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A little splash of color can make an ordinary cake into something a lot more fun. The next time you happen to be baking a cake for a birthday or the 4th of July, here is a little hint that can liven things up.
When mixing the cake batter, take a handful of jimmies, sprinkles, or whatever you know them as, and drop them in the mix. These are normally used as a topping for ice cream or on frosted donuts, but when included in the cake batter they become festive treats.
The sprinkles melt into the cake, providing splashes of color everywhere when the cake comes out of the oven. Throw in some green for St. Patrick's Day or a little red for Valentine's Day. They make great cake decorations.
The same thing can be done with any sauces you cook up to drizzle over the cake as well. It can also be a slightly cheaper alternative to food coloring. Now you have an easy to make red, white and blue cake for Independence day.
Making a great sauce for a cake can be one of the easiest things in the world to do. All you need is a little chocolate, some of your favorite fruit, water and a few minutes. In no time you will be drizzling a dazzling sauce over a freshly baked cake.
Start with a large bag of chocolate chips. You can even go with white chocolate if you are feeling a little adventurous. Double boil the chocolate on your stove top until it is melted and gooey.
Then take some of that fruit mentioned earlier. If your favorite fruit happens to be raspberries, drop a handful into the chocolate and stir thoroughly. Heat it on low for another 30-60 seconds and you have a delicious chocolate raspberry sauce. Be careful not to leave it on for too long and burn it.
Now pour it over your cake and you are good to go. Throw a few more raspberries on top as tasty cake decorations and see how many compliments you get. This can be done with other fruits like blueberries or blackberries, and you can even substitute the chocolate chips with your favorite candy bar.
The best ingredients for baking a cake or cooking anything really, are the freshest ones you can find. Fruit, for example, can be used in some of the best cakes and desserts you can make. But they can be pretty expensive when you drive to your local supermarket.
So how can you save money and still get the freshest ingredients for your chocolate raspberry cake? The best thing to do is find the nearest farmer's market. Here you can find the freshest fruits and vegetables around for a fraction of the price charged at the supermarket.
Why pay close to $5 for half a dozen oranges when you can get the same amount for $1. The quality is often much better and the prices are much lower. Even if you have to do a little traveling to get to the nearest farmer's market, it can still be cheaper and taste better.
If you are in New England, take a trip to Boston's Haymarket. If you are on the west coast there are dozens of these treasure troves all over the place. Farmer's markets all over the country are one of the best kept secrets today. Find out what fruits your latest cake recipes call for and save yourself some money.
When you make a cake for a special occasion presentation can be very important. Maybe you want to take wedding cake pictures before a reception. Cutting the cake can be just as important as everything you have done leading up to that point. So how do you get neatly cut pieces and avoid mounds of crumbs or a piled mess of cake on someone's plate?
First, make sure to use either a specially made non-stick pan or platter for serving, or place a sheet of wax paper between the cake and platter. This stops the cake from sticking to the dish when you are trying to serve it.
Another easy trick that people tend to forget is heating the knife. “Like a hot knife through butter” is a saying we have all heard. And there is a reason for that. Run the blade of your cutting knife under hot water for 15-30 seconds and then gently wipe away excess water with a paper towel.
Now you have a hot (but not too hot) knife that should cut right through the cake without sticking or leaving behind messy crumbs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|