7 Beautifying Baking Ingredients

As some of you might know, I have a bit of a history with cake and beauty. I’ve always been a total girl’s girl–you know, hooked on dresses, lip gloss, fancy skin cream and the like. I’ve also always been obsessed with baked goods (what gave that away?). So, in light of wanting to make these two passions my career, by the time I was 26, I decided to marry my fascination for cake with my love for all things girly together in one sweet flurry–I created a collection of bath and body products made from high quality “baking” ingredients, blended and whipped together in the same way we would make sweet frostings or batters.

It took about a year researching ingredients and recipes, and of course serious concocting in the kitchen, but finally the initial line of “cakey” lotions, suds and scrubs was born. After a year of studying and working with of the best natural oils and butters on the market, I learned that we can achieve the most gloriously gorgeous skin using just a handful of these chemical-free, all-natural ingredients. And even though I left the company in the hands of my business partner several years later, my love for gorgeous skin and hair lives on–I continue to smother my skin in the very same ingredients we use to bake our beloved cakes and confections–they’re just too good and always in my pantry.

Besides, us baking junkies cannot live on baked goods alone, right? We all love our skin and hair to feel nourished, youthful and glowing (you know, for those days we actually leave the kitchen). So let’s talk beauty, baby:

*As with anything that you’re applying to your skin, you’ll want to do a little patch test, before using all over your face or body, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

HONEY

Aside from its divine taste and texture, honey is said to have countless health benefits and medicinal uses, a lot of which have to do with its anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, among others. Honey seems to be a heal-all, including working as a treatment for cuts, wounds, sore throats, hangovers, energy-boosting and many more. But honey also boasts several beauty benefits. It is known for its soothing properties and for being a natural humectant (naturally attracts and retains moisture), so needless to say it’s a sweet addition to any beauty routine.

Here are some (of many) ways I like to use honey in my beauty routine:

  • Mixing a squeeze of honey with coconut oil or shea butter for a sweet-as-can-be body moisturizer.
  • Adding a few generous squeezes of honey (about 1/2 to 1 cup) to warm bath water for a luxurious bath (I have to admit, I do feel slightly Cleopatra-esque doing this, but I think we all need to feel that way whenever possible.) It feels incredibly silky and leaves the skin smooth as can be.
  • Squeezing a teaspoon of honey into your palm and mixing with my shampoo in shower for taming my rather processed, tangly, curly hair prior to conditioning.

You can learn more about the benefits of honey here.

7 Beautifying Baking Ingredients via Sweetapolita

SUGAR

So it’s true, sugar isn’t necessarily the most magical ingredient for the inside of our bodies–we know this. (Which is why we all keep our sugar intake to a minimum, right? Right. Ahem.) But, sugar is a fabulous beauty ingredient. It’s also helpful that it’s likely always in your cupboard, ready and waiting to beautify the baker (that’s you).

One of the main benefits of sugar (when used on the skin) is that it contains glycolic acid (Alpha hydroxy acid). Glycolic acid penetrates the skin easily, and is said to reduce wrinkles and remedy hyper-pigmentation (along with many other skin conditions). With its ability to “peel away” dead skin cells, it is a natural exfoliant, revealing the healthy, live cells beneath which gives our skin that vibrancy and glow we all yearn for. The sugar granules themselves are also an exfoliant and are a great way to bind other skin-saving oils (eg. olive oil) to create the ultimate natural skin product. (It’s also handy that sugar acts as a natural preservative, giving our homemade beauty products a longer shelf life.)

You can use any type of sugar in your beauty routine, but just note that the finer the sugar granule, the gentler the exfoliation. You can use it on its own, but I find it’s easier to combine with some olive oil, coconut oil or other beautifying base-oils, such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil (these are found at health food shops or online).

