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6th August 2016 // 0 Comments

10 Must-Have Tools For Perfect Sugar Cookies!

10 tools for perfect sugar cookies

10 Must-Have Tools For Perfect Sugar Cookies!

01: Cookie cutters!

This one is pretty much obvious right? You’ll be amazing at how many beginners email us asking if they really need to spend money on lots of cookie cutters to make perfect sugar cookies. Seriously. That’s like learning archery without a crossbow. Of course you need to. Plus if you’re really into making cookies then finding and buying lots of crazy new cutter shapes should be the highlight of your cookie-nerd day! If you’re a novice it’s best to start small. Try our simple shapes like circles, squares, plaques, teddies or butterflies.

Hilariously fun novelty cutters by Meri Meri

02: Cookie trays!

Another obvious thing on the list, but instead of using just any cookie tray you need to invest in a damn good quality cookie tray. There are so many on the market, but one rule of thumb is to spend a little extra rather than opt for the cheapest. The uniform holes in the bottom of this tray help the air circulate in the over which is going to help getting a better bake and even a crunchier cookie!

Paul Hollywood champagne gold baking tray

03: KitchenAid mixer!

Some cookies need to be mixed by hand in order to get a good rough or ‘short’ texture to them. This usually means rubbing your butter or fat into the dry mix before you then add the egg or even milk. A lot of cookies, however, would turn out a heck of a lot better with a help of a good stand-up mixer. In our experience a stand-up mixer is so much better than hand held. Once you switch it on you’re hands free and if you need to reach over for an ingredient or double check that recipe you’re not going to risk splattering dough all over the walls.

Classic white KitchenAid mixer

Perfect sugar cookies by Juniper Cakery

04: Silicone rolling pin!

Standard wooden rolling pins just aren’t going to cut it with cookie making. Sugar cookie dough needs to stay lovely and chilled as you work with it. We’ve found the silicone rolling pins help keep them cold for a little longer whilst they’re rolled, cut and even re-rolled.

Silicone rolling pin by KitchenCraft

05: Small angled palette knife!

Don’t even think of picking up those freshly cut out cookie shapes with your hands! If you have done this then hopefully you’ll have learned your lesson. Hello misshapen, dented and overstretched cookie shapes that used to look like fun unicorns, but now look like melted down golf caddies attacked by golf hating arsonists. Just don’t do it. For perfect sugar cookies get a nice small angled palette knife to gently lift the shapes off your floured surface onto your cookie trays. What’s the point in cutting out a step if it just means re-doing everything?

Angled cookie palette knife by Wilton

06: Silicone mats!

When it comes to macarons silicone mats just never worked for us. They always gripped onto the delicate shells too much after being baked. With sugar cookies, however, they’re utterly perfect! They have enough grip to hold the dough in place, but it’s also super easy to remove them once baked and ready to transfer over to a cooling rack or pastry board. Instead of greaseproof paper they won’t buckle and crinkle resulting in bumpy and uneven cookies. Another few major pluses is that they’re easy to clean, store and re-use too!

Silicone baking mat

07: Books!

Whilst the internet is an amazing resource for learning almost anything it still doesn’t beat a book sometimes. Plus, if you’re anything like us you’ll get more distracted and check your online profiles and emails in the middle of reading up on a recipe or technique. There are some informative cookie decorating books out there, but for sheer style and fun you need to check out Peggy Porschen’s!

Cookies by Peggy Porschen

08: Kitchen timer!

You’ll need a kitchen timer to make sure you don’t forget your cookies are in the oven baking away. There are lots of cute novelty ones on the market, but sometimes a good basic timer is just what you need. We love ones that are magnetic so you can stick them on your fridge and free up even the tiniest of spaces on your counter!

Magnetic kitchen timer by Kitchen Craft

Tips and tools for perfect sugar cookies

09: Spatula!

A good spatula is always handy in the kitchen. When it comes to cookie making a spatula is idea for scraping all that sticky dough out onto your surface or into cling film. It’s also perfect for getting every bit of freshly made royal icing out of your mixing bowl. Why? The rubber end will bend and flex to the shapes of your bowls meaning it can lift off any left over and hard to reach ingredient.

Set of three pastel spatulas by Sweetly Does It

10: Kitchen scales!

