Tag Archives: spring

spring galette

Say ‘Goodbye’ to Winter with These 5 Springtime Galettes

After a long winter of root veggies, we can’t help but get excited over the beautiful bounty of spring produce nature brings. Asparagus, rhubarb and fresh peas are among the first delights of the season, and that’s a delicious reason to celebrate!

You don’t need to make an elaborate meal to harness the goodness of these spring flavours. A simple galette is an easy and excellent way to make the most of spring. These five, no-fuss recipes will have you and your guests overjoyed to officially say ‘goodbye’ to winter.

Spring pea and leek galette

For The Pastry:

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp or more cold water

Directions:
1. In a food processor, mix flours, salt and sugar. Add in butter and pulse until butter is evenly dispersed into pea-size pieces. Add vinegar and pulse. Run the food processor as you add water 1 tsp at a time through the spout on the top. Dough will come together into a smooth ball.
2. Roll out on a floured surface until dough is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Refer to recipes below for shape.

Leek, Pea and Egg Galette:
Chop 3 leeks into 1/2-inch rounds. Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a large pan. Cook leeks in pan with 1/2 tsp of salt until fragrant but not soft, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Roll out dough into a 12 inch circle. Toss leeks with 1/2 cup freshly shucked peas. Place mixture in the centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border from the edge. Create a 3 inch divot in the center of the mixture. Crack an egg inside the divot. Fold the edges over mixture and brush pastry with heavy cream. Sprinkle fresh thyme and ground pepper over pastry, egg and leeks. Bake on a lined sheet tray in a 400°F oven until pastry is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

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Asparagus and Lemony Ricotta Galette
Trim 1lb of asparagus and blanch. Roll dough into a 12×8-inch oval. Mix 1 cup of extra smooth ricotta with 1 tsp of lemon zest. Spread mixture into centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border around the edge. Toss blanched asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange asparagus spears side by side over ricotta. Fold over edges of dough and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese over pastry and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Bake on a lined sheet tray in a 400°F oven until asparagus is bright green and pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

Fig and orange galette

Fig and Orange Marmalade Galette
Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Quarter 3 cups of black mission figs. Microwave 1/4 cup of orange marmalade for 20 seconds. Gently toss figs in marmalade to coat and place in the centre of the circle, 3 inches from the edge. Fold over edges of dough onto figs. Brush dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of turbinado sugar. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in a 400°F until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

strawberry rhubarb galette

Strawberry Rhubarb Almond Galette
Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Mix 1 cup of quartered strawberries with 2 cups of sliced rhubarb, 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1 Tbsp of corn starch, and 1/2 tsp salt. Place mixture in the centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border around the edge. Fold over edges and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp sliced hazelnuts over pastry and filling. Bake in a 400°F oven on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

pear-galette

Pear, Lavender and Black Pepper Galette
Slice 3 small ripe pears in half. Remove core with a spoon then place pears cut side down on surface. Slice the pear halves vertically being careful to leave the top 1 inch uncut. Roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Place pear halves cut side down in the centre of the dough.
Press on pear halves gently until they fan out. Brush 1 Tbsp of melted butter over pears then drizzle 2 Tbsp of honey. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of lavender and season with black pepper. Fold over edges of dough and brush with heavy cream. Bake in a 400°F oven until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

Looking for more spring dishes? Try our 40 Fantastic Spring Cake Recipes.

Spring Appetizer: Crudités with Preserved Lemon Guacamole

Spring is perfect for al fresco dining; the outdoors providing a bright, natural setting for any dishes you’re serving. Next time you are entertaining, rather than spending hours on prep, try a simple yet impressive crudités platter. Typically filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables and a dipping sauce, this stunning appetizer is sure to delight your guests.

