Gingerbread Victorian Townhouse Row

We have started off the holiday season here at the bakery. Cakes, pies, and holiday specialties are throughout the bakery. And we are starting our gingerbread making, so to kick off this blog I am sharing our Gingerbread Townhouses from last year.  This 2 1/2 foot tall, 3 ft- long house set in a cozy winter scene, was a task my team was excited to get and happy to see delivered! Now, don’t get me wrong; it is fun and nostalgic doing gingerbread houses. Gingerbread mansions, they are, well, more delicate and require a lot more tlc. Thankfully, Bing Crosby serenading us with White Christmas made a notable difference to our disposition and its execution. 🙂

gingerbread house

Some of our lessons learned: Roll your gingerbread dough as absolutely thin as you can – especially the roof pieces. Roofs are heavy, meaning they need a lot of support, and having them be lighter, I found was to our advantage. Thinking through the assembling of the pieces. We found it worked best to adhere each roof piece to one of the side supports of the house, then add front and back piece, and then finally adhere the other side piece. I wish I could say we were fully present and did a photo documentary of our steps, but, alas, we were fully in construction mode.

gb_victorian_side copyAnother lesson: when my daughters’ were young, before my own-start-from-scratch gingerbread house making days, I used to think that it might be nice to make the gingerbread myself – but I never did because of time, planning, etc. Well, as an experienced gingerbread -maker, I say to those out there who contemplate the same thought – don’t do it, and don’t even spend a moment blinking an eye feeling bad about it. When you calculate the amount of time and preparation, and ingredients, and pieces that break until you get the hang of it – it’s not worth it.  Enjoy and fully embrace the pre-packaged ready to assemble gingerbread houses found in the store! (Use the time making gingerbread cut out cookies with the kids!). Enjoy what I think is the fun part, of decorating them! As gingerbread houses aren’t generally eaten anymore (if you are certain they won’t be) – you can even pre-assemble using hot glue.

Now, our construction gingerbread recipe is different from our gingerbread cookies/people that we offer (one is for construction; one is for devouring), so we suggest whether you make your own gingerbread structure or buy it, that you have gingerbread cookies on hand to resist temptation of eating the structure. (An absolute important lesson learned).

Ready, Set, Decorate, and that is the best part, in my opinion. Our gingerbread mansion was a victorian winter scene, not specific to Christmas or a Holiday, as our client requested, but make your own theme. Most importantly, have fun!

Some fun decorating ideas are : cereal for the roof tiles, long candy-cane sticks which can  act as structural support and festive details, peppermint wheels, very large gum-drops snipped into or stacked for  trees.  Another important tip:  royal icing is your ‘cement’, and for ‘construction’ work you want it to be quite stiff (if you pull a knife out of it the icing stays almost straight up). For detail piping you need a slightly thinner icing, so it flows but does not run out of the bag.  To get the different consistencies, follow the directions on the back of the meringue powder purchased at Walmart, JoAnnn’s, Michaels… and create for the thicker consistency. Later when ready for thinner icing simply add a little warm tap water, a few drops at a time, stirring in between until you get the somewhat thinner piping consistency. As an fyi- keep your royal icing coved as it will crust over and harden fairly quickly-!

Whatever your imagination can dream up will absolutely make the best gingerbread house ever!


Special Wedding Cake

Here is a picture of my daughter and son-in-law’s fall inspired wedding cake that we did for them! It was such a blessing – and made more fun when upon  my family members learning that all the leaves and acorns adorning the cake were edible, began sampling them! While not something I would ever call tasty, they reassured me that they were delicious!

Wishing the happy couple all the blessings in the world – and a wonderful Thanksgiving to you, our dear readers!