We get a lot of comments and emails from people wanting recipes in cups. We’ve even had a few people asking us to convert someone else’s recipe into cups! Seriously. Invest in some scales. They’re really not hard to use and they’re not scary at all too. Measuring and weighing ingredients out using scales is also so SO much more accurate than utilising cups, plus it means you don’t need to try converting sizes if there’s a recipe you can’t wait to try out. So for perfect sugar cookies measure your ingredients using accurate scales not cups.

Cream kitchen scales by Hanson

2nd July 2016 // 0 Comments

5 Tips for Working with Fondant / Sugar Paste!

Tips for Working with Fondant or Sugar Paste

It’s OK to be scared of fondant. A lot of people are. It’s a strange and magical material that somehow has to roll out flat and then cover a 3d edible object! Whilst it can be a source of fear it doesn’t have to be…honest. We work with fondant every day and we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks over the years that help make icing our cakes smoother (pun intended by the way). Our top 5 tips for working with fondant are quick, easy to remember and small, but they’ll help make all the difference when covering cakes!

5 tips for working with fondant or sugar paste!

Floral crown cake by Juniper Cakery

01: Don’t buy cheap!

One of our first and top tips for working with fondant is… never ever scoff at pricey buckets of fondant. There’s a reason they’re in a different price bracket than the rest. Better taste. Better coverage. Better elasticity. Better colour. Better consistency. A few extra coins can mean a whole lot less stress! You should test out the top brands to find out what works best for you and why. Personally, we’d highly recommend Satin Ice (we think it tastes and smells divine) and Massa Ticino Tropic. Both brands are a little more expensive than your run-of-the-mill fondant / sugar paste brands, but we won’t cover a cake or create edible decorations without them. Satin Ice is perfect for flawlessly smooth and quick setting sugar flowers, figures and cupcakes. Massa Ticino Tropic is great for covering deep tiers in high humidity!

02: Protect!

Fondant / sugar paste dries out quick and will be super prone to unsightly cracks and loses any elasticity once it does. Make sure that you’re storing it right. If you purchased it in buckets then check there are no cracks, holes and that the lids are fastened properly. If the fondant inside was in a bag make sure this is tied up properly too. Otherwise cling film your fondant… a lot and store in airtight containers!

If you’re working with it to make figures or sugar flowers make sure that you don’t leave it out in the open air. We seal ours up in zip lock bags or in an airtight container.

03: Work fast!

When it comes to covering cakes with fondant / sugar paste you need to work fast to limit over stretching, cracks, dried out patches and stiffness. Practice makes perfect with this tip so as you get more used to working with the material you’ll find your pace picks up. In the meantime, try not to dawdle or get distracted.

Vintage lace wedding cake by Juniper Cakery

04: Say no to pre-coloured!

Make your work unique and extra customised by colouring your fondant from scratch. It’ll hurt, but it’s worth it. The only pre-coloured fondant you should be OK with purchasing is white (duh), cream, red and black (the last two because they are ridiculously hard to colour!). Learn your colour mixes, theory and wheel too – it’ll be invaluable!

We recommend…

Peony Ruffle Wedding Cake by Juniper Cakery

05: More is more!

Pleats around the base of otherwise perfectly iced cakes are a nightmare. You can easily get rid of these just by using and rolling out more fondant than you need. Pleats generally happen when you don’t have enough fondant to stretch, pull out or work with once you’ve reached the base of the cake.  Use extra and make sure that you work and cover the cake all the way to the bottom before cutting off any excess!

25th June 2016 // 0 Comments

10 Seriously Fun Baking Ideas and Tools for Summer Sweets!

Summer is officially here everyone! Obviously whipping up a flurry of fun and fancy treats for weekend BBQs is a must for most of us so we thought we’d compile a list of some insanely cool things we’ve spotted that’s bound to make your cakes and cupcakes stand out from the crowd this season! From baking bubblegum flavoured cupcakes (OMG yes) to adding rainbow sprinkles onto everything… we’ve got it covered!

Top 10 baking ideas and tools for Summer

10 Seriously Fun Baking Ideas and Tools for Summer Sweets!

01: Anything ice cream inspired!

Who could refuse a cupcake nestled into an adorable striped cup just like a frosty/creamy treat? No-one that’s who. They’re bound to get the party in full swing. The added bonus is that they’re perfect for grown ups as well as kids. You can even use these cute cups for servings of candy, mini chocolate chip cookies or even sweet macarons!

Rainbow stripe ice cream style cupcake cups by Talking Tables

02: Ice cream maker!

