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A Few Cake Decorating Ideas

A Few Cake Decorating Ideas

Did you know that the first cakes baked in America where small loaves of sweet bread? Look how far we have come. Home bakers should not be intimidated by the elaborate cakes being made today. You do not need to be a pastry chef to make beautiful cakes, you just need the know-how and practice. Of course the right tools will go a long way in your cake decorating endeavors. Here are a few ideas you might like to try.

Every cake worth merit starts with a smooth icing. The cake needs to cool completely before they are iced and decorated. To keep crumbs from ending up in your icing and ruining the look of your cake, start with a thin base coat of frosting that is not quite as stiff as the regular layer will be. Once this coat is on, set the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will set the icing and any crumbs will be caught in this first layer. Now you can spread a regular layer of icing without worrying about crumbs.

Use an icing spatula to apply and smooth the second coat of icing. Once the icing is on the cake, start smoothing on the sides by running the spatula around the perimeter of the cake. One trick for smoothing the frosting is to dip the metal icing spatula in cold water, this will aid in smoothing the frosting. To smooth the top, dip the spatula in cold water and holding it horizontally over the top of the cake. Start at the point farthest from you, holding the spatula in both hands, skim the top of the icing by bringing the spatula straight toward you.

Simple Designs

Some cake decorators say learning to smooth the icing is the hardest part of cake decorating. Practice will make you a pro in not time. Once you have it down, show it off, even a cake without many decorations that is clean and smooth will make an perfectly elegant offering.

Instead of icing, cake tops can be dusted with powdered sugar. You can choose to use a stencil for a more decorated appearance, or just the powdered sugar for a clean look.

Edible decorations are a beautiful yet simple cake decorating technique. The use of sprinkles, candy, nuts, and coconut pressed into the icing before it sets, will make your cake stand out.

To apply a textured look for your cake decorating, use a small cardboard comb, available in baking supply stores.

Piping is achieved by using a pastry bag fitted with a metal tip that is held on by a coupler. This is your most important tool for cake decorating. You can make lines, words, shells, flowers, and many other designs on the top or sides of the cake. Fill the bag with no more than 1 cup of icing at a time, twist the top of the bag and keep steady pressure when piping the design. Use your other hand to guide the tip. It is wise to find out everything you can about piping before you begin.

Fondant a smooth white paste, is used in complicated cake decorating. Fondant is kneaded and rolled to cover cakes with a sleek smooth layer of icing. It is also used to make designs that are 3-D. It is less tasty than buttercream, but the cake will look sleek and elegant.

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Making Chocolate from Molds

Making Chocolate from Molds

In the late 1800’s, chocolate makers already used molds made from metal. This made it possible to shape them either as flat or three dimensional. Plastic soon replaced that as these were expensive to produce making it possible for amateur chocolatiers to make these at home.

When you buy chocolate molds from the craft store, make sure that this is made from strong plastic that has intricate designs so the finished product will come out beautifully after it comes out of the freezer.

Remember that this must never be washed using soap as this can mare the taste of the chocolate. You should simply use hot water and then dry it thoroughly using a dry cloth.

Each time you use the plastic mold, make sure to wipe it clean. Greasing, spraying or dusting is not needed as this will ruin the appearance of the finished candy.

But there is an exception to that rule. If you will be mixing your chocolate with some marshmallows, candy sprinkles, jellies or cooked candies, then you must first grease or spray the chocolate mold with oiling spray. This will make the chocolate easy to remove from the mold and if you are going to make another batch, the good news is that you only have to oil spray it once.

Next thing you need to learn is how to properly put chocolate filling into the plastic sheet. For that, you use a regular teaspoon and fill each cavity with chocolate. Some of the chocolate might spill out but don’t worry because you can clean that up later on.

There may be some air bubbles trapped within the chocolate. To release it, tap the filled mold on the counter to settle the chocolate. Another way is to hold the mold horizontally then gently drop it on the counter. You will probably have to do this several times until there all the air bubbles have been removed.