Fall Wedding Cake

November – Giving Thanks

November – a month I immediately associate with family, Thanksgiving, and tradition. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and always add to the traditions our fore-fathers have passed down to us. This November I personally have much to be thankful for, as our own family is expanding with the marriage of my daughter to my new son-in-law. In many ways it feels like an early Thanksgiving, having all of our family gathered around to ‘eat, drink, and be merry’.

pumpkin pie harvest table

In a couple of weeks we will do a follow-up with a picture of the wedding cake  my daughter and new son-in-law chose.  One of my favorite joys of our bakery is being a part of our client’s special moments in life. I am incredibly blessed to share that joy with my own daughter’s experience, and I know it will become one of my favorites.

For this Thanksgiving blog- my recipe is for two – one for yourself and one to share/ give to a loved one, a stranger, co-worker or friend. As I associate pumpkins most particularly with this time of year, pumpkin will be the recipe ‘star’ this month.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie – this fun pie will travel great in the fall crisp air – and always pleases a crowd!

Graham Cracker Crust :

1 1/2 cups graham crackers

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted – **possible more needed to combine – up to 6 tablespoons total.

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined. If it’s not holding together when you squeeze a little between your fingers, like sand for a sandcastle, add a little more melted butter at a time until it is the right consistency. I suggest up to but no more than 6 tablespoons. Press it against the pan, the bottom first and then the sides. Bake at 350F for 7 – 10 minutes. When you start smelling it, it is ready to come out.

Set aside and allow it to cool before filling.


1 quart good quality vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt ) **needs to be soft, almost soupy

1 cup plain canned pumpkin (*not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Add everything into a large bowl and stir together. The order on this doesn’t matter, so it’s a great dessert to do with kids. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined – and the taste checked (just remember to use a different spoon and not to redip 😉 ), pour it in the prepared crust and set it on a level place in the freezer to harden overnight or up to 6 hours.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to make to share! 🙂

October Blog – Ghoolashly Good

fall wreath

October, the month of change, transformation. The shortening of days, the changing color, the constantly cooling temperatures, the speeding up of time and the ability for one day to ‘put on’ a different self! Now, in all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Halloween. I like the fun of it, I love the innocence of seeing little children dressed up and being the most adorable super hero, fairy, dinosaur or princess. I love it when they are polite and adorable in asking for candy, their pride in showing off their ‘new persona’, and the special energy that the day brings. I enjoy dressing up our ‘every-day’ sweets in characters and halloween creations, almost always in themes that can only be produced once a year.

I love carving pumpkins and the artistry of it all. I hate having to pack it into ever – increasingly fast paced world of one day. Then having it shoved aside for the next holiday before it has arrived.

My mother, loved halloween because she loved things being not all as they seem. She would have loved to come and attend a dinner party of all food meals blue at the table (as the legendary Alfred Hitchcock once did).

So, with this in mind, instead of a sweet halloween treat, which is to be expected, we’re sharing this Halloween savory stew I found on food network several years ago.  And in true heirloom fashion, this recipe was submitted by a viewer; it is a recipe passed down through the generations, and now it is one of ours to be passed down, only this time with a  little Eloise’s flair.

Batman Pumpkin 100_0538

Happy Treating- This is ghoulishly good!

Jack O’Lantern Stew

Recipe courtesy Dawn Bergner

Prep Time: 25 min   Inactive Prep Time:15 min     Cook Time:1 hr 15 min     Level: Easy       Serves: 6 to 8 servings


1 (9 to 12-inch) pumpkin

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

4 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds

3 celery sticks, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

2 cups cooked rice (instant is okay)

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can tomato soup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Rinse well. Carve a spooky face onto the pumpkin, without going all the way through the flesh. Rinse well, oil outside of pumpkin. Bake the pumpkin shell for 30 minutes.

While shell is baking: sauté the onion, green and red peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Brown ground beef and chicken. Add the veggies and cooked rice and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Remove pumpkin from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and soup into the meat mixture. Place meat mixture into pumpkin. Put back in oven for 20 minutes. Serve on a platter with cheesy biscuits- -very yummy.