From finest to most coarse, I use brown sugarcaster sugar (aka superfine sugar), granulated sugar, or raw sugar (aka turbinado sugar). You can, though, use any kind of sugar you may have or come across. Just remember that if you are using on your face, I would stick to brown sugar or caster sugar and apply in small, gentle circles before rinsing thoroughly. For your body, any of the sugars would work well–I use turbinado mixed with some lavender white sugar (and oils) for my body scrubs, and apply 3 times per week (the sugar dissolves down the shower drain). I don’t, however, recommend using a sugar scrub in the tub–the granules tend to sink to the bottom and can aggravate your, um, parts. Let us stick to the sink or shower for our exfoliating adventures.

EGGS

With their protein-richness and nutrients, it’s not a surprise that eggs can make a nourishing and natural beauty ingredient. Both egg whites and egg yolks can be used in at-home beauty care, both for nourishing facial and hair treatments. While I have to admit that I don’t feel particularly comfortable rubbing raw eggs on my face, but I have been known to smother my rather large, frequently coloured and potentially dry hair in whole eggs for a rich boost of moisture and shine.

There are many egg-based hair treatment recipes out there, but I like to keep it simple–break an egg (or in my land of big-hair, 2 eggs) into a bowl and whisk (scrambled eggs, anyone?). Get into the shower and work the mixture into dry hair from root to ends. Leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing with COOL water, not hot water, or you will end up with cooked eggy bits in your mane, and that’s never good. Once completely rinsed, shampoo and condition as usual.

7 Beautifying Baking Ingredients via Sweetapolita

COCONUT OIL

Let’s just call this the sweet-miracle ingredient. I keep a big jar of this stuff in my kitchen and bathroom at all times–it’s readily available at grocery stores, health food stores, online, etc. (try Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil) and I use it often. At only about 50 cents per ounce (or less if you buy in bulk), it’s hard to find a reason not to. The actual health benefits of coconut oil are seemingly endless: When used in cooking and baking, it has been scientifically linked to such things as weight loss, increased energy and lower blood cholesterol levels, just to name a few.

If that’s not enough of a reason to start buying it by the truckload, let’s talk about how it can make us even more dazzling. Back in my body-lotion-making days, I couldn’t get enough of coconut oil in my formulas–it’s so rich and creamy and leaves the loveliest sheen to the skin. (And no chemicals. Imagine?) You can use coconut oil straight out of the jar as a nourishing and effective makeup removerbody moisturizer (it’s a bit greasy for a face moisturizer though), massage oil, deep hair treatmenthair-styling cream to ease frizz and add sheen, lip balm and more.

Here are just a few of the ways I love to use coconut oil in my beauty routine:

  • Placing a small amount of the oil on a cotton round to remove my eye makeup. I love how easily it takes off even the blackest of mascaras, and moisturizes that sensitive eye area all the while (just don’t get it in your eyes).
  • Adding a scoop to homemade brown sugar body scrub (see below) used every few days in the shower. The coconut oil adds extra richness and leaves a gorgeous sheen (soap, albeit very necessary, is super-drying, so this is a fabulous skin-quench to apply after you use shower suds of any kind).
  • Using directly out of the jar post-shower as a full body moisturizer, rubbing it into nails as well for a cuticle treatment and nourishment (you can also try adding a bit of honey and rubbing together before massaging into skin–sweet decadence!).
  • Using as a once-per-week deep hair treatment by massaging into hair (starting a few inches below roots working through to ends), leaving on for 10 minutes and then applying shampoo, washing and rinsing in the shower (don’t rinse before adding shampoo, or it will remain greasy for days).
  • Applying to lips as a decadent lip balm, nails as a nail and cuticle balm and feet as a foot cream. (I also love using it on my dry hands, but because it does have a light greasiness to it, so you just want to be sure to really work it in.)

Learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil here (there are plenty!).

OLIVE OIL

With large amounts of vitamin A, D, and, as well as vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant–antioxidants kill free radicals which cause our skin to show the signs of aging), olive oil is another miracle oil of sorts–its uses and benefits are seemingly endless, for both health and beauty. Back in the very beginning of my natural-beauty-product-making days, while researching all of the various oils and their properties, I remember being shocked to discover all of the amazing beauty benefits of olive oil–an oil I thought was just for cooking. I immediately started using it as a moisturizer and nail oil for weeks before working it into some of the product “recipes.” I noticed a remarkable transformation in the softness, sheen and texture of my skin. Just remember that olive oil imparts a subtle and distinct “olive oil” scent.

