Pie Crust and Pixie Dust - Best recipes for baking with kids.
The blissful madness of baking with kids! Welcome to Pie Crust & Pixie Dust! I am Emily, a mother of three and a ninja at stealing cookies from my kids. While baking with children is messy and wild, it provides sweet opportunities to talk to kids about some of the most important aspects of life.
Last week my daughter asked if we were baking anything for July 4th. Instantly, I had visions of our laundry pile, the loads of suitcases that needed to be packed for our family beach trip, and the slime that someone smeared inside the back window of my minivan. How do you get that stuff off, and when is this slime fad going to be OVER with, by the way?!!
I thought about responding to my daughter’s baking query with a simple, “no way in hell,” but I suppose the sweet spirit of Jesus came over me and instead I made her a deal. I said, “If you draw a picture of what you want to bake for July 4th, we will give it a shot. The only catch is that everything has to come from a mix, a box or a can because mommy is busy, and there is slime to be dealt with.”
My daughter agreed, and quickly began whipping up her July 4th baking concept. Here is the drawing:
A few days later I had literally 4 minutes to run into the grocery store for ingredients, in order to make it to my girls’ gymnastics camp pick-up on time. I bought two boxes of Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix, two cans of cream cheese frosting, a fresh pack of eggs and a bottle of vegetable oil.
With those simple ingredients and a little time together in the kitchen, my kids and I turned my daughter’s sketch into this super-easy, fun and festive July 4th cake. Voila, y’all!
If you have a little down time this week and are looking for a stress free recipe, you will love this no-nonsense red velvet cake. Give it a shot and send us pictures!
It’s one thing to tell our children about the importance of serving others in the community, and it’s another thing for our children to learn the importance of serving by going with us into the community. I really want my children to know that many people are lost, broken and weary, and even the smallest deed, can make a meaningful difference in someone’s day.
Recently, my kids and I whipped up one of my very favorite baking projects of all time… we made “love muffins.” Let me tell you, If you are interested in logging quality time with your kids, while doing a little something sweet for those in need, I think you are going to love this baking project as well.
With very little cost, and a tiny bit of effort, we baked a van-load of muffins for the children at a local child advocacy center here in Charleston. This advocacy center called, The Dee Norton Center provides support and critical resources to children that are victims of abuse, neglect, trauma, and more. We got the idea to bake muffins when we learned that many children come into the center in the mornings hungry, and unsure as to where their next meal will come from.
We used boxed mixes for the muffins as the muffins are perfectly delicious, and you can make a high volume in a hurry. I know that many people would opt for an amazing homemade muffin recipe, so if the spirit calls you then go on with your bad-self!
Once baked, we put the muffins in individual pastry bags and attached a little note of encouragement to each bag. This allows the muffins to be frozen at the advocacy center and distributed whenever there is an individual need. Here is a look….
Once the muffins were baked and bagged, we made our delivery to the Dee Norton Center. Y’all I can’t tell you how cool it was to have my children walk into that lobby with their “love muffins,” and see the look on all of the children’s faces. Even if you aren’t big on baking, this is such a great project to do with your kids. It’s amazing how a few boxes of muffin mix and an afternoon, can really create great memories for our families, and true impact within our communities.
If you are looking for an organization to serve within your own community, check out this link for more details. Please let us know if you bake a difference in your community. We would love to share your story on the blog!
You’ll be the star of the beach party dessert spread with these adorable and oh-so creative lighthouse cupcakes from Pie Crust and Pixie Dust.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 container store-bought buttercream frosting
12 old-fashioned ice cream cones
12 yellow gumdrops
1 tablespoon corn syrup, for attaching gum drops to ice cream cones
1 16-ounce box confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/3 cup water
food coloring in colors of your choice
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To Make the Cupcakes: Combine sugar, eggs, and shortening in a stand mixer. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, and pour into mixer with wet ingredients. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and water, to the mixer, and combine.
Once combined, pour batter into paper cupcake cups, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned.
While cupcakes are baking, add a splash of blue food coloring to store-bought buttercream frosting. Once cupcakes are baked and completely cooled, pipe frosting onto cupcakes.
To Make the Lighthouses: Make royal icing (you will decorate the ice cream cones with it) by combining confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and water. Add a bit of food coloring to create your favorite colors (we used red and blue) for decorating.