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Creamy, crunchy, spicy and tangy, this guacamole has got it all going on. Finely diced preserved lemon brings both a hit of salt and a good dose of acidity to this perfectly balanced dip. A rainbow of spring produce alongside the guacamole makes this vibrant appetizer the star of any spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

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Ingredients:
3 firm-ripe Hass avocados
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 of a preserve lemon, rinsed
1/3 cup minced sweet white onion, such as Vidalia
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Assorted spring vegetables, such as baby carrots, snap peas, young asparagus and radishes

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Directions:
1. Cut each avocado in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh out of the peel with a soup spoon and place in a medium bowl.
2. Pour the lime juice all over the avocado and then mash them to a pulp. I like to use a pastry cutter for this job; a fork works just fine, too.
3. Finely mince the entire preserved lemon (rind and pulp) and remove any seeds you encounter. Add to the mashed avocado, along with the minced onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mash everything together, then taste the guacamole and add additional seasoning if desired. Since we are not serving this dip with salty tortilla chips, I find a little extra salt in the guacamole goes a long way.
4. Scrape preserved lemon guacamole into a serving bowl. Garnish with a fine dice of preserved lemon rind if desired. Serve immediately with a platter of spring vegetable crudités.

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Spectacular Spring Rhubarb Lattice Tart

Sometimes you need a show-stopping dessert, and this rhubarb tart takes the cake! It may require a little more time than your typical tart but the result is well worth the effort. Tender, sweet spring rhubarb shines like jewels over a lovely light almond and ricotta filling. Just like a lattice-topped pie, you may need a slice of patience to assemble this impressive dessert.

lattice-rhubarb-tart

Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Pastry:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp or more cold water

Rhubarb:
5-6 stalks of fresh rhubarb
1/4 cup apple jelly

Ricotta Almond Centre:
1 cup extra smooth ricotta
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

lattice-rhubarb-tart

Directions:
1. In a food processor mix flours, salt and sugar. Add in butter and pulse until butter is evenly dispersed into pea-size pieces. Add vinegar and pulse. Run the food processor as you add water tsp by tsp through the spout on the top. Dough will come together into a smooth ball.
2. Roll out dough on a floured surface until dough a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick.
3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place rolled out dough into the tart pan and gently press into and up sides. Discard excess dough. Poke the surface of the dough with a fork. Place a piece of parchment over dough and place baking weights over top. Bake until edges of crust begin to turn golden, about 12 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and remove baking weights and parchment. Return to oven until crust is golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

lattice-rhubarb-tart

5. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F. Slice rhubarb along a mandolin into long, thin strips. Set the strips on a flat surface and form a lattice pattern with rhubarb by weaving strips over and under each other. Continue to weave until a square forms 9 inches wide. Trace a circle 8.5 inches over lattice. Cut out circle carefully ensuring to keep lattice intact. Set aside.
6. In a large bowl, whisk ricotta with almond meal, sugar, almond extract, salt, and egg together until combined. Transfer mixture into the tart shell. Smooth over surface and spread into an even layer. Lift the rhubarb lattice circle and place over ricotta mixture.
7. Microwave apple jelly for 15 seconds and brush over rhubarb. Bake in oven until rhubarb is tender and ricotta mixture is set, about 25 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Looking for more spectacular spring recipes? Try these 20 Fresh and Beautiful Rhubarb Recipes.

lemon-cheesecake

Anna Olson’s Guide to Making the Perfect Cheesecake

If you’re in charge of hosting the family for Easter brunch or planning a springtime get together, cheesecake is ideal for serving a group. This rich, velvety cake not only makes you look like a hero, it can also be prepared ahead of time. That’s one thing off of your to-do list right before the doorbell rings!

From trying to avoid the dreaded crack in the centre to impressing guests with a stunning homemade dessert, these insider tips and tricks will ensure cheesecake success. Plus, they’ll give you the confidence to jump right into this brand new recipe I’ve got for you!

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Here are 5 essential tips for the perfect cheesecake.

1. Ingredient Temperature
Ingredients of a like temperature combine easily and smoothly, so:

a) Pull your cream cheese out an hour before using (cut it into pieces while still cold, spread onto a plate and cover it with plastic.) Do NOT microwave your cream cheese — if it’s too soft on the outside and still cool in the middle, you’ll get lumps in your cheesecake.

b) Warm your eggs up by placing them in a bowl and covering them completely with hot tap water. In 3-4 minutes, those right-from-the-fridge eggs will have warmed up to room temperature without you having to pull them out hours ahead.

2. Scrape Your Bowl!
For a smooth and creamy cheesecake, you need to scrape your bowl often, and after each addition. It might feel tedious to stop the mixer or beaters every minute or two, but it’s a simple task that will result in a velvety and smooth texture.