Labor Day – September Blog

September. Begins with labor day and back to school. The long days of summer are now not so long, the (hopeful) cooler weather a nice respite from the heat of summer. Somehow with the purchase of school supplies and the beginning of fall, there seems a renewed anticipation and hope – at least a change or return to routine.

For the fortunate ones, the summer has brought a restoring break from the year, and are now returning with refreshed energy and spring in your step.

labor-day-parade-buffaloAt one point in our American history, labor day was a culmination of these things – A day of appreciation, pride, and break for the American workman. Every town had their own parade, waving flags, eating a big meal with friends and family. A day for both fun and relaxation.


Now, it is often seen as the last ‘hoorah’ for those with children before school routine is second nature, it is the last celebration of summer (and the sense of abandon that goes with it).

Everyone needs a nutritious on the go refueling, and in honor of labor day and back to school routine, I decided to share my apple-carrot muffin recipe this month. They are a healthy start to the day and a good pick me up, especially if you add nut butter or cheese with it. And they are a perfect way to sneak vegetables and fruit into the diet of those in your life who would rather do with out….

Apple Carrot Muffins

makes 1 dozen muffins about 1 hour to prepare and bake

Ingredients :

1 3/4 cups bran cereal

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup peeled and finely chopped apple

3/4 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Mix bran cereal, flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.

Beat egg, buttermilk, and canola oil in a separate bowl.

Pour liquid ingredients into bran mixture; gently stir in apple, carrot, and walnuts.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing muffins to finish cooling on a wire rack.

August – Baking Tips

When my daughters were little and the summer break was just beginning to reach the end, I often found it was sometimes the hardest time to keep them busy and re-engage their minds. One of the ways I used to do this was by giving each of them one week in which they had to plan dinner for the week. That included grocery shopping (with myself, of course), taking the lead in meal preparation with supervision and help, as necessary, etc. It was quite an interesting insight into their personalities, as always, food is such a part of who you are, and what they chose certainly reflected that.

As they are MY children, dessert was always part of their meals; requiring much consideration, and it was a great way for me to teach them a lot of the basics in baking. (Though it has been constantly reinforced through out their lives, as I still get calls asking about this or that – much to my delight and occasional chagrin due to distance, when a wild disaster has occurred that needs salvaging).

Being inspired by the start of August and last few weeks of summer, I’ve decided to include in this blog some of my favorite baking tips that I think are essential to mastering the art of baking.


• Always make certain you have all of the necessary ingredients – Baking is not the place for random substitutions or “close enough.”

  • Always read all the way through a recipe before beginning
  • Clean as you go. This will help you immensely at the end.
  • Creaming’ means with an electric beater beating the butter and sugar together, until it is soft and looks like mayonnaise
  • For eggs and butter to come to room temperature: leave out overnight or when you leave for work/school in the morning & they’ll be ready for you when you get home later in the day
  • Keep your hands as clean as possible! Wash,wash wash (sometimes after every step, if it’s a particularly messy recipe) NOTE: Never dry your hands or wipe your hands on the same towel you use for drying clean pots, pans, utensils, etc. Keep clean- clean! Never clean raw egg up off a counter with anything other an a paper towel. Raw egg rinsed out of a wash cloth and then used to wipe something down can still transfer bacteria / salmonella.
  • Dry Measure & Liquid Measure
    • Glass Measures are for wet ingredients including frozen or canned pureed fruits or vegetables as well as sour cream, cottage cheese, & ricotta cheese.
    • Measuring cup sets = ¼ cup up to 2 cups are for dry ingredients and need to have the flour, sugar, etc. “Spooned” into them and then leveled
    • Measuring has to be exact for a terrific outcome
    • Measuring Spoons = ¼ teaspoon up to 2 Tablespoons are universal and used whenever a small amount of anything is specified
  • • Never measure ingredients over the mixing bowl (especially salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour), as you want a precise amount and not any extra!
  • • When measuring a sticky liquid (like honey or oil), lightly grease your glass measure first
  • *      When a recipe’s baking time is for example 20 – 30 minutes, Always set the timer for the *shortest baking time and check *. Never open the oven door ” to check” before the timer goes off, as it changes the oven temperature!

