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Tuesday
Sep232014

Turning Your Art into Greeting Cards

Are you interested in turning your art into greeting cards? Well, I may not have wisdom on many subjects, but I do on this particular one. Check out this tutorial I wrote of how to transition your art into commercial reproduction in card form! Full tutorial here.

Tuesday
Sep232014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Orange-Glazed Biscones

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events).

Riddle me this: what's a biscone? Well, according to Gina Fugazzi of Centennial, Colorado, they're the tasty meeting place of biscuit and scone. This recipe starts with biscuits from a tube, which are sweetened up with some honey, fruit, butter, and flavoring to make a delightful breakfast bite. 

Good luck at the Bake-Off, Gina!

Orange-Glazed Biscones

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 55 Min
  • Makes: 8 biscones

Ingredients

  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers refrigerated honey butter biscuits (8 biscuits)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Orange Extract
  • 1 medium orange (1/4 teaspoon grated peel and 2 to 3 tablespoons juice)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Separate dough into 8 biscuits on work surface; sprinkle with apricots and cranberries. Gather biscuits and fruit into a ball. Knead lightly 8 to 12 times until fruit is incorporated (do not overmix).
  2. Press into 10-inch round. With sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly brush tops of wedges with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes.
  4. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, orange extract, orange peel, orange juice and remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter with whisk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over biscones. Store covered.
Monday
Sep222014

Waxed Paper Versus Parchment Paper in Baking

Can you use waxed paper instead of parchment paper in baking? I mean, come on, they look the same and everything.

Well, turns out there's more than meets the eye here. I wrote a fantastic post (if I do say so myself) on the subject of when you can and cannot swap the two; check out the full article here.

Monday
Sep222014

Batter Chatter: Interview With Josie Acosta, Bakery Excel Spreadsheet Guru

Josie Acosta is a bakery Excel spreadsheet guru

Now, I'll just go ahead and tell you here that as someone who runs an internet-based business and blog, I am woefully unaware of the ways of the tech world, so I probably know less about what that actually means than you. But--I knew enough to know it sounded interesting. I've never heard of a bakery Excel spreadsheet guru before, have you?

Josie, who offers her services to bakery or baking business owners via an Etsy page, is happy to expand on her interesting niche of expertise in this interview. Don't worry, non-techies: I'll warm up and cool down with dessert-related questions. Enjoy:

What is your favorite dessert? Anything with Oreos! An Oreo Cookies and Cream Milkshake always hits the spot.

Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla

Tell me what it means to be an excel spreadsheet guru, and what it has to do with baking, exactly? I am an Industrial Engineer and most of my day is spent creating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets so over the years I have gotten pretty good at it. I use excel to keep track of everything in my life from personal budgets to managing my Etsy and eBay shops! Excel is a great tool for any small business to keep track of their sales, expenses, profit, etc. with options to create charts and graphs to visually see your progress over time.

What are you selling, exactly? An all-inclusive tool to manage your home-based bakery! The model allows you to keep track of your orders, inventory, recipes, and ingredients and makes it easy to quickly price out the cost per serving for your recipes with the Pricing Calculator. Once you enter your current and previous orders, charts are automatically generated to show your performance over time and track your orders by type (Birthday, Wedding, Anniversary, etc.). The model also includes personalized order form and receipt templates for your business! · What gave you the idea to make a bakery spreadsheet? My mom has her own cake business and for years she's been keeping track of her sales on paper. I wanted to make her life a little easier and her business more professional. The model helps her to see in real time what her monthly and annual sales and profit are without her having to spend a fortune on existing cake business management software.

How has your spreadsheet work helped businesses? The spreadsheet was created with a small home-based bakery business in mind. I wanted to provide a quality product for a reasonable price. The model helps small-businesses to keep better records, be more organized, and accurately price your cakes to get the profit you deserve.

What inspires you? The idea that I can make things better! The inventor in me is always looking to create a solution that solves an everyday problem.

What dessert do you dislike (if any)? I’m not a fan of caramel so I typically pass on anything with caramel on it!

What kind of chocolate chip cookies do you prefer? Soft, crispy, chewy, other? Soft! A little undercooked with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

What's next? I would love to create custom excel spreadsheet models for other home-based small businesses like photographers or personal trainers.

To buy this spreadsheet service, visit the Etsy page.

Monday
Sep222014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Waffles

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

Using chocolate chip cookie dough to make waffles? It simply baffles the mind!

