You spent hours making the dessert for that upcoming party. All from scratch. And you know that dessert whatever it is it's going to be the star of the party. It's going to taste phenomenal.
But after baking it, you go to frost it, cut it, decorate it. It looks like...well let's just say you know stand by the taste.
Because it kind of looks like a bus may have run over it.
If you struggle with making your desserts look pretty after they are baked, I have 10 tips for you to change that.
It seems wrong that if you go to all the trouble to make a dessert from scratch only for it to look like something you ran over on the way home. Although I still believe in the end it comes down to how it tastes. However, making your dessert look as pretty as it tastes I think is important. And it doesn't have to be difficult.
So I have 10 tips for you so the next time you bake something for a party or a get together of any kind, you get compliments like this:
"Oh my god, how did you make this!?"
I want that for you. So here we go...my 10 tips for making your dessert look as pretty as it tastes...
Tip #1: Allow To Cool Completely
The first thing to making your baked goods look beautiful, is giving them ample time to cool down before you cut into them or frost them. When it comes to brownies and blondies, you want to give them time to set up before you cut into them. Doing so early, and you could end up with messy edges, gooey centers, and bars that fall apart on you.
Let's say we made a cheesecake, allowing your cheesecake to cool means letting it set up in the fridge for hours (even overnight). Not allowing this to happen means your cheesecake will be runny in the middle. So take the time to let your dessert chill out.
If it's a cake or a cupcake, this part is crucial. If you do not wait until they have cooled. And I mean completely, you will end up with frosting that looks more like a glaze and it runs down the side of your creation.
To cool your baked good, be sure to cool them on a cooling rack. Cooling racks are a must so they air can circulate around completely. And you want to let them sit for a couple hours to ensure all the heat has left the baked good.
These are the cooling racks I own and use.
For most baked goods, you can make them the night before. I always recommend doing this, so that means the day of your party, get together, whatever- you can focus on frosting, cutting, presenting and knowing they will come out as beautiful as you intended!
Tip #2: Store Properly.
Just as important as it is to let your baked goods cool completely, so is storing your baked goods. Especially if you make them ahead of time. Improper storage could lead to added unintended moisture or drying out of your baked goods.
Depending on which type of dessert you've made, will depend on how you store it.
First again, follow tip #1 and let your baked goods cool completely. If you store your baked goods while they are still warm this will lead to the heat escaping and getting trapped and turning to moisture. If this was cupcakes, for example, you will end up with sticky tops.
For most desserts, you can store them on your counter covered in an airtight container, once they have cooled completely for up to two days.
Storing your dessert such as cupcakes in the fridge, can lead to them drying out. Which means, even if you end up making them look pretty. They won't pass the taste test by a mile. Of course, the exception to this is desserts that must be refrigerated- like cheesecakes, mousses, and custards.
So once your dessert has cooled completely, be sure to store them properly.
Tip #3: Top With A Few Extra Chips
Or cranberries, or chopped pistachios, or whatever is in your dessert.
One of the easiest ways for me to make my cookies, scones, and bars look pretty is right before they go into the oven I top each one with a few extra chips (or whatever was in the dessert). So if I made chocolate chip cookies I will top each cookie dough ball with a few extra chips. If it is a blueberry scone, then a few extra blueberries.
These extra little garnishes will sit right on top of the baked good as it bakes, making them look a little prettier in the end.
It's a simple trick for those type of desserts that otherwise might look a bit boring otherwise.
Tip #4: Cut Brownies And Bars With A Plastic Knife
I love this tip. This might be my favorite out of all of them.
It's such a simple easy thing to do that will make your brownies and bars have nice clean edges in the end. Using a plastic knife will not conduct heat, so it will cut cleanly through. No messy crumbs as you slice through.
So next time, you make brownies and bars, grab a plastic knife!
Tip #5: Always Crumb Coat A Cake
If you have never crumb coated a cake, you know it. Your frosting instead of being smooth and crumb free, has tiny crumbs mixed into the frosting. Definitely not so pretty.