When the chocolate is ready, this is the time that you put this in the freezer. This is because it is the coolest place in the house taking it less time for the chocolate to harden so you can reuse the mold if you are making another batch of chocolates.

You will know when the chocolates are ready by looking at the back side of the mold. If the cavity appears to be graying, this means that the second you turn this over, the chocolate will easily fall off to the tray.

If it doesn’t fall off on its own, you can tap it firmly. If this does not work, perhaps it needs a little more cooling time in the freezer so put it back in for a few minutes and then try again.

If you happen to have some leftovers from filling the mold, don’t throw it away because you can use it again in the future. Just wait for the chocolate to harden so you can scrape it off and then wrap it in waxed paper.

You don’t always need to make chocolate creations from molds even if this is the conventional way of doing it. The other option is to dip it in with other things like cookies or fruits so you have your own chocolate fondue as part of your dessert.

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Coffee – How do you like yours?

Coffee - How do you like yours?

Making coffee is one of the easiest things in the world, and yet people are forever finding more and more complicated ways to do it. We live in an advanced coffee culture, where coffee is the most popular drink on the planet, and people get used to things like cappuccinos and lattes and start wondering how to do them at home. A trap some people fall into is buying the instant versions of coffee shop drinks, which inevitably taste inferior, instead of just making the drinks themselves at home.

The most important thing to realize about coffee-making is that, no matter what you might think, there is no variety of coffee-shop coffee that is really very difficult to make, despite the fancy names. An americano is just a normal coffee, hot water and milk on the side. A cappuccino is coffee, milk, and frothed milk, usually with chocolate sprinkles on top. A latte is milky coffee in a glass, and a mocha is the same thing with chocolate. A macchiato is coffee with frothed milk on top. Each fancy word basically means coffee, milk and froth in some combination (plus, occasionally, chocolate), with everything else being pretty much a matter of presentation.

The coffee in each drink is made by an espresso machine, and a basic espresso machine is really all you need to start making coffee at home. Once you can put beans in the top and get espresso out the bottom, there aren’t really any other features you need. This simple fact means that there’s not much difference between the cheapest and the most expensive coffee machines if you know what you’re doing. To make your coffee stronger, you just put in more espresso; to make the different drinks, you use different quantities of the different ingredients.

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Cake Decorating – How To Make Your Icing Smooth And Even

Cake Decorating - How To Make Your Icing Smooth And Even

If you want to become a master at cake decorating, you will need training and practice. Once you have mastered cake decorating you could become famous in the cake making industry. If you are a creative person you could go far when it comes to cake decorating.

Even a person who is new to cake decorating you want your cake to look beautiful. My mother just made a cake and frosted it, she may have added sprinkles, and she wrote a happy birthday message with icing. Those were our cakes, they may not have been well decorated, but they were tasty. This article will give you ideas and tips to make your cake look much better than Mom used to make.

When you make the cake, be sure that the batter is level in the pan before you place it in the oven. Check the cake at 20 minute intervals to make sure the cake is baking evenly, if you find one side of the cake is higher than the other, you should turn the pan around so it will rise evenly. If you find that your cake baked with one side higher, use a knife to even it. You should do this while the cake is warm.

The cake should be cooled for at least a day before you even think about starting any cake decorating. The outside of the cake could feel cool, but the middle of the cake may stay warm for hours. Frosting the cake before it is completely cool can ruin your decorating.

After the cake has cooled, turn it upside down on a cake board, you will have less crumbs this way. To avoid crumbs all together put a thin layer of icing on the cake. Once you have covered the cake with a thin layer of frosting, you can cover that layer with a normal layer of icing. Make sure the icing is smooth and even. You can dip your metal icing spatula in cold water and go over the icing, this will smooth the icing beautifully.

Icing is the most important ingredient in cake decorating. The icing should be quite stiff, if it is too stiff to work with you can always thin it out. When you are making the frosting, make a good amount. You will need it for other decorations on the cake. Make sure you have plenty of food coloring, as you will need it to color the icing for different cake decorations.