Turn the ice cream cones upside down. Paint stripes or other designs of your choice onto the ice cream cones. (We used clear squeeze bottles for decorating, but you can also use a paintbrush for a more whimsical look.) Affix a yellow gum drop (this is the light!) on the bottom of each cone with a drop of corn syrup. Place the upside down cone on the iced cupcake.
We hope this dessert makes a major splash on your dessert table this summer! Happy baking!!
Mother’s day is this Sunday, and we have whipped up a fun and easy brunch menu sponsored by Kodiak Cakes. From One Minute Muffins that are perfect for breakfast-in-bed, to an unbelievably delicious morning glory loaf, we have something everyone will love for your Mother’s Day celebration.
Clutch your pearls, friends. Last week, my kids and I figured out how to make macaroons out of a box of pancake mix!! Our apologies to the macaroon purists of the world.
We recently started experimenting with a series of products from one of our beloved brand partners, Kodiak Cakes. With the help of Kodiak Cakes’ extensive line of baking mixes, we made everything from pancakes, waffles, quiche, turkey sausage pinwheels, morning glory bread, and these amazing macaroons. Over the next week, we will be sharing many of these recipes on the blog, but wanted to share this hack of a macaroon recipe, first.
To create the macaroons, you will need a box of Kodiak Cakes “All Purpose Baking Mix,” and a few basic ingredients. For the filling, we used almond butter, Nutella, bananas, and fresh berries for an easy and healthy twist on ganache. Before you know it, you will have delicious macaroons that are beautiful on the outside, and packed with wholesome goodness on the inside.
If you are looking for more traditional macaroon recipe ideas, check out our additional macaroon recipes, here. However, if you are interested in a healthy and whimsical approach to baking macaroons, then you are going to fall in love this Kodiak Cakes inspired recipe. Savourer!
Macaroons from a BOX!
Clutch your pearls, friends! WE FIGURED OUT HOW TO MAKE MACAROONS OUT OF A BOX!! With an all purpose baking mix from Kodiak Cakes and a few basic ingredients, we baked traditional macaroons that are beautiful on the outside, and packed with goodness on the inside.
3/4 cup Kodiak Cakes Baking Mix
1 cup Confectioner's Sugar
2 room temperature Egg Whites
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
Sift baking mix into a bowl.
Sift confectioner’s sugar into the same bowl as the baking mix.
In a stand mixer, whip two room temperature egg whites on high until fully whipped, (2-3 minutes).
Slowly add in granulated sugar a little bit at a time and continue to whip.
Once whipped, add food coloring and whip until blended.
To maintain whippiness, slow the mixer down and begin adding the baking mix/confectioner’s sugar to the egg white mixture one scoop at a time.
Speed up the mixer one more time for around one minute.
Pipe macaroon batter onto a macaroon baking mat or in circles on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes before placing the macaroons into the oven. This will allow the macaroons to stabilize before baking.
Bake for 8-10 minute.
Instead of ganache, we used almond butter, Nutella, and fresh berries.
This week I had one of those “pinch me” moments. The good kind, for a change. Normally I’m like, “pinch me… this has to be a nightmare,” or “pinch me, I need to wake up and get these kids to school, but I had too much wine with the moms last night, and I can’t move.” Not this week, however. This week, I had one of the best “pinch me” moments, ever.
This week, a handful of our Pie Crust and Pixie Dust recipes were featured by the one-and-only, Coastal Living. Woohoo!
Speaking of pinching, we think you are going to pinch yourself when you taste these sweet little crab-cut out cookies with royal icing. We have worked on this recipe for months, and finally got it just right. These cut-out cookies are quick to prepare, they are absolutely delicious, and they hold their shape, while remaining soft. Victory! Check out the recipe here.
Give this easy cut out cookie recipe a try and let us know what you think! We would love get your feedback and see your photos.
Stay tuned for more whimsical beach inspired recipes featured by Coastal Living.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with celebrity chef, Jordan Pilarski. As winner of The Food Network’s Season 3 Spring Baking Championship, guest host of The Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge, and Instagram phenom, Chef Jordan Pilarski is baking up a name for himself in a big way.
During our visit, we learned about Chef Pilarski’s journey into baking, as well as what skills he leveraged when competing on the Spring Baking Championship. Oh, and one more thing…. We were able to snag Chef Pilarski’s famous buttercream frosting recipe that he uses when baking cakes in his home kitchen at The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island. Y’all are going to love getting to know Jordan Pilarski!