Here are some ways in which you use can olive oil in your beauty routine:

  • Using an olive-oil based sugar scrub in the shower (you can also include the coconut oil mentioned above, among other ingredients in this list.) for a decadent and nourishing skin treatment.
  • Applying all over body for a skin-sheen and hit of moisture.
  • Applying a few drops to a cotton round to removing makeup (and as with commercial makeup remover, you just don’t want to get it in your eyes).
  • Working into hands, feet, heels and elbows (or any other dry patches or areas of skin) for and instant treatment, either on its own or mixed with honey.
  • Filling a small dish with olive oil and soaking nails for a few moments to soften cuticles for a mini at-home manicure (soak for a few minutes and then gently push the cuticles down prior to painting your nails).
  • Adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to warm bath water for moisture and lighter layer of sheen.

Learn more about the many health benefits of olive oil here.

COCOA BUTTER

Dessert for your skin!

Okay, so you may not already have this in your pantry, unless you’re making your own chocolate, but this makes for not only an amazing baking ingredient (try it–it’s awesome), but incredible asset to your natural beauty ingredient arsenal (you can buy it at health food stores or online, such as on amazon: Cocoa Butter). Cocoa butter is high in antioxidants and is extremely nourishing. Much like chocolate, the cocoa butter itself is solid at room temperature but begins to soften and melt with the warmth of your hands, so it makes an ideal massage bar and body butter–it’s creamy, rich, nourishing and velvety. It also has the most delightful-but-subtle chocolaty confection scent to it, naturally–pure decadence for your skin, lips and nails.

My aunt and uncle used to work in a chocolate factory, and I remember when I was a teen, they would bring me home huge chunks of cocoa butter. I loved using it as a body butter then, and I love it now. (However, if I was writing this blog then, I may have to told you that to achieve the ultimate goddess-like tan, you should smother yourself in it and lay on a scorching black roof with your best friend whilst listening to Guns ‘N Roses. That would have been very, very bad advice.)

But, I can tell you that cocoa butter does have some amazing uses for natural beauty and care . . .

Here are some of the ways you can use cocoa butter in your beauty routine:

  • Use a chunk of raw cocoa butter as a massage bar, which in turn becomes an rich and nourishing moisturizer.
  • Apply to lips as a decadent (and yummy-smelling) lip balm.
  • Rub into nails for an effective nail treatment and natural shine.
  • Melt 1 part cocoa butter and 1 part coconut oil over a double boiler until melted, remove from heat and add a squeeze of honey and stir until combined. pour into a glass jar and let cool. Use on dry skin or all over body for a sweet and decadent body butter.

BAKING SODA

So it does seem a little strange to be using the same thing for our beautiful-ness as we do to deodorize our refrigerators and bake our cakes with, but it seems there are countless ways to tie this everyday ingredient into our skin and hair care routines (you’ll just want to keep the box of baking soda in the fridge, in the fridge). And since you likely always have baking soda on hand, it just might be time to give it a few other cheap and cheerful purposes. Think purifying and clean. Super clean.

Here are some nifty ways you can work this clarifying ingredient into your beauty routine:

  • For a quick and super-affordable dry shampoo, use a clean, medium-sized make up brush dipped in baking soda (with excess tapped off) and blot along your oily roots. Leave on for about a minute and then shake hair with your hands to distribute and rid of any excess. The baking soda will absorb all of the grease and leave your hair feeling ready for (yet) another day.
  • Create an effective, natural face cleanser by mixing 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, and apply to damp skin in a gentle, circular motion. Rinse well with lukewarm water and pat dry. This is gentle enough to use several days per week, particularly in the summer when our skin generates more oil.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda onto the regular amount of toothpaste on your brush, and brush your teeth as usual for a homemade tooth whitener.

