In 2017, We learned a bunch!

When I began teaching baking and decorating classes, I had no idea how much I would learn! In 2017, I branched out from being a vendor at a local farmer’s market and a bespoke baker and began teaching public and private classes.

While I continue to teach  decorating at Michael’s using the Wilton Method,  I have made the progression to teach baking, confectionery and a series of beginner baking classes; called Next-Generation-Baker.  It’s on the class information page.

In 2017, we learned to make pies, homemade candy corn, caramel apples and decorated gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies. We made cupcake bouquets, mother’s day cupcake flowers, father’s day craw-daddy cupcakes, pie filling, witch brooms and shoes and black cats. We made small-tall cakes decorated with purple Louisiana Iris and cakes decorated with succulents. We torted, filled and frosted cakes and cupcakes.

I attended a baking workshop at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont.  I took classes on how to make the flakiest pie crust and the tastiest filling, temper chocolate and make truffles and ganache and how to choose the right chocolate for a recipe.

What is my take-a-way in 2017? I learn from doing and what I love to do is teach. When you teach a person to bake, you give them life and social skills and they attain self-confidence through their ability to bake.  What is learned in baking goes far beyond the kitchen walls.  Bakers not only bake for themselves, but also bake for others. When a person, especially a young person, bakes for their family and friends, they are sharing a part of themselves – their love of baking- through communication that is personal, one-on-one, face-to-face; not electronic.

We learned a bunch in 2017 and we’re sharing our love…


30 days has September but November has Pie.

In September, I made my biennial trip to the land of baking knowledge, King Arthur Flour Baking School. I walked familiar halls and breathed in the atmosphere, mostly the aroma of freshly baked goods.

This year, one of my core classes was taught by a baker at the top of her field Gesine Bullock-Prado.

Gesine has written several cookbooks, has a teaching kitchen in Vermont, Sugar Glider Kitchen and now she has a show on the Food Network, Baked in Vermont. Gesine taught me how to make homemade candy corn, choux pastry, puff pastry and now flaky pie dough. She makes me smile…. Thank you Gesine!

I made flaky crust and created a delicious Pie…

Next was Wilhelm Wanders, Master Pastry Chef and Chocolitier. Wilhelm is an eighth-generation pastry chef and confectioner.

       I made truffles…

And I learned more about Chocolate… I had to taste every piece. It was tough…

And I got to spend time with my Sister…

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Nothing better than baking with family. Sharing the Love!


King Arthur Flour Baking School is located in Norwich, Vt.

Making Vanilla Extract

If you are interested in making Vanilla Extract but don’t know where to begin, here’s how I did it.

First: I purchased a Vanilla Extract kit from King Arthur Flour.  It was more cost effective to get the kit than to purchase the supplies separately and I trust King Arthur Flour to always provide quality products.


Second: Read all of the instructions. I know it seems simple, but if didn’t know to “split the beans in half lengthwise, leaving 1/2″ at each end intact,”  your extract will be cloudy.


Third: Use an inexpensive 40% (80-proof) alcohol and don’t add water.


Fourth: Fill bottles to the top rim, covering the beans completely.

Fifth: After bottles are filled and had a good shake, add a “use after” date. I also included a “made on” date.

Last and most importantly… Patience. It takes about 2 months to make.


Amelia, the Maker of Hugs

Cupcakes…why is it just the thought or mention of them brings a smile? They are made using the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs and flour – so what is it? Is it the individual portion size or the cup shape that fits perfectly in our hand? Could it be the beautifully sprinkled glorious frosting? Or the pleasure we get from peeling away the paper cup liner to reveal the moist deliciousness inside?
 I say yes to all of the above- but, who was the baking genius behind this celebrated bliss?

Her name is Amelia.


Amelia Simmons wrote what is believed to be the first cookbook authored by an American published in the United States.  As an American, Amelia understood that existing cookbooks were British and lacked common, practical recipes for the American culture.  When Amelia first made “soft cakes in little pans, “she could not have imagined how much her “cup cakes” would become a part of American culture.

Amelia’s recipe (shown below) is believed to be the first ever cupcake recipe.  It was included in her book, American Cookery, written in 1796.



 As with all things, there is an original and versions of…

After Amelia, came Miss Eliza Leslie in 1828 with her book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry Cakes, and Sweetmeats. Next in 1832, Mrs. Lydia Child published her version of “cup cakes” in The American Frugal Housewife. Mrs. Child dedicated her book to “Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy.” Lastly was Mrs. M.E. Porter’s version of the “cup cake” in her book, Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book.  

So, what is it about cupcakes? Is it that cupcakes taste good? Lots of things taste good. Cupcakes don’t just taste good, they make us feel good on the inside – like a getting a hug.  


Little is known of Amelia Simmons other than she was an orphan and a woman of modest means and the maker of hugs…