How to Find Your Own Baking Style

How to Find Your Own Baking Style

How to Find Your Own Baking Style

A few weeks ago I did a poll on my Instagram stories and 99% of you said you’d LOVE to know how to find/discover/develop your own, unique baking style!

🌟 This is incredibly exciting because it means that deep down inside of you, you know there’s MORE to you than just copying other bakers’ cakes.

You know you’ve got creativity hiding inside of you and you’re longing to unleash it!

And if you’re here reading this post you’ve probably had ENOUGH of replicating Pinterest cakes that your clients email you, right?

It’s the best feeling when people can see a picture of a cake you made and KNOW instantly that it’s YOUR work.

 

But now the only question that remains is HOW do you find your own baking style?

I sincerely wish I could tell you to just clap your hands 3 times, twirl around twice and then your style will come to you… Sadly, it’s not that quick or simple!

👉 If you REALLY want to find your baking style, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper here into yourself. You’ll need to access parts of yourself you’ve been steered away from your whole life.

But it’s TOTALLY worth it!

Here are my 5 Secrets for Finding your Baking Style…

 

1. Stop Policing Your Creativity

When’s the last time you saw young kids paint?

Do you ever see them run out of ideas?

I recently babysat our friends’ kids; a boy and a girl aged 3 and 4. Adorable munchkins, but after 2 hours of trampoline jumping I was EXHAUSTED!! Yet they still wanted to keep going!

It’s hard to remember a time that I EVER had that much energy…

I was desperate for a more relaxing activity; one where I got to SIT down for a few hours!

And then it came to me – let’s draw!! That’ll be fun!

But when we sat down to start drawing I had zero ideas.

By the time I’d sifted through my “bad, horrible and stupid ideas”, the kids had already drawn 4 or 5 pictures each!! And they were having a BLAST! Not for a second did they consider to care whether they were “doing it right” or not. They never stopped and freaked out because they made a mistake.

To them, there were no mistakes.

They haven’t learned that lingo yet. They were bottomless pits of creativity and originality.

I know I was like that once upon a time and I’m SURE you were too! We were ALL born with a bottomless supply of creativity and originality. If we’re not sure, we’ll take a chance!

 

Sir Ken Robinson is the speaker at one of my Top 5 Favourite TED Talks EVER. He’s an advocate for change in the global education system – AND he happens to be quite hilarious too!

His ground-breaking Ted Talk that I was referring to is entitled: “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”. Here’s one of my favourite snippets in that Presentation…

So clearly, as we get older, school teaches us that things get done a certain way. Anything beyond that is a mistake and “mistakes are unacceptable and even punishable”.

And so we eventually BELIEVE with our entire being that we must avoid mistakes at any cost…

 

I once saw this quote by James Wedmore that just changed my entire understanding of mistakes and failure:

“There is no such thing as failure. Either you succeed OR you learn what you needed to learn.”

I feel that one of the huge lies we believe today is that success is an EVENT.

🌟 While the truth is that mistakes are 100% PART OF success.

Thomas Edison said “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe.”

 

The very notion that ANY type of learning or growth needs to happen without mistakes is ridiculous and FALSE.

Mistakes form a VITAL PART of your creative process! You NEED to go through them to get to the good stuff.

So stop avoiding mistakes & failure!

We’re not in school anymore. Go for it! Try things, make mistakes and improve. It’s ESSENTIAL for your growth and the process of discovering and cultivating your baking style.

RELATED: How to Overcome the Fear of Failure in Your Home Bakery

 

2. 100% Embrace Who YOU Really Are

WHEN exactly do we suddenly start becoming self-aware and comparing ourselves to others?

When do the lies about our unique creativity start creeping in and make us sensor and compromise our TRUE style?

It should come as no surprise that SCHOOL is where all this drama starts.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a HUGE fan of learning and growing!! The problem with school though is that the learning is overshadowed by ACHIEVING and being better than everyone else.

And if your art isn’t the “best” or at least “better than” Sally, Michael and Joe’s – then you suck. We’ve been conditioned to believe that if our creativity isn’t being praised by certain people, our uniqueness is embarrassing and not “good enough”.

 

THAT’S where we start to SUPPRESS or ALTER our true self.

We push down any parts of our creativity that isn’t what people are looking for.

