6 Tips to Drastically Boost your Baking Productivity

6 Tips to Drastically Boost your Baking Productivity

6 Tips to Drastically Boost your Baking Productivity

The most effective answer to higher baking productivity is not a bigger oven or a better mixer (although those tools can increase your productivity).

I’m talking about tips that go way beyond any piece of equipment.

Resourcefulness can accomplish a whole lot more than resources my friend.

So today’s tips are more about practical advice on mindsets, planning and time management. If you manage your thoughts and time effectively, I promise you that your productivity will increase in ways you never expected it to.

So here are my 6 tips for drastically increasing your baking productivity.

 

1. Start the day in “Creating Mode”, not in “Comparison Mode”

This is a tip I recently learned from Angie Lee on The Influencer podcast by Julie Solomon. (Wow – so many names! Lol! But I believe it’s super important to give credit where it’s due.)

Every morning you wake up; your mindset and thought patterns seriously determine the rest of your day.

Those thought patterns will literally call the shots on your work speed, accuracy and efficiency.

 

Going on Instagram first thing in the morning to look at the feed of your heroes and idols is one sure way to put a rain-cloud on your productivity for the day.

Here’s what happens when you look at all that spectacular feed, deeply inhaling your coveting fumes and singing “I wanna be like you-ou-ou!”…

Your mind is forming a sub-conscious conclusion that you are not good enough and that you’ll probably never be enough and you should actually be more like this and less like that.

There’s a list of thousands of these thoughts that have the power to torment you the rest of the day because you’ve opened yourself up to all of those thoughts.

All of those thoughts are RUBBBBBBISSHHHHHHHH.

baking tips, baking business, home bakery

So instead of going on Instagram first thing in the morning and providing fertile soil and a greenhouse for those thought patterns, just don’t even open that box my friend!

Wake up in CREATING mode instead! This means that you wake up with the intention to CREATE beautiful, delicious things today.

Your goal is to make something, to add something to the world by brightening up someone’s day with a yummy treat made just for them! Engage your thoughts in that glorious mission and your baking day will be so much more productive!

 

Your Evening Routine

If you feel lethargic and meh on your work day, you may need to get honest with yourself about your evening routine.

Yep, I’m talking to you Netflix-er!

Watching movies and series can be a good way to unwind and laugh at the end of a rough day, but you absolutely need to keep an eye on the clock.

If you want your mind and body to function optimally the next day, make it your mission to sleep enough and give your body all the rest it needs.

 

And here comes the difficult part… Stay away from ANY screens for at least half an hour before you go to bed. Digital screens have a very particular kind of light that stimulates our brains and keeps them awake.

So, switch your phone to airplane mode half an hour before you plan to sleep and don’t look at it again. Rather take this time to listen to read a bit or colour in (it works wonders for relaxation!!).

Planning your evening routine instead of letting it just “happen”, will give your body the rest it needs which will make you more productive the next day.

 

Divide Your Day into Phases

I just rubbed my hand over my face as I read this heading, because I realized that I keep forgetting to apply this tip!

Life is busy. Life is hard. Unless you look at it in part. (Just made that up. Quite like it.)

By this I mean that it’s not a good idea to look at EVERYTHING you need to do today AT THE SAME TIME. This will lead to severe overwhelm.

Last time I checked, “overwhelm” is not an ingredient in the recipe for productivity.

Overwhelm overloads your mind and emotions with expectations. A list of 20 expectations will absolutely shut you down, weigh you down and prevent you from functioning productively.

Breaking the day up into separate tasks does not help me either – because the amount of tasks is still overwhelming!

 

What I like to do is divide my day up into phases. Defining the different phases of my day helps me to focus clearly on a handful of tasks that all fall under the same type of category.

By focusing on 1 phase at a time, I don’t clutter my thoughts with too many tasks or wonder “WHEN am I going to get that thing done?!”. I know when I’m going to get that done. It will get done in my late afternoon phase, so I don’t need to spend any energy worrying about it.

 

I encourage you to test which tasks fit better into which phases of your day.

Some tasks might be easier for you to complete in the morning than for others.

I’ve heard that it’s bad for creatives to answer emails first thing in the morning, but I love it! The world is still quiet and I get to chat with awesome peeps like you first thing – I love starting my day this way.

But laundry is a late morning phase thing for me. The thought of doing laundry first thing in the morning makes me want to cry.

So there are no rules here. Divide your day into phases and distribute your tasks as YOU like them.

Don’t force yourself to do laundry first thing in the morning just because people label such a routine as “super productive”!

Rather be realistic and honest with yourself about which tasks suit you better at certain times of the day.

 

baking productivity, baking tips, baking business, home bakery

 

Do Tasks in Bulk

It’s a whole lot more efficient to simply to do things in bulk wherever it’s possible because jumping between tasks wastes heaps of time.

Doing things in bulk will streamline your productivity and business like crazy.

This also means setting aside times in the day for certain tasks and sticking to that schedule!

For example: Do not answer emails all throughout the day. Decide on 2 half hour slots per day for answering emails – one in the late morning and one in the late afternoon.

 

Keep your phone AWAY from your kitchen when you are baking!! Instagram is the graveyard of time!! Schedule “Insta-times” for yourself in the day, but it cannot be during baking time.

If you had a corporate job, ANY boss would be infuriated if you went on Instagram every 10 minutes, because that means you are stealing his time and being unproductive.