Imagine making your own homemade ice cream to fill cakes with, scoop into ice cream parlour cups or sandwich macarons with too! We love the thought of creating fruity sorbets or super creamy gelato for BBQ party guests. Get creative with flavours and textures by using caramels, fruits and delicious cookie crumbles! Whip up ice box cakes filled with luxurious gelato or accompany tropical decorated sugar cookies with daiquiri inspired sorbet ices.

Plum pink ice cream maker by Andrew James

03: Sprinkles!

If you’re a novice when it comes to decorating cakes, cookies or cupcakes then sprinkles are the easiest a least time consuming option. Wow guests instantly with something bright or fun shaped. Something like oversized rainbow nonpareil sprinkles are perfect for adding dots of colour to vanilla cupcakes or add a little extra playfulness to a freshly baked rainbow layer cake.

Giant rainbow nonpareil sprinkles by Wilton

04: Rainbow cupcake cases!

Planning a cool party this summer complete with a tempting dessert table? Bake your cupcakes in an array of rainbow coloured cases, swirl with coloured buttercream to match each case and arrange in waves of colour on white cake stands for a gorgeously sweet spread. Again, if you’re a beginner at cake decorating keep it simple and easy and opt for fun sprinkles or cool cases to dress up your treats.

Rainbow cupcake cases by Wilton

05: Cocktail-inspired for the grown-ups!

If you’re throwing a cool shindig for a grown-up crowd then baking up boozy flavour treats is still a pretty popular option. Up the fun kitsch factor with wedges of fruit, cut down swizzle sticks (aka cocktail stirrers) and these insanely cute rainbow cocktail umbrellas! They’re also different enough to stand out more than usual on a bright dessert table too which we love.

Rainbow stripe cocktail umbrellas

06: Bright colours!

Good food colouring can make all the difference in baking and decorating gorgeous sweets. Avoid supermarket liquid food colours as not only can they take A LOT just to get a hint of colour, but they also tend to make batter runnier which leads to some odd and flat bakes! Concentrated gel or paste colours are the way to go.

Our favourite colours to use by Rainbow Dust include…  Strawberry (which creates a more subtle and natural yellow toned pink), Grey (amazing… no odd green tinge, purple or blue tinted grey at all), Black (again… no blue, green or purple tints), PurpleClaret (a beautiful red/pink shade), EucalyptusCreamOlive GreenMint GreenPeach and a dramatic Navy Blue.

Rainbow Dust ProGel Professional Food Colouring Set – Summer Colours

07: Flamingo anything!

In case you’ve not noticed flamingos are doing the rounds in the fashion and design world right now along with palm leaf prints and pineapples! Why not dress your cupcakes or a small buttercream cake with bright meringue kisses, berries and adorable flamingo picks.

Pink flamingo cupcake picks

08: KitchenAid Mixer!

If you’re going to get serious about creating delicious cakes, cupcakes and cookies you’re going to need to invest in one of these beauties. We’ve gone through countless branded stand-up mixers and the KitchenAid (either Classic, Artisan or Heavy Duty) is the only one that has stood the test of time and usage. There’s also so many incredible attachments that you can get creative with! Why not press your own pasta/lasagna with the pasta roller, churn your own ice cream with the ice cream maker attachment or use the spiraliser to make ‘courgetti’!

Bright pink stand-up mixer by KitchenAid

09: Novelty flavours!

Novelty candy-inspired flavourings are a sure fire hit. We love chocolate bar-inspired treats like our Snickers cupcake or gorgeous frappé finished with toasted marshmallow whipped cream. Summer is obviously THE perfect time to serve up anything fun in terms of flavour (think bubblegum, s’mores or cotton candy) from chic macarons to homemade marshmallows.

Bubblegum flavouring by Foodie Flavours

10: Amusing spatulas and bakeware!

Having good basic staple bakeware and utensils is great, but one or two fabulously fun and novelty items are going to brighten up your day right? Well, what about this amazing cupcake shaped spatula? We love it. It’s the perfect gift for the baker in your life and it’s also cool enough to keep any kids amused too.

Pink cupcake shaped spatula by FoxRun

12th March 2016 //

Our Top 10 Tools and Tips for Easy Easter Cakes & Cupcakes!

Top Tools and Tips for Easter Cakes and Cupcakes

Easter is coming and of course it pretty much marks the arrival of Spring! All those fresh blooms, adorable baby animals and pastel sweets will be finding their way around the shops and café windows nearby. As Easter tends to be a family centred holiday it’s pretty easy to run out of time to whip up flurries of tastebud tingling desserts and snacks. There’s no need to stress out though as baking and decorating pretty Easter inspired sweets can be made easy with a few essential tools, tips and quick decorative ideas.

