I Am Baker

Food Styling Challenge: Baked Bree

Food Styling Challenge


The Food Styling Challenge is all about showcasing talent for styling food. I have asked 12 amazing bloggers to pick any chocolate cake recipe they want and style it anyway they want. The catch? They only have $25 to do it! Join us on the journey to see how they can transform a cake stand into a work of art!

December is all about Bree.  Beautiful Bree is the powerhouse of talent behind the gorgeous lifestyle blog Baked Bree.  In addition to stunning food, she has a ‘Create‘, ‘Family‘, ‘Life‘, and ‘Home‘ section.  I read her blog for everything.  I just love it.  But you know what I love best is the food.  There is a whole page of just cake.  And another whole page of just chocolate!

Today Bree is sharing with us a Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Chip Frosting.  Be sure to head to her blog for the recipe!

Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Frosting #foodstylingchallenge

Did you find the Food Styling Challenge to be easy or difficult?
I found it to be really fun. A little on the difficult side because you cannot know what you are going to find. It is truly being lucky about what is in the store at the time. I like the thrill of a challenge, so this was right up my alley. I made it even harder on myself giving myself only 20 minutes and one store.
Was the spending limit a challenge?
No, I think that $25 is more than I would usually spend. I think that a few key, versatile pieces can be really helpful when styling food. I am always on the lookout for unique and pretty things that I think will photograph well. Shopping in thrift stores, flea markets, and Goodwill is great for finding cool pieces that you would not necessarily find anywhere else.
Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Frosting #foodstylingchallenge
What are your favorite props to style with?
I love vintage utensils. I have quite a collection of forks, spoons, and knives. I like how vintage pieces seem to be smaller than today’s counterpart. They are really useful with having proper scale in photographs. I also like serving utensils. One of my favorite things are teeny vintage salt spoons that my dad bought for me years ago in an antique shop.
I love having a really white and clean area to shoot in, and linens help me add pops of color and personality to my photos. Linens also help me place the food and add a sense of person. Food looks more inviting when it looks like someone was actually sitting there eating it. I also like to use linens for holidays. I am not big on really overt holiday stuff, but a linen with some holiday colors can let the viewer know when the meal is taking place.
Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Frosting #foodstylingchallenge
What is your favorite part of the challenge?
I liked this challenge because it got me out of my comfort zone. I shoot on all white plates all the time, so using some red and colorful pieces was a departure from what I usually use. I liked using the Christmas tree plate in the background for a little whimsy. This challenge will push me to broaden my horizons on where I buy my props and how I use them.


Thank you SO much Bree!!  I can’t think of anyone I would rather have close out the year on iambaker!

I Am Baker

Food Styling Challenge: Savory Simple

Food Styling Challenge


The Food Styling Challenge is all about showcasing talent for styling food. I have asked 12 amazing bloggers to pick any chocolate cake recipe they want and style it anyway they want. The catch? They only have $25 to do it! Join us on the journey to see how they can transform a cake stand into a work of art!

Jennifer from Savory Simple is hugely talented and I am so honored she agreed to participate in the Food Styling Challenge.  She can take light and airy images as well as dark, moody and texture filled pictures. Her pictures move me.  They invoke emotion.  They tell a story.

She is awesomely talented and I hope you will spend some time on her beautiful blog!

For August’s Food Styling Challenge Jennifer made us a Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake.  I get excited just thinking about it!   Be sure to stop by Savory Simple and get the recipe for her Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake!

 Chocolate Espresso Cake from Savory Simple

Did you find the Food Styling Challenge to be easy or difficult?
I found the food styling itself to be pretty easy but cakes can be challenging since I don’t make them on a regular basis. As I discuss in the post, I love making layer cakes and working with chocolate but they make me nervous. There are so many moments that could go so very wrong and there’s really no turning back. So the food styling itself isn’t necessarily a huge challenge but in my opinion the food needs to be beautiful in order to have truly beautiful photos.