Well my friend, YOU are your own boss now which means that you are actually stealing your own time. Yikes!

Batching is also essential in your baking tasks. PREP IS EVERYTHING.

Rather sift all your dry ingredients for the day into little baggies. This way you won’t have to jump between dry and wet ingredients for every single item you mix and your counter space will be less cluttered.

 

INVEST in TIME savers

Time is something you can NEVER get back, but Money is something you can make back.

I recently learned this from Sterling Griffin! And upon hearing this and really letting it sink in, I quickly became SHOCKED by how little value I put on my time.

I am super frugal, so I often place myself in a position where I’d rather spend my time than spend money.

This mindset is the ANTIDOTE to productivity.

YOUR TIME IS THE MOST VALUABLE COMMODITY YOU HAVE. Don’t treat it like it’s limitless – because it is absolutely not. It’s priceless.

 

Invest in time saving tools wherever you are able to. This will get you to your goals FASTER.

Let me use a super obvious example to illustrate my point.

There was a time when a cheese grater was a new invention… Up until then, everyone was just slicing vegetables and other foods with simple knives.

I’m SURE there were women those days that said: “I cannot afford a grater! Money is scarce! I’d rather just keep slicing my carrots by hand for my carrot cakes.”

But others saw the opportunity this grater device was offering. It would save them TIME. If they didn’t need to spend an hour on slicing carrots for 1 cake, they could now double their carrot cake production for the day and MAKE DOUBLE THE PROFIT!

 

Initially you may need to spend some money to buy a time saving tool, but consider your RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

Will this tool/service save you time?

Will this tool/service increase your baking capacity and grow your business?

 

If the answer is YES, then borrow money to invest in that tool. The tool will pay itself off and then proceed to save you time, generate more profit for you and grow your baking business.

baking tips, baking productivity, baking business, home bakery

 

REST is an Investment in Productivity

RESTING STRATEGICALLY MAKES YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE!!!

I apologize for all the caps and exclamations, but I just had to include them because most bakers struggle to rest.

You NEED to be disciplined about resting.

I used to see resting as wasting time and kept thinking of how much I could be doing in that time.

But here’s another perspective:

You can’t be productive when you burn out, can you?

You can’t be productive if you are constantly exhausted, can you?

 

Lately I've been colouring in for 30 minutes a day with classical music and a cup of tea. IT WORKS WONDERS!! No wonder life was so FUN and exciting when we were kids!

And do not watch series or movies because that won't let the emotional part of your brain rest (read up on “mindfulness“)

But whatever works for you, find a way to REST – even for just 15 minutes a day. The world can wait for 15 minutes. You're not THAT important 😜

 

Resting at the same time every day also gives you something to look forward to! It’s a time slot that’s YOURS. Having this time to recuperate, rest your body and mind will make you more productive throughout the rest of the day.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 6 tips to boost your productivity!

Which of these tips are you going to apply this week? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Aurelia

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




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Caramelized Cheesecake Shards

Caramelized Cheesecake Shards

Caramelized Cheesecake Shards are a thing, yes… sort of. Well, I guess I’m the first person doing it, so IF it becomes a “thing” – remember you heard it here first 😉

What are Caramelized Cheesecake Shards?

They are thin discs of cheesecake that have been baked in the oven until they are golden brown around the edges. Think of them as thin cheesecake cookies made from cheesecake batter.

How Did They Originate?

The idea for this creation was a number of factors really.

First of all, I am an artisan baker insisting on using ONLY delicious ingredients as decorations and ZERO FONDANT, buttercream ornaments, modelling chocolate or gum-paste.

Chocolate shavings and nuts make great cake decorations, but you can’t really put them on every single cake.

Doing so makes your menu look a tad monotone eventually, which is why I’m always looking for new, TASTY decoration ideas.

 

There’s an absolutely delectable muffin I’ve been baking for coffee shops in particular for 5 and a half years now – Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Muffins.

This is not a “new” idea, I mean the basic recipe idea has been around for years, BUT I created my own spin on the cream cheese filling. It’s not just made up of cream cheese, but rather a type of cheesecake mixture – without any eggs.

When these muffins bake, this filling tends to ooze out a bit onto the baking tray below. These blobs obviously get exposed to more heat from the oven and the direct contact with the baking tray makes it cook faster and caramelize.

Over time I even started overfilling these muffins “by accident” so that more filling would bake out and I would have more caramelized cheesecake bits to feast on! SO YUMMY!

 

caramelized cheesecake shards | easy cake decorating | delicious cake decorating

 

After about 4 and a half years of full time baking, I decided I want to make a cake full of the stuff that I LOVE.

This included a proper, soft, moist, super flavourful vanilla cake (recipe in resource library) with my ultimate vanilla frosting, salted caramel, a little bit of chocolate ganache and these caramelized cheesecake bits that I just could not get enough of!

I made the cheesecake mixture as usual, except this time I added a bit of egg to help with the post-baked stability. I smeared thin circles of it onto a WELL greased baking tray, baked it until deeply golden around the edges and there it was.

I’m now using these caramelized cheesecake shards as flavourful decorations on 3 different cakes in my home bakery.

I’ve even added sprinkles on top of the cheesecake circles before they go in the oven to create fun fetti caramelized cheesecake shards!

