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Holiday Giving

Interested in starting a cookie exchange at work or hosting one at home, but don’t exactly know what to do? Cookie swaps and exchanges are a great way to have some friends over for the holiday and load up on sweets and catch up on all the dish. Let the following cookie exchange experts help you out:

It is never too late to share a cookie. Don’t fret if you can’t squeeze the cookie exchange in before the holiday season melts away… start planning now for your Valentine’s Day cookie swap and you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Not into baking but looking for a way to give back? Why not consider making a donation to the “Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale,” sponsored by Domino Sugar and C&H. This national campaign “mobilizes Americans to end childhood hunger by holding bake sales (and cookie swaps) in their communities.” Pretty cool what a cookie can do.

 

Photo credit: saflora

King Arthur Flour

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You know they make superior baking flour, but King Arthur Flour offers so much more to the baking enthusiast.                                            

Need some professional guidance when it comes to batch costing or the correct dough temperature? Maybe you just need a little help when it comes to selecting the proper flour for your baking needs.

If you are looking to improve your baking skills they offer free online classes! Learn how to make and decorate a family favorite, a gingerbread house.   

If your holiday baking repertoire needs a boost, check out the Christmas recipes and the Gift Giving recipesThe Bakers’ Banter blog offers some great ideas, too.

Speaking of ideas…they have a great program that teaches children to bake and help feed those who are in need. The Life Skills Bread Baking Program is a wonderful mixture of education and philanthropy. The program is free to schools in the Midwest and Northeast regions (grades 4-7). The kids attend a 50 minute assembly program that teaches them the science of baking and the joy of sharing. They are given enough supplies to make two loaves of bread, one to make and share with their family, and one to make and donate to a local organization chosen by the school. The program has an application process. 

When you need some companionship from your fellow bakers, join the Baking Circle online community and share recipes, tips, and receive special offers from King Arthur. Don’t forget to sign up for their free eNewsletter and you’ll never miss out on new product announcements, recipes, and sales.

Finally, if you can’t coax the yeast to rise, conquer the flour confusion, or create a mirror image of the featured recipe, give the professionals a call. Ring the Bakers’ Hotline and you’ll receive free product support and advice. How awesome is that?

Another Awesome Fact: They don’t use GMO wheat.

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Photo credits: King Arthur Flour

Ready, Set, Bake!

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You’ve made it past the Thanksgiving hump, akin to Wednesday, the mid-week hump, and now you are faced with December–the month of baking and eating. For some, the baking and eating are purely spectator sports, and for others, the month of December offers a chance for full hand-to-flour contact.

Family gatherings, gifts for friends, coworkers, and neighbors can get your oven humming and your home smelling like a bakery. Worried you won’t have enough ideas, recipes, or skills to carry out the holiday season? Don’t worry, there are some wonderful resources available that will help get you through the holidays with a smile on your face.

Join us for the month of December as we guide you through the maze of holiday baking.

 

Photo credit: Per Hardestam

ICES ’09 is coming to Illinois. The International Cake Exploration Societe has scheduled their 34th convention for July 30th – August 2, 2009 in St. Charles, Illinois.

There will be demonstrations, cake book authors, vendors for cake supplies, displays of member creations and a few field trips. There will be off site tours to Wilton Industries, The French Pastry School, and three local Chicago bakeries. Wonder if one of them is featured on the Amazing Wedding Cakes show?

Have you attended an ICES convention before? Want to share some photos here?

Some of the most difficult cake decorating challenges can be solved by some of the great “printables” sites that are available to all, free of charge. Whether you are in need of a creative spark to help you pull together a professional or family celebration, these sites can offer the inspiration you need to link the theme, invitations, design, and set up. Sometimes we just need that creative boost. One such site is Kaboose. They have information for holidays, birthdays, and all the days in between that deserve to be celebrated.

In need of some birthday guidance? From the invitations to the cake design, you can’t go wrong when incorporating birthday printables into your research.

We’ve often been in a position where we needed a physical representation of an item or an odd-shaped box. Mirkwood Designs is a wonderful resource for templates for boxes, cards, baskets and envelopes.  

While these sites may not be a traditional method for inspiration, they are bound to spark a new interest or design that you can turn into beautiful edible art.

Have any sites to share? As this site matures we hope to provide a comprehensive list of sites that are helpful and inspirational.

Cake decorators are asked to create cakes out of every image, design, or character one can imagine. Like the time we were asked to “work the Enron logo” into a baby shower cake. A request like that can make you want to ask a long list of questions, but somehow, you’re not sure you want to know. Some ideas turn out brilliantly, and well… others are best left on the drawing board. We’ve all been there. All one can do is just laugh it off and learn from our mistakes.

Sometimes, as Jen at Cake Wrecks illustrates, it isn’t always the hideous colors or poor design skills that ruin a cake, the “wreck” is often in the details. Wreck-worthy details include odd concepts for a cake design, and unintelligible messages riddled with punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors.

Check out an interview with Jen over at Cakelava.

While we may wish our cakes never grace her pages, if you don’t work yourself into a fit of giggles when you view this site, all pastry tools should be removed from your hands. Cake decorating without a sense of humor is not allowed.

Were you ever asked to create a cake that you knew would not…ahem…”translate” well? Received some odd cake requests that you just didn’t know how to work into a cake? Let’s hear about’em.

It’s that time of year, when resolutions and plans start to come to mind and make us take action. Perhaps you are acting on the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, or maybe you are looking toward the future and wondering what steps you need to take to make your future dreams come true. Either way, you need a plan. Here is an interesting example of a business plan found at MoreBusiness.com. It can serve as a good example of what information you need to gather when composing a business plan.

Something cute for those spooky mornings on the horizon. Anything to make breakfast a “must have meal” is a good thing to me.