How old were you when you began baking desserts?
I had no prior experience before college because I was always planning on being an architect. Unfortunately that dream faded and I became very passionate about baking and Junior year of high school I applied to one college, Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. I got accepted and started my baking career freshman year of college.
What is your favorite baking memory?
Winning the Spring Baking Championship by far, but also being able to bake side by side with some of the best bakers in the country on Food Network (my favorite network).
Have you ever had an epic baking fail? If so, what was it and how did you overcome the challenge?
Serving a raw piece of puff pastry to the judges on The Spring Baking Championship and I over came it by crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.
We loved watching you on The Season 3 Spring Baking Championship. How did you find you way onto the show?
I was actually contacted by a casting producer via Facebook saying I would be a good fit for the show. Three skype interviews later I was on a plane to LA for filming.
Aside from baking outstanding desserts, what skills do you think differentiated you from your competition? (planning, patience,teamwork, etc.)
By being a student athlete I needed to learn how to manage my time which I definitely think helped me set myself up for success during the competition. I also believe that by being in a sports setting my whole life, I have always had a competitive side. I have learned to work under pressure and I believe that was a big factor when it came to my success in The Spring Baking Championship.
What was the most important lesson you learned from being on The Spring Baking Championship?
To always stay humble and realize that there is always more to learn and you will never know everything.
You make incredible desserts and cakes at The Ritz Carlton. Do you have a go-to buttercream recipe that you could share with our readers?
1 ¼ cup of confectioners’ sugar
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
Method of preparation
Place sugar, salt and egg whites in a bowl over a double boiler and whisk until sugar is dissolved, be careful not to cook the egg whites Place mixture into a bowl fitted with a whisk attachment Whip until stiff peaks form Add butter a few tablespoons at a time letting each addition fully incorporate until adding the next tablespoon If meringue seems soft, chill for 15 minutes before using
We love the look of fondant, but prefer the taste of buttercream. How do professional pastry chefs get their buttercream to look as smooth as fondant?
When re-whipping swiss buttercream use paddle attachment to deflate all air bubbles in buttercream. This will allow smoother edges.When smoothing out edges of cake, heat off set or bowl scraper in order to create a flat surface. Be patient and practice makes perfect!
We want to give a big thanks to Chef Jordan Pilarski for his time and expertise. For more information, and to follow Chef Pilarski, check him out on Instagram @jordan_pilarski.
There is something about this time of year that makes everyone want to start baking again. One look at Pinterest and you will see fancy bunny cakes, beautifully decorated egg cookies, and pastel cupcakes aplenty. However, instead of trying to make “Pinteresty” desserts for Easter, our family decided to keep our baking simple and sweet this year. We made our best sugar cookie recipe, and let the kids on the block do all of the (special) cookie decorating. Everyone had so much fun with these whimsical cookies, that we officially started a new Easter baking tradition on our street.
Let me walk you through how to make one of the best cookie recipes you will ever try.
Start with the dough:
Classic Cut-Out Cookies
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
3 tbsp milk
Mix butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine flour (sifted is best), baking powder, and salt.
Add these ingredients to the mixing bowl and combine.
Add in vanilla extract, almond extract, and milk.
Place dough on parchment paper and let chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut cookies.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Once your cookies are cooled, do yourself a favor and take a taste of one of these cookies without any frosting. The cookie itself is just sweet enough, and the texture is soft but solid enough to hold shape. This truly is cookie perfection, y’all. Okay, now for the frosting!
We like using royal icing because it is so easy to make, and is easy for the kids to use.
Try our best royal icing recipe:
1 16 oz. box confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. meringue powder
1/3 cup of water
Combine ingredients, and decorate-away!
You are going to love this cookie recipe, especially when you leave the decorating up to the kids. The end result is always a batch of perfectly imperfect cookies that are as sweet to look at as they are to eat!
If you are a Dom Perignon bride with a Bud Light budget (dilly, dilly), this post is perfect for you. With one little recipe, you can bake a simple groom’s cake or even a classic fondant wedding cake for under fifty dollars. Listen, I’ve been married for almost fifteen years. Cut back a little on the cake, and save up for the minivan you “would never buy” if you were asked today, but will swoon over in about ten years. Those things are the freaking embodiment of mom-luxury. I have sixteen cupholders, y’all.