Although they are crisp for the first few hours after baking, they will lose that crunch quite soon. I do not see these shards as a “crunch” element in my bakes, but rather a flavour element. It also doesn’t hurt that they look super cool, right? 😉

Here’s how to make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caramelized Cheesecake Shards
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 20 g Egg
  • 120 g Plain, non-aerated Cream Cheese (about 25% fat), COLD
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 30 g Icing Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/356°F.
  2. Beat the egg and cream cheese together in a medium sized bowl till completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again till smooth.
  3. Beat in the Icing Sugar and vanilla extract till completely combined. Set aside.
  4. Grease a large baking tray SUPER WELL with non-stick spray. Spread identical-ish blobs of the mixture out fairly thinly (about 2mm thickness) and evenly onto the bottom of the tin.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 175°C/347°F and bake cheesecake mixture for around 30 mins. Keep an eye on it as it can catch and burn quite easily. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time for more even caramelization.
  6. When the cheesecake shards are half golden brown and half white, they are done baking, remove them from the oven.
  7. Leave them to cool on the tray completely. Slide a knife underneath each disc of caramelized cheesecake to loosen it from the baking tray.
  8. Cut into shards as desired and use to decorate your cakes as desired! It’s so delicious that I even crumble it up between cake layers.

 

Thanks so much for reading! If you give this recipe a go, tag me @philosophyofyum so that I can see your work.

See you again soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




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Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake without Free-handing is possible and really quite easy 🙂

I simply HAD to figure this out because no matter how much I practiced, I've always SUCKED at free hand piping! As I’ve said before, artisan home baking is my thing, cake decorating is NOT my passion.

My MAIN focus is to make my bakes DELICIOUS, not pretty.

That being said, the motivation behind learning how to write on cakes is actually not to make them “pretty” per se, but rather that it makes a cake more personal. Home Bakeries are founded on being personal!

For some people the whole “neat handwriting and accurate spacing” thing comes naturally. Unfortunately the last time I had a neat handwriting I was 9.

When I tried to write something free hand on a cake I ALWAYS ended up running out of space and needing to squash in those last 3 letters. And on a good day I would win at the spacing, but still have UGLY writing.

 

To me, artisan home baking is the ULTIMATE approach to baking, but here’s the sad news…

 

Even if you bake cakes that make people pass out from YUM-overload, you will need to write special and personal messages on cakes at some point. It is absolutely inevitable.

And unfortunately, ugly writing on a cake CAN put a damper on a client’s whole experience of your cake.

 

So if your handwriting is ATROCIOUS (like mine) and if you SUCK at free handing (like me) – what do you do??

 

Fret not my friend, there is a solution for writing on cake without free-handing! It’s relatively simple and after trying it a few times, you will rock it. And most importantly your writing will look SUPER professional 😀

This process might take 3 or so attempts before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through my lengthy instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt!

I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Chocolate is the Answer

Since my Ultimate Vanilla Frosting and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting BOTH have quite a high water content, using something like Royal Icing to write on my cakes was not an option. The royal icing (and all other high sugar decorations) melt into the frosting within a few minutes.

I was not about to switch to overly sweet buttercream or flavourless fondant – EVER! So I had to find another ingredient to use.

Chocolate ended up being the perfect “ink” to work with for several reasons:

  • It has a higher fat content which prevents the sugar from melting into my frosting.
  • Chocolate is obviously way more delicious than royal icing!
  • Top Quality Chocolate sets hard (technically it crystallizes), so this enables you to write neatly on a printed template and transfer the words onto the cake.
  • Chocolate comes in a variety of shades! I use white or dark chocolate, depending on the shade of frosting or ganache coating the cake. Using a contrasting colour of chocolate really makes the writing “pop”.

But using chocolate means that there will be tempering involved. BUT, before you panic, just consider that I have a SUPER EASY chocolate tempering method to share with you today!

 

Why Does the Chocolate Need to Be Tempered?

  • Un-tempered chocolate melts VERY quickly! If the chocolate starts to melt while you are trying to transfer the words onto the cake it is one huge and panicked MESS.
  • Un-tempered chocolate tends to bloom when it sets. Blooming refers to those weird light spots or streaks you see on chocolate. It looks a bit like mould I guess. Although blooming doesn’t make the chocolate taste bad, it really just looks severely unappetizing. These light spots & streaks are cocoa butter that has separated out of the chocolate.
  • Tempered chocolate sets (technically it crystallizes) nice and hard, making it a breeze to transfer without it ever beginning to melt and stick to the palette knife!
  • Tempered chocolate has a lovely sheen to it which makes it a very beautiful centerpiece for your cake 🙂

 

How to Temper Chocolate – EASILY

Tempering chocolate was this ridiculously intimidating thing I could never master.

I even went for a short chocolate course and did the whole marble slab thing. Even though I did it more or less correctly in the class, I totally sucked at it back home and I just could not get it to work!

 

When it comes to tempering chocolate, REMEMBER THIS ONE THING:

DO NOT OVERHEAT THE CHOCOLATE.

That is it.

 

Writing on cake without free-handing - step by step tutorial

 

When you overheat chocolate, you break the structure of its crystallization – specifically the structure of the cocoa butter. Successfully tempered chocolate has optimal cocoa butter structure. When you overheat chocolate it basically means it won’t be stable – it will melt easily. It also won’t be shiny, but it will be dull or have blooming. And it won’t have a nice snap.