And the rest of our creativity we BEND to suit people’s requirements.

And if you do this long enough, you’ll entirely forget how to express YOUR creativity.

It’s not because of learning and receiving an education. It’s just the fruit of being educated within a system that’s BASED on comparison, achievements and approval.

RELATED: 5 Mindset Shifts of Successful Home Bakery Owners

And at such impressionable ages we become addicted to achievements, comparison and approval from superiors!

Why do you think we all want our cakes to be “perfect”? Because we were taught that mistakes are bad and embarrassing.

Why do you think we want 1000 Facebook & Instagram followers? Because school made us addicted to approval from others.

So finding your baking style is not so much about learning NEW strategies or steps as it is about UNLEARNING everything false that we learned about ourselves as kids.

Through our years at school, our minds come to fully BELIEVE that our purest creativity is unwanted, unnecessary and often even embarrassing.

 

Hans Zimmer is one of the best examples here…

He’s a LEGENDARY score composer, meaning he composes music for movies.

He’s created music for hundreds of films and is arguably the BEST score composer of this age! Think of him as the Mozart of today.

Some of his film scores include; The Lion King, Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, Interstellar, Inception, The Prince of Egypt – just to name a few!

(I cry every single time I hear the score music from The Prince of Egypt! Give it a listen. It’s incredibly moving and beautiful.)

What most people don’t know is that Hans was kicked out of Piano class after just 2 weeks. He was an impossible child that got kicked out of 8 schools as well!

“I grew up modifying the piano, shall we say, which made my mother gasp in horror.”

Lucky for Hans he WAS incredibly stubborn and difficult! Because that helped him to stick to his process and not compromise his creativity!

A unique baking style makes your Home Bakery Business STAND OUT in the crowd! And believe it or not, YOU also have your own style hiding inside of you. With a few simple steps you can unleash your creativity and find your own baking style. Click through to learn how! #baking #homebaking #cakes #homebakery #bakingbusiness

But bakers like you and me on the other hand have soft hearts, am I right?

We LOVE making people happy! And if it means we need to compromise our true self and true creativity, so be it.

Now we are adults though and NO ONE’S happiness is your responsibility anymore.

You don’t need to please your parents or teachers or peers anymore.

And you definitely don’t need their stamp of approval anymore either! (In fact, you never actually did…)

Just look at Hans’s creativity, style and success! And he NEVER had his teachers or parents’ approval. He TRUSTED in the talents, perspectives and creativity God gave him. He never restricted it to please anyone.

So you’ll need to make an intentional CHOICE to encourage your mind that it’s TOTALLY SAFE, GOOD and NECESSARY to unleash its creativity.

The ONLY way for your creativity to come out of hiding is to TOTALLY accept yourself and PRACTICE your creativity.

Regularly give yourself permission to go wild!

Whether it’s with drawing, dancing, painting – ANYTHING creative. Not just baking. When you learn to let loose in these areas you’ll start to get new ideas for your baking too.

 

And this is not a once-off thing!

You need to KEEP ON accepting and EMBRACING all that you are for your creativity to reveal itself – layer by layer.

Your style is exactly that; YOUR style. YOU are the center of it. So, the better you know, discover and embrace who you’ve been made to be, the clearer your style will become.

 

An Important Side Note:

👉 Honestly, it’s entirely possible and probable that your creativity/style won’t IMPRESS you!

You may think it’s a bit boring compared to other bakers’ work. Or that it needs to be FANCIER!

On top of that there will be thousands of people out there who won’t be impressed by your style either.

That’s GOOD.

You know you’re onto something if some people love it and others don’t.

 

And truth be told, my baking style really doesn’t impress me. To me it feels quite “basic”. Sometimes I wish I enjoyed making more elaborate, decorative cakes that get shared on Wilton’s Instagram feed!

But here’s what’s important; my style may not impress me, BUT it feels 100% COMFORTABLE and RIGHT.

All my most loyal clients love my style and to THEM it’s impressive 🙂 And there will be a heap of clients who feel the same way about YOUR style my friend!

 

3. Spark & Chase Your Curiosity

I recently heard a fantastic tip for overcoming writers block. Cool thing is that this tip actually works for pretty much ANY creative who feels stuck in their creative process!

Here’s what you do… Just ask yourself the question “what if?”

