How to Fry Meatballs

Meatballs is a delicious dish that is both satisfying and versatile. Meatballs can be eaten by themselves, on a sandwich, or with pasta, to name a few. In addition to their versatility, meatballs are relatively simple to make. The two most common ways to make meatballs (Italian meatballs) are baking and frying. Baking is a littler more forgiving because there is less of a risk of burning and of serving greasy meatballs. However, frying meatballs can give them a nice crust that cannot be achieved by baking. As such, frying, in my opinion, produces a tastier meatball. With that in mind, here are some tips to remember when frying meatballs so that they come develop a nice crust, stay moist, and not become greasy:

Use a High Temperature Oil

 Olive oil is very common in Italian cuisine, but it is not a good oil with which to fry. Olive oil has a low smoke point (which means is smokes a lower temperature than other oils) and as such, will need to be changed more often and can develop some pretty terrible flavors if it reaches too high a temperature. As such, your best bet is vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil. (If you have any peanut allergies, it is best to stay away from peanut oil). Although these other oils do not have the wonderful flavor of olive oil, your meatballs will cook better with these other oils.

Do Not Crowd Your Cooking Vessel

 A common mistake made by home cooks is that they crowd their pan when trying to fry. Putting too much food into your pan will drop the temperature of your oil. When your oil temperature drops too low, your run the risk of producing greasy food. Greasy food occurs when the oil in the pan is not hot enough to turn the water inside your food into steam. As such, oil seeps into your food and stays there. However, when the oil in your pan is hot enough to turn the water inside your food into steam, the steam escaping from your food pushes out and thus prevents oil from seeping in. Therefore, your food does not become greasy. This is known as a “dry fry.” If you want to produce a “dry fry,” space your food out and only do small batches at a time. This way, your oil temperature will not drop below the “greasy point.”

Do Not Put Too Much Oil in Your Cooking Vessel

 Another common mistake with home cooks is that they use too much oil in the pan. When you put food into your pan, the oil level will rise. As such, too much oil in your pan can cause an overflow. Hot oil falling onto your cook top and possible onto you is always a bad situation. Therefore, make sure that the oil in your pan does not pass the halfway point. By keeping the oil level in your cooking vessel at or below the halfway point, you can almost guarantee that the pan will not overflow.

Do Not Put the Meatballs Into the Oil Until it is Hot

 As stated above, frying food in oil that is not hot enough will produce greasy food. As such, make sure the oil is hot enough before you try to fry. You can test the temperature of the oil by sprinkling a tiny bit of bread crumbs into the oil to see if they start to immediately bubble and fry. Additionally, oil that is ready will look wispy and thin in your pan. Use this test and look for these signs before you start frying.

Follow these tips and you can produce mouthwatering meatballs that you, your friends, and your family will love.

Categories: Cooking

How to Make Banana Cake

Many people enjoy eating homemade baked goods; therefore, how to make a great banana cake is a plus for any one to learn. Banana Cake is a versatile recipe that is relatively simple to do. Generally, it comes out extremely moist and delicious. You can top it with a variety of frosting such as chocolate, cream cheese, or just a plain white, fluffy frosting. The batter can be utilized in a 9 X 13 cake pan, 8-inch round pans or a cupcake pan. It is for these reasons that this recipe is extremely versatile.

Once you’ve made the decision to bake this type of cake, there are several ingredients you will need to acquire. They include the following:

     * all-purpose flour – 3 cups

     * baking soda – 1 1/2 tsp.

     * salt – pinch

     * bananas – 4 to 5, ripened and mashed

     * lemon juice – 2 tsp.

     * butter (not margarine) – 3/4 cup, softened (cake) & 1/2 cup, softened (frosting)

     * sugar – 2 cups

     * eggs – 3

     * vanilla – 2 tsp.(cake) & 1 tsp. (frosting)

     * buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups

     * cream cheese (if using cream cheese frosting) – use 8 oz. package

     * confectioner’s sugar (10X sugar) – 3 1/2 cups

     * chopped walnuts (optional) – 1/2 cup

After your trip to the grocery store, it will be time to get down to business.

You’ll begin by measuring out your ingredients. The following recipe will make a 9 X 13 pan, two 8-inch pans or 12 cupcakes, whichever you choose to make. Once you’ve got your pans greased, set them aside and preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

After all of the ingredients have been prepared, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt; then, set aside.

