How to Blind Bake a Pie Shell

Blind Bake Pie Shell

Before we get into How to Blind Bake a Pie Shell, we should first discuss WHY we would ever blind bake a pie shell.

The first reason would be if you were making a cold preparation pie, like a banana cream pie, lemon meringue or a chocolate cream pie where you are not baking the filling inside the shell.

So naturally you must bake the pie shell all by itself and this is called Blind Baking.

Then second reason and I often do this, is when I am actually baking the filling inside the pie shell like a traditional Apple Pie or a Peach Pie for example, but I am not a big fan of soggy bottomed crusts.

By Blind Baking the pie shell for just about 15 minutes (not all the way like we do with cold preparation pies) but just enough to get a head start before the filling goes in (as shown in my Peach Pie Video Here – skip to 4:35 in the video to get right to it!) you can avoid a totally soggy crust that just seems to never bake once the filling goes in!

It is completely optional to do a blind bake for a fruit pie, so if you feel you have never had this trouble with your specific recipe before, well then if it ain’t broke- don’t fix it!

Sometimes it depends on your oven too, if you have a very hot -bottomed oven then you may not ever need to blind bake.

But for making a cold preparation pies as I mentioned above, well it’s essential!

Ok – so HOW do we DO IT?

Well first you need a Pie Shell!  Check out this tutorial for How to Make a Pie Shell and then you will need some pie weights.

As you can see in the picture above, I use the Ol’ Cheap-O brand called GOYA dried beans LOL

They are cheap, re-useable and did I mention cheap?

You will line your pie shell with parchment paper cut to the size of the inside of the pie, then pour the beans (or weights for you proper folks, tsk tsk….) all the way to the top edge.

This prevents the pie dough sides from slipping down during baking and keeps everything nicely in place.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for, well…….as long as it takes to get it to your desired done-ness depending on the application you are requiring.

For my peach pie, I mentioned I only wanted to jump start the process, not get it golden browned so I only blind baked it for about 15 minutes.

A golden browned fully baked blind bake is for a cold prep pie where you must get the entire shell baked all the way through before filling it with custard, mousse or whipped cream or whatever your wild imagination comes up with!

Let the pie shell cool before dumping out the beans or weights, remove the parchment and proceed as the recipe states for filling that pie shell!

Well,  I hope I answered your questions as to whether to blind bake or not to blind bake! THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Over and out, Ill catch you on the flip side!

Read More →

Covering Cakes with Fondant

Covering cakes with Fondant

ivory elegance (2)

Over the years sharing my recipes here on my blog and via my youtube channel, I tend to get certain questions way more than other questions.

Whenever this happens, I like to write a blog post to address the specific questions at hand, since it is sheer proof that so many people are wondering the same thing.

“Can I use ______  cake recipe for under fondant?”

Now let me start off by saying covering cakes with fondant is not my #1 expertise however, I have done a great many fondant covered cakes in my day as a pastry chef for 10 years and then while I owned my bakery for another 10 years.

I have battled ice cold kitchens with no heating system except the heat of the ovens in the winter and dealt with the other extreme of horribly hot, humidity in the dead of a New Jersey summer (again with no cooling system!)

You are forced pretty quickly into figuring out how to handle fondant cakes (among other things) and how each recipe will react in those conditions.

But let’s put those extreme circumstances aside for now, and pretend that we are in a very normal environment building cakes. (Hmmm who ever has THAT environment? I want to live with you! LOL)

I also want to state that my best experience with fondant is with a commercial product known as Satin Ice.  It was always my brand preference after trying several other cheaper brands; and I have not yet made my own Marshmallow Fondant (But it’s on the list!)

So with that being said, fondant and all the specific brands is not really the issue at hand here, since what we are talking about is CAKE RECIPES and which ones are appropriate for fondant coverings and which ones are not.

Now I have always answered this question of “Can I use the ____cake recipe for covering with fondant?” with the same answer, “Yes as long as you build your cake properly you can use any cake recipe you like for under fondant.”

Perhaps that answer is just too vague, since the next question is, “Well how do I build my cake properly!?”

I use my swiss buttercream recipe 90% of the time for all my cakes and especially for a crumb coat or the “glue” that is needed for the fondant to stick on to the cake.  Once that buttercream is cold (and yes I do refrigerate all my fondant cakes as well) it is solid and very sturdy.

