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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

faqs

Hi!  Thanks for taking the time to review some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive.  This page is here to help both you and me: it helps you find your answer faster and it helps me address the large volume of comments and questions I receive.  Thanks in advance for your patience and your thoughtful feedback.

Commenting

Links and URLs
Comments containing links to commercial websites or blogs within the body of the comment will be automatically deleted.  There is a space to enter your URL along with your name and email.  Exceptions will be made when a link is relevant to an ongoing discussion.

Common Courtesy
Constructive criticism and discussion are welcome and appreciated.  However, comments that are unnecessarily rude or tactless are uncalled for and will be deleted.  Don’t post something on the internet that you wouldn’t say to a friend in real life.

General Questions

Recipe-Specific Comments and Questions
If you have a question regarding a specific recipe, please leave a comment directly on that post rather than sending an email.  First of all, your question will be answered in a much more timely manner (I must admit some emails may never receive responses).  Second, other readers with the same question can benefit from reading both your question and my response.

Along those lines, before posting a question, PLEASE read the other comments on a post to see if your question has already been addressed.

Substitutions
Recipes call for certain ingredients because those ingredients work best.  I recommend using the specified ingredients whenever possible.  Remember, using a substitution may result in a mediocre outcome.

If you need to make a substitution, Google has the answer to all your substitution questions.  Not only will you receive an immediate answer, you will likely learn something from taking the time to read about it yourself.

Conversions
For the most part, the recipes on this site are written in volume measurements.  Occasionally weight measures are provided.  If you want to know the weight measure for a quantity listed by volume, please use Google to find a conversion.

What went wrong?
Please know that I make every effort to only share recipes that with clear instructions and that have been well tested in my own kitchen.  I aim to provide recipes you can rely on.  However, sometimes things don’t work out as we had hoped.  It seems our instinct is to immediately blame the recipe itself for the failed result, but please realize that there are many factors at play that could have caused an issue.  Rather than say, “This recipe is horrible!”, let me know what exactly was unsatisfactory about the result.  Often it is something that can be fixed with a bit of troubleshooting.  I cannot specifically answer the question, “What went wrong?”  since I wasn’t in the kitchen with you while you were cooking or baking, but with a little more information we may be able to figure out what happened so you can have success the next time around.  Also remember that trial and error are an important part of how we learn in the kitchen.  Failures are never fun, but do your best to learn from them!

Food Storage/Should this be refrigerated?
I am no food science expert, so methods for optimal food storage is something that you need to decide for yourself using common sense.  My general guideline is that any frosting, etc. including dairy other than butter should be refrigerated, but you can do what you are comfortable with.

Similarly, I cannot tell  you how long foods will last.  I have no way of knowing this any more than the next person.  Just use your best judgement.

Can I freeze this? 
I do not freeze every single food I post about so I cannot answer this question.  If I have frozen a dish and can give insight in that regard, I will include it within my post.  Otherwise, use your own judgement and refer to this post with some tips about freezing.

What dish should I bring to a pitch-in?  (What should I make for a bake-off, etc.)
I would truly love to be able to suggest an individual recipe or even a full for each person that has a special event, pitch-in, etc.  Unfortunately I just do not have the time to respond to all of these requests thoughtfully.  I have made an effort to categorize the recipes on the site in a way that makes them easy to access so you can browse quickly find the perfect thing for your event.

I have given you a blog award!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I am always flattered when a fellow blogger sees fit to honor me with any sort of award.  However, I do not post about or pass on these awards.  It is not because I don’t care (because I do!) but I want the focus of the blog to remain on the food.  Too often these awards start circulating like wildfire, and if I posted about every one that comes my way the food might take a backseat.

Nutrition Facts
I do not have the time, know-how or inclination to calculate the nutrition facts for all of the recipes I share here.  If you are so inclined, feel free to calculate them for yourself.  There are many online tools available to help you with this.

Equipment and Cookbook Recommendations

Want to know what equipment or cookbooks I recommend?  Check out the Amazon store I created.  It has most of what I have in my kitchen and all the cookbooks on my shelf.  The main thing missing is that bakeware I highly recommend is the Gold Touch line from Williams Sonoma, and this is not available through Amazon.

