What's in a Name?: A Baker’s Dozen

  • Nov 09, 2015

If you’ve ever been to a bakery and gazed longingly at the gourmet cupcakes calling to you from behind the glass or the doughnut offerings all dressed up in delicious glazes, you know that sometimes a dozen just isn’t enough. In this case, it’s wise to order a baker’s dozen.

As part of our “What’s in a name?” series, we’re looking at the origin of the baker’s dozen, which is 13 items as opposed to 12. The concept came about because societies throughout history saw early bakers trying to cheat their patrons. As a result, these societies created strict laws with extreme penalties regarding baker’s wares. The practice of baking 13 items helped bakers stay on the right side of the law.

In medieval times, some penalties ranged from having a hand chopped off to having your ear nailed to the bakery door, though not all bakers were cheating on purpose. Without today’s modern measuring and baking tools, for instance, it was difficult to make a loaf of bread with the requisite amount of wheat. By giving customers a baker’s dozen, early bakers ensured that they never went under the requirements. (Fun fact: Some bakers did cheat the system by adding sand to the bread loaf in order to get the weight just right.)

Isn’t it nice that baking has evolved? (For one thing, you never have to worry about your ears!) Also, modern-day tools, such as Welcome Home Brands bakeware allow you to be more efficient and innovative than ever before. Plus, if you can’t decide on 12 doughnuts, you can just order one more.

Photo credit to www.wonderopolis.org

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Small-town Inspiration: Martha’s Vineyard

  • Nov 02, 2015

We continue our series on small-town baking with magical Martha’s Vineyard, the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth, whether you’re on the island or simply seeking inspiration in your home kitchen.

Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Café and Bakery Vineyard locals and frequent visitors are intimately familiar with what are known as Back Door Doughnuts, made famous by this Oak Bluffs bakery. These fresh-from-the-fryer hot treats are only available in the evenings and began as somewhat of a clandestine offering, with patrons comparing the experience to visiting a speakeasy. Be prepared to wait—and to also be enticed by the bakery’s friend apple fritters. A long-time Vineyard favorite, apple fritters are served warm and are about the size of a baseball glove, so they’re perfect for sharing. Want to make them at home? Gather a bushel of fresh fall apples and whip up some baked apple fritter muffins or substitute other favorite fruits (peaches, berries, etc.) and top with glaze for maximum m’mmm.

Atlantic Fish & ChopHouse One of the Vineyard’s newest restaurants, the Atlantic nonetheless has the market cornered on mouthwatering desserts. From the Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake to the Goat Cheese Panna Cotta, the Atlantic provides a veritable smorgasbord of baking inspiration. The so-called “desserts for sharing” are perhaps the ones to try first. Consider the signature four-layer carrot cake iced with cream cheese and studded with walnuts and currants; the drunken beignets with shots of white chocolate Godiva liqueur and Mozart Belgian milk chocolate liqueur; or the chocolate ganache cream-filled sponge cake.

Bake with currants, infuse baked goods with shots of liqueur, and experiment with ganache— inspiration abounds at this restaurant and on the Vineyard itself!

Photo credit to www.massvacation.com

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Giving Back By Baking

  • Oct 26, 2015

With so many heart-wrenching stories in the news, we all need to hear heart-warming stories every once in a while. And they’re out there. There are many people who are making the world a better place, and many who use their love of baking to bring a bit of sweet hope to others.

There’s the Toronto man known as The Cookie Guy (and, on Instagram, as MadVillan) who has baked over five million cookies to give away via social media in an effort to sweeten people’s days. The tradition began when he couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for everyone he wanted to, so he swapped out baked goods for gifts, and the idea extended beyond the Christmas season.

There’s the eight-year-old Florida baker whose love for her Easy-Bake Oven prompted her to bake a slew of brownies and cookies, sell them at church and use the proceeds to benefit dyslexia awareness and launch a library on wheels.

There’s the King Arthur Flour Company’s bread baking program, which has an entire New Hampshire student body participating in its efforts. Each student bakes two loaves for donation purposes while also learning math, science and reading skills—not to mention community service—in the process.

You too can join the movement. Prepare tasty treats for someone going through a hard time, bake bread for the homeless, bake as a way to raise money for your favorite cause—the possibilities are endless. By using Welcome Home Brands bakeware, you can bake, serve, store and give all in one unit. There’s no need for metal pans, there’s minimal mess and transport of your baked goods has never been easier! Get started today.

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Revolutionary Baking

  • Oct 19, 2015

When we talk about Revolutionary baking, we don’t mean anything radical, such as using off-the-wall ingredients or ditching your tried-and-true recipes (though we encourage that too if it strikes your fancy). Rather, we’re interested in a bit of a history lesson. In terms of baked goods, how did our forefathers, specifically those who fought in the U.S. War of Independence, find nourishment?

Many Revolutionary soldiers became intimately familiar with fire cake, a mixture of flour and water cooked over an open flame. The soldiers added salt if it was available, though usually it was not, and then cooked it until this unsavory biscuit was blackened.

Though not unique to the Revolutionary War per se, Johnnycake is another early American staple that has its place in the annals of history. A cornmeal flatbread with roots in Native American culture, original Johnnycakes consisted of cornmeal, boiling water and a pinch of salt. Today’s Johnnycakes are more flavorful, with various recipes calling for sour cream, milk, butter and eggs.

Today’s most popular “cakes” are more in keeping with what we traditionally think of as cakes, and thankfully they have more than just two bland ingredients. The list varies, but popular choices include pound cake, chocolate cake, Black Forest cake, Red Velvet cake, coconut cake, tres leches cake, carrot cake, apple cake and lemon cake. All of these cakes can be made into mini loaves, muffins or cupcakes (perfect in Welcome Brands bakeware). Throughout our history, we have been a nation that loves to eat cake, so get baking!