Mix the bananas and lemon juice together and set this aside also.

Next, cream together the butter and the sugar.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.

You’ll want to get your flour mixture which you had previously set aside earlier. Alternately add it with the buttermilk, stirring in between.

Lastly, stir in the banana and lemon juice mixture that was set aside before

Get your already prepared pans and pour the batter into them. Set your timer for one hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once they are done, take out of the oven and put directly into the freezer for about 40 to 45 minutes. This will cause your cake to taste good and moist.

The last step is to frost your banana cake. For the purpose of this instruction, I’ve included a recipe for cream cheese frosting; however, as stated previously, your banana cake will also taste delicious if you choose to use chocolate or white frosting, so feel free to use whichever you like best. Although, if you are planning on utilizing cream cheese frosting, your next step is to cream together the butter and the cream cheese until its smooth in consistency. Then, add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar; continue to beat the mixture until it is smooth. After frosting your cooled cake, you can sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top if you wish; otherwise, it will taste great without them as well.

Categories: Cooking

How to Freeze Blueberries

Kids love to pick blueberries. In fact, BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, by Robert McCloskey, is a perennial favorite picture book in our family. Every summer, we load up the whole clan and head for the blueberry patch. Everyone gets a pail, and we race to see who can fill up first.

Pick a few. Eat a few. Pick a few more. You get the picture.

Besides gobbling berries till our gums turn blue, we enjoy our bounty in many ways.

We whip up blueberry buckle, blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry waffles, and more. We top our morning cornflakes with blueberries. We munch on fruit salad for lunch. At night, in our pajamas, we eat ice cream with blueberries.

When we have plenty, we line little baskets with colorful fabrics or bandannas and fill them with blueberries. After tying the tops with pretty bows, we deliver these to friends and neighbors. Still, we usually have a substantial supply!

We like to freeze and save our indigo treasures for those dark wintry days, when store-bought blueberries fetch sky-high prices in the produce department. On Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, we look forward to hot blueberry muffins, using my great-grandmother’s recipe. (Look for the recipe here on HELIUM!)

How to freeze blueberries

For the best results, extra berries should be frozen as soon as possible. Once they begin to soften, it is impossible to bring them back.

Wash your blueberries lightly before freezing. (Frozen berries are more fragile than fresh ones, so you absolutely will not want to wash them afterwards.)

Fill a large bowl or tub with cool water, and gently bob the berries in it. Pick out any leaves, stems, and soggy or spoiled berries.

Lay two layers of soft paper toweling on a counter or table. Drain berries, and spread them out in a single layer. Blot tenderly with additional paper towels.

Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with waxed paper. Place blueberries on waxed paper in a single layer. Freeze until firm (or overnight).

Pour frozen berries gently into plastic freezer containers or zippered bags. (Look for freezer bags, rather than plain plastic bags, as these heavier ones protect best against freezer burn.) Gently squeeze all extra air out of the bags before sealing, without pressing on your sweet berries.

Label bags or containers with contents and date. Frozen blueberries can last six months to a year, certainly long enough to last until the next picking season!

How to use frozen blueberries

Frozen berries can be added directly to batter for muffins, cakes, cobblers, or other items. Toss berries in flour to coat them lightly before adding them to the mix. Then fold frozen berries in as your last ingredient, and stir gently before pouring batter into baking pans.

Frozen berries are ideal for jams, toppings, and pie fillings. Thaw berries before using, if you want a softer, runnier consistency. If you wish for your berries to retain their roundness, try to use them while they are still frozen and intact.

If you plan to add frozen berries to salads or use them as garnish or adornments, you will want to thaw them first. Place frozen berries in a single layer on a plate, and let them sit on the counter until they have softened.

Do not microwave berries to thaw them, unless you want then to be soggy!

Above all, treat your berries tenderly, so they do not become mushy or bleed out their juices and flavoring.

You can freeze other kinds of berries too!

Follow the same steps for blackberries, boysenberries, cranberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, and more!

Categories: Cooking

How to Make a Simple Pork Sausage at Home

There are probably as many ways to make sausage as there are recipes for its use, it is one of life’s most savory meat and spice mixtures. Making a great tasting sausage at home is not hard and most anyone can prepare a mouthwatering sausage in no time. Here are hints and tips for you to consider if you want to make sausage at home.