What if a wolf jumped out behind the tree?

What if the rudder of the ship broke?

Or what if the Villain is actually the hero’s father?

 

The phrase “what if” sparks our curiosity and opens up worlds of possibilities we haven’t considered before!

When I think about it, most of my baking philosophies, recipes and style come from asking myself this very question – even though I might have been unaware of it at the time.

Super sweet Fondant cakes with dry cake layers were EVERYWHERE when I started out.

I HATED their flavour (or lack thereof!)…

But WHAT IF cake could actually taste freakin delicious? Moist, soft and yummy in its own right – without drenching the cake layers in sugar syrup.

WHAT IF I could develop a different frosting that wasn’t just a paste of fat and sugar, but actually had FLAVOUR?

WHAT IF I garnished my cupcakes like the flower crown I wore this past weekend?

Or what if I just used recognizable, delicious ingredients to garnish my cakes?

 

The question “what if” helps us to get out of our current, plain point of view and see things from an entirely new perspective 🙂

Creating curiosity for yourself is like an invitation to take a boat ride around the island you’re living on.

And once that curiosity boat pulls up, get in it! Embrace it, chase it and see how far it will take you.

This exercise may be a bit outside your comfort zone, but that’s where the magic happens! And I promise, after you’ve done it 3 times you’ll LOVE it! It makes you feel ALIVE again.

Imagine how your Home Baking Business will STAND OUT if you have your own, unique baking style... Deep down inside of you, you know there’s MORE to you than just copying other bakers’ cakes. You know you’ve got creativity hiding inside of you and you’re longing to unleash it! Click through to learn how to find your own baking style... #baking #homebaking #homebakery #bakingbusiness #cake

 

4. Time and Persistence Bring Growth

It’s so easy for us to look at creative, successful bakers and assume that they had their awesome style right from the start.

But what we don’t see is that it took hundreds and often even thousands of attempts to get to their style.

It’ll take time, repetition and persistence to uncover all the layers of protection you’ve built around your creativity.

We all tend to focus on Thomas Edison’s most amazing invention – the light bulb. But did you have any clue that he actually created 1093 patents of which less than 5 were triumphs??

Everyone adores Mozart’s famous compositions and yes he was a prodigy, but EVEN HE had to create 600 pieces of which only 6 are included in the 50 Greatest Compositions of All Time!

“If you want to be original, the most important possible thing you could do is to do a huge volume of work.”Ira Glass

 

It takes patience, repetition and persistence to strike gold because our first ideas are usually the most conventional ones.

But the more we produce, the higher our chance of originality becomes!

In my case it took about 2 years of baking the same 8 layer cakes over and over and over again to START developing my own style.

What’s now known as my “iconic swirl” to my Instagram followers only came about after 4 years of baking full-time!

 

5. Don’t Let Your Style Search Hold You Back

Now you may be thinking: “4 Years?! I can’t wait that long to become a successful baker!”

But your style is NOT essential to the success of your Home Bakery Business my friend.

So many bakers get stuck on having everything perfectly in place before they dare to sell any of their bakes. Don’t do that to yourself!

As I’ve said, I baked FULL-TIME from Home for 4 years (making a full salary) before my style really came to life. All that time I was baking thousands of treats every month and earning good money for them.

Way before I had a “style” a client told me: “Your bakes have brightened up so many horrible days at work.” That matters. Delicious baked goods matter to people and that’s why we bake, right?

Your style won’t be the magic ingredient that suddenly brings you success or meaning. It will only ADD to your success.

 

The ONLY way to be successful is to TAKE ACTION.

You’ve got SO MUCH to give and your town/city NEEDS your delicious baking!

So I invite you to take action right now and download your Free Home Bakery Business Plan Workbook below 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

14 Tools You Need to Start a Home Bakery

14 Tools You Need to Start a Home Bakery

14 Tools you Need to Start a Home Bakery

Kitchen gear envy…

It’s a thing man.

Everywhere on Instagram and YouTube we see strings of bakers with like 2 or 3 Kitchen Aid Mixers in pretty pastel colours, huge ovens and a jar with 30 spatulas.

And so we automatically assume that we need all of those things before our kitchen is “good enough” to start our own Home Bakery.

But today I’m telling you once and for all that you don’t need a whole heap of fancy kitchen appliances to start a successful Home Bakery Business!