Chocolate Espresso Cake from Savory Simple
Was the spending limit a challenge?
Not at all! I’m very lucky to live close to a place called Antique Row. It’s a small, quaint street located in a historic village lined with around 10 antique shops. Some of them are quite pricy but many are very reasonable and filled with the sort of props I love styling my photos around. I see similar products sold online for around 4x the price plus shipping. I highly recommend looking for props at local antique and thrift stores.


What are your favorite props to style with?
I love working with tarnished silver, pewter and dark bowls and plates. The fit with the moody image I’m often trying to create with my photos.


Chocolate Espresso Cake from Savory Simple
What is your favorite part of the challenge?
Sometimes, when I’m not feeling the food or the setup, photo shoots can be a real chore. But when I love the subject and the way it fits with the props, I find the experience inspiring, soothing and joyful. Chocolate is one of my favorite subjects to shoot and I already love working with antiques. Everything about this challenge was a pleasure. Thank you for including me!

Chocolate Espresso Cake from SavorySimple.net

Isnt that just stunning?  Thank you so much Jennifer!

Be sure to check out these past participants!
January-Dine & DishWhite Chocolate Cake February-Verses From My KitchenChocolate Cake
March-Inspired by CharmOreo Cake April-Tidymom

Chocolate Cake from Tidymom

May-Family Fresh Cooking

ChocolatePancake Cake

June- Picky Palate

Double Chocolate Butterfinger Layered Cake

July-Raspberri Cupcakes

Food Styling Challenge: Raspberri Cupcakes

I Am Baker

Food Styling Challenge: Family Fresh Cooking

Food Styling Challenge


The Food Styling Challenge is all about showcasing talent for styling food.  I have asked 12 amazing bloggers to pick any chocolate cake recipe they want and style it anyway they want.  The catch?  They only have $25 to do it!  Join us on the journey to see how they can transform a cake stand into a work of art!

May is focusing on Marla from Family Fresh Cooking.  I have long time been a fan of Marla’s unique style and talent, and secretly hope to one day see her prop closet!  And thankfully she does share some of her amazing prop secrets below!

Be sure to stop by and see the recipe for her beautiful and delicious (and I am sure healthy, Marla is the queen of beautifulhealthydelicious food!) Chocolate Pancake Layer Cake!


Chocolate Pancake Cake

Did you find the Food Styling Challenge to be easy or difficult?

I had a blast with this challenge! I love things that test my photography and recipe development skills. I pondered my recipe for quite a while as I am not a traditional baker. That is why you see a pancake cake! Until I got started on this I was perplexed as to what I would come up with ~ once I got started it all flowed easily!

Was the spending limit a challenge?

At first I thought it was gonna be a challenge. I went to a few antique stores that were way over priced. Then I went to a new favorite in Durango, CO. They had so much stuff within price range I could hardly decide what to buy. As soon as my eyes latched onto these clear glass plates with the beaded edge I was hooked! These will be used regularly on my blog from now on. I am obsessed with the antique kitty too! She also has a puppy pal.


Chocolate Pancake Cake from Family Fresh Cooking

What are your favorite props to style with?

I tend to like antiques ~ the Shabby Chic look is a favorite. My prop collection includes pieces I find on Etsy.com, antiques stores and brands such a s Mackenzie-ChildsPip Studio and Kath Kidston. I have a thing for european country design and their food styling.


What is your favorite part of the challenge?

My favorite part(s) of this challenge were wondering how I was going to come up with a chocolate cake that fit my healthier recipe style. Also, I wondered how I was going to bake something at high altitude, I live at close to 10,000 feet. We moved here in January and quite frankly I am not a baker ~ so I have not been experimenting. The ratios of ingredients are quite different up here in the Telluride high country. Thankfully pancakes are a constant in our house, so I turned them into a layer cake. This recipe is healthy enough for me to consider for breakfast, brunch or dessert. I loved finding props that fit within budget too.

 Chocolate Pancake Cake

Find Marla here!

Twitter   @MarlaMeridith

Facebook: Food   @Family Fresh Cooking

Facebook: Lifestyle  @marlameridith.com

Pinterest   @Marla Meridith

Instagram @marlameridith


Amazing job Marla!  Thanks so much for taking on the Food Styling Challenge!