Sausage is a meat item that sits comfortably at the kitchen table for breakfast, simmers peacefully in stews and soups for lunch and can dress-up and be presentable at a formal dinner, coming of course within a tray of appetizers or nestled in a velvety wine reduction.

All over the world, there are different kinds of sausage with names like Boudin, Chorizo, and Country Sausage. They come fresh, smoked, linked, made into patties, brown & serve and even sweet and savory maple flavored, just to name a few.

Hint: If you are a novice sausage maker, then start with this basic method and move on up to the famous Boudin if you get a hankering for more heat and flavor.

-Basic Recipes

4 lbs. Fresh pork meat with a ratio of *fat to meat of one third fat and one third lean meat

2 tsp. rubbed sage

4 tsp. rough salt (kosher, sea)

3 tsp. crushed black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated. Form into 4 oz. patties and package in one lb. zip lock bags. Arrange sausage patties in two layers, separated by appropriately sized sheets of waxed paper. Alternatively, this sausage can be packed into casings to make links.

Tip:It is much easier to leave the sausage “Bulk,” to portion and refrigerate or freeze.

To make this basic recipe into a hot, spicy Tex-Mex type of sausage; make the following changes to the basic recipe:

-New Mexican Chorizo

Meat to fat ratio should be one-half fat to one-half meat

4 tsp. crushed black pepper

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. ground red chili flakes

4 tsp. tequila or cider vinegar

1 tbsp. minced cilantro

Omit rubbed sage

Proceed with the directions above to combine. Make into links, or patties and keep refrigerated until used.

Cajun/Creole sausage from Louisiana is made using rice, liver, pork meat and the trinity vegetable combination. (Onions, celery and green peppers)

-Cajun Boudin

Use the basic recipe and make these changes: Omit sage and additional pork fat.

The ground pork meat and pork liver are simmered together with the trinity vegetables of green pepper, onion and celery until the meat is fall apart tender and then all is drained.

Then lots of cooked brown rice, minced green onions, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and hot Cajun seasonings are ground together and cooking juices are added for just the right texture before putting into casings. These are cooked according to personal preference.

No matter where you live, it is easy to make fantastic sausage at home. Think back in time, there were no meat markets or grocery stores; all these fabulous meats were homemade. And you can do it too.

Remember to keep sausage as well as life simple and delightfully savory!

*The “Fat” in these recipes is either beef suet or fresh, trimmed pork fat, available at any meat counter.

Categories: Cooking

How to make an easy caramel sauce from scratch

Nowadays, providing a caramel sauce for topping off your favorite dessert is as easy as going to the grocery store. Usually sold in jars or pouches, it is often a quick alternative to making your own. But what if making it was almost as easy as buying it? With a little know-how and only five ingredients, you can make your own caramel sauce at home from scratch, and there is no need to worry about preservatives or funny aftertastes. Just think of how impressed your dinner guests will be when you tell them that you made it yourself!

Caramel sauce is technically classified as a form of candy making, as you need to bring the mixture up to a specific temperature. In this case – the soft ball stage, which is generally between 112-115°F. However, it is quite simple to get the mixture to that temperature without actually needing a candy thermometer, as you can usually guess when it’s done just based off of thickness alone. Most folks know what the consistency of caramel should be like – it is rather similar to the thickness of molasses or honey. Once it gets to that stage, it’s safe to say that it’s done.

First, we’ll start with the tools in which you will need – a medium saucepan, preferably a heavy bottomed one so that your caramel will not burn; a wooden spoon; measuring cups; and measuring spoons.

Now that you have a bit of knowledge as to what a caramel sauce is and what tools you will need, it’s time to finally get started with the list of ingredients:

Easy Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

In the saucepan over medium heat, mix together the brown sugar, whipping cream, butter, and sea salt. Stir constantly for about 6 or 7 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. At this point, add the vanilla extract and continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring gently. When adding the vanilla, be careful – the mixture will sputter and foam up a bit. When the caramel has reached your desired thickness, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. When it has cooled, you may store it in a glass mason jar and refrigerate.