It would be hours, like 6 – 8 hours at normal room temperature (about 72°f)  before that cake is going to start to droop or become pesty.

So when I say “as long as you are building the cake properly” I mean:

  • What are you using as a crumb coat?
  • Are you using a buttercream dam to hold the filling into the layers to prevent a squishy, collapse-able filling?
  • Are you rolling your fondant thin enough (no more than ¼ inch thickness) so it is not too heavy?
  • Are you refrigerating this cake once it is finished to maintain the stability and integrity of all the base recipes that went into the final product?
  • Dowel rods may be necessary depending on your design for added support, but typically not in the case of just a 1- tier fondant covered cake.

Those are the requirements for building a sturdy cake no matter what the icing will be, so if you can answer yes to all, then you my friend are building a cake properly!


Now let me clarify the buttercream standard on the above requirements list, since many of you are NOT using buttercream at all….. and that for me would be the first red flag.

I know, I know…..most people loathe buttercream!  They want whipped cream or ganache or cream cheese icing…..3 things I will NOT use under a fondant covered cake.

Again- let me repeat: this is the way I do it, and there may be many folks who disagree with me and will readily use whipped cream, cream cheese and / or ganache all the time.

Here is my two cents on that.

Almost all cake recipes in and of themselves are quite sturdy. I have never met a cake recipe that would not stand up to a fondant cover.  Including the more questionable Chiffon Cake recipes that are typically the softest and lightest of all the cake recipes, can and will live up to the test when it is built properly with a sturdy icing.

Let’s take a look at the most common icings that most people want for their cakes:

Whipped cream is so soft and billowy and has zero strength against fondant.  Not to mention its high moisture content could pose a severe problem for fondant slippage since it cannot act as glue whatsoever.

Ganache is another one that I find to be quite sturdy under refrigeration, but once it starts to come to room temperature the disasters can strike. Chocolate begins to melt at 90°f. Which seems to be a high enough temperature to avoid, but in a room full of people (or outside on a summer day) with a blanket of heavy fondant draped over it, can create that temperature faster than you realize.

Cream cheese icing is more sturdy, however my experience with cream cheese icing and its high moisture content along with the enzymes from the dairy have proven to be a risky business for under fondant.  It is the only 1 of the 3 that I would consider if I had no other choice (like an insistent client!), but I would be sure that the event venue and conditions for holding the cake in refrigeration for as long as possible are ideal.

The base coat icing under fondant must be thin.  Fondant is a heavy medium to work with. It will droop, sag and bubble under extreme conditions and we are the cake warriors in constant battle against those extreme conditions and we must arm ourselves accordingly with a strategy that is sure to win.

The crumb coat or “glue” icing under fondant must be thin since that will be the first thing to go downhill once the temperature changes and the cake is out on display during the event.

Ok, so now that I’ve upset everyone to the fact that buttercream (in my opinion) is the best and quite possibly ONLY option for under a fondant covered cake where does that leave us as to the taste and desired flavor combinations our clients may want for this cake?

Again I will say that for all my years in the cake biz, I have always used buttercream as a crumb coat, and I remind you that crumb coat means thin, so the taste of this buttercream (for those who forbid buttercream anywhere near their cakes or lips) will not even be noticed.  (Unless of course there is an allergy which brings even more variables into this equation).

What we have to remember here, is that FONDANT IS THE ICING when a fondant covered cake is required.  You cannot really have 2 icings.  So once the client realizes this we can all be at ease with deciding the more important parts of the flavor profile.

Let’s say your client requires a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing but the design requires fondant work.  No problem.

The cream cheese filling will be more than enough to carry the flavors through the entire cake and hit home the amazing taste they want, as well as a fabulously decorated fondant design.

Strawberry Shortcake you say?  No problem:  Yellow Cake with Whipped Cream filling with fresh strawberries and a light coating of buttercream glue to seal the deal and that draping of fondant.

Chocolate Truffle Ganache Cake? Again, no problemo: Chocolate Cake filled with truffle ganache, a light coating of chocolate buttercream to keep those shades of chocolate throughout the entire cake consistent and viola! You have yourself a sturdy and deliciously beautiful fondant covered cake!

I think most of the problems we run into when preparing cakes to the exact specifications of our clients is the fact that they surely have a good idea of what they want for their final cake; but they don’t know the first thing about how we are to execute that cake ~ and besides, why should they?  They shouldn’t, that’s our job!