I got by with the cheapest hand mixer for a year and hand-me-down mixing bowls. All these other expensive appliances are not essential; they just look prettier and make things a tiny bit easier.

 

1. Your Oven

Most importantly you need an oven… In theory you could use a mini oven, but you won’t be able to bake much at a time, so I recommend that you invest in an 81 litre oven. It’s about 0,6 m x 0,6 m and is usually the standard domestic oven used in homes. It’s the perfect size; you don’t need anything bigger than this.

I’ve used this size oven since the very start of my Home Bakery and I still do. My oven is a Defy and I LOVE it! It’s dependable, accurate and bakes perfectly. I bought it secondhand for $200.

Of course, most homes already have an oven, so you probably won’t even need to buy one!

 

2. Digital Kitchen Scale (Battery Powered)

Great baking requires GREAT precision.

Unfortunately baking with cup measurements will not give you the same results.

For example; an egg can weigh anywhere from 40 g – 70 g. Every gram of egg makes a significant difference in the end results. I encourage you to buy a digital kitchen scale. They are really inexpensive (like $16 – $20) and will give you great precision and results in your baking!

Another awesome perk of digital scales is that you can bake mix batter much faster! Measuring ingredients in 5 different cup sizes can take forever, but with a scale you can just weigh ingredients directly into your bowl, press the zero button and weigh the next ingredient directly into the bowl.

This obviously also saves a lot of washing up since you’re weighing all ingredients into the bowl and not dirtying your measuring cups.

A digital kitchen scale is my favourite Home Bakery tool by far. Best $20 I ever spent!

Click here to see my favourite, affordable Digital Kitchen Scale.

 

Other Tools

When it comes to other tools it really depends on WHAT you’re planning on baking.

If you’re starting with cupcakes and brownies for example, there’s no need for cake tins just yet.

So you don’t NEED ALL of this stuff, but you can choose your own essentials from this list (beyond standard kitchen items like spoons, knives, pots, pans, etc.).

 

3. Plastic Mixing Bowls

Many bakers use ceramic, pyrex glass or stainless steel bowls. I prefer plastic bowls simply because the hand mixer’s beaters make way less noise against the sides of plastic mixing bowls.

You should have at least 1 Large, 1 medium and 1 small mixing bowl.

I love the OXO plastic Mixing bowls because they have a rubber lining on the bottom which stops them from sliding around when you’re busy mixing.

They also have rubber linings on the top rim for better grip when you’re pouring batter. The OXO Plastic mixing bowls come in sets of 3 in the exact sizes you’ll need.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable mixing bowls.

 

4. Sieve

You should absolutely, always sieve your dry ingredients. This gets rid of any lumps in your flour, cocoa powder, etc. It also catches any strange, hard bits that somehow got in there. Sieving also aerates and mixes your dry ingredients.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable sieve.

 

5. Large Chef’s Knife

Every baker needs a big knife.

First of all because it makes you feel and look like you’re a pro!

And secondly because a chef’s knife is super useful. I use mine every single day; to slice and chop apples and vegetables for cakes, finely chop citrus zest, chop nuts, slice brownies, chop chocolate and even to make chocolate shaving decorations.

Now please note that it doesn’t have to be an expensive chef’s knife. Mine was like $20. It’s very important that it’s 8 inches (20 cm) though. Anything bigger or smaller becomes difficult to handle and won’t create the same beautiful chocolate shavings – if you plan on making them to give your cakes a professional edge.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable chef’s knife.

 

6. Silicone Spatula (flat, not indented)

I adore a good silicone spatula! There are few things I enjoy more than scraping every last drop of batter into a cake tin.

Even if you don’t have OCD tendencies like me, a spatula is still essential for scraping the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl throughout the mixing process. This ensures that you won’t have a surprize lump of butter or flour hiding in a corner of your bowl somewhere.

Spatulas are an essential tool for mixing a well incorporated batter.

But it takes a very specific type of spatula to scrape a bowl clean. Some are too flimsy and don’t have enough strength to obey your commands without bending over in the opposite direction – very annoying.

Some spatulas are too hard and don’t give you a “close shave” against the side of the mixing bowl.

Some spatulas are like flat spoons, so you end up needing another spatula to scrape out the indented part of the spatula! Very annoying.