Keep in mind, when you refrigerate your caramel, it will thicken more as it cools. To thin its consistency, you may feel free to add water (if you’re using it cold) or if you would prefer it warm, then gently heat it either by using a double boiler or heavy bottomed saucepan on your stove or by simply putting the desired amount into a glass dish and heating in the microwave for under 10 seconds.

Caramel sauce is a great addition to any dessert, hot or cold, and is also great drizzled in beverages or used as a garnish. If you ask me, a bit of warm caramel sauce drizzled over rich vanilla ice cream and topped with a little coarse sea salt is absolutely divine. Give it a try, and enjoy!

Categories: Cooking

How to Make Gravy from Scratch

Gravy is easy to make, and making it from scratch is easier than using a commercial starter.  These instructions are for those who cook meat on the stove top, in a frying pan.  The starting point of the gravy-making is also the starting point of the meat-cooking, so these instructions begin at the beginning. 

This method can work with many different meats, so the recipe starts with a favorite, New York steak.  Take a thick steak, and score it deeply on one side, (going half-way through the meat is fine) using several cuts across the meat surface.  Turn the steak over, and cut shallower scores in a different direction.  Revert to the original side to work with the deep cuts.  Cut a small garlic clove into really small pieces, the smaller the better, and hide the garlic pieces in the score cuts.  Leaving a few garlic pieces on the meat surface is fine, too.  Sprinkle basil liberally over the surface of the meat on the deep-cut side.

Take a generous slice of butter, and melt it over a high flame in the bottom of a frying pan.  (Teflon works fine, just about any surface will do.)  When the butter is melted, and before it burns, put the steak in the frying pan, deep-cut side down.  Shake a spice bottle of paprika before opening it, to loosen up the contents, and sprinkle paprika on the shallow cut surface that is on top at this point.  Let the steak sizzle for two minutes, but not so long that it starts smoking a lot, so that a moisture seal is formed on the surface of the steak.  Turn it over and let the paprika form its own seal on the other side, and then turn the heat way down, so that the inside of the steak cooks slowly for a few minutes. 

This is a great quick dinner.  If you have left-over rice, pop it in the microwave with a tiny bit of water, and if you have some frozen peas, put a little bit of water in a small sauce pan and cook them until the steak is done.  Depending on the thickness of the meat, seven to twelve minutes is max cooking time for the steak.  If the steak is really thick, you might turn it over for a couple of minutes if you don’t like it really rare.

Remove the steak from the frying pan and pour water into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.  Using a Teflon pancake-turner, mix the water with the steak juices and spices. Lightly sprinkle flour (rice flour works well for those of you who are allergic to wheat) into the mix, and and stir.  Add more water, stirring all the time.  The gravy thickens quickly, so add as much water as you like, and stop when you have enough.  The author likes it medium-thick, but you have total control over the thickness as long as you pay close attention, and realize that it will be a lot thicker when it cools down a little bit. 

Dinner for two?  Cut the steak in half, and serve the gravy in a boat.  It shouldn’t need more spices, but pepper is nice sometimes.  Dinner for one?  Put the other half of the meat in the fridge, and have a nice lunch at work tomorrow.  The gravy perks up nicely in the microwave with a little water, so save it in it’s own little container, and it will stretch for as long as the meat that inspired it lasts.

Categories: Cooking

How to know when its Time to Buy a new Frying Pan

In general, frying pans don’t need to be replaced often, especially if they are made out of hardy materials. But, if your frying pan’s handle is coming off, or the coating has been scraped one too many times, it’s time to make a change. A new frying pan should be on your next shopping list.

Teflon-coated pans

Coated pans are not as durable as, say, cast iron pans. This is because their coating can be scraped off after a while. If you have had your coated frying pan for a while and the coating is not even throughout its cooking surface, it is time to get a new pan. Once the coating comes off of this type of pan, it is difficult to prevent food from sticking to the surface without using a lot of oil.

Broken parts

Frying pans with broken parts, such as handles, that cannot be repaired or would take too much effort to repair, should be banned from your kitchen. After all, you would not want to be carrying a frying pan with a broken handle, because if the pan has hot food or oil in it, you could create a hazardous situation. It would be easier to purchase a new frying pan that will not pose such a risk.

