There comes a time for every blogger when the days go by and the posts don’t seem to publish themselves. I had 31 of those kind of days in July. This month was beyond busy and frankly, I kind of just went with it. I still cooked, baked, and photographed, but decided to only write a post if I felt compelled to share. And that time is now :)
July offered up some fun “excuses” to explore the sweet side of my kitchen and dive into baking. I try to avoid baking unless I’m certain there will be others around to eat whatever I make. Because living alone + baked goods = DANGER. So here are the five excuses that brought me a little closer with my stand mixer this month:
excuse #1: celebrating ‘merica
It isn’t the 4th of July unless there’s strawberry shortcake, so I just had to make these strawberry shortcake skewers for a friend’s bbq. I made my normal shortcake recipe and cut them into smaller rounds using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Then, I skewered them with sliced strawberries and piped whipped cream. Can we have a moment to talk about stabilized whipped cream? It’s MAGICAL. Just add some dissolved gelatin powder to normal whipped cream, and it’ll stay strong instead of melting away into a mess.
excuse #2: saying farewell
How do you say goodbye to a friend who’s off to practice yoga in South America? Bake her an Om cake, obviously.
One problem. I never tried to make a layer cake from scratch before. Everyone says to stick with boxed mixes, because they’re engineered to be foolproof. Yes, “engineered”. Screw that. I’m gonna learn to bake a cake with real ingredients. Dozens of eggs, cups of sugar, and many sticks of butter later, I landed on my master recipe and pulled off my first simple yellow cake.
I made a basic vanilla cream cheese frosting, and used it between the cake layers and as the crumb coat (thin coat over the entire cake). A crumb coat keeps any loose crumbs from getting into your final frosting layer, making it look way more legit (it’s what the pros do). I let the cake chill for about 30 minutes, then finished frosting it. As for the design, I printed a large image of the Om symbol and used an X-Acto knife to cut it into a stencil. After applying it to the frosted cake, I covered it with sprinkles, blew off the excess, removed the stencil…and voila! I also used my hand to press clear sprinkles along the outside of the cake. Here’s a fun little GIF I made that speeds through the decorating process:
excuse #3: testing a new gadget
That yellow cake basically became my gateway drug into the dangerously fun land of cake making. First things first – time to get a legit cake turntable. The one I was using was cheap, wobbly, and awkwardly low. So, I took matters into my own amateur baker hands and bought this gem. The verdict? GAME CHANGER.
I gave the yellow cake recipe another try, this time using a chocolate frosting and decorating it with festive rainbow sprinkles. Doesn’t this just scream birthday cake? Watch that bad boy spin.
excuse #4: helping cater a party
And finally, I ended the month making mini summer berry crisps for a friend’s 30-person dinner party. Mason jar desserts are practical to serve, easy to transport, and perfect for groups. I used fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, topped with a oat-almond mixture. They crisps baked in the jars and cooled overnight. Decorated with custom Kraft paper labels and baker’s twine, these little guys were about as Pinterest-y as I get.
excuse #5: starting a company
Ok, ok, this is kinda unrelated to baking, but five excuses sounded better than four (and it’s my blog so I can do what I want, right?). As some of you may know, my day job in tech is wrapping up in November. What’s next? Well, I’ve decided to start my own culinary lifestyle company. This month was filled with incorporation docs, trademark paperwork, and some other important papers I’ve already forced myself to forget. And THAT my friends, is what’s been keeping me the busiest this month.
I’ll continue to share recipes, photos and more on the blog as well as Instagram and Snapchat (csamanian). Stay tuned!
But first, off to the grocery store for VEGGIES, FRUIT, and FISH. #goodbyesweetjuly #hellohealthyaugust