Click here if you want to read more on the polymorphic structure of chocolate.

The classic tempering with a marble slab allows you to overheat the chocolate and then bring it back to the right temperature on the marble slab with correct technique and experience. But it is difficult to master and super sensitive.

So don’t even go there! Why make life so difficult when it’s not necessary?

It’s far easier to just not overheat the chocolate in the first place and rather maintain the crystal structure it already has. Prevention is better than cure.

 

The best way to prevent chocolate from overheating comes down to three things:

  1. The container you melt your chocolate in. ALWAYS melt your chocolate in a PLASTIC BOWL. Ceramic, glass or aluminium bowls conduct heat FAR too easily and quickly. They also remain hot for a very long time. This will force up the temperature of your chocolate within 20 seconds – seriously.

    .
    PLASTIC BOWLS are poor heat conductors, so they do not become hot easily and they lose their heat very fast. The plastic bowl basically becomes “invisible” in the chocolate melting process, allowing the chocolate to melt at its own pace.

  2. The type of heat you apply. Although the bain-marie thing (bowl of chocolate over barely simmering water) is quite a standard way to melt chocolate – it’s not ideal. Sorry if I’m being controversial here, but it really isn’t ideal because it overheats the chocolate.

    .
    Firstly because you can’t place a plastic bowl over a bain-marie. It could melt the bowl and as we have established – plastic doesn’t conduct heat very well.

    Even if the water is barely steaming, it will still be enough to overheat your chocolate.

    Chocolate melts with VERY LITTLE heat. It melts at 30°C/86°F! So the heat you use needs to be super subtle and above all – controllable!

    For this reason I like to use my microwave. I can control exactly how hot things get and stop it abruptly at any point I wish.
    .

  3. How long you apply the heat for. If you apply any source of heat for too long, your chocolate is going to overheat. For this reason it’s best to melt the chocolate with 30 second bursts in the microwave.

    Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to 30 second bursts!

    Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 second burst, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!

Now that you understand the science and super important basics, let’s move on to the FULL method: Writing on Cake without free-handing, from start to finish.

 

Writing on Cake Without Free Handing – Step by Step

IF you happened to skip to this part, go back up and read the full post. All the info above was shared with great reason. If you do not understand this whole process, the chances of you failing at this really increase drastically.

 

Create and Print Your Desired Template

  1. Measure the space you want to fill on top of your cake.
  2. On your computer, in Photoshop or Canva (free program), create a block a bit smaller than the measured size. A little bit smaller is always a good idea here.
  3. Choose a good font. Cursive is better here because the letters are all connected into one item. This means that “Birthday” becomes one item to transfer instead of 8 separate letters to transfer. My favourite font to use is “Dragon is Coming”! I downloaded it for free on dafont.com – click here.
  4. Type your desired message and print it on ordinary paper.
  5. Cut around your message to make the size of the paper smaller. Stick it onto the bottom of a cake tin base plate with some sticky tape. If the tin’s base has a lip, make sure it faces the bottom so that your top surface is completely smooth and level.
  6. Cut a square of NON-STICK, opaque baking paper/parchment (not wax paper) big enough to cover the writing. You should be able to see the writing through the baking paper. Make sure there are no bumps or kinks in the paper and that it is absolutely clean. Place it over the writing template and secure it in position with a few pieces of sticky tape.

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Temper the Chocolate

  1. Chop 50 g of your desired chocolate. There should be no pieces larger than 1 cm x 1 cm. SUPER IMPORTANT: Use TOP quality chocolate!! Commercial chocolate bars like Nestlé and Cadbury contain too much sugar and not enough cocoa butter, so they are always too soft and unstable. Lindt is always a safe bet.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate into a small PLASTIC bowl.
  3. Microwave in 30 second bursts. Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to one 30 second session at a time! Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 seconds, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!
  4. While you wait you can prepare your “piping bag”. Even though I have many piping bags, I prefer using a small, plastic sandwich bag for this (not Ziploc though. It gets in the way). Open it up and place it with one point facing down into a glass or cup. Fold the edges of the plastic bag over the side of the glass.
  5. When the chocolate BEGINS to melt reduce your next microwave session to 20 seconds. And now the next bit is crucial.
  6. THE TRICK TO GOOD TEMPERING IS TO MELT MOST, BUT NOT ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE IN THE MICROWAVE. The bits of melted chocolate may be enough to melt the rest of the chocolate pieces in the bowl, so stir and squash it thoroughly to see if the rest will melt. And keep tabs on the temperature of the chocolate by testing a bit of it on your lip. If it’s the same temperature or cooler you are on the right track. (If the temperature is warmer you have overheated it. Rather start again with new chocolate.)
  7. If the heat of the melted chocolate is not enough to melt the remaining solid pieces, return it to the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. Stir super thoroughly after each 10 seconds to see if the rest of the chocolate melts completely. YOU WANT THE LAST FEW PIECES TO MELT OUTSIDE THE MICROWAVE.
  8. Once everything is melted and smooth, stir the chocolate thoroughly another few times. Test the temperature again – it should be roughly the same temperature (or a little bit cooler) as your lip.
  9. Immediately scrape the melted chocolate into the prepared plastic baggie. Tempered chocolate does set quite quickly so you want to get it in the bag and close to your hand as soon as possible. The warmth from your hand will keep the chocolate melted.