When you are ready to start decorating your cake you will need a few pieces of equipment. You will need more than one pastry bag, and the icing tips you will be using for the decorating you want to do. These items can be bought at craft stores and cake decorating supply store.

To start with, choose the tip you will be using first. Hold the pastry bag with the hole down and place the tip inside, as far as possible. You should use about a cup of icing in the bag at a time, and start it out in a bowl, that way you can thin the icing with a little milk if you need to, before you put it in the icing bag. The icing should be thin enough to go through the tip, but thick enough to make the designs you choose. If you are still a novice at cake decorating, you should practice making the decorations on waxed paper before you attempt to put them on the cake.

When you are ready to ice the cake, you will need to hold the bag with both hands and apply steady pressure. Applying a steady pressure assures that the icing the icing will come out in an even strip. Unless you are making a long strip of piping, you should place the bag closely over the cake start squeezing and count to three, then stop squeezing and lift the tip up and away from the cake. If this decoration looks the way you want it to, move on to the next one, if it isn’t quite right, keep practicing until you get it.

If the cake decoration stays in the shape you intended, then you have the frosting at the right consistency. If it does not hold together, the icing is too thin, and if it was hard to push it through the tip or the cake decoration cracks, the frosting is too thick.

You can get a list of the equipment needed for cake decorating before you start. The list can be found in craft store or pastry supply. The basics are Several pastry bags, icing tips, a coupler to hold the tips in the bag. You will find a cake stand would be a big help, as it swivels so you can frost all sides of the cake, and bring the cake up and closer to you. You should also have several sizes of cake pans, a rubber spatula, a short and a long metal cake icing spatula, a sharp knife, and a baking tray. These are the essentials.

Although cake decorating can be frustrating at times, it can also be very rewarding when you realize the beautiful cake on that stand is something that you created. With a bit of patience and a can do attitude, you will become and accomplished cake decorator.

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Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

The most common type of coffee maker available is the automatic drip coffee maker.  Everyone has had one of these at one time or another and they are the most frequently purchased coffee makers ever made.  They are simple to use, the coffee tastes good, and they come with all sorts of options.  The automatic drip coffee maker ranges in price from as low as $15.00 to as much as $300.00 depending on brand, options, and what their specific purpose will be.  A standard 10 cup automatic drip coffee maker will cost a lot less than a larger or smaller automatic drip coffee maker as those are specialized units that serve a more specific purpose.

The automatic drip coffee maker works by putting water into the designated spot (usually on the back or side of the machine), adding a coffee filter, then dumping coffee grounds into the filter.  All that’s left is to push the ON button and wait.  This ease of use is what makes the automatic drip coffee maker so popular.  Everyone can use it and it is also very easy to maintain.

Many automatic coffee makers come with a wide assortment of extra features.  The most common feature is a timer.  You can fill your automatic drip coffee maker with water and coffee grounds then specify what time you want your coffee maker to start brewing your coffee.  This is useful for people who work every day at 7 am and want to have coffee waiting for them right when they wake up.  It can be hard to get the motivation to prep your coffee every morning and it is easy to do it the night before.  Some models will reheat old pots, connect to a water line so you don’t have to fill them, and have many other options you may like.

Automatic drip coffee makers can be found in every type of store you can imagine.  From supermarkets, to retail stores, to thrift shops, you are bound to see a vast selection to choose from.  There are many on line stores and websites that specialize in only automatic drip coffee makers so if you are comfortable shopping on line, that might be an option.  The great thing about on line shopping is that you are usually presented with many different deals.  You may receive a supply of coffee, get a free coffee of the month membership, or maybe have the ability to upgrade your coffee maker at a reduced price later on.

The coffee that you use in your automatic drip coffee maker is what will make all the difference in taste.  If you don’t care about that and just want a cup of coffee, you can use any brand you like.  For those that have a particular love of coffee, they might try grinding their own beans or using a grinding device at a supermarket.  There are many kinds of coffee you can try with your automatic drip coffee maker.

