A few of our favorite projects of late

Lately Instagram has become my favorite social media tool. Not only does it take average photos and make them look awesome with filters, but it also allows us to connect with fans and share content on a regular basis without overwhelming us or them. Facebook, twitter, and blogging all have their benefits, but I’m conscious of not wanting to overwhelm people’s feeds, plus a lot more thought has to go into those posts. Instagram, by contrast, is simply a photo-sharing platform, and posts are quick/easy to share for me and fast/fun to digest for our fans. They’re also very “likeable.” There’s something funny about content on Instagram. I can post the same photo on facebook or twitter and maybe get a few responses/likes, whereas when I post it on Instagram, where we have less than 10% of the number of followers, I easily get 10x the number of likes. If you’re on Instagram, follow us @BakingforGood.

Here are a few of our favorite recent projects:

1. Nicki and Roni’s gender reveal cookies. It’s a girl!

2. A cake for Pencils of Promise.

3. Pig cookies and cupcakes for a pig-themed party. 

4. Anna Banana cookies for a little girl’s first birthday. 

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Vote for Baking for Good to win $250k!

Image

Three years ago I started Baking for Good with $40,000 of savings. We have been lucky that our sales have grown quickly from the beginning, and keeping the company very lean has allowed us to avoid taking on outside investment.

Keeping a close eye on spending means there are often new projects, partnerships, and events that would be GREAT to do, but we can’t justify them with our small budget. When I saw that Chase and Living Social are teaming up to give twelve grants of $250,000 each to worthy small businesses across the country, I jumped at the chance to put Baking for Good’s name in the ring.

In order to be considered for one of these grants, we need to receive 250 votes at https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/ by this Saturday, June 30, 2012. You’re eligible to vote if you have a facebook account, and it only takes a moment. Just follow the link, then click “log in & support,” then search for Baking for Good and vote.

Every vote counts, so after you’ve voted, it would be AWESOME if you could share it with your friends via facebook, twitter, email, etc. Please help us continue to grow so we can raise more funds for causes in our communities!

Vote now: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/. THANKS!!!

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For My Dad on Father’s Day

If you’re familiar with the story of Baking for Good, you’ll know that my mom plays a big role in it. I grew up baking with her, and it was a gift she received from a friend that inspired me to bring the bake sale online.

The person who gets less credit in the story, but is at least as responsible for turning me into an entrepreneur, is my dad. My dad is the most curious person I know. He’s constantly reading and learning, and he has a great ability to brainstorm creative business ideas.

When I was about twelve, we were skiing together one day and found ourselves frustrated by the inconvenience of having to take off our gloves and risk frostbite in order to retrieve the trail maps from our pockets. Over the next few months, we devised a prototype of the Trail Snap, our first (and only) invention together. It allowed you to store your trail map inside your ski pole, and you could access it whenever you wanted by pulling it out via a window shade-like contraption. The Trail Snap was brilliant, and though we never took it beyond that prototype stage, I know that this experience of building something from nothing made an impression on me.

I’m often asked if my parents were supportive of my decision to start Baking for Good. The answer couldn’t be a more resounding yes. After I told my parents the idea, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation about whether or not I should do it; instead, my dad had a million ideas right off the bat, and his energy and enthusiasm for the company have never wavered.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you!

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Watch Baking for Good on the TODAY Show!

Our cookies were featured on the TODAY Show as a great Father’s Day gift idea. Here’s the clip in case you missed it!

http://blog.bakingforgood.com/tagged/today-show

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Check us out on the TODAY Show on Tuesday!

ImageIt’s no secret that I love the TODAY Show. When I first started Baking for Good, my bakery was all the way across the country in California, so I had a lot of working-from-home days that could get a little lonely. The TODAY Show was always on in the background and became a sort of companion for me. Now that the bakery is in New York and I’m there each morning, I’m happy to say I’m able to continue to watch Matt, Ann, and Al on a daily basis on our newly installed TV.

