Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cookie Cake Baking Tips



It appears to be baking week here on Flowers are Lovely, but rest assured, my lovelies: I'll be back to my irregular, arbitrary posting shortly.

Cookie cakes are one of those things I don't think should be left to children's birthday parties. To be fair, I have a similar view on most things usually considered "childish" and instead embrace youthfulness on the reg. But really, I'd love to meet the person who can't appreciate a good cookie cake every once in a while (or more).

Now, Great American Cookie makes a mean cookie cake, but it costs a pretty penny. I've made a few cookie cakes in my day and thought I'd share some tips. Besides, there are plenty of benefits to making your own cookie cake, like the luxury of picking your own mix-ins (chips and chunks and M&M's oh my!) and frosting at your own discretion.

Tips:

-I really like this recipe. I don't know what it is, but it works great for cookie cakes.

-Don't ask my why, but I prefer to use semisweet chocolate chunks instead of chips when I can find them (which isn't often for some reason or another). And actually, I do a mix of chunks and mini chips. I just like it, ok? Ok.

-Rolling pins are your friend when it comes to cookie cakes, but fair warning that the dough will stick to the pin. You can place a piece of parchment on top of the dough to combat some of this, but I usually just rub a bit of flour on my pin like when rolling out pizza dough. Not too much, though, because you don't want the dough to dry out.

-Use baking parchment paper and a baking stone. Pre-heat your baking stone so it's hot when you place the paper and cake on top.

-Unless you're very clever and talented, you probably aren't going to get the loveliest of edges on your cake. You can trim the edges after baking if you want, but why waste cookie cake? is what I always say (P.S. as if you wouldn't eat the cut-off edges while standing over the kitchen sink, am I right or am I right?).

-When it comes to icing the cookie cake, I go with a simple approach instead of the fussy you'll-need-five-different-frosting-tips-and-bags-and-food-coloring approach. If you're into that, I applaud you. I, for one, do not have the know-how or patience-to-learn-the-how, for that matter.

Any way you choose, the end product will be delicious so don't worry your pretty little heads. Also, I put about zero effort into making it pretty, as evident below. Now go celebrate something - anything! - and make yourself a cookie cake.

Look, you can make mini guys, too! (It's bigger than a regular cookie, y'all - work with me here.)

See what I mean about little to no decorating effort?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lemon Bread with Blueberries

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Allow me to be frank here: I'm not privy to why this is called a "bread" except that maybe because it is made in a bread pan. In fact, when I asked my mom for the recipe, I referred to it as a cake based on memory of its sweet blueberry goodness alone. And it is most certainly a cake, from the sweet batter to the sugary glaze on top, but if using the guise of "bread" makes you feel better about eating it for, say, breakfast - then by all means, embrace this as a bread. And don't feel bad about it one bit. Blueberries are a power food, after all. But the truth of the matter is that the final product of this recipe, though shaped by a bread pan, tastes like a sweet blueberry cake topped with a sugary lemon glaze, and I for one deem it fit for breakfast any day of the week. And then later for dessert.

For the "bread" batter:
1/3 c Crisco
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 c milk
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 c (or more) blueberries, fresh or frozen

For the glaze:
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat together all ingredients (except for blueberries) and pour into a lightly greased and floured bread pan. Place blueberries on top (I used an entire carton) and lightly push them into the batter. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I would also advise rotating the pan at 25-30 minutes to ensure an even bake.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges before removing bread from the pan (if you greased and floured the pan beforehand, you should have no trouble here) and place on a cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes. Mix sugary lemon glaze and poke thin, deep holes in bread. Slowly pour on glaze. Glaze will eventually harden if you can manage to wait before cutting yourself a slice (I couldn't, stop judging me).

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Paper Shapes

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At some point during the holiday season, our springy garland just didn't seem to make sense anymore. While this little guy didn't last too long (spring garland is back up, which is no surprise considering our door has been donning a spring wreath for two weeks now thanks to yours truly), it was pretty while it lasted and added a nice little bit of jazz to our winter walls.

You just need paper (glittery preferred), scissors and a needle and thread to make this garland.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY Flower Wreath for Spring

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I don't know about the rest of you, but I am just clamoring over here for spring to start. Really, there are few things I like more than the time between a cold winter and the stark humidity of an Atlanta summer. Even though Sister Spring technically won't be showing her face for another month and some change, I decided to get a jump start on decorating with this DIY flower wreath. It may still be cold outside, but at least when I walk through my front door I can pretend.

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What you'll need:

Wooden wreath
A few bunches of silk flowers (I used two types of flowers, one bunch of each)
Twine or another fabrics (strips of burlap could also work)
Hot glue gun
Wire cutters


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Decide how you want the wreath to hang and tie a piece of twine to mark it so you have a point of reference while you're adding the flowers.

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Cut your silk flowers to individual stems/branches to prepare for decorating the wreath.


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Tie another piece of twine where you want to put the flowers.

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Tightly wrap the twine around the wreath. I covered about a third of the wreath on the bottom right, but you could also do a top section and depending on how much you want to show, you could do more.

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Start sticking flower stems of your first flower variety into the twine and laying them out where they look best.

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Once you decided where you want most of your flowers, hot glue spots of the stems to the wreath and press them down for a few seconds before letting go. You don't need a lot of glue or the flowers won't sit as nicely/naturally on the wreath.

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I used twine to tie down some of the flowers while they dried. Once the purple flowers were dry, I started with the white on top along with some individual sections of leaves.

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Tie a small piece of twine where you marked the top earlier for hanging the wreath. I ended up moving mine a bit from where I  originally marked based on how the flowers were laying.

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The back actually looks really pretty if you want to flip it!

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Finished wreath!

Happy (almost) spring, y'all.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I want to go to there: Dusseldorf & Köln Germany

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Somehow over the last few months, I completely failed to post about Germany. Many of these photos were perfect for Christmas, but the season got to me and I missed my opportunity.

Anyway, here are some photos from my trip to Germany last November (whaaat?!). Some of my favorite German things were pretzels, bratwurst and sugary desserts (naturally) and the Christmas markets were beautiful and a lot of fun, despite the cold and sometimes rainy weather while we were there.

Dusseldorf
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Köln
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