Okay, back to the baking. The cake I chose for this recipe is five layers of boxed brownie mix, and four containers of vanilla frosting. Yes, I’m totally serious. Normally, I would never bake a wedding cake with boxed mix, but really no one will know, and this recipe is quick, easy, and tastes amazing.
Aside from being delicious, I like using brownies as the layers in this particular recipe because they are sturdy, and you don’t need to cut the tops off as you would with typical cakes. Just bake the brownies in round cake pans in your preferred size and let cool. Once baked and removed from the pans, spread frosting in between the stacked layers, and be sure to place the brownie that is going on the top of your cake upside down so the top of your cake is nice and flat.
Next, using a piping bag filled with frosting, pipe frosting around the outside of each layer. Then, using a spatula held against the outside of your cake, spin the stacked cake to allow the frosting to spread and flatten along the outside of the cake. Try not to make this part too perfect, as the beauty of this cake is it’s effortless vibe.
If you are making a groom’s cake, you can add flowers and you are done! If you are baking a wedding cake, keep reading….
For the fondant wedding cake version of this recipe, continue to cover the entire cake with frosting until all of the brownie layers are covered.
Use our simple fondant recipe here to finish out your cake. If you want to add any elements such as the rope detail, roll out your fondant (like a flat circle) and cut two long pieces. Twist the two pieces together to make rope, and twist into your preferred knot. Secure the knot to the cake using light corn syrup. You can also use toothpicks to make absolutely sure your knot will adhere to the cake.
The gold band at the bottom of this cake is made with one strip of white fondant. We painted the strip gold with this fantastic gold dust powder. You just add a tiny bit of water to the powder and it’s like painting with gold. So easy. So fun!
Finally, keep additional powdered (confectioner’s) sugar on hand whenever you are using fondant. I like to sprinkle it on the cake or brush it on gently with a paintbrush, to keep the cake dry and smooth. Powdered sugar is your fondant’s best friend.
If you are making a wedding cake and this is the first time you have used fondant, take time to practice. It’s so inexpensive to make, and with a little preparation, you will feel comfortable using the fondant for such a special cake.
We hope these cake variations inspire you to bake even the most important of cakes. With a little practice and effort, you can have the cake of your dreams without the nightmare price tag. You can do this!!
For more wedding inspiration, please check out my very favorite wedding blog at:
In a total stroke of luck, my husband and I recently had the opportunity to take a road trip around the perimeter of Ireland. During our trip, we toured castles, got pooped on by a fertilizer tractor (long story), saw countless cute little fat sheep, and met incredible people. However one unexpected experience that we truly enjoyed, was getting to visit family owned bakeries all over the Emerald Isle. Take a look at some of the sweet bakeries we visited along the way….
We loved how all of these bakeries varied in their style both inside and out. However, despite their uniqueness from one another, it didn’t take long before we noticed one item that each bakery consistently had on hand… Irish Soda Bread. I suddenly found myself on a quest to learn more about this tasty bread, and the story behind its rise in popularity across Ireland.
It turns out that Irish soda bread did not originate in Ireland, but became a staple of Irish kitchens and culture during The Potato Famine of 1845. The bread was popularized due to it’s simple, widely accessible ingredients including baking soda as a leavening agent, versus yeast. Since the famine, Irish soda bread or “brown bread” has become a part of Irish culinary culture, and is considered a “kitchen table bread” in many homes.
Okay, time out. Let’s just think about that for a moment…. This brown bread saved thousands of people from starvation. Imagine what it would have been like to raise a family in such difficult times. What a bread… What an impact. I couldn’t help but think that this was a recipe that I should try at home with my kids. It is simple to prepare, and the history of the bread is something my kids needed to hear.
So in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day this week, our family embarked on a soda bread baking adventure. The recipe we put together was an accumulation of many different traditional soda bread recipes, but we added brown sugar and butter (because we’re southerners) to give the bread a hint of additional flavor and sweetness. Sorry, Ireland!
This really was an easy and fun baking project for the kids and me. The bread turned out great, and I whipped in a little history lesson for the #momwin! My girls thought it was pretty cool that such a simple bread played such a significant part in saving families from hunger. It turns out, you really can bake history!
Ireland is such a lovely place, and if you haven’t been you should go. And if you do go, don’t forget to stop in a few bakeries along the way. We hope baking this Irish soda bread recipe becomes a great Saint Patrick’s Day tradition for your family!