Jennifer Ruple

The grass is getting greener, the birds are chirping, and the days are becoming brighter. It is springtime in northwest Ohio. With the holidays and special occasions of the season fast approaching – Easter, Mother’s Day and graduation parties, spring is the perfect time to brush up on baking skills and learn a few new tips. Jennifer Valo, pastry chef and owner of


The Next Sweet Thing Bakery and Café
8252 Mayberry Square
thenextsweetthing.com

offers 10 tips and tricks of the baking trade and a fun seasonal dessert recipe.

Jennifer Valo

Jennifer Valo’s Pro Baking Tips

  • When cakes are in the oven, Valo recommends keeping the oven door closed as much as possible to prevent the cake dome from collapsing. “When testing for doneness, wait until the cake springs back to the touch before inserting a toothpick,” she said.
  • “After baking cookies, store them in an airtight container with a piece of bread. This will keep cookies soft and delicious for days,” Valo suggested.
  • “If a recipe calls for room temperature eggs, but they are cold, submerge the eggs in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes,” she said.
  • For maximum volume in whipped cream, Valo advises chilling the mixing bowl before whipping the heavy cream.
  • • “Before beginning the first step of the instructions in a recipe, measure out all the ingredients,” said Valo. “This is called mise en place, a French term, and it’s the most important step of any recipe.”
  • Accidently overbake your cake? No problem. Valo suggests making a simple syrup by microwaving a 1/2 cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of water until completely dissolved. Soak the cake with the syrup using a pastry brush. Pro tip: “Add your favorite flavor or extract to the syrup.”
  • “The freezer is your friend,” said Valo. “Freezers add moisture and make baked goods softer. Most baked goods will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.”
  • When baking cookies or cupcakes, “Use a small ice cream scoop to ensure equal portions and even baking,” said Valo.
  • Valo suggests microwaving your lemons before juicing to get the most liquid out of them.
  • And one more, “When coloring icings purple, add pink food color to make a more vibrant purple,” she offered.
  • Lemon Blueberry Trifle
  • “I like the combination of the lemon and blueberry flavors in this fun dessert. It sounded like spring to me,” said Valo. “You can use any flavor of donuts and pudding or even fruit to customize it to your taste.”
  • 8-12 blueberry donuts, cut into cubes
  • Slice 3 more in half for around the bowl
  • Two 3.4-ounce boxes lemon pudding
  • 48 vanilla wafers
  • 1 tub whipped topping
  • 1 can whipped cream
  • In a trifle bowl, arrange the donut slices around the sides of the bowl.
  • Working in layers, place 1/3 of the vanilla wafers in the bottom of the bowl. Spread 1/3 of the whipped topping over the wafers. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the cubed donuts and then spread 1/3 of the lemon pudding over the donut cubes. Repeat layers two more times.
  • Top with whipped cream in a decorative pattern, if desired. Decorate with extra vanilla wafers and maraschino cherries.
  • Refrigerate and chill for at least two hours and serve.
  • What’s Cooking at the Bakery
  • Valo recently celebrated the 5-year anniversary of The Next Sweet Thing with a kitchen remodel. “We rearranged and opened up the whole kitchen,” said Valo. The extra space allows for more efficient production of the bakery’s signature goodies such as cookie truffles, flavored sandwich cookies enrobed in flavored chocolates; 25 varieties of donuts; decorated sugar cookies that coordinate with the seasons; gourmet cupcakes; and grab and go cakes that can be personalized for the occasion.
  • To wash down all that sweet goodness, the bakery is now serving espresso drinks including café mocha, vanilla cappuccino, cinnamon dulce and caramel macchiato. “We can make just about anything you would get at a coffee shop,” explained Valo.
  • Making their debut this summer are parlor pops, which are like ice cream pops only made from cake. The frozen bites will be available in a variety of flavors such as cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, cookies and cream, birthday cake and chocolate fudge. “We created a version of these for St. Patrick’s Day and they were a hit, so we decided they’d make a great cold treat during hot weather,” explained Valo. “We’re always experimenting and coming up with new flavors to add to our signature items.”
Blueberry Lemon Trifle

Lemon Blueberry Trifle
“I like the combination of the lemon and blueberry flavors in this fun dessert. It sounded like spring to me,” said Valo. “You can use any flavor of donuts and pudding or even fruit to customize it to your taste.”

8-12 blueberry donuts, cut into cubes
Slice 3 more in half for around the bowl
Two 3.4-ounce boxes lemon pudding
48 vanilla wafers
1 tub whipped topping
1 can whipped cream

In a trifle bowl, arrange the donut slices around the sides of the bowl.
Working in layers, place 1/3 of the vanilla wafers in the bottom of the bowl. Spread 1/3 of the whipped topping over the wafers. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the cubed donuts and then spread 1/3 of the lemon pudding over the donut cubes. Repeat layers two more times.
Top with whipped cream in a decorative pattern, if desired. Decorate with extra vanilla wafers and maraschino cherries.
Refrigerate and chill for at least two hours and serve.

What’s Cooking at the Bakery
Valo recently celebrated the 5-year anniversary of The Next Sweet Thing with a kitchen remodel. “We rearranged and opened up the whole kitchen,” said Valo. The extra space allows for more efficient production of the bakery’s signature goodies such as cookie truffles, flavored sandwich cookies enrobed in flavored chocolates; 25 varieties of donuts; decorated sugar cookies that coordinate with the seasons; gourmet cupcakes; and grab and go cakes that can be personalized for the occasion.
To wash down all that sweet goodness, the bakery is now serving espresso drinks including café mocha, vanilla cappuccino, cinnamon dulce and caramel macchiato. “We can make just about anything you would get at a coffee shop,” explained Valo.
Making their debut this summer are parlor pops, which are like ice cream pops only made from cake. The frozen bites will be available in a variety of flavors such as cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, cookies and cream, birthday cake and chocolate fudge. “We created a version of these for St. Patrick’s Day and they were a hit, so we decided they’d make a great cold treat during hot weather,” explained Valo. “We’re always experimenting and coming up with new flavors to add to our signature items.”