I also know that all too often we (as people pleasers) can get “talked into” following the orders of our clients, forcing us to ignore the rules of pastry law.  But if you have the knowledge to get around those demands while staying with in the lines of the baking and pastry court of law you can indeed please everyone all at the same time.

Many of my clients who have said, “Ugggh, no way do I want sweet sticky buttercream on my cake….” have died and gone to heaven with their first bite of a subtly buttercream laced crumb coated cake and was none the wiser as the filling and other flavors burst through to the forefront.  Certain tricks of the trade can (and should) remain secret amongst us pastry chefs.  After all, the magician doesn’t tell his audience how he did everything right?  They simply leave the show in awe of what they have just experienced and will be sure to tell their friends and family where to go for that same cake magic act!

Read More →

Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Did you know that creating your own buttercream flavors is the simplest Building on Recipes technique there is?

You can create just about any flavor under the sun and add it straight away into the base recipe of Swiss Buttercream?

Probably the strangest request I ever got was for Marzipan Buttercream!

I had not heard of that one before, but I was so glad I did because it was fabulous!

It was from a customer who just loved my Petit Four recipe, which is classically a Frangipane Cake recipe (almond paste cake) and vanilla buttercream centers with poured fondant icing.

So I set off to recreate those flavors for her in one really neat layer cake to serve about 20 people!

There is just one thing to keep in mind when you start experimenting with adding this or that to the buttercream.


Buttercream is an oil based formula (butter=fat)

Oil and water (in the form of purees, or extracts or emulsions)  do not typically mix well together.

So a certain amount of vigorous blending will do the trick, but watch carefully as you add the flavorings.

You will see if the mixture starts to separate or “break” this means over saturation and once you get to that point, there ain’t no going back!

Unless of course you add more buttercream to even out the ratios.

Much of the flavorings are “to taste” and when I say this, it simply means, start with a tablespoon of extract or emulsion and then taste it.

Purees are not the greatest to add, since their concentration of flavor is not as pronounced as an extract or emulsion, so you will tend to want to add more to the buttercream causing breakage.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it in certain instances like adding a really strong Strawberry Puree or even Mango Puree is great for this!

Oh yeah, and in the fall- I do not hesitate to add Pumpkin Puree too!

Typically about a cup of puree to the entire recipe of buttercream

I always recommend adding extracts or emulsion along with the purees to give it that extra “uumphf” of flavor you are going for.

Candlyland Crafts has a wide selection of flavor oils and extracts that work great in my buttercream recipe.

They also ship worldwide!

I know many of you want a chart that says exactly how much of this to add to the buttercream, but not all BRANDS are crated equally!

I once purchased a mint extract from another source than what I was used to getting and Wowsers! It was like Listerine Mouthwash!

So again I prefer the “taste test”method versus me telling you to add a few tablespoons of something I don’t even know what you are using.

For example that Marzipan Buttercream I mentioned?

I didn’t have a recipe for it, so I experimented a little bit.

I took some very soft almond paste and smoothed it out even more in the kitchen aid with the paddle attachment and some warm water to thin it out.

I then added the buttercream a little at a time while mixing until it was all incorporated well.

Last, I hit it with about a teaspoon of almond extract and a tablespoon of Amaretto Disaronno (optional of course for those of you who do not like alcohol in your pastry).

It was out of this world!

I encourage you to play around with flavors whenever possible.

BE BRAVE GUYS!  No recipe needed!  Start to rely on your TASTEBUDS to guide you to perfect balances.

Just remember, anytime you add ANYTHING to an already soft base (like buttercream) it is going to get SOFTER!

So be prepared to refrigerate many flavored buttercreams not because they will go bad (unless you are using curds or custard of course) but because they are going to be super soft!

Here are just a few suggestions off the top of my head that you can achieve simply by adding some liquors, flavor oils or emulsions, extracts or fruit purees. Simply stir desired amount into the buttercream and off you go!!  (Be sure to refrigerate accordingly if you are using an addition of fruit curds or egg rich custards)

  • Baileys Irish Cream – add liquor
  • Peanut Butter – add peanut butter
  • Nutella – add nutella
  • Lemon Custard Buttercream -add lemon Curd and lemon zest
  • Boston Cream Pie Buttercream- add vanilla custard
  • Coconut – add toasted coconut and coconut extract
  • Key Lime – add key lime juice and grated lime zest
  • Cinnamon- Duh!
  • Kahlua- add instant coffee and Kahlua liquor
  • Pineapple- add canned pineapple (drained first and patted dry)
  • Marachino Cherry – add the Juice from the canned cherries

What else can we think of?  Leave it in the comments section!