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Points to Consider in Buying a Blender

Points to Consider in Buying a Blender

A blender is one popular appliance in most homes all over the globe. Giving it a try is surely worth it especially if you’ve created something uniquely your own that you can then share with other people.

There are many things that you can do with this genius appliance. If only its inventor is alive now, he will surely be proud of his creation. This was invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski. He intended to use this to be able to make soda fountain drinks. He did this by placing a blade at the bottom of a tall container.

Nowadays, blenders can be used for pleasure, fun and even medicinal and health related purposes. Do you already have one? Then what are you waiting for? This guide aims to help you find the right appliance of this type for your own good.

1. Power consumption must be taken into consideration. How can you enjoy the fruits of your labor if after taking in a good amount of smoothie, you will be presented with too high electricity bill. You must choose the kind of blenders that run on less than 750 watts. This way, there is no reason why you should hold back from using it.

Check its parts often. If you see something is wrong, have it checked or if the damage is too much, you can have them replaced. This will not only lessen your power consumption, it will also help you maintain your appliance, avoid rusts from developing and avoid jamming for future use.

2. The accessories should also be your concern. Ask for the parts and accessories that can be found with the blenders that you are taking into consideration. Make sure that you have most of what you will need with everything that you want to be done. So what do you have in mind aside from the smoothies? Choose the appliance that can cut meat, vegetables and the likes in different sizes. Choose something that can create puree and will easily aid you in creating baby food. You can also ask if the blade of your chosen utility can crash ice, that is if you want this feature.

3. The size matters with blenders. If you will just be using this at home, then you can have a medium sized. Larger ones will be helpful for business purposes. You must consider where are you going to place the appliance and if you have somewhere to store it after you’ve used it.

4. The speed features must also be looked at. For this reason, your must know before you go to the store how are you going to utilize the blenders. This way, the salespeople can recommend to you the brands and types that will suit your needs the best way possible. Of course, you must also take note of the price. You cannot exceed according to what you can afford. This is an investment, yes. But choose the one that you can pay for. This way, you will be able to utilize the appliance the best way possible once you have acquired it.

In choosing the right blender for you, the above mentioned must be taken into consideration. This way, you are assured that you will be making the right decisions according to how you have thought hard about the selection and the suggestions that you have been given in the process of choosing what you will acquire.

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Cupcake Molds

Cupcake Molds

One way to make your cupcakes stand out and be unique is through cupcake molds. These molds may seem daunting, especially for the new-to-the-kitchen folk, so let’s talk about them here. Essentially, cupcake molds are just like any mold you have used by the beach to build that awesome sand castle. The molds basically help shape the cupcakes into fun shapes. There are circular, regular, and traditional ones. However, there is more to these molds.

The most common type of these molds is silicone ones, because it is durable, flexible, and easy to clean. While there are metal ones, they require more maintenance and cleaning. Sometimes, the metal makes it harder to remove the cupcakes from the pan. So, a silicon cupcake mold makes it easier to remove the cupcakes, without any crumbs.

If you want to make each cupcake individually, there are individually cupcake molds, however, those tend to be pricey (in the seven dollar range).

Most cupcake molds, on the other hand, cost less than that and they offer molds for at least six cupcakes. There are the traditional circular molds, however, there are also cupcake molds that are shaped in fun shapes. For instance, here is one shaped like a series of hearts at Amazon.It costs only six dollars to get a six-cupcake mold, but it is not all the typical heart-shaped cupcake molds. Some are fun, creative ones, like this one that is shaped as crown shaped molds, which still costs around six dollars as well. There are more pricey ones, but even then, they tend to be below the ten-dollar mark. For instance, there are star shaped ones, as well as Christmas tree ones available online, both of which cost less than ten dollars.