Equipment-Specific Questions

What if I don’t have a stand mixer?
Most recipes that call for an electric mixer can be made with a regular hand mixer, and often even mixed by hand.  Some things that are probably best left to a stand mixer are royal icing, Swiss meringue buttercream, and any sort of bread dough.  The royal icing and Swiss meringue buttercream can be done with a hand mixer but it may be extremely difficult.  Bread dough can easily be kneaded by hand though, so no mixer is necessary – just don’t try to knead it with your hand mixer!

What if I don’t have a food processor?
It depends on how the food processor functions in the recipe.  If it is simply to finely chop ingredients, you can do that by hand.  Some sauces and purees can be made in a blender or with an immersion blender.  It just depends on the situation.  That being said, my food processor is a work horse in my kitchen and I use it several times a week.  I think they are totally worth the investment.

Cupcake Related Questions

Can I make this cupcake recipe as a cake? (Or, can I make this cake recipe as cupcakes?)
Yes, you can!  Cake batter is cake batter no matter what size pan you bake it in.  The only thing that will vary is the baking time.  For most cupcakes I start with around 18 minutes, and for most cakes it is closer to 30-35.  Use the toothpick test to officially determine doneness.

How do you frost your cupcakes?
Unfortunately there is no secret strategy here, just a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  I do my best to indicate which tip I used on each post where it is relevant.  Some of the tips I own are unlabeled, in which case I just describe the shape.  Some readers have asked for a tutorial on this, but all I do is use a pastry bag and swirl the frosting on.  There isn’t much to it!

Where do you buy your cupcake liners?
The only store in my area that carries liners I actually like is Sur La Table.  They have recently expanded their offerings and have a great selection.  I buy a lot of my liners online from a few different places including:
Confectionery House
Bake It Pretty
Fancy Flours
Layer Cake Shop

Can I frost cupcakes in advance of when I plan to serve them?
Absolutely!  I frost most of my cupcakes a day in advance and as long as they are stored properly, it works just fine.

How do you transport your cupcakes?
I use all manner of transportation methods.  Disposable bakery boxes are my favorite, but not the most environmentally friendly.  I often use a cupcake caddy but when my cupcakes are decorated too tall for that, I just put them on a baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

I’m making Swiss meringue buttercream and it is still runny.  Help!
It will come together eventually, you just have to keep beating.   Sometimes it can take upwards of 30 minutes.  You’ll see when the state change happens and know when it is finished.

Specific Ingredients

What brand of _____ do you recommend/do you use?
Honestly, I’m not particularly brand loyal when it comes to ingredients in the kitchen.  There may be very rare exceptions (in which case, I would note it) but in general, I do not think you need a certain brand of an item to successfully make any of the recipes posted here.

Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
Author and food blogger extraordinaire David Lebovitz has written a very informative post about the differences between regular and Dutch-process cocoa, and when it is okay to substitute one for the other.

Chopped Bar Chocolate vs. Chocolate Chips
Chocolate chips contain a different percentage of butterfat than their chocolate bar counterparts, and this causes them to have different melting properties.  If a recipe calls for chopped chocolate, use it.  The only time I use chocolate chips is when a recipe specifically calls for them.  If you are melting chocolate to add to a cake, frosting, etc. chopped bar chocolate is almost always the way to go because it melts more smoothly and will result in a better outcome.

Bread Flour
Yes, I really do think it’s worth the extra trip to the store.  If a recipe calls for bread flour, use it.  It gives a chewier texture and a better end result.

Espresso Powder
Espresso powder is one of those ingredients most regular grocery stores don’t carry.  I have bought it at Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.

Instant Yeast
I use instant yeast in all my bread recipes because it always gives me great results.  Some synonymous terms are “rapid rise yeast” and “bread machine yeast”.  The only real difference is that instant yeast does not require proofing (dissolving in warm liquid) before use, so you can just mix it right into the dough.  You can still use active dry yeast in such recipes, but the yeast will need to be proofed.  Even so, I find that the results are just never quite as nice as with instant yeast.

Greek Yogurt vs. Plain Yogurt, Strained
Some recipes on the site call for plain yogurt which is strained to remove the excess liquid.  I often get the question, “Couldn’t I just use Greek yogurt instead?”  The answer is, absolutely!  I just prefer to buy plain and strain it myself because it is far more economical to obtain an equal amount of Greek yogurt by straining it yourself than paying for the good stuff.

