- Dec 18, 2009
Happy Friday everyone!
I hope you enjoyed learning about some of my favorite things that I use in the kitchen. This next thing is my MOST favorite thing! It’s like my kitchen security blanket. When I can’t find it, I panic. I absolutely love this cool tool that just came out earlier this year.
I am also going to admit that I’m on my second beater blade. I use this so much that I’ve broken two of them. I REALLLY WISH the Beater Blade maker people would make one using metal instead of plastic. Not that the plastic isn’t very thick and sturdy, I just use it so much! The part that always cracks on me is the part that connects to the KA mixer.
It is so wonderful not to have to stop the mixer and scrape the bowl, stop and scrap, stop and scrap. And I SWEAR it makes my buttercream more fluffy. One time I misplaced it and had to use my normal beater from the KA mixer for a batch of buttercream and it just wasn’t as light and fluffy as I prefer.
I joke that if we ever have to evacuate because of a fire (again), I am grabbing my beater blade (and KA mixer but that’s a given, right?).
So my friends, I want to share the love with ya’ll and give you one of these to try. And if you already have one, then enter to give it to a friend and pass on the love to someone else.
Oh Beater Blade…. my heart beats for you….
LOL ok I’ll stop now. HA
So! If you want to win one of these Beater Blades, just leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite thing to bake is.
And if you tweet about this giveaway (and leave me a comment about that tweet too), I’ll throw your name in the hat again (not literally speaking, I am not actually going to use a hat). And while you are at it, become a fan of the Meringue Bake Shop Facebook page for two extra chances! www.facebook.com/meringuebakeshop and leave me a comment that ya did (or already are).
That isn’t too much is it?
You know what? While I’m at it, I am going to throw in a Bakers Secret muffin pan too!
So that’s it! You have until Tuesday December 22 to enter. Tell your friends! Tell your family!
This is open to US and Canada residents only.
- Dec 17, 2009
Since I’ve started baking professionally (I use that term loosely), I find myself preferring to know the weight of the ingredients in the recipe vs using measuring cups.
A couple years or so ago, I saw ATK (America’s Test Kitchen) do a test on kitchen scales and when I saw this one, I immediately wrote it down on a notepad in my purse. I found it but the price was a little out of my range at the time. And I wasn’t even sure if I was really going to use it enough to warrant the price. So time went by and I was checking out some after Christmas sales and bought a cheap plastic old school scale for like $5. And I thought to myself, self, if you use this scale a lot that will justify you getting the super cool scale you saw on ATK. Well you know what??? I used the HECK out of it! Weighing ingredients is so much easier to do! And it’s a lot more precise. And you don’t have to dip and sweep your flour. NICE! So about 6 months ago I splurged and bought myself my #4 favorite thing:
Oxo Good Grips Food Scale with Pull-Out Display
Isn’t it a beaut! PULL OUT DISPLAY PEOPLE! (this is where my geeky side kicks in.) The screen lights up too and you can select to measure by kg if you are so inclined.
TIP: I keep my scale inside a gallon zip lock bag so it stays clean from drips and spills. Then I just wipe down the bag. If you need to use the pull out display, just make sure the opening of the bag is towards that end. I just unzip it, pull out the display and that’s that!
But even if you don’t use the tip, it is so easy to clean off cause everything is smooth even the buttons. I heart you scale….
So tomorrow is my last favorite thing and my giveaway announcement. Awwww. Are you sad? Well if you want to check out other things I love, I made some neato image thingy on Amazon and it’s located over there —> Check it ouuuut.
- Dec 16, 2009
I can never have too many bowls. Right now I own 1 set of glass mixing bowls (3 in the set), 1 pyrex glass mixing bowl, 2 batter bowls, 3 stainless steel slip proof bowls, 1 stainless steel restaurant bowl and these beauties:
I bought these bowls at Home Goods as a major score. I got three different sizes for $15 altogether. I love the bright color melamine outside in contrast to the stainless steel inside. And the rubber bottom prevents me from skidding the bowl all over the place. The set I bought includes 1 ocean blue, 1 kiwi and 1 orange bowl in all different sizes. Check your nearest Home Goods or TJ Maxx store and see if you can find any. They are just the right amount of weight and I love the bright colors. I did find one on Sears.com but it’s the original price and only comes in red. Amazon sells the smaller 5oz size – Zak Designs Gemini Insulated Individual Bowl which would be cool to use as a small mixing bowl or for ice cream 😀
Santa, please bring me the Confetti bowls by Zak Designs
- Dec 15, 2009
One day down, four more to go!
Today’s favorite thing is….