Happy Baking! And enjoy with limeade or your preferred ice drink and a nice nibble of something sweet this warm August.

July -A Grateful Look Back –

July has always been a month for reflective appreciation of our forefathers and this nation they formed. Independence Day is always a reminder for how blessed we are, how grateful to those who fought to form our nation on its principal and liberties, and for those today who continue to fight for them for all of us

At a time when there is much polarization in both state and local governments , it is renewing to remember the roots of this nation, it’s principals, and those who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so that we may have the life we do.

So, with that heart the recipe this month is the quintessential American fruit pie. Depending on which part of the country you hail from, decides if your “American pie” is apple, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, ….


Our foremothers didn’t have grocery stores to go buy butter , or flour, and they didn’t have refrigerators and climate controlled environments either to keep things cool and fresh (their closest option was a cellar, if they had one). They did have sort insulated clay jugs, but butter was labor intensive muscle-work out to create, and meals/desserts  had to be planned out days to weeks in advance, to ensure they had what was necessary for when.

Our foremothers were masters at knowing what do with what little they had, and how to make a little go a long way. They lived green and self sustaining – “going locavore” or note.

Obviously this is not our life now, but their planning and efficiency is something worth emanating.

My “home” pie (which also happens to be my favorite) is apple pie. As I do it from my short hand memory, here is an easy recipe I found that is just deliciousness by Betty Crocker  (no required beating cream into butter for hours before either! 😉 )

Betty Crocker’s Easy Apple Pie


**Store Bought. Pillsbury in refrigerated section of store- rolled-up in a box


Apple Pie

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup Gold Medal all- purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples ( 8 medium)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine


1. In Medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender ( or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl ( 1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

2. Heat oven to 425 F. With floured rolling pin, roll one pasty round into round 2 inches larger than upside- down- 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sale.

3. In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieced; sprinkle over filling. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

4. Roll other round of pastry into 10-inch round. Fold into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape. Unfold top pastry over filing; trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. Cover edge with 2 to 3 inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning.

5. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm if desired. And let’s not forget the ice-cream! If you’re from up North, you can add the cheese (though to me that’s pollution)…

** Makes 8 servings ( depending how you slice)

June ‘Favors’

Gifts. Sharing of joy. Reinforcing a memory with something tangible,  something for the eye to savor, the hands to hold, and, when edible, for the mouth to delight in.

Ideas? Here are some that we offer and have done in the past.

Heart shaped shortbread cookies, pecan, citrus, traditional Scottish – tuxedo style ( half dipped in chocolate), with a corsage ( gumpaste flower) or monogrammed.

Cake truffles – a twist on the iconic truffle, decadent and rich, elegantly packaged in individual boxes, tied with your custom ribbon.

Springerles – this ancestral cookie was first known to be made over 1,000 years ago. Like the French breads and Venetian pastries, these delicious, not too sweet cookies are beautiful and unique. Enjoy them in traditional anis, citrus and classic vanilla flavors. Packaged, they are sure to wow their receivers.

Hand Decorated Cookies – Create your custom look or theme on these delicious butter- sugar cookies. These tender and tasty cookies are just the right balance for your icing design.

Cake Pops- from bride and grooms to your colors and swirl. Monogrammed or subtle, they are fun and a fan favorite!

These are just some ideas to spark your imagination!