Be sure to  check out past participants!

January-Dine & Dish

White Chocolate Cake





February-Verses From My Kitchen

Chocolate Cake





March-Inspired by Charm

Oreo Cake






Chocolate Cake from Tidymom

I Am Baker

Food Styling Challenge: Tidymom

Food Styling Challenge: 12 Bloggers, 12 Cakes


The Food Styling Challenge is all about showcasing talent for styling food.  I have asked 12 amazing bloggers to pick any chocolate cake recipe they want and style it anyway they want.  The catch?  They only have $25 to do it!  Join us on the journey to see how they can transform a cake stand into a work of art!


April is all about Cheryl from Tidymom.  Cheryl is one of my favorite bloggers and has taught me SO much!  When she agreed to be a part of this challenge I was literally giddy.

Not only is Cheryl one of the smartest bloggers I know, but she is totally willing to share everything she learns.  Her blog is an amazing combination of scrumptious food and homemaking and photography tips!

And just look what she made for us today!


Malted Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Cream

(be sure to click over to Cheryl’s blog to get the recipe for the mouth watering cake creation!!)

Malted Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Cream  -TidyMom.net


Did you find the Food Styling Challenge to be easy or difficult?  A little of both.  Generally I don’t give much thought to how I will style a shoot before I make a recipe.  I usually make it, them rummage thru what I have and start playing while I shoot. – I know that’s not how the pro’s do it, but, it works for me.  I’ve learned to just pick up cool stuff when I see it, so I’ve grown a pretty good collection of props.

For your challenge I actually gave thought weeks ahead of time of how I wanted to style my cake shots, and had items in mind that I wanted to look for.  Shopping second hand is what I usually do, but it’s definitely more challenging when you have specific items in mind.  I do have a large Antique Mall almost walking distance from my house, and GoodWill and a few resale shops in town, so I was able to eventually come up with what I thought would work.

Decorating cake is a challenge in of its self, so I decided to make this an easy one, and I found shooting a dark chocolate cake to be a challenge too.  It’s hard to get the right light on the cake,  without blowing out everything else in the shot.  That took some time, I didn’t expect.


 Malted Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Cream TidyMom

Was the spending limit a challenge?  Not at all, I’m pretty sure I was well under budget.  Let’s see….. the silver tray was $3.50, the assorted silver ware  came to $4.00, the blue cup $ .50 (the pink cup I had), plates $1.00, books were $2.00, fabric remnant $1.00, blue mason jar $.50, glasses $2.00, the faux wood surface is a piece of wallpaper I had.  So that comes to… $14.50!!  All of these items are pieces I will use again.


What are your favorite props to style with?  Oh gosh, I’d have to say old darker pieces, especially pans and fun fabrics and napkins, I have a huge collection of both.


What is your favorite part of the challenge?  Pushing myself to think about styling BEFORE I even make a recipe.  I also tried my hand at more of a darker feel, by using my black foam boards instead of white.  I wanted my photo to have a feel that “is was a lazy day spent reading, it was getting late and I stopped to enjoy a piece of cake with a glass of milk.”  It’s funny to look at my first photo in a shoot, and then see where I end up, usually nothing  like where I started.

Kudos to you Amanda on all your beautiful cake decorating AND styling!  You sure make it look easy!

 Malted Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Cream Filling -TidyMom


 I cant get over how delicious this cake looks.  I might have to skip breakfast and lunch so I can have cake for dinner!

Thank you so much Cheryl!  Please do take the time to visit the amazingness that is Tidymom. net.  And check out her Pinterest boards… over 100,000 people follow everything she pins!

Blog             TidyMom.net

Twitter       https://twitter.com/#!/tidymom

Google +     https://plus.google.com/106011087914023320492?rel=author

Be sure to check out the Food Styling Challenge Participants thus far!