Cast iron frying pans

Although cast iron frying pans are very durable because they are solidly made (the handles are not a separate part of the pan), you may still need a different type of frying pan. Cast iron pans do need a bit more care than their aluminum, stainless steel or Teflon-coated counterparts, so some people are hesitant to purchase them. Also, if your cast iron pan is very rusty and you don’t want to invest any money or energy into cleaning it, you will need to buy a new one.

Aesthetics

Perhaps just looking at your frying pan makes you shudder. It may have grease stains from one or two decades of use. It may be blackened with age. Or your frying pan might just look plain ugly. This is a valid reason for buying a shiny new frying pan. You might want a heavier pan with a copper core, or a better version of the frying pan you have now. Whatever the reason, it is entirely up to you to decide when it’s time to purchase a new frying pan.

Categories: Cooking

How to keep the cutting knives sharp

Most people would probably prefer using sharp kitchen knives rather than having no choice but to use dull ones. Except for the occasional need to sharpen them, they make food cutting a lot easier and since they are less apt to slip off the food they are being used to cut, they also tend to be safer. It stands to reason, then, that the best idea after getting the knives sharp is to try to keep them that way as long as possible. Thankfully, there are tips that make this easier than it sounds.

Cut food not plastic or metal

Kitchen knives are designed to cut kitchen food. It is likely that most people already know this, and yet it is sometimes surprising how many people will use the knives to cut plastic, cardboard boxes and even to open cans. All of these, especially metal cans, can dull a blade very rapidly, occasionally severely damaging it in the process. If a person wants to keep the knife sharp, they should use different tools for the plastic or cardboard, such as all-purpose heavy duty shears. For cans, a can opener does wonders without dulling and damaging a perfectly good and sharp knife.

Wash the knife correctly

Some people might be surprised to find out that improper washing can contribute to the dulling of a knife blade. This is especially true of knives that are not stainless steel. The improper way is to let the knives soak far longer than they need to. The soap, water and food particulate matter gradually wears away the sharp edge. Though it usually takes longer with stainless steel, there is no sense in doing anything that will potentially remove the sharpness of the knife. Instead, wash the knife soon after it is used, which prevents it from getting caked with dried on food to begin with.

Hand washing

By the same token, and for the same reason, it is normally better to wash a good knife by hand than to run it through the dishwasher. Washing the knife soon after it is used also means that it isn’t often necessary to use the machine. As put by master chef Jim Harringer, “I have exceptionally sharp knives and I always wash them by hand. Any time I don’t have the energy or two minutes to do this, I have no business in the kitchen and it would be better for me to get ready for bed.”

Immediate drying

As simple as it is to dry a knife right after it is washed and rinsed, many people stick it in a drain rack or pan to dry. Worse still, they often place it in the rack with the handle down and the knife tip up, which invites accidents. Dry the knife as soon as possible, after it is washed. This is especially important for cutlery that isn’t stainless.

Proper storage

Sharp knives should be stored in knife holders or sheaths, rather than being tossed into a drawer. If the individual blades aren’t protected, they can get banged against other knives or utensils, which can blunt the edge of the blade in a hurry.

Use a sharpening steel

Sharpening steels are designed to put an edge on a knife blade and to maintain that edge. Simply using a steel at least every couple times that the knife is used can go a long way toward keeping it sharp and lengthening the time before it needs to be totally sharpened again. It is a good idea for a person to have an idea of how to use a steel properly, as well, however this isn’t something that is difficult to learn.

As good as sharp knives are to use as compared with dull ones, it is great to keep the kitchen knives sharp as long as possible. Doing so tends to be safer and it certainly lessens the effort or expense that occurs when the knives need to be resharpened. With even these few tips, the cutting edge of a sharp knife can be maintained for a surprising amount of time.

Categories: Cooking

How to Fix Jelly that Didn’t Set

Dedicated jelly makers are always on the lookout for interesting and unusual sweet and savory complements to add zing to any meal. The easiest way to a nice supply of jellies and jams is gather the fruit where you find it, in the market or the woods, and freeze either the fruit or juice until there is time or the jelly-making mood strikes.

Get off on the right foot with careful attention to these basics because if your jelly does not set, chances are you will have missed something in these early steps.

* Always use ripe fruit for best flavor. Also, soft, or over-ripe, fruit makes a soft set. Under-ripe fruit makes a harder set.

* Commercial pectin is produced to help you overcome the uncertainties of relying on natural fruit pectin to produce a proper jell.