These are the preferred pans that I use in my home kitchen. I’ve tried more expensive pans, like Wilton and All-Clad and I can honestly say I think these do a great job. I own the 12 cup muffin/cupcake pan, 24 cup mini muffin/cupcake pan, loaf pans, pizza pan and cake pans. I’ve purchased mine either online or at Ralphs/Kroger grocery stores. The pans cost between $6 and $10. And I swear at least once a month they are on sale at the grocery store. I’ve had my Bakers Secret pans for years and there is no rusting or peeling and they always give me a consistent results. Ok wait, there is some peeling and rusting… on my Bakers Secret pans that I grew up with! The muffin pan is at least 20 years old. And only in the last 4 yrs did it start to rust a bit and peel. It has long since been retired but I’d say that it is well worth the few bucks spent. And I use mine A LOT. I could spend more money on baking pans but why? If you didn’t know it already, I’m a bit of a baking pan
hoarder collector. If I spent a lot of money on baking pans, I’d be in the poor house!
What are your favorite baking pans to use? Do you collect them as well?
Don’t forget! On Friday I’ll announce a giveaway of one (or more) of my favorite things so stay tuned and follow along all week 🙂
- Dec 14, 2009
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the things that I covet the most in the kitchen that a home baker could use as well. So I decided to do a Top 5 kinda thing, ala Rob Gordon, and post about each thing through out the week.
So my first favorite thing is…..
Let me tell you my story about this vanilla. So for years, I’ve been using whatever vanilla I could find on sale until I discovered that Smart & Final and Costco sell big bottles of vanilla extract for cheap, like $6. So I was using that for a while for my home baking projects. And then when I started moving towards a business, I wanted to use a better quality vanilla. But I thought, isn’t it really all the same stuff? How can you tell anyway? So I found a small bottle of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla extract at Home Goods and decided to try it.
WOW. I could immediately tell the difference. The smell of it is sweet and seductive without an overpowering alcohol tingle. As soon as I poured it in the batter, I could smell it (which is something I didn’t smell with the other cheaper brands). And the quality really came through in my buttercreams. My vanilla buttercream tasted like homemade vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm.
You can buy this vanilla in the bake-a-little size 8-oz bottle or bakes-a-lot 32-oz bottle (the size I use). But honestly, vanilla doesn’t spoil so I say splurge 🙂 Maybe it will encourage you to bake more!
Here is a good recipe that lets the vanilla really shine through:
(adapted from King Arthurs Flour)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line one large (about 18″ x 13″) baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.
Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape it into a log that’s about 14″ long x 2 ½” wide x ¾” thick. Straighten the log, and smooth its top and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here.
Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes; just work it into the schedule of whatever else you’re doing in the kitchen. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the log, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Wait another 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1⁄2″ to 3⁄4″ slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal—for fewer, longer biscotti. As you’re slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll topple over during their second bake.
Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, till they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They’ll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they’ll continue to dry out as they cool. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
Yield: 3 dozen 3 1⁄2″ biscotti, when cut crosswise. Or about 1 1/2 dozen biscotti cut on the diagonal; the exact yield will depend upon just how much of a slant you cut them on.
- Dec 11, 2008
Meringue Bake Shop got another order! Three dozen decadent cupcakes decorated for Christmas. Brian at Sandbox Marketing has ordered them as gift for a client. Sandbox is a small business in Tustin and wants to help my small business. Isn’t that great? I am meeting up with Brian on Sunday evening to deliver the goods. Funny enough – he lives near me too! Hopefully my cupcakes aim to please and he helps me spread the word in our community.
Sandbox is giving me creative freedom. I’m thinking about red velvet with peppermint cream cheese frosting and spice cake with coconut frosting. That combo was a huge hit as the giant cupcake at the tree decorating party. The cupcakes would look like snowballs too. And I can use my most favorite thing in the world, cake glitter, to make them glisten.
To add to that, I am baking cookies for my mom so she can give them to her coworker as a birthday present. I am baking Monster Cookies and sugar cookies in the shape of birthday cakes and will be decorating them with fondant. I haven’t decorated cookies with fondant yet. The look is so nice. And I’ll try anything once! I’ve got to get those baked Friday so I can get them in the mail on Saturday.
Someday I will figure out how to ship cupcakes. From the research I’ve done so far, most places ship their cupcakes frozen and require overnight shipping which is costly. San Diego isn’t that far though. It’s practically overnight shipping unintentionally. So I might try that just to see how they end up. I tried shipping them in plastic containers and they ended up topsy-turvy and a mess. A delicious mess… but a mess the same.
These super cute cupcakes have been making the rounds on the internet today:
Melted snowman cupcakes via Craftzine.com blog
I really want to try them. I might tonight if I don’t get home too late.