Piping the Chocolate Lettering

  1. Twist the end of the baggie thoroughly (but not all the way up against the chocolate. You don’t want the melted chocolate to be under pressure and burst out when you snip off the end) and secure with a paper clip, clothes pin or anything you want. I mostly just keep the twisted end closed by pinching it in the space between my thumb and index finger while I’m piping (see image below).
  2. Snip off a tiny bit at the end. You can always snip off more. You can test to see how thick your line will be. The ideal line thickness is about 2 mm, but it’s totally up to you.
  3. Whenever you want to stop the flow of chocolate, just lift the tip of the baggie vertically upwards.
  4. Pipe the lettering with the melted chocolate while constantly keeping the side of your hand on the surface for some stability. Slide your hand on the surface as you move along. Do not let your hand hover in the air. I’m left handed, so I need to write the words backwards, starting from the right. If you’re right handed you can start from the left.

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Transferring the Chocolate Lettering

  1. The chocolate will have begun to set once you are done piping the words, but allow the chocolate to set fully in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Depending on how well you tempered the chocolate, this next bit could be super easy or a bit more difficult.
  3. The first thing you need to do now is loosen the lettering from the baking paper/parchment. Remove the sticky tape keeping the non-stick baking paper/parchment in place. Slide the parchment with the lettering on it to the edge of your work surface. Starting from the one side, grab the paper firmly on either side with your hands.


    Carefully slide the parchment over the edge, pulling the parchment down with your one hand
    . Go about 1 – 2 inches in. You obviously don’t want to crack the lettering or have it fall on the floor! Rotate the paper 90 degrees and repeat the process. Repeat for remaining two sides as well. Test with your clean and dry palette knife if the lettering is nice and loose on the paper.

  4. In my experience it it’s better to transfer the MIDDLE word first. Guessing the exact middle of your cake is much easier than guessing the top third. The middle is a great reference point.
  5. Carefully slide your clean and dry palette knife under a bit more than the top half of the word, keeping the bottom half unattached (see image below). Carry it over to your cake.
  6. Let the unattached bottom half make contact with the surface of the cake where you desire to place it. Allow it to ease off into position as you gently lift away the palette knife.
  7. Repeat with remaining lettering and then you’re done!!

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

This process might take around 3 attempts of practice before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through all my instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt! I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

 

If you use my method for writing on cake without free-handing, please let me know by tagging me @philosophyofyum because I would love to give you a virtual high ten 😀

Chat soon

Aurelia

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




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How to Make ANY Cake/Cupcake Recipe Gluten Free

How to Make ANY Cake/Cupcake Recipe Gluten Free

Make ANY Cake/Cupcake Recipe Gluten Free

Gluten Free Baking was such a challenging fete a few years ago, but today it’s a totally different story! There are so many gluten free flours available in most grocery stores nowadays.

And with the research of some amazing food bloggers like Art of Gluten Free Baking, Gluten Free on a Shoestring and more, gluten free ANYTHING is possible!

In my own Home Bakery, all my cakes and cupcakes are available in gluten free. This is not because I “saw a gap in the market” or anything, it’s rather because my husband, Adriaan, is highly intolerant to gluten.

I firmly believe that no home baker should try and sell anything they don’t believe in. Not so much because it’s inconsistent, but honestly, it just doesn’t work.

You can market products till you pass out, but if you don’t LOVE your products and really believe in the motivation behind baking them, you will literally not be able to sell them. Not nearly enough of them anyway.

There I go again, throwing in baking business advice. Back to the gluten free chat!

 

Gluten Free, But Also Lazy

The biggest problem I found with gluten free baking when I started exploring it, was that I needed to use a whole new recipe every time I wanted to bake something gluten free.

In other words, I couldn’t just use my favourite Carrot Cupcake Recipe, I had to go search for a gluten free carrot cupcake recipe – and even then there was no guarantee that the recipe would be up to scratch.

Having a Home Bakery is quite a high paced job, so I mostly memorize my recipes so that my baking process is much faster. The idea of memorizing DOUBLE the recipes because of a whole gluten free repertoire was just WAY too exhausting to even consider!!

I’ve quoted my wise (and unconventional) dad on this before in my How to Freeze Crème Pat post, but he always said:

“If you want to be lazy, you have to be clever!”

There simply had to be a gluten free flour blend you can sub into ANY regular cake or cupcake recipes.

On top of that, MANY gluten free cake recipes are severely annoying. They ask for these crazy ingredients which I’ve never seen before in my life and still have not found in any supermarket or health food store in my area.

Things like Ultratex, Expandex and Whey Protein Isolate… What?! Or should I say “Gezuntheid”?

I’ve been on a mission to find something that could be made with ingredients that are available to me and can easily be mixed with no special equipment or effort.

So I came up with my own gluten free cake flour blend that has changed everything for my husband! I also started using this gluten free cake flour in my own bakery for all gluten free cakes and cupcakes. The POY gluten free flour blend yields such a soft and tender crumb!

And I love that I can find ALL of these ingredients in my closest health store/supermarket!

This gluten free flour can be substituted gram for gram in ANY cake and cupcake recipe!

I mix 1 kg of flour in a little sealed bucket and keep it in my cupboard to whip out whenever I need it. You are welcome to halve or quarter the recipe if you need to. I go by grams because the accuracy is just better when it comes to dry ingredients.

