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Baking Mixes

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I heard about a bakery that somehow combined cake mix and a yeast dough to make great cinnamon buns and was intrigued to try my own version. Wow! This recipe makes a light, almost feathery cinnamon bun. Chill overnight and bake off first thing in the morning for fresh buns by the time The Sunday New York Times arrives.

A cookie mix in a jar, with a recipe card attached. Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven – this is the next best thing. A gift like this passes on the joy of baking …..well, it’s a start. Make a few of these at a time – same effort – a few gifts result.

No more commercial multi-purpose mixesThis makes for light, tender biscuits. Make sure your baking powder is fresh (check the date on the can) and don't twist the biscuit cutter around as you cut - the biscuits will topple when they bake. 

Brilliant. Buttermilk powder and a secret mix yield quick-and-easy scones for the non-baker. Add a jar of your own,  or imported strawberry jam, a scone tin from Nordicware and bask in the thanks. Don't forget to include directions to use the dry mix in your gift card. Use a fresh tin of baking powder for this.

This features sumptuous, silky smooth homemade vanilla ice-cream with vanilla bean bits throughout and a swirl of homemade dulce de leche, miniature marshmallows and toasted pecans. Ok - you can just make the ice cream or stop at ice-cream with dulce. It's over the top luscious to begin with. I sometimes cheat with this recipe, purchasing ice-cream base (at local food service supply stores), and just dump in the vanilla ice-cream base into my Cuisinart ice-cream maker. You then drop dollops of  dulce de leche just as the ice-cream begins to set up. Freeze, and serve once the ice-cream is fully hardened. This is gorgeous, easy, and better than anything you can purchase. Save some extra dulce de leche, warmed up, to drizzle with toasted buttered pecans over the final offering. (Make the dulce a day ahead – it is just easier to have it ready). This is Haagen Daz/Ben and Jerry rich, ice-cream.

Don't you find this just sounds terrific? Brownie dry mix is the easiest thing to create and give. Just use quality cocoa, which you gently stir and then measure. If I, like Oprah, ever did a my  own favorite things list/show, Brownies in a Jar would be on the hit list. Everyone who visits BetterBaking.com would get a jar. Sweet. Incidentally, I use old Mason jars or dollar store decorative jars. New mason jars are available in supermarkets or hardware stores, all year round. Ribbons and a card is all you need to finish this gift off but you can also add a dollar store 8 by 11 inch brownie pan. Cost of raw elements: about $3. Care that goes into the mix: priceless.

Great for gift giving, or for stocking the pantry.

This is a spice blend that is easily ordered online or found in supermarkets spice sections but making your own guarantees absolute freshness (because you use your own freshest, best quality spices). You can also customize the blend by adding more or less of one spice or another or a touch of mace or cardamom and recipe doubles and triples as you like. I use it in pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin sticky buns, and of course, in my special recipe for Pumpkin Latte. Don’t forget to grate the nutmeg fresh for a veritable explosion of nutmeg-y soul.

No trademark or brand name references here but I think you get the reference. These are all-natural, homemade, oaty bars similar to those you find in the supermarket. Jam filled, cake-mix and oatmeal based, these whip up in seconds (!) and yield a nice batch of wrap and take them with you bars which are ideal to eat on your commute, pack into a brown bag lunch or tuck into at recess. 

A layered gourmet brownie mix is the next best thing to home-baking. Doll a jar of this mix in a pretty rattan basket, along with a new brownie baking pan for a complete gift. Just use a great quality pure cocoa.

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