Category Archives: About

Dessert Comes First – Baking Mini’s

Mini desserts, what could be better? You get all the yummy taste but in little bite size pieces! I love mini desserts of all kinds. I think they are so cute. So when Dottie Dee showed me this blog it immediately peaked my interest:

I’m deeply suspicious of miniature pastries, “mini me’s” of their more massively sized counterparts. For me, the allure of the undersized is in fooling oneself about the quantity consumed; before you know it, the box’s contents have been decimated. Read the full article here…

What do you think about mini-sized desserts?

 

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Pink Cake Box – Rose Wedding Cupcake Cake Tower

Cupcakes Plain and Fancy – Cupcake Stands

We work hard to master/invent the perfect recipes, then practice to get the look and icing just right, but we often forget about the cupcake presentation. Here is a great post from Cupcakes Plain and Fancy about cupcake stands. They have something for everyone:

Individual Cupcake Stands

Cardboard cupcake stands or cupcake trees are fairly plain unless some thought goes into making them pretty. The good news is you can very easily dress up a plain-jane stand with a few simple items. The other thing is these stands come in round or square tier shapes. Compared to other options, these stands are fairly inexpensive. It’s amazing how something so basic can turn out to be so fancy. Take a look at the ideas here to find your inspiration!

My favorites are the individual cupcake stands, of course the option that is likely to be the most work 🙂
What about you? What is your favorite way for cupcakes to be displayed?

Food Photography Workshop

Our little site doesn’t have a wide reach, but if someone from the Philippines happens to be reading, please take special note!

Mark Floro (well-sought after food photographer) and Dessert Comes First are holding a food photography workshop in Taguig City on September 10, 2011. If it wasn’t for the fact that it on the other side of the world (we are located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) I would be there in a heart beat. Not only does the workshop provide a great opportunity to fine tune your photography skills Mark Floro is also going to assist by critiquing some of your existing food photos to help you learn, and you get a catered lunch by Chef Ed Quimson!

Photography is something we are always working on here. Gramma Dot’s is a family business, and we have some great bakers and chefs in this family, but no professional photographers. Thankfully we do have the internet (what did people do back in the day?). We have a good camera (nothing of a professional level but definitely better than a point-and-shoot) and thanks to an online tutorial, we have a homemade photography tent. Let me tell you, the photography tents make a world of difference! During our next cupcake shoot I will be sure to take pictures to show you the comparison. But take my word for it, if you are taking pictures of small items, make/buy a photography tent/box.

Let us know about some of your experiences with food photography and any tips you may have!

Cupcake Bakeshop – All About Frosting

Chockylit at the Cupcake Bakeshop shares with us some recipes and tips for the best frosting and features: Chocolate Ganache (poured , spread, beaten and whipped), Buttercream (American, Swiss and Italian styles), Cream Cheese, Meringue Frosting and Whipped Cream. (Click here for the recipes)

Bake Lady – Top 10 Baking Tips

The Bake Lady shares her top 10 baking tips:

  1. Baking is a science so measure ingredients correctly
  2. Always use good quality ingredients
  3. Never mix the metric with imperial measurements
  4. Measure out all your ingredients first before you start, that way you will know what you’ve added or missed out (Read more…)

Dottie Dee – Baking During a Heat Wave

Blood Orange Mimosa Cupcake

Blood Orange Mimosa Cupcake

Wow, what a week! Business is picking up and last week we had the most work we’ve ever had. As a small fledgling business both my sister and I have about 3 different things going on at any one time including trying to build our own little Cupcake Empire. A special thanks to those who ordered this week. It was the source of some vital learning for us.

The first thing we learned is that when we get our store the kitchen with be air-conditioned. Our home hasn’t had AC in at least 5 years and living in Canada (specifically southern Ontario) we haven’t REALLY needed it. Sure there are a few days every summer when the heat paired with oppressive humidity has us melting but it’s usually short lived and the evenings bring relieve. Last week we had a torturous heat wave. With humidity the temperatures reached a blistering 49C (118F) on Thursday which was prep day 1 for us. Butter couldn’t be left out for more than a few minutes without melting which made making buttercream a significant challenge. Today I thought I’d share with you some suggestions for baking without AC in a heat wave.