All of this is a way to say that I’m especially excited that our cookies will be featured this Tuesday morning as part of a Father’s Day gift segment. Tune in during the 9am hour, or if you miss it, we’ll post the clip after it goes up online.

In the meantime, get your Father’s Day cookie orders in! Check out our Father’s Day favorites while there’s still time. 

Off to figure out what I’m getting my own dad. (Hi, Dad!)

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Experimenting with Mini Donuts

mini doughnuts

When I’m invited over to friends’ houses these days, it’s pretty much a given that I’ll bring something sweet, and it would pain me to bring something that wasn’t from the Baking for Good kitchen. (Fresh Direct once sent me a container of frozen cookie dough to try, and it’s been in my freezer ever since. I can’t bake off the cookies for friends, and I certainly don’t need more cookies hanging around my apartment!)

A few weeks ago, I bought this mini donut pan from Sur la Table. When my friend Spencer invited me over for brunch on his roof this weekend, I finally had an opportunity to test it out. The recipe on the package is super simple, and while it’s not perfect (the donuts came out a bit spongier than I would have liked), the results are too adorable not to love. They went over very well with the boys, and the one little kid who was there was super excited that his mom let him have many donuts, seeing as how small they were.

mini doughnuts

How cute would it be to make little favor boxes of these for guests at a birthday party or wedding?

mini donut favors

Below is the recipe that came with the pan. It says it makes 24, but I doubled my batter and got over 60 donuts. If you have another mini (or regular) donut recipe that you like, I’d love to see it!

Baked Mini Cake Donuts
adapted from Wilton.com

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest OR 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray mini donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest or nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add in buttermilk, egg, and butter. Stir until just combined.
  4. Using a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with the corner cut out, fill each donut cup approximately half full with the batter. (Don’t over fill! It’s better to under-fill.)
  5. Bake 4-6 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched. (The tops of the donuts won’t brown unless they’re overcooked, so don’t look for that as a sign of doneness.)
  6. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Decorate as you like! I used the glaze below with sprinkles for the first set, then I dipped some in melted chocolate. Others I tossed in powdered sugar, and still others I dipped in melted butter and then tossed in cinnamon sugar.
  8. Enjoy!

Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Use immediately to glaze donuts.

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Entrepreneurs Who Inspire: Sarah LaFleur

Sarah LaFleur, founder of Mémé LaFleur

Sarah LaFleur, founder of Mémé LaFleur

Most of my friends from college I met when I was, well, in college.  Such is not the case for one of my closest friends, the beautiful and talented Sarah LaFleur of the newly launched Mémé LaFleur. Sarah and I were classmates and shared many things at school, including majors (Social Studies), friends (including my first NYC roommate, Burden), and a job search that landed us with management consulting jobs post-graduation. Yet somehow we didn’t meet until our 5-year reunion last spring, when Sarah and I were seated at the same table at an event and started chatting about entrepreneurship. She was a loyal Baking for Good customer and had a million great questions to ask, and I soon learned that she had just decided to leave her job to start a women’s fashion company focused on redefining the work dress.

Soon after our conversation at the reunion, we set up a coffee chat back in New York and have been meeting weekly ever since. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Sarah take Mémé LaFleur from concept to prototype to launch, and I’ve tried to offer words of wisdom (or at least sympathetic anecdotes) through some of the more trying times of starting the business. She and I have both bootstrapped our companies, investing personal savings and lots of blood, sweat, and tears (and in my case, flour, and in hers, fabric) into bringing our dreams to market. So we always have plenty to discuss, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have a standing appointment each week to take a step back from the go-go-go of the operations and have some time to think through strategy, especially with someone as smart and thoughtful as Sarah.

Keep your eye on Mémé LaFleur. The dresses are gorgeous yet practical, and I love the one I bought so much that I almost wish I still worked in a corporate environment.  Much more to come from Sarah LaFleur!

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