Or better yet, MAKE IT and share with us on Facebook!

Read More →

Tools of the Baking Trade


As many of you know, I often link to Amazon whenever I want you to see a specific tool or piece of equipment I am using.

I do like Amazon since they have just about everything under the sun and their prices are very competitive- if not the best around.

This time with the launching of Gretchen’s Bakery I wanted to only include those items that I absolutely use each and everyday rather than a chaotic page full of “just stuff”

Whether you are an avid Amazon user, or you don’t touch the stuff……my more important goal here is to show you in 3-D closeup images the exact same things I am using in my videos and tutorials. I link to these products very often within each blog post so you can click direct and see up close just exactly what I am using.

Amazon does a great job of showcasing those products with all the specifications, not to mention buyer reviews which I LOVE, they are so very helpful.

So my point is whether you want to buy it or not, or you want to go check out another brand of a similar item or a different seller outside of Amazon, absolutely go ahead!

You can also do comparison shopping right there on the site.

So, here I just wanted to take a moment to show you what I am using every day, give you a review on why I love it so much and then give you an opportunity to buy it through my website!

Feel free to leave your own comments and reviews below.  If you have another product you think I should check out or that is better than something I am recommending here…please enlighten me!  I never claim to know everything and I am always open to new suggestions from folks who know better!

At the end of the day the main goal is to help each other be the best we can be! So let’s get to it!

Just click the highlighted link for the product you wish to see more information about!

Alright! Let’s go shopping!


kithcen aid mixer

Where else would I start but with the Kitchen Aid mixer! The only reason I advertise the KA Brand so much is because it is my only experience.  I know many of you have asked me to consider other brands like Kenmore, and Hamilton Beach and even Oster sells a planetary stand mixer; and I do apologize for always saying “Kitchen Aid” rather than stand mixer~ my intention is not to single out those other manufacturers.  It is more likely  that since I have been using a kitchen aid since my early years in high school, I have never had a reason or desire to use another brand.  You can however, do a simple internet search for “Planetary Stand Mixer Brand Reviews” and you will get tons of information and comparisons from folks who spent a lot of time researching exactly that topic, just for you! I also want to specify that of course not everyone can afford a stand mixer and 99% of my recipes work without one, so if it is a hand beater you are shopping for, I prefer the ones with a balloon type beater rather than those old fashioned egg beater style ones, like this one here

Americolor Gel Paste

Americolor Soft Gel Paste Colors are almost identical to the Chefmaster gel paste colors I more frequently use.  It is simply because I can get the Chefmaster brand in bulk sizes, but the quality is virtually identical and most of you probably wouldn’t need the 10ounce bottles of every color under the sun anyway!  Gel paste colors are superior to liquid food coloring because you need just a drop to get a very intense color to your food, and without adding liquid to it at the same time.  Liquid food colors take way too much while adding unwanted liquid to recipes.  Especially in coloring buttercream, the last thing we want is to saturate it with moisture.

clay characters from kids book

Whenever I need an explicit visual of how to make modeled figures out of fondant or modeling paste,  the Clay Characters for Kids Book is my savior.  So what that it’s for clay, isn’t modeling paste nothing more than edible clay!? Check out this book, it is very affordable and has almost 80 pages of close up lesson on how to model some really cute figures!

turntableThe Ateco Cake Turntable is something I could not live without! I bought mine back in 1990 and still have it today!  These are a bit pricey but worth the investment since 1990 was 25 years ago!  You won’t have to ever buy another one if you stick with this brand leader in cake turn stands!

mixing bowlsStainless steel, assorted sizes nesting mixing bowls  I love nesting bowls for their ease in storage and of course because you don’t always use the same size bowl for each task.  You often see me using metal mixing bowls in many of my recipe tutorials.  They are lightweight and have a large capacity for recipes that require a lot of folding.