So there we have it! There are so many more, but these are the ingredients I use the most in my beauty routine. And if you’re not the type of person who feels comfortable smothering and slathering kitchen cupboard ingredients on themselves, try looking for beauty products that contain one or some of these ingredients–I bet you’ll notice a difference.

And if you’re eager to get buffing, here’s the 5-minute brown sugar body scrub I make and use 3 times per week for a gorgeous, super-healthy glow:

Decadent Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ingredients

  • 2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar (or 1 1/2 cups turbinado plus 1/2 cup lavender sugar, if you have it)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. In a wide-mouthed glass jar, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Keep lid on jar between uses.
  2. Apply to body in a circular motion and rinse. Use up to three times per week.

Notes

In a pinch, you can use straight turbinado sugar and olive oil--it will still be a decadent exfoliation and nourishing treatment for your skin!

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*images via shutterstock 

Do you have other ways in which you incorporate baking ingredients into your beauty routine? I’d love to hear about them!

See you soon with a baked good recipe!

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Well, that was crazy. Were you starting to wonder if I’d thrown in the pink polka-dotted towel? If I’d escaped to Emerald City in search of the Wizard? For those who tag along for my Instagram snippets, you probably figured out that it’s been a busy few weeks for us, as we moved last weekend. Not far, just the neighbouring town, but I spent countless days organizing, purging and packing our stuff for the move. I got really nest-y and couldn’t stop organizing. I think with any big change comes the incentive to make other small changes, and it was so rejuvenating once it was all done. I did shed a few tears as I looked back at my cakelets’ keepsakes, baby clothing, etc. Moving was a much more emotionally draining time for me than I expected, but with so much productivity and order, it was all worth it.

In a flurry of ridding old treasures, I actually welcomed one new one a few weeks ago–the most exciting birthday gift of all time from Mr. Sweetapolita: a pink KitchenAid mixer! The truth is, I have several mixers, mostly because I usually have 2 going at all times, but I’ve always wanted a Pink Mixer. As I said on facebook, if I was a mixer, I would definitely be pink (and I loved reading all of your answers too!). The loveliest part about this mixer is that it is one of the products included in the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure program, so it was a win-win. Because mixers are typically a long-term purchase, though, I had sort of given up on having a pink one, at least for a few eons or so. That’s what made this feel-good gift a true surprise! I actually have even more fun baking now . . . if you can imagine.

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

When I set up my mixer in the new kitchen, and made enough space through the towering boxes I still need to unpack, I decided that my first baked good would be a batch of luscious light double-vanilla cupcakes. Perhaps you’re wondering how I can possibly blog about another vanilla cake/cupcake recipe, but I made a few changes this time that I felt made this batch my idea of a vanilla dream. After using Dorie’s party cake recipe as a base for my Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake, and loving the texture so much, I decided to turn them into cupcakes, with some changes.

One of the things I added was 1/2 cup of soft-peak whipped cream, a trick I read about on The Kitchn a few weeks ago. You simply whip it and fold it into your cake batter, any cake batter, before dividing into cake pans or cupcake tins–needless to say I was intrigued! It had been on my mind since then, and I was dying to try this, so I thought classic vanilla cupcakes can never be too velvety, or too moist, so why not? I did notice a difference and these cupcakes were of the best I’ve ever made (toot, toot!).

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Since I was feeling all whipped-creamy and such, it dawned on my that clouds of vanilla whipped cream would be a welcomed change from buttercream. The second-best part about Whipped Cream Frosting? It takes only minutes to make and has no butter or icing sugar. I tinted it a very pale turquoise and sprinkled the cupcakes with pink sanding sugar for sweet crunch, you know, since pink was in the air . . .

