Daily Inspiration-Doing it and Doing it and Doing it Well

Motivational inspirational quote

Motivational inspirational quote

There are times in life when we want something so bad, but we just don’t put the work in to get it.  Whether its getting a good grade in school, starting a business part time or writing that screen play, you have to put the work in.

It’s not enough to say, “I want to start a business”.  In fact, it’s better that you don’t say what you want.  The brain has a funny way of making us think we’ve actually accomplished something when all we’ve done is talk about to all of our friends.

Bottom line is, if you want to do something, do it.  Once you start doing it, do it as well as you can.

How to Make Cake from Scratch-11 Tips for Success

How to make a cake from scratch
How to make a cake from scratch

How to make a cake from scratch

With modern equipment and access to professional ingredients, baking a cake from scratch is easier than ever.  No matter what cake recipe you see in a magazine or pin on pinterest, there are a few universal rules that you need to follow before you even think about preheating your oven.

Baking can be overwhelming or it can be overwhelmingly successful and fun if you get your stuff together. There are 11 things you need to know because successful cake baking will depend on your knowledge and preparation.

  1. Read your recipe carefully and make sure you understand all the steps.  Do you have all of the ingredients the recipe calls for?  Do you have the right kind of pans in the correct sizes?  Do you have enough time to complete the recipe uninterrupted?
  2. Use the best ingredients you can find, if you want the best tasting cake.  No you don’t have to get Amish butter that costs $12/pound, but don’t use butter powder!  (If you didn’t even know there was such a thing as powdered butter consider yourself lucky.)  Using fresh eggs, real cream & high quality vanilla extract will make all the difference in the world.
  3. Don’t make any substitutions when you are working with a new recipe.  After you have successfully made a recipe once, then you can experiment with it one ingredient at a time.
  4. In most cake recipes, all of your ingredients should be at room temperature.  Recipes usually specify this, but if yours doesn’t, know that room temperature ingredients incorporate more thoroughly and evenly.
  5. Place measured ingredients on wax paper or a flexible work surface like the one I used in this video if it makes sense to do so.  Doing this instead of putting everything in individual bowls will save you from having to wash a ton of dishes later.
  6. Have all of your ingredients measured and ready.  When it comes time to mix everything, you won’t waste time fumbling around with measuring spoons. Before you measure things out, you’ll want to preheat your oven unless your specific recipe says otherwise.
  7. When working with an electric mixer, know that moist ingredients can be mixed at a higher speed.  Dry ingredients and ingredients that are heavy, like dried fruit and nuts, should be started at a lower mixer speed so they don’t fly out of the mixer bowl and into every orifice and crevice of your kitchen.
  8. Know your oven.  Some ovens run hot, some run cold.  If your oven is still under warranty, you can have it calibrated by a service person. If that’s not an option, you can buy an oven thermometer for less that $10 and use that thermometer as your guide instead of the temperature dial on your oven. Center your cakes and space them evenly to ensure proper heat circulation.
  9. Don’t fill your cake pans more than 1/2 – 2/3 full or you run the risk of spills.
  10. Always test for doneness by using a skewer or a toothpick.  Don’t always rely on the time stated in the recipe because it can vary based on your oven.  The skewer should come out clean.  If wet batter covers the skewer, the cake needs more time in the oven. Butter cakes usually pull away from the sides of the pan a bit when they are done, so look for that too.
  11. Use the right type of flour.  Some recipes call fro all purpose, some call for cake flour.  Be sure you are using the right one.  Self rising cake flour is available too and is essentially cake flour with the salt and baking powder already added.

I hope these tips help you the next time you want to bake a cake.  If you need some step by step video recipes I have a graham cracker cake recipe and a super easy one bowl cake recipe that is perfect for beginners.

7 tips for grocery shopping like a boss.

Grocery shopping tips
Grocery shopping tips

Grocery shopping tips

Shopping for food can be fun or it can be a burden. It totally depends on how you go about it. If you go out shopping without much planning or without a list, it will almost definitely be a burden. But if you think of grocery shopping as a way to eat real food and spend a little time doing some advanced planning, you may even look forward to your weekly shopping trips. Here are 7 tips for going grocery shopping like a boss.

1. Begin shopping from your favorite chair. Start shopping before you even think of entering a grocery store. Look online and see whats fresh, in season and on sale. Look through the grocery store ads that come in the mailbox too, to see if there are any deals you can work in your weekly meal plans.

2. Make a menu plan for the week based on whats in sale, but be flexible. The menu plan doesn’t have to be written in stone.

3. Make your shopping list based on what you plan to prepare for the week, being sure to include items needed for breakfasts and lunches you intend on packing.

4. Check pantry staples before shopping to make sure you have the basics. You don’t want to get halfway through a recipe only to find out you ran out of white pepper. Its easier to restock pantry staples one at a time than all at once. Grab a PDF printable pantry list here.

5. Use a service like e-meals if you don’t want to do all this work by hand. They even have menu plans based on what the store has on sale for that week. This type of service is great for families who don’t have too many individual dietary restrictions.

6. Go shopping during off peak hours.  This may be difficult depending on your work schedule, but shopping at 2 pm during a weekday or Saturday morning as soon as the store opens may be good times.  I know you want to sleep in, but it may be worth it to get your shopping out of the way. You can always go back to sleep when you get back home. :)

7. Shop with a list. I know I said it in #3, but it needs repeating. Even a quick list typed out on you phone is better than nothing. My goal is to shop once per week. If you find yourself at the grocery store every day after work, you can definitely save lots of time and energy by writing out a list and grabbing all of the things you need one time per week. What do you do to minimize time spent in the grocery store? Tell me right here.

3 Yeast Baking Questions Answered

Yeast Baking

 

Yeast Baking

Yeast Baking

Yeast baking is scary for some people but it’s really easy if you know what to expect.  Here are a few common questions about yeast baking that beginners tend to ask.  If you have another question on yeast baking that isn’t answered here feel free to ask on my Facebook page.

Q: Do you think fresh yeast is better than dry yeast?

A: Well it really depends on how much baking you are doing.  Fresh yeast is great because it dissolves easily and it tastes more “yeasty” than dried yeast.  If you aren’t doing a lot of baking, fresh yeast may end up going to waste if you don’t use it all fast enough.  Fresh yeast can also be a bit difficult to find, but you can check in your grocers refrigerated section near the eggs.

Q: I’m afraid to work with yeast. How can I make sure I get a good result?

A: Yeast is easy to work with but lots of people have unfounded fears toward it.  Like anything, it takes practice.  If you have never worked with yeast doughs before, I suggest you try baking a batter yeast bread first.  Batter breads require no kneading, but still give you the satisfaction that you’ve baked something.

Q:  Can yeast doughs be frozen raw?

A: To get an idea what foods can and cannot be frozen, take a stroll down your frozen food  aisle at your local grocery store.  It’ll be a revelation!  There are frozen yeast doughs available for purchase, so you can freeze doughs you make at home.  Some recipes may need a little extra yeast added to ensure it rises the way you want after its thawed out.

Another option, is to par bake or partially bake your dough after you’ve shaped it, then freeze it.  When you are ready to serve the bread, either thaw and finish baking or bake from frozen.

If you are ready to start baking fresh bread in your kitchen, then be sure to get your hands on my free e-Cookbook with over 30 pages of easy bread recipes.