These clever waffles come together from a base of (gluten-free) cookie dough with just a few ingredients added to give it a more waffle-batter like consistency. The resulting treats? Well, let's say brunch is gonna rule at your house this weekend, or any weekend you make them. This recipe is courtesy of Julee Shapiro of Los Angeles. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Waffles

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 30 Min
  • Makes: 6 servings; 2 (4-inch) waffles each

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Procedure

  1. Heat waffle maker. (Waffle maker without a nonstick coating may need to be brushed with vegetable oil or non-stick spray before batter for each waffle is added.) Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add milk, peanut butter, oil and eggs. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping sides as needed, until well blended.
  3. To make waffles, pour 1/4 cup batter onto each waffle section. (Check manufacturer’s directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle maker.
  4. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Serve waffles topped with whipped cream and drizzled with honey.
Monday
Sep222014

Make Sweet and Eclectic Art: How to Combine Collage and Pen and Ink

I love creating art (like, duh). Sometimes I find it inspiring to mix up my media--not just pen and ink and watercolor, but a little something extra, like collage. It adds texture and intrigue, or so I think on better days.

If you're interested, I've made up a little tutorial on how to try this fun method of making art--check out the full post here.

Sunday
Sep212014

Addictive and Delicious: Brown Sugar Buttercream

Brown sugar buttercream is something that needs to enter your universe, and fast. If you've never tried the stuff, make today the day, and change the rest of your life for the better. Think I'm exaggerating its merits? I'm not. Find the full tutorial here on how to make it perfectly.

Sunday
Sep212014

Giveaway: Craftsy Cupcake Class with Jennifer Shea

Learn how to make these and more!If you've been reading CakeSpy for a while, you know what an immense fan I am of Jennifer Shea, proprietress of Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle. She was the first person I ever interviewed for this site, and I've seen her grow from one location to several in Seattle, had art shows at her bakeries, seen her featured on the Martha Stewart Show, and held in my hands her beautiful book.

And now, she's done a class with Craftsy, entitled The Perfect Cupcake. Everyone wants to know how to attain that, right? This class includes every facet of cupcake creation and decoration and is well worth your time. If you click on the link to the class just above, you'll get $5 off - a special offer for CakeSpy readers. You're welcome. 

Learn how to make these, too!

And guess what? ONE lucky reader can win the class! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post stating the following:

What is your idea of the perfect cupcake?

It's an open ended question--you could describe flavor, texture, decor, or all of the above. I'll choose one winner at the end of the day on Friday, the 26th. Since this is for an online class, international entrants are welcome. Good luck! 

Saturday
Sep202014

Illustrated Daydream: My Best Day Ever

The other day, I went to a free workshop by a friendly acquaintance Ron Helman, entitled "12 Big Questions that Will Change the Way You Think". This fellow is what they call a Life Coach, which is about as common in Santa Fe as pizza in New York. But while one might be tempted to dismiss such a thing as "woo-woo", it was actually quite a pleasant experience. I'd been feeling a bit down because I'm meeting some resistance with my third book idea, and it was a nice chance to get out of my self-focused bubble a bit.

One of the most fun exercises was one where we were prompted with this question: "Describe your ideal day, beginning with 'I wake up...' ". I found it such a fun exercise that I decided to illustrate it and share it here. It also makes me wonder...what would be YOUR best day? Feel free to leave a comment!

CakeSpy's Best Day (an illustrated daydream)

I wake up.

I search my unicorn themed apparel for something to wear then select glasses to match my shoes.

I go to yoga and we do all the poses I'm good at.

I bake a cake...

and then I write an awesome blog post.

I take a walk with my sweetie and my pug, porkchop.

Then we go to dinner at Jambo Cafe.

Afterward hop on a plane to Paris for a religieuse pastry. If Paris is not possible on this particular day, I can compromise: a flight to Philadelphia, to get ice cream at Bassets, would also do quite nicely.

The end.

What is your ideal day?

Friday
Sep192014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

 

Art via Lulu Baggins

Cocoa brownie pudding. I'm down with that. 

Send me a slab of this chocolate almond pastry, would ya?

A photo history of American school lunches.

Smoked...ice cream????

Found that last one via Not Martha, who can also teach you how to make flower pancakes.

How to make a tree stump cake. Vital life skill!

Best make-a-wish granted, ever.

NYC bakery has a goal of making the biggest cannoli ever. I like this goal.

Two classics at once: black and white cookie ice cream sandwiches.

How to use reference images to create awesome art. A worthwhile read, I promise!

An interesting post on brownie ratios.

A bakery bans laptops, and sales increase. Turns out, laptop toting campers are cheapskates!

The fascinating story behind a "lost dessert" from NYC: Grossinger's Ice Cream Cake.

Book of the week: The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick. Because I am addicted to chick lit that involves food, and because the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! 

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