FLAT-sided silicone spatulas are perfect! Because you can just scrape them on the rim of your mixing bowl to get the batter off it and nothing will be stuck to it afterwards.

Click here to see my favourite silicone spatulas.

 

Nope, you don't need a Kitchen Aid Mixer or a huge oven to start your Home Bakery! You can get by with very few tools and appliances and still turn a GREAT profit with your Home Baking. Here's a list of the essential tools you'll need when you Start your Home Bakery Business. #homebakery #cakebusiness #bakingbusiness

 

7. Sturdy Balloon Whisk

Sometimes a spoon just doesn’t cut it.

Like when you’re saving split chocolate ganache, or making lemon curd, or reviving frozen creme patisserie, or salted caramel, or making any kind of sauce or filling.

Stirring with a balloon whisk just gives you a much smoother result and prevents clumping or burning stuff.

It’s worth it to buy a good quality one though because the el cheapos end up coming undone where the wires join the handle. You’ll be whisking along, unsuspected, and then suddenly a wire will shoot loose and flick hot custard in your face – it’s happened to me before.

Trust me, rather buy 1 great balloon whisk instead of 10 cheapies that keep breaking.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable balloon whisk.

 

8. Electric Hand Mixer

Let me tell you a little secret…

You don’t need a stand mixer to start a Home Bakery Business! Yep, I’ve said it. You can totally get by with an electric hand mixer.

I’ve written a very thorough blog post on buying the perfect hand mixer if you want to go into deeeeeep detail; Hand Mixer Shopping Guide. Most importantly you want something that doesn’t fall over easily, is not too heavy and gives you a lot of control in the speed settings.

A high price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. Be careful. You can buy a perfectly awesome hand mixer for under $20 that will last for years to come.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable Electric Hand Mixer.

 

9. Piping Bags (Preferably Reusable)

Let’s all do our bit in helping the environment shall we?

There are so many things I did wrong in the first few years of baking full time, but I’m so grateful that I bought reusable piping bags from the very start!

Mostly because it makes sense financially; you by one bag in 5 years. If you use disposable piping bags for 5 years you end up spending WAY more.

They’re easy to clean and really inexpensive.

There are many different sizes, but in my experience anything larger than 30 cm (12 inches) is just too big to control effectively while you’re piping.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable reusable piping bag.

 

10. Stainless Steel Piping Tips

Oh, the many millions of piping tips on the market today are staggering!

Of course the ones you buy depend entirely upon what type of frosting piping you want to do. But you totally don’t need to be fancy here.

The only 2 piping tips you really NEED are a closed star tip (Wilton 2D) and a large round tip (Wilton 1A).

 

You’ll use the Wilton 2D to pipe frosting onto cupcakes. I like to pipe my frosting from the inside out so that it looks like a rose. So classic and beautiful!

RELATED: Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual.

And the large round Wilton 1A is great for piping perfectly round blobs of frosting onto cupcakes, piping out macaron batter, piping macaron fillings onto macarons and piping frosting onto layer cakes.

 

11. Muffin/Cupcake Tins

Most home bakers begin by selling cupcakes, muffins, cookies and brownies. They are easier to bake and less intimidating than layer cakes or cheesecakes for example!

I recommend buying at least 2 non-stick muffin tins. This way you can use one tin to refill with batter while another one is busy baking. They’re easy to clean and can last a lifetime if you take good care of them.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable Cupcake/Muffin Tins.

 

12. Non-Stick Baking Sheet

A Baking sheet is really a go-to item in any home bakery. You can use them for cookies, macarons, roasting nuts, baking pastries and more!

Generally a 15 x 10 inch pan works great in domestic ovens, but be sure to measure the inside of your oven just to be sure they will fit inside!

Click here to see my favourite, affordable Non-Stick Baking Sheet.

 

13. 2 Inch Cookie Scoop

Although this is not really an “essential” item, it will make your life a heck of a lot easier and will make your cookies look more uniform. The domed shape of the cookie dough will also end up making the center of your cookies thicker and sides thinner. Translation = crispy outside, gooey center!

Click here to see my favourite cookie scoop.

 

14. Non-Stick Brownie Tin

Brownies, bars and squares are always a great crowd pleaser! In fact, brownies were the very first items I started selling back in 2008 when I was studying architecture.