half sheet panFat Daddios Brand Half Sheet Pan Now does it have to be Fat Daddios?  Won’t any sheet pan with 12″X18″ dimensions will work just fine?  Well, yes and no.  If it’s just the size you are needing to accommodate, then yes, I suppose you can use some flimsy piece of tin that you may end up throwing away after 2 uses.  Or you can grab a couple of Fat Daddios brand heavy gauge aluminum sheet pans and never have to buy another one again. And the name….Fat Daddio’s? I mean, why wouldn’t you!? (Chicago Metallic is also a great strong long lasting brand)

cake pansFat Daddio’s Assorted Sized Cake Pans be sure to double check exactly which size you are going from since they sell all the sizes from 5″ to 12″.  I always use 2″ Height on my cake pans. I find that I am always filling cake batter to the half way mark and an extra 1″ can confuse people too much.  I don’t think the 3″ height is necessary for anything other than cheesecakes (since as you know I do not use Springforms Pans)

heating pad Heating Pad ? Seriously? What is this for?  After you eat too much cake and your tummy hurts!  Well sure! There is one more good use for this!  But not exactly, you see I like to accelerate the process of proofing yeast doughs by placing the bowl over top of this heating pad.  It probably cuts the proofing time by at least 1/3 not to mention in the winter when your kitchen may be colder than normal it is really helpful for nice big fluffy rising buns!

metro blade_The Metro Blade attachment for Kitchen Aid mixers. Be sure to purchase the correct size for the exact model KA you have.  They make them for 4.5 Qt & 5 Qt Tilt head mixers, as well as the 5Qt & 6Qt Bowl Lift style mixers like I have. Great for cutting down on the time it takes to mix recipes, honestly I wouldn’t have believed the time it actually takes to stop the mixer, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl each time, and this is a crucial step in baking to ensure a proper mix!  Once you get this metro blade you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!  I have been struggling lately though, since the purchase of my 8Qt KA.  That was almost a disappointing purchase because the only real difference is the bowl itself, everything else is virtually the same as my 6qt Pro model.  So honestly, I shouldn’t bad mouth this mixer,  it actually is a great bowl with 2 more quarts capacity, but for me and filming the videos, I need you guys to really be able to see inside the bowl, and that extra 2 inches on it is a huge hindrance.  So I say all that to say, I am using an 8qt mixer with a 6qt bowl and a 6qt metro blade attachment.  It si all not fitting together as it should and I cannot use my metro blade when I use this mix matched ensemble. Anyway- be sure to get the right fit!

duxtopDUXTOP 1800-Watt Portable Induction Cooktop Countertop Burner 9100MC Ok, I wouldn’t have needed to buy this had I had a proper kitchen to film in, but since I do not I had to get a tabletop cooker.  I actually LOVE it now that I got the correct pots that are compatible! Buyer beware, some pots and pans will say they are induction compatible, but I learned NOT TRUE. I had to return an entire pot and pan set after unpacking the entire contents! have you ever tried to RE-pack a pot and pan set?? Not fun.  So just be sure you are truly getting induction compatible otherwise this DUXTOP cooker will not ever turn on. Its heats up in an instant, well its should…that’s the nature of induction heating.  I have no trouble with the controls reacting to lowering or higher temperatures in an instant. It may be a learning curve if you are used to electric or gas, but give it a try I bet you will be happy with the speed and even cooking it doles out.

scale_Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale  Do not make me say it!  You know how I feel about weighing your ingredients.  So for those who are still on the fence I will ask you to read all about Measuring and then come back here and take a look at this very affordable price tag.  I use this scale everyday in weighing my ingredients for video prep and for the research and development of new recipes.  The success of the recipe depends 5% on the baker and 90% on the measuring system with 5% of luck thrown in! It has multi TARE function meaning you can weigh 1 ingredient, then TARE then add more ingredients on top without ever removing the bowl.  Great for measuring dry ingredients that are all going to get sifted together anyway! My favorite pick right here!

9X13Chicago Metallic 9″X13″ Cake Pan or Casserole Dish this reminds me of the pyrex casserole my mom used to make lasagna in!  So honestly you can use this cake pan from dual purpose!  It’s the 9″ X 13″ dimensions we are after.  But this brand is heavy duty top of the line in cake pans, so I highly recommend for my Brownie Recipe and well… pretty much whatever you want to put n it!


cuisinartCuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor I use this contraption all the time!  I am not sure how I functioned before I had one!  Since it is the best from shredding, chopping, fine grinding ingredients and FAST!  very easy to clean as all the parts are detachable and dishwasher safe. Mine didn’t come with all those veggies though 🙁 I think I got ripped off 🙂

serrated_Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition 10-Inch Serrated Bread/Slicing Knife I bought this knife as a back up to my trusty “$56,000 knife” that you all see me using in my videos.  For those who have followed me since my Crumb Boss days, you will understand that reference LOL.  But I will have to say, as much as this knife is GREAT, nothing compares to that 20+year old one I am still using to this day from my Culinary Institute knife kit I got on my first day of school!  Now don’t get me wrong this one is perfect and does the job just fine but BE CAREFUL this knife IS SHARP! Not only will it cut your cakes horizontally with ease, but if you are not careful it will cut right through your hands horizontally with ease as well! It is perfect for bread slicing too since it is so sharp.  Some cakes need a sawing motion like my Butterfingers Cake so this serrated will do a much better job than a traditional chef’s knife.

knifeJ.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife this is the same exact knife I have.  I use it every single day.  It is the perfect size that is comfortable in my hand. I recommend to get the feel for the knife that is best suited from you, your hand size and your grip as well.  Not all hands are created equal so the knife is definitely not a once size fits all situation!  Check out this post to see a good example of how to properly hold a knife

scoops_Jenaluca Ice Cream Scoop Cookie Scoop Melon Scoop 3 Pc Set Now you don’t necessarily have to get this brand or even a set of scoops, however I found that this stainless steel 3 piece set was perfect not only in size for the applications I am constantly using (I scoop cookie dough balls for the freezer all the time!) but they are strong and well made. I have found in the past that the cheaper gear like models as shown here can break easily when scooping a big quantity of doughs or ice creams as well as stiff doughs and hard ice creams.  I have not had any trouble with this set and it has lasted me quite some time

thermometer_Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer    If you are making candy you need this.  You cannot get to the high temperatures (upwards of 350°F) that this can handle with a regular instant read thermometer.  I have always used Taylor, and quite possibly there can be a better brand by now, but despite some bad reviews about glass breaking, I have never had that experience (oops, jinxed!) The clip attachment for the side of the pot is a great feature and very useful

instant readTaylor 9840 Digital Instant Read Pocket Thermometer    displays temperatures from minus 58 degrees to 302 degrees F, very handy for getting a quick (instant!) read on whatever you are cooking such as Custards and Curds that need very close monitoring

silicon matArtisan (2 pk.) Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat Set, 16 5/8 x 11  Silicone baking mats are great for many projects like cookie doughs and even chocolate work.  I have about a dozen of these and I love them since I am not wasting parchment paper over and again, so the money you will save in the long run on parchment is really worth this affordable investment!

brush_OXO Good Grips Silicone Basting & Pastry Brush  when it comes to pastry brushes Silicone is so much more sanitary.  Yuck to dried food and especially egg washes in your traditional pastry brushes.  You can never quite get that weird smell out of the bristles or the wood in the old fashioned style.  So I stick to using that kind from brushing flour off of my doughs and keep the silicone for the nasty projects!

blowtorchBernzomatic TS4000 Trigger Start Torch need I say anything here?  You have seen me time and again with my blowtorch for various tasks from removing cheesecakes from pans to getting smooth sides on cakes!  The trigger start attachment here is quite pricey, but you only have to buy it once, then the cans of propane are CHEAP!  Be sure to pick up the cans separately sine I am not linking them here.











Read More →

Russian Piping Tips Review



I finally did it!

I got on the bandwagon of a current trend way sooner than my usual 3 years wait! LOL

These Russian Piping Tips just looked too enticing to pass up and I am so glad I got them.

I did a quick video tutorial (below) that shows you visually how to pipe with them since I found that the pressure and quickness with which you work is the key to making these flowers have definite shape and structure.

I bought mine on Amazon and I decided on the smaller set of 7 versus sets of 25, 27 and 29.

You will see there are tons of vendors who also jumped on this bandwagon, and you will see various sets with different nozzles and really random amounts in each set.

There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the way these vendors are selling them, so this is the first thing that can trip you up.

Just be sure to really pay attention to what you are buying, these nozzles seem to be different in almost every set I see.

This is the exact set I bought~ the set of 7 tulip flower nozzles.

I am happy with it for the most part, it was only $13.99 and free shipping if you have Amazon Prime,  however I am slightly disappointed that I did not get the rose bud tube.

Instead mine came with an oversized grass tip.

“Meh” It’s Ok.