Silicone molds are cost efficient, flexible, oven safe, and tend to be dishwasher safe. No matter which type of cupcake molds you choose, try to search online first to see if the mold is not over-priced, and that it is safe to use in the oven. Make sure that the cupcake mold is dishwasher safe to reduce the amount of maintenance you have to give to the mold. Sometimes, cheaper molds do not mean that the mold is going to be safe for cooking, so research the product first. See if people have given it positive or negative reviews online. By doing so, you can buy yourself a wonderful set of cupcake molds that will make your culinary experiences easier, more fun, and safe. Research away and, hopefully, you will be on your way to make wonderful, unique, and delicious cupcakes. Good luck and happy cooking adventures!

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10 Great Tips On Cooking Meals

10 Great Tips On Cooking Meals

If you are as busy as most people you are always looking for ways to feed your family in convenient, fast, yet not-too-expensive ways. Try the following suggestions:

1. Cooking several meals for the week at one time. It may take a few hours of your time up front but will pay off in the long run when you come home each evening and have a meal ready to eat in a short amount of time. Try cooking a roast and using part of it as a main meal and then using some for sandwiches, beef stroganoff or as part of a stir-fry. Fry several pounds of hamburger and make a casserole, taco meat and chili to freeze for use later in the week.

2. After you return home from the grocery store clean all the fruits and vegetables you can. When it’s time for a meal all you will have to do is cook them or add them to a salad or soup.

3. Get ideas from the cooking shows on T.V. There are great shows that show you how to make a healthy meal in a short time.

4. Develop a revolving recipe file. If you get bogged down by the idea of having to plan 30 meals a month the recipe file is for you. Let family members choose some of their favorites and put the recipes in a monthly file. Flip to day five or fifteen and there is the meal just waiting to be cooked.

5. Enlist the help of the members of your family. As soon as the kids are old enough divide up the cooking responsibilities. Let everyone take turns with specific tasks or the whole meal. Pair these meals with fruit and veggies that have already been washed and cut-up and you are ready for dinner.

6. Share the cooking with friends or neighbors. I’ve known people who cook four or five of the same meal and then trade with four or five other people. This works best when people share the same basic ideas on what they like and don’t like. It’s a great idea though for a very easy week of evening meals.

7. Save coupons for those convenience things at the grocery store. They have entire entrees and dinners either fresh or frozen. Sometimes they are rather pricy but with the coupons they are good to have on hand for an evening when everyone is running in different directions and time is of the essence.

8. It’s O.K. to eat out from time to time. Clip coupons for these occasions and if you have kids keep a look-out for the places that have special prices for children. Some of the fast-food restaurants are trying to offer item choices that are a little more healthy.

9. Many larger cities have businesses that prepare food for the evening meal. They seem expensive at first but are so convenient and available for one person or entire families. There are many menu choices and meals cooked for special diets. When you calculate the groceries you buy and the times you eat out each week, this may work for you.

10. Combine several of the above ideas into a plan that is best for you.

It is possible with a little planning to cook meals that are quick and easy without spending hours in the kitchen every day.

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Breadmakers For Easy Baking

Breadmakers For Easy Baking

A bread maker is a home appliance that has revolutionized the process of making breads. First manufactured in 1986 in Japan, breadmaker since then moved its way to homes in the United States and United Kingdom. By means of a breadmaker, automatic baking has become possible and more convenient.

As with ordinary baking, ingredients must first be measured according to the recipe. The mixture is then poured into the bread pan that is placed in the machine. The breadmaker will then take some hours to bake the bread by first turning the mixture into dough and eventually baking it. The process of making dough is helped by a built-in paddle. Once the baking is done and has been allowed to cool down, the bread is then freed from the bread pan. The paddle at the bottom of the loaf should be removed from its place.

Breadmaker breads are much easier to get spoiled as compared with the commercial breads due to the absence of additives. However, it is possible that sourdough starter may be added to the ingredients to prolong the shelf life of the breads.