I still adore baking brownies and have also found a new love for baking blondies. You could also do layered bars and squares in your brownie tin.

8 x 8 Inch is the standard size that works great for Home Bakery.

Click here to see my favourite, affordable Brownie Tin.

 

Other, disposable items you’ll need:

  • Cupcake Liners
  • Non-stick baking parchment
  • 45 cm Roll of Heavy Foil
  • Non-Stick Spray (your best friend – seriously)
  • Small, medium and large Ziploc Bags

 

More Advanced Tools & Appliances:

As your Home Bakery Grows you can expand your collection with some more tools and appliances that make life easier.


And that is it my friend! I hope you understand and believe now that you really don’t need a lot of kitchen gear to start a Home Bakery.

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

Easy, Foolproof Way to Temper Chocolate

Easy, Foolproof Way to Temper Chocolate

The Easy, Foolproof Way to Temper Chocolate

Tempering chocolate was this ridiculously intimidating thing I use to totally suck at…

I desperately wanted to master it though, because chocolate decorations just look so beautiful and they TASTE WAY BETTER than fondant, gum paste, modeling chocolate and all that “edible” baloney.

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 STILL totally ruined it back home and I just could not get it to work!

Now before I get into the actual method, I just quickly want to talk you through WHY Chocolate needs to be tempered and what “tempered” actually means.

Understanding a bit more of the science really helps a lot!

Why Does Chocolate Need to Be Tempered?

  1. Un-tempered chocolate melts VERY quickly! If the chocolate starts to melt while you are trying to transfer chocolate decorations onto a cake it is one huge and panicked MESS.
  2. 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.
  3. Tempered chocolate sets (technically it crystallizes) nice and hard, making it a breeze to transfer without it ever beginning to melt!
  4. Tempered chocolate has a lovely sheen to it which makes very beautiful and elegant decorations for your bakes.

The Complex & Difficult Way to Temper Chocolate

The classic tempering method with a marble slab takes you through a process where you to melt (overheat) the chocolate and then bring it back to the right temperature on the marble slab with correct technique and experience.

But it’s SUPER difficult to master and super sensitive…

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

Here’s the big secret: The Chocolate you buy in the store (or at the Chocolaterie) IS ALREADY TEMPERED!!!

So I’ve discovered that it’s WAY EASIER to just keep it tempered rather than trying to temper it all over again… WHY REINVENT THE WHEEL??

And the way you KEEP chocolate tempered is by NOT overheating the chocolate – not taking it above body temperature.

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.

So when it comes to tempering chocolate the easy way, you just need to remember this ONE THING:

DO NOT OVERHEAT THE CHOCOLATE.

That’s it.

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 (those light streaks and patterns that look like mould or something). And it won’t have a nice snap.

Click here if you want to geek out on the polymorphic structure of chocolate like I did.

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 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, 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!

 

There's actually a SUPER easy, effective and foolproof way to temper chocolate! Say goodbye to marble slabs. Who needs that kind of frustration in their life, right? Click through to see how to temper chocolate the easy way for all your beautiful cake decorations. #cakedecoratingideas #cakedecorating #bakingtips #chocolatedecorations #temperedchocolate

Photo by josephcphillips.com

Now that you understand the science and super important basics, let’s move on to the FULL method of easy, foolproof Chocolate Tempering.

Easy, Foolproof Chocolate Tempering – 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.

  1. Chop your chocolate. There should be no pieces larger than 7mm x 7 mm. 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, but also search out a local Chocolaterie – that’s what I did and I’ve never looked back.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate into a 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, transfer sheet, acetate (whatever you’ll be using).
  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 (about 20 times). Test the temperature again – it should be roughly the same temperature (or a little bit cooler) as your lip.

Immediately scrape the melted chocolate into a clean & dry piping bag if you plan to pipe lettering or shapes and delicate decorations.

OR proceed to pour it onto your transfer sheets, acetate, templates or whatever you want to use to make a chocolate collar, disks, panels, etc.

You can also pour it into a large, rectangular Tupperware container (or an empty rectangular ice cream container) to create one large, solid tempered chocolate slab which you can use for making chocolate shavings or curls. Click here to see how I make my chocolate shavings and curls.