JANUARY – Dine & Dish

White Chocolate Confetti Cake

Food Styling Challenge: Kristen from Dine & Dish






FEBRUARY – Verses From My Kitchen

Blackberry Chocolate Cake







MARCH – Inspired by Charm

Cookies and Cream Cake


I Am Baker

Food Styling Challenge: Dine and Dish

I am so so SO excited to share with you a new feature on my blog!!!  One of my passions has long been admiring the talent and skill of the folks that are able to beautifully style food.  I personally find cake to one of the hardest foods to style, and am constantly searching for new and creative ways to share baked creations.

Since my talents are so very limited, I thought it would be fun to see what the best in the business could come up with!

12 Talented Bloggers Show off Their Styling Skills!

I asked 12 different fabulously talented bloggers if they would be up for a little challenge.  With $25 total and the common theme of Chocolate Cake, I was dying to see what they could produce.  I requested that they shop only second hand, but were able to buy and use any props within their budget.

January is all about the fabulous Kristen from Dine&Dish.

I am a long time fan of Kristen’s ability to style her food and pictures.  Every time I go to her site I want to immediately make what she has shared!

Kristen also shared her about her experience on her site, and it is definitely worth checking out!


White Chocolate Rose cake from Dine&Dish


I asked Kristen a few questions about her experience:

Did you find the Food Styling Challenge to be easy or difficult?  It was a mix of easy and difficult. We don’t have any antique stores near where I am, and if we did, going there with a 3 year old in tow would not be my idea of a good time. So instead, I hit up Goodwill. Goodwill is one of those places where it’s either hit or miss. The price is often right, but whether you find what you are looking for with just one trip can be the challenge.

I believe the right textures in a photograph make or break a picture. I had trouble finding the base fabric I wanted to use, but finally found an ivory tablecloth with a coffee stain or something on it for cheap. Considering I would only be using a portion of the cloth, it worked out beautifully.


Beautiful White Chocolate Rose Cake from Dine&Dish
Was the spending limit a challenge?  Surprisingly, it wasn’t, but it’s because I found things with blemishes. The tea kettle is missing a leg. The tablecloth has a stain. I bought the tea cup but could have probably gotten away without it as I didn’t really like it in the pictures (seemed like too much). In fact, my favorite picture is the simple stack of plates without the extra props. I spent $1 on the forks, $3 on the plates, $2 on the tablecloth and got the napkin like fabric out of a remnants bin for 25 cents. I could have spent that much and would have been happy with the pictures without the extra props.
What is your favorite part of the challenge? Attempting to decorate a cake :) Cake decorating is not my forte, at all. My daughter is currently taking a cake decorating class so I am having fun learning along with her. Even though I didn’t nail your rose technique, I loved trying it. Following your tutorial made it so easy – mush easier than all those things we are learning in her class.


White Chocolate Rose Cake from Dine&Dish
White Chocolate Confetti Cake


  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces high quality white chocolate squares, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup pastel sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your baking pans by sprang with Pam Baking Spray (see note at end of recipe regarding pan size).
  2. Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Heat milk in a microwave safe bowl until hot (not scalding or boiling). Stir in the chopped white chocolate pieces and stir until melted.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and sour cream together until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well incorporated.
  5. Turn your mixer to low speed and add melted chocolate mixture followed by the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  6. Turn off mixer and remove bowl. Using a wooden spoon, fold in pastel sprinkles until just incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake pan(s). Note: I baked mine in mini 5 inch spring form pans for 20-23 minutes. For 2 8 inch round pans, bake for 18-20 or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Top with your favorite Vanilla Buttercream
  9. Adapted from wilton.com White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry
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White Chocolate Cake from Kristen of Dine & Dish
Thank you SO much Kristen for being the first to take on the Food Styling Challenge!  Your work is stunning and your personal style and passion are beyond inspiring!
So I must know… what is your favorite picture of Kristens?  What do you love about it?


You can find Kristen on Pinterest, on Twitter (and she is one fantastic tweeter!) , Facebook , Google+, as well as Instagram and Vine.


Stay tuned for next month, you are not going to want to miss the seriously talented blogger who is stopping by!
I Am Baker

Food {Faux}tography

I gotta keep it real here.  Food photography is tough.  I struggle with it every single time I do it.  I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I am totally faking it.

