Baking season is over – but not for me!

Hope you had a fantastic Christmas 🙂

I had to go back to work Tuesday, which I was initially dreading, but I’m realizing I actually relish routine. I feel a little out of sorts without a schedule and I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual workout routine.

I wasn’t completely horrible about eating this month, but I definitely let myself indulge more than usual. It’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by so much delicious food! So as “baking season” comes to a close, I’m keeping my baking challenge going but with a lot more self-control 😉

I was spoiled this year with lots of new kitchen and baking gear and gadgets. I’m excited to try decorating cakes with my new piping bags and tips, and to make some healthy smoothies with my new Ninja blender (thanks mom!).

Eric got me a Nikon DSLR camera so I can start becoming a better photographer and take some bomb pics for my blog, on vacations, etc. I can’t wait to learn WTH I’m doing besides pointing and shooting. Now I’m on the hunt for a good book or blog to learn more!

I did quite a bit of baking over the last week or so – some of it successful, some not so much! I wish I had more + better pics to share, but with it getting dark at 5 pm, it leaves limited time for taking photos with good lighting.

One of the more complicated cakes I made was a battenburg cake from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. It required making a checkerboard pattern with the cake and wrapping it in marzipan, which I had never worked with before. It turned out really well, and the almond flavor was so good! Idk that I’ll make another battenburg cake, but I’ll for sure make some more almond flavored goodies. I’m thinking some almond French macarons next?

On Christmas Eve I thought I’d whip up some easy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with ingredients I had at home, but I realize I should have read the comments on the recipe before picking one. I went with the recipe from Nestle’s verybestbaking.com, and aside from the fact that I left out the egg (WHOOPS – that’s why it’s called Beginner Bakes), most of the reviews said they turned out crumbly anyway even with the egg 😉. Long story short, they were a fail and we didn’t have cookies. Don’t follow that recipe.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mine did NOT turn out like these from verybestbaking.com 😦

Despite my cookie mishap, I wasn’t too frustrated because I was super happy with how my second swiss roll turned out. My pumpkin one was just ok, so I tried it again, this time with chocolate cake and homemade whipped cream. I followed a recipe from Pioneer Woman and made sure to correct some things I did wrong with the pumpkin roll, and it was a success! Everyone at Christmas dinner loved it and commented on how professional it looked. I think the powdered sugar and little figures really made it feel Christmas-y and special.

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Some things that helped this time around:

  • I used a bigger cookie sheet so the batter had more room to spread out, making the cake thinner and thus easier to roll.
  • I used a TON of powdered sugar on the parchment paper before rolling it up. Last time mine stuck to the paper and cracked because I didn’t use enough sugar. I knew I’d be coating the cake with chocolate ganache anyway, so it didn’t matter that the cake was all white and blotchy from the sugar.
  • I used the microwave method to melt my chocolate for the ganache. I know some people recommend a bowl over boiling water, but I feel like I have more control with the microwave. I heat it in 30 second intervals, stirring between each time.

Hopefully you got to enjoy time with friends and family and eat lots of yummy treats! Follow me on Instagram @beginnerbakes for more baking inspiration ❤

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