1.Fans are your friends! We had no less than 3 fans running at all times. One to just circulate the air, one propped up in the window sucking the hot air out of the kitchen and another blowing right at us. Once the evenings started to get cooler than inside the house the window fan got flipped so it was blowing the air into the kitchen.

2.Do as much prep in advance as you can. Everything from mashing strawberries, zesting citrus fruit, draining pineapple or even just measuring ingredients helps cut the amount of time needed to actually make the batters and bake them. The least amount of time the oven is needed the better.

3.Cook on convection if possible. This worked for many reasons. Our oven is equipped with a built in fan the automatically goes on when the convect setting is selected. It also cut the baking time nearly in half. The only problem was that for our big cupcakes it cooked the tops before the centers were baked through. Now I like my cupcakes with a little golden top but I think I’m weird like that. So we ended up cooking the big ones regularly.

4.Keep your utensils and bowls cool. Since we had to wash between uses (obviously) we just left the mixing bowl filled with cold tap water with everything in it until the very last minute. This helped to keep the butter from melting and making the batter funky. It was so hot that the cooling would only last a few minutes but it was enough to get the butter creamed and other ingredients added properly.

5.Refrigerate the cupcakes. We all know that you have to cool your cakes thoroughly before icing them or your icing will turn into a nasty mess. On any other day, simply letting them cool out on the counter would have been just fine. Not last week. It took hours for a mini cupcake to cool if it did at all. Once the icings were made and bagged they got tossed in the fridge until the cupcakes were ready. When the moment was right everything would be pulled out and cupcakes iced. We were so hot that our hands warmed the icing enough to make it workable. As soon as everything was iced they went right back into the fridge.

6. When transporting use a cooler. I know this sounds like a silly point to make but it was needed. We put each order into a Pizza bag. They are meant to keep your pizza hot until it gets to your house but the same premise works for keeping cool items… cool. Thankfully every order got delivered with the cupcakes looking pretty and delicious.

There is no real tip on how to keep bakers cool while baking in a non- air-conditioned kitchen though. Just remember to drink like it is going out of style and take frequent breaks to try and cool off a little.

Sweetapolita – Tips About Icing

For every type of cake that can be made, there are as many infinite options for icing too. I love icing but it was one of the most tedious parts of the research and development for Gramma Dot’s Sweet Shoppe. How to get the best icing without using products that didn’t follow our own vision of making treats that taste great but don’t pack on needless calories and fat, or at least more than what can be expected. We use natural flavours as much as possible, use vegetable based food colourings if needed but try to have the colour be a authentic as possible. One of the other things we avoid is shortening. Which in the summer or anywhere really were heat is an issue is the only thing you can use that is virtually heat proof. But the next best thing is icing’s like Swiss or Italian Meringue Buttercream. They are far more heat tolerant than your standard buttercream. When I saw this blog I knew it was something well worth sharing. Sweetapolita has an awesome section near in the middle of the post that answers a bunch of questions about Swiss Meringue Buttercream. As an added benefit the cakes are pretty darn cute too!

A few quick facts about my deep and meaningful relationship with Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1. No, I didn’t invent SMB, but I love its not-too-sweet taste and satiny texture, and I use it for all of my wedding cakes, gourmet cakes, and even many casual cakes and cupcakes. I’m not an SMB expert, but I make it often, love it, and was taught how to make it by professionals at Bonnie Gordon Confectionary College in Toronto. (Read more…)

Epicurious – 10 Edible Flowers to Grow in Your Garden

The Epi-Log from Epicurious shares 10 edible flowers to grow in your garden:

For any gardener who likes to enjoy the fruits of their labor, growing and harvesting edible flowers makes perfect sense. You may already know how to use squash blossoms and rose petals but what about cooking with marigold, chive blossoms, and bee balm? (Read more…)

There is nothing better than cooking with herbs, vegetables or fruit grown in your own garden. What are your favorite things to grow?

Cupcake Blog – Gives Advice about Baking in Bulk

Cheryl from the Cupcake Blog is kind enough to share her experience about baking in bulk:

I baked for an event a month or so back and I had been thinking about posting just about that process. As I would heartily recommend to you, when baking for an event I stick to what I know. So, there are no new recipes or experiments to share – just the process that I go through when baking in bulk for events (Read more…)