This is my favorite shot of a slice of cake.  When one person (whose opinion I trust implicitly) saw it they said, “Can I just tell you everything that is wrong with that shot?”

Yes!!  Please do!!  (Seriously, I appreciate all feedback!)  Because when I took it I didnt realize the back was blown out and that the fork placement draws your eye away from the cake or that my depth of field is way to shallow.  I just thought it was pretty.

So this is not a series on how to be a better food photographer.  Because clearly I know very little on that topic.  And there are amazingly talented people out there who DO know how to do food photography and styling.

Dine and Dish

What Katie Ate




Donna Hay

These guys are the real deal.  One reason that these folks speak to me is that when I see their pictures I dont think, “That is beautiful styling.”  I think,

I want to eat that food.”

They are so masterful with telling my eye where to go, where to linger, and what exactly it should be focusing on.

They just get it.

(I highly encourage you to check out those blogs… if you love their talent as much as I do, be sure to tell them!)

I am quite secure in the fact that food styling & photography is NOT my gift.  I DON’T get it.  I have taken classes, I have watched video’s, I have tried to flat out copy people. (always giving credit of course) Its just not. my. thing.

So I fake it.

One way I fake it is with props.  I tend to make lots of cakes so side plates are a big prop in my life.  I have many, many, way-to-many side plates.

And way to many cake stands.  But thats another post!

For this {faux}tography post I want to show you the power of a side plate.  I am not kidding you when I say that they can transform a piece of cake.

Things to look for:  In which picture do you think, “Oh, thats a pretty plate,” and in which (if any, remember I am not a pro) do you think,

“I must eat that cake!”











So does one stand out?

Look at how much a difference a red plate vs. a white plate can make.  Can you imagine if we added a glass?  Or a pretty napkin, or even the whole cake behind?  I have a hard time seeing that so I have to try and build as I go, a piece at a time.

So.  While I fully suggest if you want to be a great food stylist and food photographer, learn from the best.

But if you need to fake it like I do, try focusing on one prop.  Like plates.  Or silverware.  Or napkins.  And then build up your supply so that you can experiment and see what you prefer!

(Most of these plates were purchased at Thrift Stores and yard/salvage/garage sales.  One of these days I will take you shopping with me!)

Wanna know which one I like the best?

Plain ole white.

Did you have a favorite?




I Am Baker

Food Blogging Etiquette



Something that amazes me is the number of new food blogs.  Every single day 100′s of people join the food blogging community and begin this fantastic journey of documenting the one thing that we all share… a love for food.

I thought maybe I could share a few tips for creating a successful, but more importantly, friendly food blog. 

Why is “friendly” more important then successful?  It is my opinion that you cannot attain great success unless you first choose to do it the right way.

1. Do not post someone else’s recipe verbatim.  Do post the directions in your voice.

You can certainly post ingredients exactly, but the directions should always be in your own words.  How did you prepare the food?  That is how your directions should read.  Even if you followed another recipes directions precisely, you should still share your experience in your words.  

2. Do not use someone else’s pictures without permission. Do take your own pictures.

In some instances you really just want to showcase someone else’s work. (if you are using their pictures, try to limit it to one) This is a wonderful aspect of the food blogging community and one that is encouraged!  However, always always always provide proper links back to the original blog.  If you really want to use someone else’s pictures, simply ask them for permission.  Most bloggers have a disclosure preference on their blog if you are unsure.  When in doubt, ask!
Even if you are not an expert photographer, people still want to see how you prepared the food.  It is your blog!

There is always opportunity to learn more about taking better picture of food. (Here is a quick tutorial)

3. Do not take credit for someone else’s work.  Do provide proper links and accreditation.
If you chose to make someone else’s recipe (which is not only common but expected) you make sure you are very clear with your readers about who provided your inspiration.  This involves clearly explaining where the recipe source originated.  If possible, try to include a link back to the creators website.  

If ever in doubt, just ask yourself the food bloggers Golden Rule, “How would I want to be credited if someone was using my recipe?”

I hope that these little tips can help you to not enjoy enjoy the food blogging experience, but help you to develop strong and long lasting relationships with other food bloggers!