01: Novelty cupcake cases!

Using printed or colour themed cupcake cases is definitely one of the easiest and quickest ways to make home baked treats look instantly seasonal and fun! All you need to do is dollop your batter evenly between the cases and bake before swirling with pretty buttercream and topping with cute edible fondant animals or sprinkles. We recommend that you use 65gsm cases as they tend to be thicker and keep shape a lot better than most!

Pink Polka Dot Cupcake Cases

02: Cute cupcake toppers!

If you’re pressed for time or a complete novice at cake decorating than any form of ready-made topper is going to be a life saver. You can purchase icing sheet decorations, cake picks or even fun food safe cupcake rings that’ll make your home made cupcakes stand out. We love these adorable little bunny rabbit toppers. They’d look a treat nestled into green tinted frosting dotted with miniature easter eggs or sugar sprinkles.

Easter Cupcake and Cake Toppers 

03: Perfect mixing bowls!

Good sturdy mixing bowls (in gorgeous colours of course) are a staple in home baking. Buy cheap and you’ll get cheap should become a tool buying mantra. Mason Cash have a beautiful range of ceramic bowls in various sizes that are perfect for hand mixing scones, cookie dough and buttercream amongst a million other things. We also love the larger sizes for the arduous  macaronage part of macaron making (combining the dry and wet ingredients)! The choice of lovely soft pastel colours is obviously going to contribute to that Easter baking feeling too!

Pink Ceramic Hearts Mixing Bowl

04: Good food colouring!

Good food gel or paste colouring is the only way to go. Liquid is just going to end up being an absolute pain. We use Rainbow Dust’s range of Pro Gel colours for anything from fondant to batter. Our favourite colours by Rainbow Dust include…  Strawberry (which creates a more subtle and natural pink), Grey (amazing… no strange green, purple or blue tinted grey at all), Black (again… no blue, green or purple tints), PurpleClaret (a beautiful red/pink shade), EucalyptusCreamOlive GreenMint GreenPeach and Navy Blue.

Rainbow Dust ProGel Professional Food Colouring Set – Summer Colours

05: Fun cupcake kits!

To make quick cupcakes even easier and pain free cupcake kits are readily available everywhere and in incredibly cute designs too! We love this colourful little set by Wilton with it’s bright stripe cupcake cases and illustrated bunny and chick toppers.

Wilton Hop N Tweet Party Pack Combo [Kitchen]

06: Delicious extracts, essences and pastes!

Obviously flavour matters. Decorating beautiful cupcakes and cakes that taste lacklustre is going to be a huge let down at the dinner table so make sure to invest in good quality natural extracts, essences and pastes! We love adding some damn good Madagascan vanilla bean paste to a lot of our recipes. Adding to chocolate can really up the creamy taste and when paired with more tangy flavours like a lemon curd filling it adds another dimension of flavour as well as softens the tang!

Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, 118ml

07: Adorable cupcake and cake boxes!

If you’re thinking of packing up your treats for guests to take away from an Easter dinner party or if you’d just like to drop them off as season gifts then fun Spring themed boxes are going to be a must! Whether you’re opting for plain pastel cupcake boxes or super cute bunny patterned cookie bags you’re going to want to compliment your works of culinary art. Our top tip is to balance out the designs… if you’ve made a cupcakes with lots of intricate detailing try to stick to a plainer design box and if you’ve whipped up a simple buttercream cake you can afford to go crazy on an illustrated cake box!

Easter Funny Bunny Cupcake Boxes – Pack of 4

08: Seasonal ribbon!

Add some extra seasonal sweetness to those boxed (or bagged up) treats with a hand-tied bow! Easter themed ribbon featuring pastel eggs, baby chicks and cheeky bunnies is a great way to go, but you could always use plain pale coloured bows or even fun pastel rainbow ribbons adorning every packaged sweet!

‘Happy Easter’ 5M Cotton Ribbon

09: Sprinkles!

Sprinkles are super fun. Not only can you simply sprinkle them on top of freshly buttercreamed cakes and cupcakes you can also set up an amazing ‘cupcake bar’! Bake and frost plain cupcakes before setting them onto small round paint palettes (that are brand new) and fill the paint sections in with lots of bright sprinkles and candies. When it’s party time invite your guests to pick a cupcake palette and get sprinkling!