3. Watch Your Mixing Speed
When beating cream cheese and adding sugar, you can beat on a higher speed. Once you start adding the eggs, reduce the speed to low, so you don’t add too much air. Whipped eggs will soufflé in the oven, and, once the cheesecake starts cooling, those souffleed eggs will fall. This is when a crack can develop, even hours after the cheesecake is out of the oven.

4. Gradual Cooling
Allowing the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature before chilling is a simple and important step. Accelerating the cooling time by rushing it to the fridge can cause the cheesecake to contract, creating a crack. To check if the cheesecake is cool, touch the bottom of the pan, not the sides.

5. Loosen the Sides of the Cheesecake
By running a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform pan soon after the cheesecake comes out of the oven, you separate the cake from the pan. This way, if the cheesecake does want to contract, it can pull away from the sides of the pan, making it less likely to crack in the middle.

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Meyer Lemon Meringue Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time: 75 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes (plus chilling time)
Makes: 1, 9-inch cheesecake
Serves: 12-16

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Ingredients:

Graham Crust:
1 cup (225 g) graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 pkg (750 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tin (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice

Lemon Curd:
2 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream

Meringue Topping:
3 large egg whites
9 Tbsp (110 g) granulated sugar

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Directions:

Graham Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
2. For the crust, stir the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter together in a bowl until combined and press this into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes (no change in colour to note) and cool completely on a rack before filling.

Cheesecake:
1. For the cheesecake, lower the oven temperature to 300ºF (150ºC).
2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Beat in the zest and vanilla, then on a lower speed; beat in each egg and the yolk one at a time. Still on low speed, beat in the lemon juice.
3. Pour mixture over the cooled crust and bake for about 45 minutes, until the outside of the cheesecake is set, but the centre still has a little jiggle to it.
4. Prepare the lemon curd as the cheesecake cools.

anna-olson-cheesecake-directions-1

Lemon Curd:
1. For the curd, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a metal bowl. Whisk in the butter and sour cream and place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, whisking often, until the lemon curd has thickened (but it will still be fluid), about 10 minutes.
2. Strain the curd and spread this gently over the cheesecake.
3. Once fully cooled to room temperature, chill the cheesecake for at least 6 hours (do not cover with plastic wrap).

Meringue Topping:
1. For the topping, whisk the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl placed over a pot of gently simmering water until frothy and very warm to touch (165ºF if using a thermometer).
2. Use electric beaters or transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until the meringue has cooled and holds a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted.
3. Use a butane kitchen torch to brown the meringue or pop it into a 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 3-4 minutes to brown and then cool before refrigerating.

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Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Meyer Lemon Meringue Cheesecake here.

Nest Cake Feature Image

Show-Stopping Easter Nest Cake

Impress your guests with this show stopper of a cake that celebrates Easter and the coming of spring. Not only does this dessert make a stunning centrepiece, the buttery, fluffy sponge cake is a light and tasty treat that gets added texture and flavour thanks to the toasted almonds and coconut. Don’t forget the egg-cellent chocolate filling!

Easter nest Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup of chocolate mini eggs

nest cake

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter with sugar, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add in eggs 1 at a time and then vanilla. Continue to beat until mixture is fluffy.
5. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk. Repeat, then stir in last 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir just until combined.
Pour batter into a greased 10 cup Bundt pan.
6. Bake in oven until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
7. Let cool for 15 minutes then invert pan to release cake.
8. To make glaze, whisk milk with icing sugar. Add more milk to thin if necessary. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake. Sprinkle coconut and almonds over glaze. Fill centre of the Bundt with chocolate mini eggs.

Looking for more delicious Easter ideas? Try our 50 Fantastic Easter Desserts from Anna Olson.

Spring Vegetable Panzanella Salad

What’s better than a light, fresh spring salad? A light, fresh spring salad with a ton of toasted bread soaked in dressing, obviously. The panzanella salad originates in Italy and is said to date back to the 16th century. I know nothing of history. But what I do know is that I love a good crouton salad.