 

Not All Cake Recipes Are Created Equal

The worst mistake we can make as bakers is to assume that all cake and cupcake recipes should be treated the same way. I did a thorough post on Baking Perfect Cupcakes a while back where I also stress this fact.

Butter based recipes respond completely different to mixing than oil based recipes. Butter based cake/cupcake recipes can be overmixed so much faster than oil based recipes and this is amplified severely when you use gluten free flour.

 

Subbing With POY Gluten Free Flour Blend

I love to use my own gluten free flour blend that works PERFECTLY in all cake and cupcake recipes.

And here’s a super important tip for the subbing process: Go By Weight and Not Volume!

I never, ever, EEEEVERRRR use cup measurements for dry ingredients. EVER. Wet ingredients, absolutely, but not dry ingredients. The reason why is because cup measurements leave way too much room for error. A loosely poured cup of flour weighs about 150 g, but a scooped cup of flour can weigh up to 190 g!

If a recipe does not provide weight measurements, I like to assume I should use 170 g per cup which is in the middle. This has always worked for me 🙂

 

Mixing Technique for Butter Based Recipes

Cream your butter and sugar as you normally would. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract as you normally would.

When you add the gluten free flour (remember to use exactly the same weight as regular cake flour the recipe calls for) and milk/buttermilk, be careful how you stir and how much you stir.

Gluten free flour in butter based batters, gets overmixed really quickly. Overmixed gluten free cake batter will feel very stiff when you stir it and will result in small and tough cupcakes once baked.

For this reason, I incorporate my gluten free flour and milk/buttermilk on the slowest stir speed with my hand mixer – not with a stand mixer – for about 10 seconds which gives me more control and eliminates the danger of overmixing. If your hand mixer does not have a super slow stir speed, stir super gently, by hand, with a balloon whisk.

When I can’t see any more flour, I then go in with my rubber spatula. Use the spatula to scrape and fold all the eggy butter at the bottom of the bowl into the thicker batter on top. Keep folding gently and scraping the bowl till the batter looks uniform in texture.

Then you may proceed to fill your cupcake liners or cake pans. You can read more about perfect batter distributing techniques in my post Baking Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips 🙂

Just remember to NEVER stir a butter based gluten free batter vigorously.

There are some butter based recipes out there that instruct you to beat the batter after the flour has been added. This is often done to give the cake’s texture a little bit more density and some chewiness. BUT, ignore this is you sub gluten free flour into the recipe. It just flops entirely and you end up with gluten free bricks that no one wants to eat.

Mixing Technique for Oil Based Recipes

Great news is that oil based batters are WAY more forgiving! Score! Whether you are mixing carrot cake, chocolate cake or red velvet cake, you don’t need to be as careful as you are with butter based gluten free batters.

This being said, I still wouldn’t mix it a lot unless the recipe states that you should do so. My Chocolate Cupcake Recipe, for example, requires you to mix the batter on medium speed for 2 minutes before adding boiling water. Since this is an oil based recipe, I do beat the batter for the required time even when I sub gluten free flour and they turn out great!

 

Baking Technique

When you sub POY Gluten Free Flour blend in a regular recipe, please note that your goods will bake a lot faster than when you use regular flour. It's hard to say how much faster because it all depends on your oven. For me it's usually about 10%-15% faster. Rather start testing your cake or cupcakes sooner to avoid overbaking.

 

Subbing Beyond Cakes & Cupcakes

In our home we like to use this gluten free flour blend in Shortcrust Pastry, Cheesecake Pastry and Fresh Pasta too! It produces a gluten free pasta we can even roll out in our pasta machine – so rad!

Important note: This flour recipe is not ideal for making bread or brownies, but I do have an Ultimate Gluten Free Brownie Recipe 🙂

If you have any more questions on substituting gluten free flour in regular cake/cupcake recipes, please comment below and I’ll be happy to answer them 🙂

Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




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Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual!

Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual!

Piping Frosting – My Own Journey

Piping frosting was something I overthought for about a year. I must have watched 50 videos on Youtube before I actually picked up a piping bag for the first time. But even after watching ALL those videos I still felt like I had NO IDEA what I was doing! During my first year of more serious baking, I resorted to rather spooning frosting onto cupcakes just to be safe.

* All photos by Alice Swan *

Since my last post was on my ultimate Vanilla Frosting Recipe and I have shared my ultimate Chocolate Frosting Recipe with you before, I thought I should complete the circle and write this post on PIPING Frosting.

Over the last 5 years I’ve become, thankfully, super comfortable with piping frosting. But I’ve also realized that there are some practical tips and methods that can help a beginner understand more clearly what they need to do.

Most of those 50 videos didn’t help me at all. The bakers just said: “Pipe the frosting around… Like that!” That doesn’t do it for me. I need WORDS to explain to me what I need to do. Just watching someone isn’t enough. And no one can really afford to frost 1000 guinea pig cupcakes before being able to pipe frosting well enough to sell them!

Finding the Words to Explain HOW

A dear friend of ours joined me in the kitchen one day so we could bake some cupcakes together. She’s 16 and has a great passion for baking! When the time came for piping frosting onto the cupcakes, I saw her doing it the exact same way I had done it 5 years ago.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

So I will start by explaining all the natural MISTAKES beginners tend to make:

Piping Nozzle is too Small

Tiny star tips are so 1990’s. Stay away from them. The finish looks so bad and it’s also much harder to get the frosting to come out with a consistent thickness all the way through. So use a larger nozzle – it makes the frosting look way more generous and voluptuous!