Making Decorated Sugar Cookies

How far in advance can the cookies be made?
Sugar cookies (at least this recipe) decorated with royal icing tend to keep very well when stored airtight at room temperature.  The royal icing seems to help seal in the moisture of the cookie.  I typically make and decorate cookies up to a week in advance of when I need them.

Can the cookies be frozen at some point in the process?
The cookie dough can be frozen and used at a later time.  Additionally, the cut and baked undecorated cookies can be frozen.  However, once decorated, cookies with royal icing should not be refrigerated or frozen.  Condensation can form on the icing during the thaw process and cause flaws in the icing design.

Do you cover the cookies when you leave them out to dry overnight?
No, covering the cookies has the potential to mess up the pretty design you worked so hard on.  The cookies won’t dry out.

Where do you buy your cookie cutters?
Anywhere and everywhere!  I buy them based on whatever specific shape I am looking for, and I don’t prefer any brand (do cookie cutters have brands?)  The two main places I buy them are Sur La Table and Cookie Cutter Shop.

Blogging

Can I use one of your photos on my blog?
In general, no.  I occasionally make special exceptions, but do require that you contact me and receive permission before using one of my photos.  Do not use the photo without permission and say, “Courtesy of Annie’s Eats”.  Not true, and not cool!

Can I pin your posts on Pinterest?
Absolutely!  I greatly appreciate when my readers choose to share posts they have enjoyed by pinning them to Pinterest.  Please be sure you are linking to the specific post itself (not just the homepage).  Also, please refrain from copying the recipe itself into the text of the caption.

I’ve decided to start my own blog.  Can you tell me what to do?
Quite simply, no.  First of all, I am no authority on the topic.  I have learned everything I know about blogging via trial and error, and Googling.  There is so much to know about blogging (and I’m sure I don’t even know a small fraction of it), I just don’t have time to advise every person interested in starting a blog.  There are plenty of great resources available with helpful information but I’m just here to share recipes and kitchen tips.

I have a blog and I would like to share a recipe I found on Annie’s Eats.  Is that okay?
Absolutely!  To me, the whole point of food blogging is sharing inspiration, ideas, and good food.  Just be sure to appropriately cite the source where you found the recipe, as well as the original source where applicable.

What is your best blogging advice?  
I could go on for hours about my advice and feelings about blogging, but for now I’ll give you my three best pointers:
1. Be yourself, and blog for yourself.
Sure, it’s fun to have readers and followers, but people are more likely to read and to return if you are genuine and passionate about what you write.  Shameless self-promotion and half-hearted content created just for the sake of posting does you no favors and is unlikely to keep readers interested enough to return.  Remember what made you want to start a blog in the first place.  Genuine writing and passion for your craft make people want to return, and keep reading.  All of my favorite blogs excel at this.
2. Strive to do better. 
Blogging is an excellent way to improve your skills in any area.  Just because you aren’t an expert from the get-go doesn’t mean you can’t improve beyond your wildest dreams.  Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others but instead focus on what you can do to make your own work better.  Not-so-hot photos?  Take more pictures and analyze them.  Having trouble finding your voice?  Keep writing!  Don’t limit yourself.
3. Give credit where credit is due.  
Posting original recipes is great, but that alone does not a legitimate blogger make.  There is so much more to blogging than creating original content.  It’s your voice, your photos, and your spin on a topic that make it worth reading.  Supposedly if you change three things in a recipe you can call it your own.  Even so, it’s nice to give credit where credit is due.  Bloggers that live and die by the three things rule are fairly transparent, and in the end, look worse, not better, because of that behavior.

A note on citation and my sources
As mentioned above, I firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due.  As such, I make it a point to clearly list my sources with each post.  The “Annie original” label is used only in cases where I walked into the kitchen with nothing more than my own knowledge and a pen and paper to take notes as I cooked or baked.  Sometimes these recipes come easily and sometimes they require looots of tweaking…and I never quite know which will be the case!  All other recipes will list at minimum my inspiration or in many cases the source where I found the recipe.

Also, please understand that my goal with this site is not creating original recipes (though I feel lucky when I’m able to do so.)  This site is a vehicle for me to share the recipes that our family has enjoyed, whether they are from a blog, cookbook, magazine, or my own imagination, so that you and your loved ones can enjoy them too!

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