* Use the brand pectin called for in the recipe. Brands are not always interchangeable among recipes.

* Time everything accurately. Overcooking can cause the pectin to break down and fail to thicken.

* Acid, usually the addition of lemon juice, helps pectin thicken.

* High humidity in the kitchen can cause jam not to set up properly.

Measure ingredients correctly and exactly. Use dry measuring cups to measure dry ingredients. Dip cup into sugar, for example, and scrape off excess across the top with a knife. To measure liquids or prepared fruit, use a liquid measuring cup, with a spout.

* Attempts to adjust ingredients are ill-advised. For low-sugar jellies and jams, use pectin especially formulated for that purpose.

* Some jellies and jams might take up to 2 weeks to set.

If jellies and jams do not set

* Dump the mixture out of the jars and back into a cooking vessel.

* Wash and prepare jars for use. Be sure there is no unset mixture remaining in the jars.

*In a small saucepan, slowly stir contents of 1 box fruit pectin into ¾ cup cold water . Bring mixture to a medium boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

* Make a trial batch – Measure 1 cup unset jelly or jam, 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp pectin mixture from above.

Bring to a full rolling boil (doesn’t stop boiling when stirred) on high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam.

Pour into prepared jar. Cover and let stand 24 hours to check that it will set. Cover and refrigerate remaining pectin mixture.

* For remainder of the batch.

* Do not make more than 8 cups of jelly or jam at one time.

* If the trial batch sets – Use this mixture: 1 cup unset jelly or jam, 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp pectin mixture used in trial batch – for each 1 cup unset jelly or jam.

* Bring to a full rolling boil in a large stock pot and boil for 30 seconds (watch the timing here), stirring constantly.

* Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle quickly and process in hot water bath or cool and store in refrigerator. Discard any leftover pectin mixture.

Lagniappe

If you taste your unset jelly or jam and it is absolutely delicious, maybe your have achieved perfection and all you need is to rename your syrup and make a pretty label.

These fruit syrups are great toppers for snow cones, ice cream, waffles and pancakes.

Make a sauce – Deglaze the pan where you cooked pork chops with a bit of syrup, a little stock or water, and finish with a pat of butter.

Add some syrup to a glass of sparkling water for a delicious fruit drink.

Some expert jelly makers don’t like to add pectin to jelly that did not set up, but will put the entire back into the pot, add some more sugar and lemon juice to taste, and label it,”Pancake Syrup”. Delicious!

Categories: Cooking

How to Fix Grainy Frosting

This article will attempt to give you some quick tips and tricks so that your cakes look more professional and your frosting comes out perfect. Making frosting takes a lot of trial and error because it is very susceptible to the weather and the warmer climate you are in you will need more stabilizers to make the frosting thick and able to stand. Another issue that arises is that frosting can take on a very grainy texture instead of the smooth cream that it should look like. Nevertheless, it is rewarding to make your own frosting instead of buying the pre packaged kind in tubs.

If there is an excess of icing and you have to store add a pinch of baking powder to the frosting. It will make it remain soft and not form a crust on the top. Graininess results when the sugar crystallizes in lumps due to the changing physical states of the sugar. In order to prevent this wash down the sides of the pan with a watered pastry brush. Then continue with the recipe as normal. Adding a pinch of salt to the sugar will also keep it from becoming grainy.

When frosting a cake put on a thin layer first and then add a second layer of frosting on top. Your cake will look more professional that way. To keep the frosting from soaking through your cake, sprinkle powdered sugar on each layer before frosting it.

The most common frosting that holds its shape well is butter cream frosting. It is a soft frosting made of butter, sugar and flavored with chocolate, orange zest, or essences of rose, almond and banana. It can be piped or spread and can hold whatever shape it is given. That is why it is ideal for forming into flowers or the greeting. Butter cream is best made from confectioner’s sugar. It is best to apply it with a warmed palate knife as this prevents the frosting from crusting too quickly. Frosting made from shortening instead of butter holds up better and stands longer. However using all shortening will also compromise the flavor of the frosting that is why it is best to make a mix of half butter and half shortening when making the frosting.

Making frostings is a fun art and adds that complete factor to cakes and cookies. Experiment with different flavors and textures and you will be rewarded with the results.

Categories: Cooking