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

And by air, I think I mean the gale-force wind that busted through my wide-open front door while I was photographing the cupcakes. It came out of nowhere, knocked over my white board (it might be time to stop MacGyver’ing my photo shoots), which consequently knocked over my trio of small plastic bottles and turquoise paper stripey straws that I was so excited to use. As disappointed as I was that my shoot was ruined, how could I possibly cry over pink spilled milk? So forgive the fact that I don’t really have any close-ups on the poufs of vanilla clouds and the inside of the luscious cupcakes–maybe I’ll make these again . . . you know, for you. I’m good like that. ♥

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes

Yield: 24-28 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Moist, fluffy white whipping-cream-infused vanilla cupcakes topped with airy whipped cream frosting and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 2-1/2 cups (275 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites (60 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract (or 1 teaspoon –5 ml–, if you aren’t using vanilla sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Almond Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1 stick (115 g)(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (119 ml) whipping cream or heavy cream, cold
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 cups (711 ml) whipping cream or heavy cream, cold
  • 6 tablespoons (95 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract; use 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) if you're not using vanilla sugar
  • pink sanding sugar for sprinkling, optional

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and center the oven rack. Line 2 muffin/cupcake pans with your favourite standard-size cupcake liner, and put the first cupcake pan on a baking sheet. (You will place the second cupcake pan on the same sheet in the oven once the first tray is baked.)
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Chill a clean stainless mixer bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes, and then beat whipping cream until soft peaks form (don't beat until stiff). This is where a second mixer bowl comes in handy, as you can simply wash the whisk and use the stand mixer to whip the cream. If you don't have a second mixer bowl, you can use a hand mixer or even transfer the batter to another bowl, wash the bowl and whisk then whip the cream with your stand mixer. Fold whipped cream into cake batter.
  6. Divide batter evenly among your cupcake liners--about 2/3 full--and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 16 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks. Repeat with second tray.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. Chill a stainless mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 5 minutes (or refrigerator for 20 minutes).
  10. Pour the cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high (I used #8 on my KitchenAid mixer) until the cream begins to thicken. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and whisk until the frosting becomes stiff, but be careful to not over-beat, or the frosting will become grainy.
  11. Add a drop of turquoise gel colour, if desired and gently mix in with a spatula.
  12. Best used right away.
  13. Assembly of the Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes:
  14. Fill a medium Piping Bag fitted with pastry tip of your choice (I used a plain Large Round Tip) about 1/2 full with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting and pipe a generous swirl on top of the cooled cupcake. Holding the piping bag directly above the cupcakes, put pressure on the bag while guiding the frosting in a circular swirl pattern beginning on the outside and working your way up and in, about 3 times, then releasing pressure.
  15. Top with pink sanding sugar for a lovely, sparkly crunch!
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[cupcake portion loosely adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours]

 Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Lately I use vanilla sugar for almost all of my baked goods, whipped cream and cooked frostings–I keep a scraped vanilla bean with pod buried in my sugar canister at all times. Once your vanilla bean is scraped and seeds and pod are buried in your airtight sugar container, you will have vanilla sugar in about 1-2 weeks. The longer it sits, the more vanilla you will taste. I typically add pure vanilla extract to recipes as well, but usually a little less than I normally would. Vanilla Beans are a bit pricey, but I sincerely feel it makes a difference–nothing beats the authentic flavour of vanilla bean.
  • For filling cupcake liners, I always use this Stainless Steel Scoop–perfectly consistent cupcakes every time.
  • I always use Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Almond Extract.
  • As with any vanilla cake or cupcake recipe, feel free to get kooky and toss a handful of sprinkles into the batter for a funfetti version!
  • As with Dorie’s cake recipes, I went ahead and placed a baking pan under the cupcake pan while baking–I like this because the bottoms of the cupcakes don’t get brown.
  • Whipped Cream Frosting is best used within a few hours of whipping, and best made and enjoyed on the same day. Once on cupcakes it keeps in refrigerator overnight, if necessary.
  • For sprinkling, I used Pink Sanding Sugar.
  • Avoid keeping undecorated cupcakes in airtight containers, particularly vanilla, as the cupcake liners tend to pull away from the cupcake (this is so disheartening!). I usually place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on top of them if I have to leave them out overnight.
Good luck & enjoy!



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