To crumb coat a cake, you want to smooth a thin layer of frosting on your cake (once it's has been cooled completely of course). This thin layer of frosting will catch all those loose crumbs.
Then this part is key, you need to refrigerate your cake for about 30 minutes to an hour, before applying your second and final buttercream coat.
By crumb coating your cake, you seal in any loose crumbs making your final finished cake, smooth and beautiful. Worth of any bakery window.Tip #6: Sprinkles Work Wonders
So does coconut, glazes, toasted nuts, or any other garnish that you can think of to cover up a not so pretty baked dessert.
If you frosting skills are lacking, or you're short on time don't underestimate the power of sprinkles. It can make a sad looking dessert into a showstopping one without much fuss at all.
Use something that is already in the dessert or that would complement it. A plain vanilla cupcake dress it up with sprinkles. A carrot cake would look stunning covered in toasted walnuts.
Even a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder can turn a plate of brownies or boring looking cream puffs into a showstopping dessert.
Tip #7: Use greaseproof cupcake liners
I love my greaseproof cupcake liners. These quality cupcake liners means that the buttery, oily residue won't leak through. Especially if you use colored or patterned liners, it can really show off your cupcakes.
Pair that with tip #6 and you will have beautiful cupcakes that didn't take a lot of effort in the end.
These are the cupcake liners I use all the time.
Tip #8: Pay Attention To That Pie Crust
Homemade pie = love.
So with all that effort you poured into that homemade pie, it should also look as pretty as it tastes.
If you have ever baked a pie and ended up with more juice and fruit on the outside it may be because you didn't seal and vent the pie crust. Be sure to crimp the edges well. I have 4 fun ways for you do that, if you are new to crimping that don't involve a lot of effort and ensure your pie edges are not only pretty but also that the inside of your pie doesn't leak out everywhere.
Venting is also super important. Before your put your pie in the oven, using a knife slash a few slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.
Also, you want to make sure your edges don't burn as your pie cooks. That's where a pie shield comes into place. I cover the edges of my pie up while they bake, and then the last 10 minutes I remove the pie shield to allow the edges to brown.
So to make sure your pie is as pretty as can be, be sure to seal and vent your pie crust.
Tip #9: Travel Smart
If you are bringing your dessert some place, then you have to think about how to transport your dessert so it doesn't up in a big smushed pile when you arrive. I definitely have been there and it's not pretty.
First of, make sure you have a nice flat space in your car for the dessert to sit on. And that nothing can fall over on it. Nothing worse, than piling the dessert in the back only to find some random items you never cleared out of your trunk fell over on your beautiful baked good while you were driving.
For most desserts the car ride should be fine, but if you are worried about something melting during a long car ride. I usually place it on the floor of the passenger seat, covered, with the AC on full blast.
Bars, brownies, and cookies you could lay flat with parchment paper in an airtight container between layers then simply arrange and present on your dessert plate or table.
If you are transporting cupcakes, you have a few options. I only use disposable plastic containers for easy transport like these ones any more. They are the only containers I can find that securely hold my cupcakes in place. There are non-disposable containers, but be warned. Many do not have high enough edges so that your cupcakes can topple over on each other.
With transporting cakes, I use this caddy from Wilton. To make sure my cake doesn't topple over, I simply spread a little bit of frosting on the bottom of my cake or cake round that it is sitting on so it doesn't slide around while in the container.
Tip #10: Repurpose Into Something Else
If all has gone wrong, then think of repurposing your dessert into something else like a trifle. Just layer in some whipped cream, maybe some pudding, or fresh fruit.
Think of turning those flat cookies into a new sundae topping by crumbling over some ice-cream.
Just remember in the end, it's still made from scratch. And that means made with love. I mean it's what's on the inside that counts anyway right? 😉
If you like these tips, let me know and leave me a comment!
Until next time, happy baking!