Baking. It’s never been my thing. But if it were, I’d like to think I could make something as lovely as these cupcakes and put them in a pretty little box to admire. What? You didn’t really think I made those, did you? Sorry to disappoint, but like I said, I’m not much of a baker. I mean sure, when I was a kid I liked making chocolate chip cookies like most kids, although to be honest I think I just liked the promise of eating raw cookie dough. Anyhoo, today is World Baking Day so in honor of the day, I’ve collected a few of my favorite baked-goods recipes, of which some are vegan and some are almost vegan. But first, before you scroll down and see what the lovely treats, here’s an excerpt from an interview I did a few years ago with none other than The Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro.
It was a few weeks before the holiday season so he enlightened me with tips for baking holiday treats (listed below). And though admittedly I’m not a baker, like at all, I can’t help but be inspired to make something knowing I’d have his guidance … so, the Pride connection … and about that rainbow cake … this past weekend my dear friend hosted a small gathering of friends in honor of Pride and to help celebrate, he ordered this amazing cake from Valastro’s New Jersey hotspot, Carlo’s Bakery. And the verdict—D. E. L. I. C. I. O. U. S. Anyway, read on for five tips from Buddy.
“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.” ~ Buddy Valastro
BUDDY VALASTRO’S BAKING TIPS
1. Know your oven temperature: Baking in a home oven isn’t as easy as baking in a commercial one—which is why you need to check your oven’s temperature. “Use an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven at 350 degrees,” says The Boss. “Place the thermometer on the center rack and watch it.” Edible Tip: You can spend upwards of $25 for an oven thermometer, but the $4.70 Cooper Atkins 24HP is reliable and accurate and can be found in the home kitchens of many professional bakers—a sound investment for yours too!
2. Raise, or lower, baking temperature depending on desired outcome: “If your cake comes out too flat, try lowering the temperature by 25 degrees,” says The Boss. Likewise, if you want it to crest, raise it 25 degrees—BUT pay attention to baking times as you might have to adjust those as well. Edible Tip: If your recipe says to cook cupcakes at 350 degrees for 20 minutes but they come out flat try baking them at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.
3. Bake on the center rack: Whether you’re baking cookies, cake, muffins, bread—or anything for that matter—you should always bake on the center rack. “Use the center rack,” says The Boss, “whether your oven’s convection or otherwise. Always use the center rack. Always.”
4. Freeze thin sheet cakes to make the perfect holiday yule log: Bake vanilla sheet cakes on parchment paper to be ¼ inch thick when done. “Grease the pan before lining it with parchment paper,” recommends The Boss. That way, he explains, it will stay in place when you add the batter. Freeze cake(s) in parchment paper until ready to use. Thaw, sprinkle with crushed peppermint sticks then “peel” the paper as you start to tightly roll the cake into a log shape. Cover with chocolate icing or ganache and you have an impressive yule log to share with your guests. Enjoy!
5. Make your Christmas cookie dough in September: “Frozen cookie dough has a shelf life of two to four months,” says The Boss, which makes them one of the easiest and time-friendly items to bake for the holidays. Shape cookie dough into balls, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, store in an airtight container. When you’re ready to bake, thaw them to room temperature and bake as directed.
Originally published by Edible Communities, Edible Indy
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