May Blossoms

It’s May! Happy Mother’s Day!
The flowers are in full bloom ~ though without any scent as they are made of gumpaste in the bakery. With Mother’s Day and Weddings, we are in full spring mode. We make all of our gumpaste flowers in house, and what a great irony; I have a brown thumb!  I know my father and grandmothers are watching down on me laughing, because despite myself, I have finally learned all these different types of flowers 🙂 .
cherry blossoms
Just as a gardener plans the layout for the beds before getting seeds to germinate, we plan how much time it will take to make the flowers, how far in advance to start, assemble, and decorate. While I would never dare to say that our flowers can compare our flowers to the exquisite ones grown in gardens and along byways around the world, I am awfully impressed with what my team’s hands can do! (And the more we do, the more impressed I am by Mother Nature!)
The different sugar flowers take different amounts of time, need different amounts of patience, tenderness and finesse (yes, it does sound like I’m raising a child, but trust me it does relate!). For example, peonies are a favorite flower, and one of the most expensive for us to produce, as they literally have to be made over days! Where as Daisies, Cherry Blossoms, and Cala Lilies all equally lovely and delicate, yet more independent – not so in need of our hands, and therefore can be more budget friendly.
Roses are by far one of our most popular flowers, and just as in real life, the art is not only in the formation of the flower, but also in the finesse of the color / hand painting of each part. As no two flowers are alike, so too do we customize each flower for the special person receiving it.

April Showers

“April Showers” as the beginning of the rhyme goes is not limited to the spring rain. Rather in the bakery, we are having ‘showers’ all the time. Bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties, graduation celebrations …. Occasion cakes are always a fun centerpiece, but sometimes it’s nice to do something a little different and a little more personal –   individually sized treats. They look lovely on a plate, blow your guests away, and can add to a lot of variety.

A vary fast easy way to make a personal ‘spring dessert’ is to purchase a store bought Sara Lee poundcake, some berries, and your frosting (your favorite flavor and brand). Lay a few pieces of the pound cake out on a cutting board. With a small cookie cutter in theme with your celebration, cut out the pieces of the poundcake (a small square or round cutter are always perfect too). One thing to consider is whether or not you want your guests to be able to pick up the bite with their hands or need a proper plate and fork. The size and shape of cookie cutter will dictate if it needs a fork or if it is finger friendly; the cake will break if too big or too awkward to hold. Then, with a spoon put some of the frosting into a ziploc bag and push it down into one of the bottom corners. Fold the bag over so it’s shut and snip the bottom end where the frosting is squeezed to. Now, simply pipe the frosting into little dollops onto the cake cut-outs. Add a berry on top to finish! It’s sure to impress!

If you’re not a fan of store bought frosting, an easy alternative is Chantilly cream, and here’s how you make it. *It can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days – or until someone eats it 🙂 .

Chantilly Cream: Take 1 pint of whipping cream, whipped with a little powdered sugar until you’ve reached the sweetness desired. I suggest starting with a quarter cup of powdered sugar at a time for a half pint of cream.

Cut Cut-outs

Another idea that is simple to execute is if you take ribbon – it could be a customized ribbon with initials or the date , or regular ribbon – and add it around an undecorated cookie. It adds a dash of color and panache to a simple and delicious treat!

Cookies with ribbon

My favorite Spring dessert : Berry Filled Angel Food Cake. A fast and easy dessert if not from scratch. Buy a store-made Angel Food Cake. Cut the top half off (holding the knife horizontally). Set aside on a clean plate – you’ll need it again. With one tablespoon, hollow out a ditch or tunnel throughout the center of the cake, leaving a ½” wall on either side. What you’re doing is making a moat around the inside of the cake, so that it will hold all the delicious berries.

In a separate bowl, wash and dry about two pints of berries. If using strawberries, slice them before adding to the bowl. Add a little sugar if the berries aren’t fully sweet. Then gently toss with Chantilly cream . (*Recipe above. Set aside about 3 Tablespoons full for the finishing panache). Now, take your cream-berry mixture and spoon it evenly into the moat. Take your top piece of cake that has been resting on the plate and carefully place it back on top. A strong but gentle hand is needed here.

Now add your reserved Chantilly cream by drizzling it. Then  sprinkle the berries over it for that finishing touch.

Filled Angel Cake

Keep chilled until ready to slice and serve. Enjoy!