You can also easily make edible grass to pile on top of your cakes and cupcakes using sprinkles! One way involves using bright green sugar strand sprinkles (or jimmies as they’re called in the US). Add these on top of tasty chocolate buttercream smothered treats before nestling eggs and sweets on top! You can also create edible grass from desiccated coconut. To tint the coconut pieces green add them to a zip-lock or freezer bag along with edible green petal dust and shake until covered!

50g Assorted Coloured Sugar Strands

10: Pastel spatulas!

Perfect to use with those ceramic mixing bowls we mentioned at number 03 on the list. An array of colour themed spatulas can not only be handy (no pun intended) for colour coding your work, but they’re great for getting into any festive spirit. For Easter use soft pinks, teals and lilacs or for winter-y Christmas baking use deep greens and jolly reds!

Kitchen Craft Colourworks Silicone Mini Spoon Spatula, 20 cm – Pastel Green

5th March 2016 // 0 Comments

5 Tips for Perfect Buttercream!

5 Tips for Perfect Buttercream

Buttercream is one of those things that seems oh so simple until it comes to making it. It’s too easy to mess up and get the balance of ingredients terribly wrong. Too much butter can create a runny mess in the summer and taste a little too savoury. Too much sugar means stiff and gritty buttercream that looks unappealing. For silky smooth frosting follow our top 5 tips for perfect buttercream that’ll make your cakes the cream of the crop!

5 tips for perfect buttercream!

Pink vanilla cupcakes by Juniper Cakery

01: Softened butter only!

Make sure to use room temperature / softened butter to make your buttercream. It makes sense. Chilled butter just won’t cream or mix to a lovely silky texture. Room temperature translates at around 20 degrees C (that’s 68 degrees in F) for those of us in a chilly or insanely hot climate. If you live in the Yukon and your actual room temperature is 8 degrees C still aim for 20 degrees C butter!

02: Don’t over whip!

Mixing or whipping your buttercream way too much can mean lots of unsightly bubbles. Not only are these not so nice on an otherwise pretty bakery style cake, but they’re a nightmare when it comes to piping on top of cupcakes. Imagine bagging up all that buttercream and piping all your cupcakes only for those swirls to get messy and interrupted just because of massive air bubbles in the frosting. Tsk. Tsk. Two essential tools for whipping up perfect buttercream that we couldn’t live without are *drumroll*… a KitchenAid Stand-Up Mixer and our Mason Cash spatula!

Pink lemonade macarons by Juniper Cakery

03: Avoid artificial flavourings!

Not only are artificial flavourings quite icky and chemical in taste (seriously, they’re called artificial so they’re going to taste pretty fake compared to the real deal), but they just don’t help with buttercream texture. You want to use a flavourant that does help cultivate a silky look and feel to your frosting. Extracts are generally oil based which adds a little extra lubricant to your buttercream; perfect for smoothness! Things like vanilla bean paste can really help too as the paste is generally the texture of runny honey; also perfect for adding some smooth factor (plus those tiny flecks of pure vanilla just scream luxury). Essences, if they’re good quality, can also help keep your buttercream silky!

Some of our ultimate favourites include Uncle Roy’s Toffee Caramel, Uncle Roy’s Passion FruitUncle Roy’s Raspberry Extract, Nielsen Massey Lemon Oil Extract, and Nielsen Massey Vanilla Bean Paste!

04: Test different butters!

Don’t buy whatever is on offer just to save money. Not only will you not understand the butter you’re working with, but you’ll end up changing brands and being insanely inconsistent all the time. Test lots of butters or buttermilk based spreads (steer clear of low fat as they contain higher ratios of water which is a definite no for buttercream as water takes away stability when means floppy and curdled looking frosting) to find the perfect butter for you.

Tips for perfect buttercream by Juniper Cakery

05: Less sugar!

The last of our 5 tips for perfect buttercream is simple. You can tell bad and overly sweet frosting by just looking at it. It’s stiff as a rock and the edges aren’t smooth they’re ragged. Adding way to much sugar into your buttercream not only makes it sickly sweet and almost inedible it also makes it hard to pipe and just plain ugly. Cut back on your icing sugar. Taste test it too. We generally add in around 1 part icing sugar to 2 parts butter for our silky buttercream. To keep a track on all the ingredients you’re using in your buttercream we’d strongly recommend investing in a good pair of digital scales!

 

 


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