Image credit to www.meatsrootsandleaves.com

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What's in a Name?

  • Oct 12, 2015

In medieval times, Britain had a lack of surnames, causing confusion among villagers as the births of little Johns and little Williams outpaced most other boys’ names. (Which John? Which William?) In addition to confusion, there was also a need to distinguish between individuals of the same name for the purposes of taxation by the government. Thus began the introduction of surnames, including those that specified a relationship (John, son of William or John Williamson) or an occupation, such as John the Baker.

While the surname Baker was always occupational, it was not always necessarily associated with baking bread. Some early Bakers may have been the owners of communal kitchens or kilns that were utilized by entire villages, while others were indeed tasked with baking the bread for a large household or even a castle.

Since that time, the Baker surname has spread to other countries and continents, resulting in variations on the spelling (think Becker) and has even cross over to a boy’s first name. While Baker is not high on the list of the most popular baby names in the U.S., some parents are choosing it as part of the trend using last names as first names. Or perhaps they just like the images and fresh-from-the-oven scents that the name Baker evokes.

In any case, if you consider yourself a baker, you’re in good company. Baking has come a long way from the days of communal kitchens and kilns. Today you have access to any recipe, any ingredient and any top-notch baking tool, including Welcome Brands bakeware, that your heart desires. So channel your inner Baker and get baking!

Image credit to www.cdn.vectorstock.com

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The Key to Going Beyond Pie

  • Oct 05, 2015

We have posted a series of blogs on big cities and their dessert choices. Now we’re honing in on smaller locales, such as Key West, Florida. Key West is renowned, of course, for its rich and creamy Key Lime Pie, the official dessert of Key West and Florida’s official pie.

As with many notable desserts, Key Lime Pie has somewhat murky origins. We do know that when locals began whipping up the sweet treat, probably in the 1850s, fresh milk was hard to come by in that area of the country. So canned milk was shipped in and used in lieu of fresh milk. Traditional Key Lime Pie was not cooked, as the acidity of the limes would curdle the condensed milk.

Today’s Key West locals, known as “conchs,” still adhere to the use of sweetened condensed milk for Key Lime Pie, though it’s usually baked today. True Key Lime Pie is not green, but a creamy yellow as a result of the egg yolks in the recipe and relies on small Key limes verses the typical Persian limes found in most grocery stores. The crust was typically a pastry crust, but many of today’s Key Lime Pies rest on a graham cracker crust instead.

Key lime will never let you down, so don’t limit yourself to the conventional pie. Try Key lime pie squares, Key Lime Pie cupcakes, Key lime coconut cakes, Key lime bites or Key lime tartlets. Top with meringue or whipped cream. You can even use regular limes if you want to—we won’t tell. Just get baking!

Image credit to www.serendipityfood.com

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The World is Your Oyster

  • Sep 21, 2015

Your baked goods should be as special as the people you give them to, and that special touch should encompass everything from their made-from-scratch deliciousness to the bakeware that houses them. Here we pay tribute to several of our newer product arrivals, all guaranteed to make your treats the focal point of any celebration.

Kraft baking bags: Perfect for corn muffins, banana breads, and other homestyle creations, these baking bags lend themselves to a unique, warm and welcoming feeling.

Dark blue dot ruffled baking cups: Serve up gourmet cake creations or individual cheesecakes in these baking cups, whose festive blue hue inspires harmony and evokes images of sky and sea.

Polka dot orange single serve loaf pans: One warm loaf of sweet bread or quick bread fits perfectly in the whimsical design of this single serve loaf pan, the perfect complement to dinner for one or even two.

Red lattice cube baking cups: The extra space in this cube cup allows you to bake up jumbo muffins, cupcakes, and even mini quiches or other brunch foods. The contemporary design emanates a pleasing and natural earthiness.

Vine purple plastic baking cups: Make an elegant statement with these delicate violet baking cups. The charming design is suggestive of ladies lunches, picnics in the park, and baby or bridal showers.

A blend of ingenuity and versatility, all of our bakeware is disposable and free-standing, oven and freezer safe, and at once functional and ornamental.

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Baking with Kids: Tips and Tricks

  • Sep 14, 2015

Back to school means less time with your little ones at home. Create some bonding opportunities (and additional learning opportunities!) by baking with your kids after school and on the weekends. Here are some ideas to keep your little baker inspired—and to keep you sane.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Set out your tools and ingredients ahead of time. If there is prep work you can do in advance, such as softening butter, do it. If your kids want to be part of the grocery buying process, by all means, let them. Otherwise, make sure you have the necessary ingredients on hand before you get started. Choose a time to bake when you’re not going to be rushed. Wash little hands and tie back long hair.

Keep it simple. Don’t let your kids convince you that they’d be good at whipping up Baked Alaska. Stick with simple recipes initially, such as sugar cookies or chocolate brownies, and let them work their way up.

Assign tasks. If there is more than one child helping, assign tasks ahead of time so it’s clear who is doing what. This will give them a sense of ownership and keep feuding to a minimum.

Expect a mess. Accepting that kids are messy and that kids who are baking are extra messy will keep you from getting stressed out. Put a plastic tablecloth on your floor and/or the kids’ workspace, and use Welcome Home Brands bakeware to cut down on the mess.

Sample their handiwork. Once everything comes out of the oven and cools down, make a big show of trying it and heaping praise upon your little baker. You’ve just made some beautiful, and hopefully delicious, memories.

Image credit to www.littlepeoplefactory.com

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