Breadmakers have built-in timers that may be set for easier baking. Other machines can be programmed to only prepare the dough and not to bake the bread later, in this case the dough is baked in an oven. Breadmakers have other uses as well. They may be set to make jams, pizza bases, wheat-free loaf, cakes, and pasta and in some instances, mochi- a Japanese rice bread.

Considerations in choosing a breadmaker:

– the over-all capacity of baking loafs
– the quality of bread produced
– the duration of time it takes to make one loaf
– the featured programs
– type: may either be single loaf breadmaker or multi loaf breadmaker

However, like with normal baking there may arise several problems concerning the quality of the bread produced. These may either be caused by the process of baking or the quality of breadmaker itself.

Doughy loaf

This problem basically concerns the temperature of the breadmaker. The built-in thermometer must read 190 F. Once the baking is over and the loaf is still doughy, you may choose to continue baking it in a conventional oven or wait till the breadmaker cools down and start the whole process over.

Small bread

Lack of liquid added to the dough. The problem starts with the dissolving of the yeast. If too little liquid is used, the yeast may not be stimulated to produce the necessary carbon dioxide, which is instrumental in making the dough rise. Without this, the loaf may become dense and will be much smaller.

Collapsed or flat-topped bread

Collapsing is mainly due to too much addition of liquid to the dough. The yeast in this case is overly stimulated, producing more gluten than the dough may withhold. This leads to the collapsing of loaf structure.

Bread sticking in the breadmaker pan

This can be resolved by brushing the breadmaker pan with oil before adding the water into the dough. This works well in the majority of conventional ovens as well.

Too much rising of the loaf

This problem may be controlled with the use of salt. Adding one half teaspoon of salt may be sufficient to keep the rising of the bread in balance.

One need not be an Einstein to run a simple machine such as the breadmaker. For more instruction and self-help tips, users may check the manual of the machine.

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Are There Any Good Websites with Simple, Easy to Understand Recipes?

Are There Any Good Websites with Simple, Easy to Understand Recipes?

The internet has made finding great recipes a much simpler process than flipping through tons of cookbooks. Today you can find tons of tasty recipes online of your favorite dishes to prepare. Whether you’re looking for recipes from famous chefs or from households such as yours you will enjoy this great list we have below of the best places to find recipes on the web.

Allrecipes.com

At the top of the list for best online recipe website is allrecipes.com. This site has some of the most basic meal tips to the most intricate dishes to prepare. The site is very easy to navigate through. You simply determine which types of recipes you’re interested in as they have categories that include crock pot, healthy dishes, desserts, dinners, and more. What’s even better about this site is that you can check out reviews of what others have to say about the recipe to determine whether it’s something you want to try out or not.

Delish.com

Another great website to find simple yet easy to comprehend recipes is delish.com. This site is great for cooks of all stages as there are recipes that are basic in nature as well as those that require a bit more skill. What makes this site great is that they have trending recipe choices in case you’re just not sure what you want to make. They have a list of their favorite recipes, and you can also ask questions and have them answered by others who use the site.

Food.com

Next is food.com which is a great site to find easy recipes. You can easily search through their categories to find a recipe that you’re interested in. Not sure what else you should pair with your main dish? Check out their meal planner section and begin learning how to pair meats, starches, and veggies together for a meal your family/guests will enjoy every time.

Foodnetwork.com

Modeled after the ever popular Food Network found on most cable networks is foodnetwork.com. There you can find some great recipes that were completed by your favorite chef on their television show. Look up some of the top chefs and find tips and tricks on how to prepare their favorite dishes with ease. Whether you’re looking for something quick and easy or a bit more complicated you will find everything you need right here on this popular cooking site.

Cooking should be easy to understand and fun to do no matter what recipe you use. Begin searching these great sites and combining ideas for your next meal. To add variety to meal times consider learning a new recipe on the weekly basis until you get the hang of it. Your family will certainly love the change in their meals and will appreciate the effort you took to prepare them. Also as a rule of thumb it is always better to stick to the recipe until you’re gotten the hang of things and then you can put your own spin on them to make the meal more of a signature dish you can enjoy time and time again.

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