Open Star Nozzle

Open star nozzles (except for the French tip) do not create a finish as beautiful as CLOSED star nozzles. Closed star nozzles make DEEPER grooves in the frosting, making the finished effect way more dramatic and shapely.

Definitely go for a large, closed star nozzle. If you can only find open star ones, then bend the spikes into the open center to create a closed star shape. I did this 5 years ago with my first ever stainless steel nozzle – it’s still my favourite one for piping frosting onto cupcakes 🙂 Make sure that the spikes are long enough to bend in all the way to the center. Do leave about 1 mm open in the center though.

Another perk of closed star nozzles is that they SAVE FROSTING! The frosting is more defined when it comes out, but the deeper grooves also mean that less frosting comes out overall. Win-win my friend!

Plastic Nozzles

Whaaaat?! NO! Throw that thing away or give it to your kids to play with. The biggest problem with plastic nozzles is that they fray and decay over time. This fraying creates jagged edges on your frosting – not cool.

Stainless steel nozzles basically have a lifetime warranty. As I’ve said, I’ve used 1 piping nozzle for 5 years and for THOUSANDS of cupcakes.

The finish on my frosting is defined and beautifully smooth every time.

Frosting is too Stiff

Frosting needs a form of “elasticity” to be piped beautifully. If your frosting is too stiff, it will behave as if it’s “brittle”. This means it will break off before you get to pipe around the cupcake.

What you want is ONE, long frosting sausage from beginning to end with no breakage whatsoever.

If you only realise that your frosting is too stiff when you are busy piping, remove all the frosting from the piping bag and fix the consistency first. Yes, it is more effort, but a shabby finish on your cupcakes is way more exhausting on an emotional level.

Frosting is too Runny/Slack

If your frosting is too runny/slack, the grooves in your piped frosting will totally disappear and ruin the cupcake’s aesthetics completely.

If you only realise that your frosting is too runny when you are busy piping, remove all the frosting from the piping bag and fix the consistency first. Yes, it is more effort, but a shabby finish on your cupcakes is way more exhausting on an emotional level.

Holding Nozzle too Close to Cupcake

I’ve realized that piping frosting beautifully onto cupcakes is rather about GUIDING the frosting to gracefully rest in the right position than “putting it on” the cupcakes.

When you have the approach of “putting frosting on” cupcakes, then you tend to hold the nozzle way too close to the cupcake while piping. Any sudden movement then causes you to push the nozzle into the frosting on the cupcake, ruining the finish and clean groove lines.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

Wrong Angle When Piping Frosting

When you are piping frosting, don’t hold the piping bag diagonal to the cupcake. If you do this then every side of the finished cupcake will look different.

Hold the piping bag perfectly perpendicular to the cupcake’s surface. This ensures a consistent frosting pattern all the way around.

So now that we know the DON’TS of piping frosting, what are the DO’S?

Perfect Piping Consistency

This is quite a sensitive one. We already know that the frosting shouldn’t be too stiff because it will break off when piping. We also know that it shouldn’t be too runny because then our beautifully defined grooves will disappear.

Piping consistency is different from spreading consistency – which is used for layering cakes. To test whether your frosting is piping consistency, you will need a large spoon.

The spoon is handy for 2 reasons. First of all, use it to stir your frosting vigorously for 15 seconds to break any large air pockets and get your frosting smooth.

Secondly you need the spoon for the “plop test”. Yes, this is a term I totally made up just now.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

Scoop up a generous spoonful of frosting and hold it up. Now turn your wrist 90 degrees so that the frosting is exposed to gravity, heading towards dropping back into the bowl. Ideally, you want the frosting to linger on the spoon for 3 – 5 seconds before it drops off, back into the bowl.

Another test is the “peak test”. Yet another term I made up just now 🙂

Tap a spoon on top of the frosting and push down gently. Next, lift the spoon up vertically to create a perky peak on the frosting. If the peak bends over and flops down, your frosting is too runny.

If this test doesn’t create one, tall peak but rather a few shorter peaks in an oval arrangemet, then your frosting is too stiff.

Perfect Cupcakes

A “do” that we can't ignore is that piping frosting perfectly becomes SO much easier when you've got perfect cupcakes

Cupcakes with pointy tops are very difficult to pipe onto because the angle brings gravity into the mix as well, causing your frosting to sag down and ruining your beautiful frosting grooves.

Cupcakes with perfectly smooth and level tops make a world of difference! Fortunately I've written a super thorough post on How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes 🙂

Holding the Piping Bag

When you've filled your piping bag with frosting, twist the end a few times to prevent the frosting from escaping.

Wrap your dominant hand around the filled piping bag. Hold the twisted end securely in the gap between your thumb and index finger.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

The frosting will be squeezed out with your dominant hand ONLY! Your other hand is merely there to guide the tip in the right direction. Never apply pressure with both hands.

When piping frosting, apply pressure using the outer part of your palm along with your pinky, ring finger and middle finger. You can also use your thumb's palm to assist in applying pressure. Let your thumb and index finger focus on keeping the piping bag's twist from unraveling.

