of Mod Podge to avoid smearing the ink. If you try it, I would love to know how it turns out or if you have any tips!

I hope you enjoy this necklace! If you make one, please oh please email me a picture or post it on my Facebook page. It makes my heart happy. :)

25th April
2014
written by Caelyn

dadhanielas

Father’s day is around the corner and I wanted to make some Father’s Day cookies. I used the same concept for these like I did for Simple Father’s Day Cookies I made last year.

To make these cookies you need
red and white 15 second icing
red piping icing
simple template
Gourmet Food Writer Set,
Soft Gel Paste Food Color 12 Pack Kit
heart-shaped cookie cutter
Love Lip and Heart Cookie Cutters
Beautiful Food Bag

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heart-shaped cookie cutter

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Mini Korea Portable Bag

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Beautiful Food Bag

First make a template, using exacto knife cut out DAD.
Using a edible marker transfer outlines onto the plain cookie.
Using piping consistency red icing, pipe the outlines.
Fill with red 15 second icing.
Then flood with white 15 second icing.
Let dry overnight.
Finish with piping red outline using red piping icing.

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Video Tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNsEb_mPIyQ

dadhanielass

16th April
2014
written by Caelyn

The isolated villages of Brittany, in the northwest corner of France, were once known for their disctinctive headdresses and costumes. Now a younger generation is continuing the tradition.

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ClIMBING OUT OF A TINY EUROPEAN CAR IS challenging enough; it’s nearly impossible in a hat 13 inches tall. Yet Alexia Caoudal, 87, and Marie-Louise Lopéré, 90, manage to cantilever out of the backseat of a friend’s silver Citroen with remarkable dignity, if not grace. Their host hurries to greet them with such smiling deference that they might be royalty.

Princesses they are not-the two women spent decades toiling in fish canneries. But Caoudal and Lopéré have achieved a certain celebrity in this bit of northwest France known as Bigouden country, in the Finistère region at the western edge of Brittany. They are the only women known to rountinly wear the towering headdress, or coiffe, that was once a part of daily life here.

Age has been their bodies, but the stiff lace stands tall atop their waves of white hair, like a lighthouse signaling: Here is a Bigouden women.

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Rostrenen, Côtes-d’Armor
This funeral gard has velvet and embroidery on the skirt, lace and ribbons on the sleeve ends.

There are dozens of Breton constumes, varying by village, occasion, and time period. The once simple caps used by peasant women for modesty and protection from the elements evolved into fantastic shapes and sizes in the 19th and 20th centuries, inspiring artists like Paul Gauguin. In those times the coiffe “was like an identity card,” says Solenn Boennec, an assistant curator at the Musée Bigouden in Pont-I’Abbé. “It can reveal who you are, where you’re from, and if you’re in mourning for someone.”

By the 1950s, however, most young women had abandoned the old style. Today it lives on the Breton rituals and in social groups called Celtic circles, where young people like the ones in these portraits train year-round to compete in full costume at summer dance festivals. They also sometimes participate in weddings and a traditional religious pilgrimage, called a pardon, during the feast of a local patron saint.

“It’s seen as less old-fashioned now than when we were younger,” says 20-year-old Apolline Kersaudy, who joined a Celtic group when she was six. “Other friends don’t understand why we can’t go on summer holidays with them. But the circle is more important.”

Caoudal and Lopéré pull, comb, and pin their plaits up under a special black bonnet every morning, adding the lace top on Sundays and special occasions. Donning the full coiffe takes nearly half an hour and seems wildly impractical on this wet and windy edge of the North Atlantic. Is it comfortable? “We’re used to it,” says Caoudal, shrugging. Like others of their generation, the women speak a mixture of French and Breton, the rigional language. Full of colliding consonants, it’s similar to Welsh, a reminder of Brittany’s Celtic heritage.

Today’s young guard that heritage with a fierce pride. “I am Breton, and I am French,” says Malwenn Mariel, 17, a member of the Pont-I’Abbé Celtic circle. “But I am Bigouden first.”

A bigouden woman is frank and unafraid, the girls in the circle say. She doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. Like her headdress, she is a tower of strength. -Amanda fiegl

Find beautiful lace in wholeport now: http://www.wholeport.com/cate/lace/

11th April
2014
written by Caelyn

Below are my favourite polymer clay tutorials. These works are very amazing. Anyone can become polymer clay master!

This is polymer clay but the same technique works for fondant and gum paste.
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cat polymer clay tutorial – I could make all our boys!
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flower polymer clay tutorial… could be made in fondant too right? ! ^^
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More polymer clay supplies in: http://www.wholeport.com/cate/ceramics-pottery/ Hope you get inspired and upload your works to wholeport Crafts board.

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