This salad is composed of fresh spring veggies that you can find in farmers’ markets this time of year, and really showcases the vegetables. Be sure to buy local and organic when possible, but if you can’t, just be sure to find the best quality veggies near you. It really makes a world of a difference.

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This salad is dressed really lightly with dill-mustard vinaigrette, which brightens and accents the asparagus, favas, grilled scallions and radishes perfectly. I’ve used pumpernickel bread in the recipe to add a deeper flavour to the salad, and pea shoots for a subtle earthy sweetness. You can always substitute those out for whatever bread and tender greens you can find — this dish is super refreshing and versatile.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 side servings or 2 large servings

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Ingredients:

For the croutons:
5 thick slices pumpernickel bread, about 1” thick
Olive oil
Salt

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

For the grilled scallions:
5-6 scallions
Olive oil
Salt

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 cup shelled fava beans, fresh is preferred
4 radishes, sliced thinly
1 cup pea shoots

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Directions:

For the croutons:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil for easy clean up.
2. Cut the pumpernickel slices into 1” thick cubes.
3. Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with a very, very generous amount of olive oil. You want it to completely cover the bread.
4. Transfer the bread onto a baking sheet and spread out in one layer.
5. Season with a bit of salt and bake for 12 minutes, tossing the croutons halfway through.

For the dressing:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dill, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and fresh cracked pepper until combined.
2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Set aside.

For the grilled scallions:
1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-low heat.
2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the scallions and season with a bit of salt.
3. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely charred and softened.
4. Cut the scallions into 1” long pieces.

For the asparagus:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a bowl.
2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the asparagus.
3. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath. They should still have some crunch to them.
4. Allow them to cool in the ice bath for 1 minute and then place onto a paper towel. Dab away any extra water. This will prevent the asparagus from getting waterlogged.
5. Cut the asparagus into 1” long pieces.

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Dressing the salad:
1. In a large bowl, toss the croutons with 2 Tbsp of dressing and allow them to soak it up while dressing the remaining components.
2. In a separate bowl, toss the scallions, asparagus, fava beans, radish slices and pea shoots with 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp of dressing. Don’t drown the delicate veggies.
3. Transfer the veggies into the bowl with the croutons and toss gently to combine.
4. Plate and enjoy with extra dressing on the side.

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Notes and Shortcuts:
– Use whatever vegetables are fresh and in season — get creative!
– The veggies and croutons can be made and prepped ahead of time, then dressed before serving. This is super helpful when you have guests coming or if you would like to take this salad as a work lunch.
– Change it up: grill the asparagus and change out the scallions for thinly sliced red onions. And if you can find ramps, it’s your lucky day. Definitely use them.
– Substitute the pea shoots for pea tendrils, micro greens or even sorrel — whatever you can find!

 

How to Throw a Carnival-Themed Party with HGTV Star Tiffany Pratt

Carnivals are all about eating delicious treats, having fun and enjoying marvellous spectacles. With all that emphasis on good times and that cheerful bright palette, they make the perfect family-friendly theme for a summer party.

We talked to Home To Win star and stylist extraordinaire Tiffany Pratt to get her tips on how to create a dazzling carnival-themed party.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Mix it up.

Tiffany’s signature style is colourful and whimsical. The aesthetic is not only perfect for a carnival theme, but is also easy to make your own. By mixing items you already own with new pieces, and avoiding the stress of being perfectly matchy-matchy, setting a stunning table is simple. “My personal philosophy is to use as much as you’ve got,” says Tiffany. She suggests repurposing leftover streamers from past parties, and mixing paper plates with regular cutlery. “The idea is to pull everything out that you’ve got; with a carnival you can use anything, because anything goes!” Once you’ve assembled the décor and serving ware you already own, you can start seeking extras: paper bags for loot bags or canvas to paint your own big top. “But the main event is to scour the house, use what you’ve got and have fun mixing patterns and colours,” says Tiffany.

Serve sweet and colourful treats.

“I think popcorn is the first thing that comes to my mind for this kind of party,” says Tiffany, “especially dazzled up popcorn.” She suggests decorating paper bags and filling them with colourful or caramel popcorn. She’s also a big fan of handheld edibles, like finger sandwiches and sliders. Candy is a must for a carnival party; for a refreshing beverage, Tiffany suggests serving root beer floats. For grownups who’d like a little more carnival spirit in their drink, sangria and other colourful punches keep the libations on-theme. Tiffany suggests umbrellas or swizzle sticks for added festivity.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Style a “smorgasbord of fun.”