Piping Frosting – Basic Swirl

The biggest mistake I made as a beginner was to keep my eye on the frosting while I was piping. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE CUPCAKE while piping frosting. The aim is to follow the shape of the cupcake – that is your constant reference/guide.

Before you start piping frosting, keep in mind that you are merely GUIDING the frosting into place and not “putting it on”.

Decide beforehand how big your border of exposed cupcake will be (more or less). Your frosting’s first contact point should be another 5 mm inside that border so that the frosting’s blunt starting point will be hidden at the end.

Hold the piping bag as perpendicular as possible to the cupcake’s surface.

Hold the piping nozzle’s end point a good half inch away from the surface of the cupcake. Apply careful, even pressure and make your first contact point.

While still applying consistent pressure, squeeze the frosting so that it gracefully leaves the piping bag and guide it into place. Keep your eye on the outer edge of the cupcake all the time!! That is your guide.

Go all the way around till you reach your starting point. Just before your starting point, curve in slightly, allow your second circle to overlap slightly with your first circle of frosting.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

When you have spiralled to the center, push down slightly and then release. This last, slight push secures your last spiral of frosting in place so that it doesn’t lift off into a slim, awkward, angled peak when you remove your piping nozzle.

Also, when you lift off the nozzle at the end, don't do it 100% straightly upwards. Try to incorporate a bit of the swirl's direction as you end off. 

Piping Frosting in a “Rose”

Before you start, keep in mind that you are GUIDING the frosting into place and not “putting it on”.

Decide beforehand how big your border of exposed cupcake will be (more or less).

Hold the piping bag as perpendicular as possible to the cupcake’s surface.

Start in the center of the cupcake.

Hold the piping nozzle’s end point a good half inch away from the surface of the cupcake. Apply careful, even pressure and make your first contact point. Hold your position for another second so that more frosting comes out. (The center of a rose always has more petals)

After this you can proceed to start piping frosting in a spiral, around the contact point.

While still applying consistent pressure, squeeze the frosting so that it gracefully leaves the piping bag and guide it into place. Keep your eye on the outer edge of the cupcake all the time so that you get a symmetrical rose.

Piping frosting | piping tips | piping frosting on cupcakes

As you approach the end of your cupcake’s outer surface, gradually apply less pressure, till you seamlessly stop (while guiding the last bit of frosting to adhere to the frosting on the cupcake).

Piping Frosting – Tall Swirl

If you want your frosting a mile high on top of your cupcakes, I'm going to recommend something quite controversial.

Rather start with the rose technique and then go over directly into the basic swirl ON TOP of the rose. Doing this creates more frosting structure below your high swirl as well as some additional frosting support in the center.

That's it my friend! Easy peasy frosting squeezy! 😉

The frosting in all my pics is my Ultimate Vanilla Frosting and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting. They are both SENSATIONALLY delicious!! They’ll turn you into a frosting snob… Seriously… you’ll sneer at buttercream forever after tasting them.

I sincerely hope that I’ve explained my piping frosting process thoroughly enough! Please let me know in the comments section below if you have any other frosting piping questions because I would love to help!

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




POPULAR BAKING TIPS

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These Pear Cupcakes are SO SCRUMMY! In one bite you get: crispy, chewy, fresh, smooth, depth and crunch. These Pear Cupcakes are just the quintessence of autumn to me and I absolutely adore them! Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, salted caramel & hazelnuts - YUM!

All my BEST Home Baking Resources to Help You Grow Your Baking Skills and Home Bakery Business

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Hi there fellow Home Baker!

Thought that you might REALLY like to hear about this rad new thing on my blog… It’s a free resource library with my absolute BEST resources in the fields of Home Baking and growing a successful Home Baking Business.

Now, I share many resources, baking tips and LEGIT recipes from my own Home Bakery Business, but there are some documents I don’t want to share with just anyone… I’d rather share them with a fellow Home Baker, like you, who will benefit MOST from these documents. So yes, these documents are very exclusive – all the BEST secrets behind my successful Home Bakery!

These amazing resources are available to my “Cake Snobs” only. You cannot find it anywhere else.

In my Free Library You Can Expect to Find:

* Philosophy of Yum (my Home Bakery)’s TOP secret recipes. Typically recipes that were baked literally 1000 times over and have generated thousands of dollars in sales over the last 5 years. I have not shared these recipes with ANYONE before now.

* Home Baking Business Tips that have TRANSFORMED my Home Bakery into such a success. This includes guides and tips to make your Home Bakery Stand out from the crowd, sustainable approaches to sales without needing to pay for advertising. Because, as all home bakers know, we don’t have masses of capital to invest in advertising campaigns or expensive websites.

* I also share tools and tips to help you become THE BEST HOME BAKER YOU CAN POSSIBLY BE. If you engage in these, I guarantee that you will grow as a baker like you never have before. It’s how I have grown into the baker I am today without ever paying to study desserts/pastry/baking/chef etc.

* I then also have resources to push you further as a Home Baker – like learning HOW to develop your own recipes. The aim is to equip you and give you tools so that you can explore and create your own UNIQUE bakes 😉

As I’ve said earlier, these resources are exclusively ONLY available to my “cake snobs”. I would absolutely LOVE to have you on board so that you can benefit from these amazing resources!

So… Are you ready to reach your full potential as a Home Baker?

I look forward to chatting with you soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught, Full Time
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!

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