Tempered chocolate does set quite quickly so you’ll need to work fast.

This process might take 3 or so attempts 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 easy, fool-proof Chocolate Tempering, please let me know by tagging me @philosophyofyum because I would love to give you a virtual high five and shout-out 😀

 

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

6 Tips to Boost your Baking Productivity (without working harder!)

6 Tips to Boost your Baking Productivity (without working harder!)

6 Tips to Boost your Baking Productivity (Without Working Harder!)

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.

This post is also definitely not about just “working harder”! That’s not productivity, but actually what I like to call “slaving”, so we’re not going to go there!

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!

 

2. Master 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.

 

3. 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!

All Home Bakers want to be more productive, because higher productivity means higher profit margins! The mistake we often make is to think that hard work = productivity, which is a recipe for burnout! Learn how to boost your Home Bakery Business's productivity by working SMARTER, not harder. #homebakery #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness #cupcakebusiness

 

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.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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.

Hard work does not necessarily equal productivity! Discover 6 amazing tips to BOOST your Home Bakery Business's productivity by working SMARTER, not harder. Click through to get the tips! #homebakery #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness #bakefromhome

 

6. 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

How to Make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards

How to Make 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!

 

The most DELICIOUS cake decorating trend is on the rise! Caramelized cheesecake shards are easy cake decorations to make and taste AMAZING! Click through for the recipe and tips. #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingideas #cakedecoratingtips

 

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? 😉

How to make Caramelized Cheesecake Shards!

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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 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

How to Write on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake without Free-handing is possible and actually 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!!

How to Write on cake without free-handing: step by step tutorial #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingtips #cakedecoratingideas

 

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!

RELATED: How to Make Gorgeous Chocolate Shavings

 

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 is simple and ideal for "non-decorators"! This step by step tutorial will teach you how to write beautiful messages in ANY font you want. #cakedecorating #cakedecoratingtips #cakedecoratingideas

 

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!!

RELATED: How to Make Gorgeous Chocolate Shavings

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

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

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”?

Step by step instructions to help you make literally ANY cake or cupcake recipe Gluten Free. Includes recipe for the best gluten free cake flour you can make at home! No need to hunt for special, gluten free recipes anymore. Just your favourite recipes and substitute in this gluten free flour blend :) #glutenfreebaking #glutenfreecake #glutenfreeflour #glutenfreecupcakes

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 because it 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.

(No weird ingredients!) Use this simple gluten free flour blend in all your favourite cake and cupcake recipes! No need to keep hunting endlessly for the ideal gluten free baking recipes. Just sub this gluten free cake flour in - gram for gram. #glutenfreeflour #glutenfreebaking #glutenfreecake #glutenfreecupcakes

 

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 over baking.

 

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 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂

Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual!

Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual!

Piping Frosting 101 – The Frosting Piping Manual!

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.

Since my last post was 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.

That morning I was finally able to articulate WHAT she was doing wrong and HOW to fix it.

So I will start by explaining all the natural MISTAKES beginners tend to make when piping frosting…

 

FROSTING PIPING MISTAKES:

1. 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!

2. Open Star Nozzles aren’t Ideal

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 (13mm diameter opening) – 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!

 

Frosting Piping Manual: This thorough post breaks down all the DO's and DON'TS of piping frosting. Includes step by step instructions for piping frosting perfectly every time! #pipingfrosting #cakedecorating #bakingforbeginners

 

3. Plastic Nozzles – No Go!

You still have plastic nozzles in your house? Whaaaat?! NO! Throw those things 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. I highly recommend the Wilton 2D or Wilton 1M tip!

4. 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 realize 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.

5. 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 realize 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.

6. 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.

7. 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 top of 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?

 

HOW TO PIPE FROSTING PERFECTLY

1. 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 arrangement, then your frosting is too stiff.

2. Perfectly Shaped 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 🙂

3. 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.

4. 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 spiraled 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.

5. 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.

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).

A step by step tutorial with thorough explanations on hand movements, frosting consistency, piping nozzles, different piping techniques and more. You'll be piping frosting like a pro in not time! #cupcakedecorating #cakedecorating #perfectcupcakes #pipingfrosting

 

6. 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 shun buttercream forever after tasting them.

Chat soon

Aurelia

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment) 🙂