“To create a table that looks like something you want to photograph, levels are really important,” says Tiffany. Think cake plates, stacks of cool dishes, and anything else that can be used to create height. “Not only are the plates, and the food, and the cups and the cutlery all centred in a really cool, artistic way, but you have them all away around the table to actually eat,” she says. “If it looks like a smorgasbord of fun in the centre, it invites people to grab and eat and play.” Style your table with levels; by mixing up colours and patterns, food and drinks, cutlery and plates, you invite entertainment factor, says Tiffany.  “People aren’t afraid to take apart the table and enjoy things, whereas if it looks so perfect, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to touch it, it looks so good!’”

Don’t stress.

Remember: good style is equal parts functional and fashionable, says Tiffany. Invoking fun and creating curiosity is just as important as remembering to put out forks. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. Yes, a beautiful setting can encourage a festive mood, but don’t stress about it.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gesture; putting out containers for guests to bring home leftovers, and including adults in the loot bags are small gestures with huge impact.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Flowers, flowers, flowers.

Don’t have streamers or festive décor you can repurpose for your carnival party? No matter what the theme, “lots of flowers make things look so beautiful and festive,” says Tiffany.

Follow Tiffany Pratt on Instagram @thetiffanypratt and watch Home to Win Sundays at 10pm on HGTV. Better yet, sign up to see if you have what it takes to win your very own HGTV dream home!

5 Tips on Becoming a Better Baker

Spring Baking Championship season two has only just begun, but we’ve already learned a lot from the contestants and judges. Here are some of the best baking lessons we’ve picked up so far:

Spring Baking Championship Host and Judges

1. Set creative limits.

Spring shortcakes are almost always garnished with fresh seasonal berries, but when our Spring Baking Championship contestants were tasked with creating their own, there was only one rule: no berries. The result was a medley of cool and creative cakes, from cardamom and honey biscuits with caramelized fig to cherry pistachio shortcake with micro basil to peach and mascarpone shortcake with Italian genoise. In fact, some of the most interesting creations we’ve seen on our Baking Championship series come from the limitations imposed by the show’s challenges. The next time you set out to bake a favourite recipe, set your own challenge: choosing an ingredient you must or mustn’t use, using a new tool, or styling your dish in a way you’ve never tried before.  You might be surprised by how much creative freedom comes from adding a constraint.

2. Be bold.

A sprinkle of black salt here, a sprig of micro basil there — our contestants prove that these bold touches aren’t just beautiful, they’re flavourful too. Think beyond the standard sweets in your pantry the next time you set out to bake a dessert. The baby greens in your garden could add spring colours to a cake, while the smoker can infuse fresh fruit and compotes with exotic depth. Unlike our contestants, you’ve got time to experiment, so work in small batches to avoid wasting ingredients while you discover which funky combinations you like best.

3. Remember: sometimes less is more.

In a single episode of Spring Baking Championship, two contestants managed to raise our judges’ ire by including too much almond extract in their cakes. Even the contestant that only used a few drops because, in her words, “It’s a very, very strong flavour,” got flak. Judge Lorraine Pascale says, “Almond extract should be in one thing only, and that is in the garbage because it’s just so overpowering.” Judges also criticized another contestant for using too much tequila in her margarita-inspired cake.

4. Seek novel tools.

Acetate strips, available in baking stores and online, can help form a perfect layer cake, a smoker gun infuses fruit with a hint of campfire, and a marble slab tempers chocolate, Belgian-style. These are just three of the cool tools our contestants used in their creations. Hit up your local cooking store and ask staff to bring out a tool you’ve never seen before — who knows what it will inspire you to create!

5. Budget your time.

Let’s be real: it’s fun watching contestants scramble to complete their creations on time, but it’s an absolute drag doing the same at home. Judges reward bold experiments — when they turn out — but we suggest testing out new ingredients and techniques well in advance of big events. The day of a party is not the time to try smoking cherries.

Catch new episodes of Spring Baking Championship Sundays at 9 E/P.