Friday, February 27

A Cookbook for Everyone

I recently discovered Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. This cookbook is filled with amazing recipes, tips, and even lessons that correspond with the chapters. One of my favorite aspects of this cookbook is the fact that it has pictures of all the recipes. For me, every cookbook I buy must show pictures. How else am I supposed to know what the final product is supposed to look like? Also, having pictures just makes it more fun. Anyways, this cookbook is laid out very clearly and has really useful tips for beginers. Wether it be learning about tools or learning to select the perfect vegetables, this book really has it all. 

I am particularly fond of the dessert section in this book. She has some really simple and very classic desserts such as yellow butter cake with easy chocolate butter-creamdouble crust apple pie, chocolate souffle, and much more. the best thing about it is that every one has a picture for every step (REPEAT: EVERY STEP!!!!). GAhhhhhhh, so amazing. and the number in the corner corresponds to the step number. That is so beautiful that I could cry. I HIGHLY recommend that everyone purchase this book. 

I am looking forward to trying a few of these recipes and seeing if my results look as good as Martha's do! 

image source:

Monday, February 23

Spring Cupcakes

I almost died of happiness when I saw this picture...

These cupcakes are by Paula Hennig. Her flickr account has SO many gorgeous pictures of treats that I can hardly wait to go through them. Take a look at them by clicking on her name above. You may be inspired by some of her work. 

These cupcakes would be perfect for a spring garden party, tea, birthday party, wedding shower, baby shower, easter party, and so much more! 

I believe these are chrysanthemum flowers. the colors are really great because they are bright without being in-your-face neon. I am so excited to try and recreate these scrumptious looking cupcakes! 

A few Lessons I have learned over the years...

This is part one of a series of tips that I hope to continue throughout the next few months. 

#1 Always let the cake completely cool before trying to put frosting on it. If you don't, you will end up with frosting filled with crumbs. 

#2 Always cool cookies, cupcakes, and cakes on a wire rack. This ensures that they don't get all soggy. It is especially important for cookies because cooling them on a rack gives them a nice crisp texture and they won' fall apart when you pick them up.

#3 Bring butter and eggs to room temperature (unless the recipe says otherwise) for baking. A good way to bring butter to room temperature if you forgot to set it out before is to dice it into cubes on a plate and let it sit for a moment. This way, more surface is exposed to heat and it melts faster. NEVER put butter in the microwave to soften it. It will melt and the texture will not hold up frostings and batters. 

#4 Be sure to understand the difference between  4 Cups of Flour, Sifted and 4 Cups of Sifted Flour . Yes, it matters!  The first one calls for 4 cups of flours which you then sift. The second calls for sifted flour which you then measure out 4 cups of. 

#5 If you don't own a piping bag , you can always use a ziplock bag for applying frosting to cupcakes and cakes. All you have to do is put your frosting in a bag (you will need a larger size, like freezer bag size or something), zip it shut, and snip of the corner of one edge. Start by only cutting a small bit off and increase the size little by little. It's kind of a pain when you realize the hold is too big and you have to transfer all the frosting. 

Product Review: Sprinkles Cupcake Mix

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night yearning for a decadent cupcake, especially a Sprinkles Cupcake? Unless you had happened to go to Sprinkles that day, this would be a major dilemma. Sprinkles Cupcakes are almost a food group of their own. They were made famous years ago and basically started this whole Cupcake Craze that has taken over the world. 

I discovered Sprinkles Cupcake Mixes from Williams-Sonoma last year  and let me tell you, they have come in handy. They are easy to whip up in a second and they are really good. The cake is a little denser than grocery store cake mixes, which I really like because I find the grocery store ones wayyy to light and they always fall apart. Also, the Butter-cream frosting recipe that comes with the mix is the easiest thing ever! I have used it for the past year for other cupcakes and cakes and people really like it! I have only tried the vanilla and chocolate mixes but I know that Williams-Sonoma also carries red velvet, banana, and I think they used to have lemon. They also have some seasonal ones like chocolate peppermint for Christmas Time. 

Below are some photos of the vanilla cupcakes that I made a few months ago. I also added some moist coconut flakes on top to add some more flavor. I am basically addicted to coconut. *Baking Tip: Covering cakes and cupcakes with coconut is a great way to hide flaws if you are not fabulous at applying frosting! 

                                                    They even come with the little dots to stick on top! 
                                                                 Warning: Do not eat the dots.....they are pretty disgusting

Celebrating Mardi Gras!

Tomorrow, Feb 24th, is MARDI GRAS!!!!!!! 
It is also called "Fat Tuesday" and is the last day before Ash Wednesday or "lent". Many people fast during lent, usually giving up something that is hard for them to give up (like candy or fast food). I attempted to give up chocolate one year....that failed miserably. Anyways, this "Fat Tuesday" is a very big deal to one particular place called  NEW ORLEANS! Seriously, this place is home to some of the best food on the planet. One of the traditions that is celebrated in new Orelans is the making and consuming of the "Kings Cake" on Mardi Gras. 

The history of it is very interesting and you can read up about it on

Here is a recipe for a Kings Cake from Chef Emeril Lagasse 

  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 plastic king cake baby or a pecan half
  • 5 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles
Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk and warm water. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook. If the dough is uncooperative in coming together, add a bit of warm water (110 degrees), a tablespoon at a time, until it does.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the icing. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner's sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.

The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices with all the guests in attendance.

YIELD: 20 to 22 servings


Hello everyone! Welcome to my Confessions of a Bakeaholic blog. My name is Allison and this blog came to life as a part of my Senior Project for school. As you can probably tell by the name of my blog, I to bake. This blog is going to serve as a journal of some sorts as I learn to improve my baking techniques and learn advanced techniques that I've never tried (such as using fondant, sugar sculpting, tiered cakes, wedding cakes, etc...). I am going to be privately studying under a pastry chef and bringing my readers some insight into the world of baking. 

I am going to mainly be focusing on cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other baked goods along with the intricate process of decorating them with fondant, sugar sculpting, etc... For example, I normally would just bake a simple 2 layer yellow cake with butter-cream frosting BUT there is soooooo much more fun stuff beyond that. Even if you can't make a Betty Crocker cake mix to save your life, I hope you can learn some things from my blog. I will be teaching you not only some great recipes, but also you will be learning about baking tools and baking terminology. You may be asking, why does this person care so much about baking? Simple: 

#1  baking is an activity that bring me a lot of joy and confidence and my friends and family can enjoy the results
#2 It brings people together
#3 you can learn a lot about your family history through all those ancient index cards scribbled in hardly legible pen with your great-grandmothers secret apple pie recipe 
#4 cooking is a HUGE part of my family. anyone who knows my family will tell you that no one ever goes hungry at my house
#5 through baking I have learned perseverance, determination, and risk taking
#6 it tastes good
#7 IT'S FUN!!!
I'm just getting started on this whole "blog" thing so it may take me a few posts to figure out exactly how I am going to format my posts and post pictures. I hope to show pictures of ALL steps of whatever it is that I am baking or working on, along with clear and detailed explanations. If you have any suggestions (or even any requests for what to bake) please let me know!