But I would have preferred the rose bud tip.  My fault for not paying closer attention.

If I had to do it again I would buy this set (CLICK HERE) for more money though (but if you have Amazon Prime you get free shipping and  A 25% OFF DISCOUNT CODE ZIIV86ZC good through July 31, 2016) You get 27  tips and that includes the rose tips! as well as a tri-color coupler and some pastry bags too!

So other than the initial confusion from being overwhelmed by which set to buy, I really enjoyed using these tips.

I do have a Pros & Cons list though, since as soon as I started I got glaring insights right away.

#1 – CON: The tips are really large and you will have to dedicate a pastry bag (or a few pastry bags!!) specifically for these tips.  I did not want to cut my existing pastry bags with larger holes so I opted to use disposable pastry bags.

#2- CON: The tips are not marked, so from a tutorial standpoint it is difficult since I know many of you will want to know which tips I used and I have no idea! You will just have to match them up with the chart (below) as I show you each one in the video I also made (below)

That’s really all I came up with for the CONS though, so 2 negatives isn’t really bad especially against all the PROS:

#1 – PRO: Works great with my American Buttercream Recipe I tried using the tips with my Swiss Meringue Buttercream & Italian Meringue Buttercream recipes too and it was really difficult to keep the shape of the flower, the meringue buttercream are just too soft, billowy, silky for this application.  Now I may get some disagreement here, and please enlighten me to your results with those buttercreams. It’s just in my testing here I did not get good results. But the American Style!? Oh yeah!

#2 – PRO: No real decorating skills are required! This mean you can create beautiful cakes and pastries and everyone will think you are an amazing cake decorator! LOL

#3 – PRO: Easy to use with just a short amount of practice, like literally 1 minute and you can get the hang of the pressure needed (I mention & show this in the video)

#4 – PRO: Easy to Clean, they are stainless steel and of good quality.

For those interested in buying a coupler to fit these tips CLICK HERE


russian tips 2

Read More →

How to Make Browned Butter

What’s  the deal about Browned Butter?

Also known as Beurre Noisette.

Because Butter (beurre) has been clarified (melted) and then browned to the color of hazelnuts (noisettes).

But why go to the extra trouble though? I mean can’t we just melt butter and add it to the recipe?

Well sure you can do anything you want to do really.

But what will happen if we do that? I wrote a blog post called What is cake to address specifically that. Check it out and then come back here!

But let’s understand that butter contains fat, proteins, moisture and milk solids.

When you melt butter, those fats are changed from a solid form to a liquid form and when it gets cold again it re-solidifies. It doesn’t re-solidify nicely though, if any of you have ever melted butter then stuck it in the refrigerator? Ummm, weird hockey puck like waxy thing on top of a bunch of milky liquid in the bottom of the dish.  This experiment actually showcases the properties of butter in the best light though.  You can clearly see the fat (that hockey puck waxy thing) the milk solids (that milky looking stuff) and then the separated oil and moisture slushing around.

Let’s take oil now, and do the same thing.  Oil remains liquid whether it is refrigerated or not.

The major difference to remember between butter and oil  in cake making is their properties at room temperature (or cold).  If you now re-introduce this ingredient to the recipe (cake); when that cake gets to room temperature, cooled or even cold what will happen to those properties inside the cake?  The same thing that happens to them when they are NOT inside the cake!

So you see that although you can often times make substitutions to recipes with ingredients that seem to be so similar, the results will not be so similar.

Ok, now back to the topic at hand.

Browned Butter.

Browned butter is luscious.  It brings a depth of flavor to recipes that is unmatched.  But technically it is no longer “butter” once we remove that moisture and those milk solids through the cooking process.

So its now easy to remember that any recipe calling for oil can definitely be substituted with Browned Butter.

Just remember that you will start with a bit more butter that you will end up with after it is done browning and the solids are removed.

For every 8 tablespoons or 1 stick you start out with, you will get about 6 tablespoons after the browning and solids are removed.

So if you need 1 cup oil for a recipe, start with 3 sticks of butter!

It is more expensive of course, but it is really worth it!

If you watch the quick video below you will see how easy it is to convert butter to Beurre Noisette for any of your recipes calling for oil!

So choose your recipes that will really benefit from this addition like my Tropical Carrot Cake recipe 

and the Hazelnut Genoise Cake too!


Carrot-Cake-Recipe   Hazelnut-Cake-Recipe

Read More →