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Written by Deeba of Passionate About Baking

"The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living"
Dione Lucas

I look at the kids enjoying dress up times now and then, and get transported to a world blurred away. I used to love dress up days, & think I’ve carried my love for ‘sprucing’ the look and ‘dressing up’ into the kitchen.
It’s like we are kids again. I just love adding a bit of dress up to my food presentation, & sometimes it’s as simple as a dusting of sugar that perks things up. I use fairly simple ideas, & my basic premise is to carry a theme through the food, to its ‘look’. The ideas are generally born as I bake/make the particular dish, & though may not be the ‘pick me up’, but sometimes something’s better than nothing!

Let me elaborate. If I make a peach cake, I like to keep a few slivers of peaches to garnish the top. Sometimes I might pop in a few slices of peach into a low grade oven to dehydrate them for a rustic look, which is my fave. I did the same for this roasted peach-plum Fro Yo. A sprinkling of pistachios slivers & I was a happy person!

My larder & fridge are usually stocked with bits & bobs of garnishing, or things that can be made into garnishing. Let me try & list them for you.

• Dark chocolate flakes, dark & white chocolate slabs
• Coffee beans
• Vanilla Beans
• Powdered sugar in a shaker; even a small tea strainer works well here
• Crystallized ginger, tangerine etc
• Faux candied fruit slices
• Sprinkles of every kind
• Dry fruits, including slivered almonds

• 1-2 tbsps of whipping cream (usually reserved from filling/frosting)

• Chocolate ganache
• Fresh fruit /fresh herbs
• Edible flowers like basil flowers, nasturtium)
• Dried berries
• Dried chilies (for savory dishes• Cinnamon bark
• Beaten silver / gold edible paper
• Homemade caramel, jams etc
• Baggies to drizzle chocolate from, rose leaves, wooden picks, tweezers etc

CONNECT to the dominant flavor; showcase it… My most fave way to do servings, especially desserts, is in individual servings. But whatever you do, try and make sure that you save a handful of ingredients to ‘dress it up’. Whatever it might be, use a garnish to showcase the inner flavor. Bring it out! In this Chocolate Genoise Cake with Mocha Mascarpone I used chocolate flakes & coffee beans on the frosting to tie in

Another good way to learn is to visit food blogs. Two of my favourite food blogs hang-outs for presentation ideas are Helen @ Tartlette and Aran @ Canelle et Vanille. These daring ladies are brilliant & inspirational pastry chefs, and are hugely large hearted too. One visit there sends me to dessert heaven.

Points to keep in mind…

• Use colour, whether in contrast or same shades, but it should complement the presentation. Chocolate on chocolate is lovely at times, or chocolate, strawberries & pistachio nuts
• A sprig of fresh herbs, fruit or flowers can be helpful to perk something up.
• Simple marbling is also very effective.…

• Bring out taste in your food through presentation
• Focus on ingredients; get creative.
• If all else fails & you’ve run out of time, just sift some powdered sugar over, and you are ready to go!

Deeba @ Passionate About Baking

Audax Artifex
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Love the final piece of advice a dusting of powdered sugar adds wonders MOST of the time. What a pleasure and a delight to read and see your pictures they are very inspiring and a great guide to 'jazz' up a cake or a finished bakery item. A joy to read and I will try some of them. Bravo on a great article. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Aparna's picture
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Nice to see your characteristic touch of creativity here too, Deeba.

Lisa Michele
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Since I've been admiring your photos for some time now, and not possessing that 'plating-presentation-color-props' photo gene, it was great to learn some of your secrets to make a beautiful food photo. I'm going to use some of your ideas for my next set of photos. I feel like I just opened Al Capone's 'vault' and actually found something amazing! LOL

syrupandhoney's picture
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This is an area I'm very uncomfortable with (not to mention sometimes I forget to take a picture before I eat whatever I've made...), so thank you so much for the tips! Even I could handle the powdered sugar one...

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Fabulous! Thanks for all the great ideas. Yeah, Aran and Helen are always high on my list of inspirational pastry chefs.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

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One of the things I wish I was better at was in decorating and plating... Your plating and dressing up always leaves me stunned and amazed. So darn lovely! Sometimes I think this is definitely one area where men really just cant compete with the women!!! I"m trying though.. I really am!!!

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something that I need to learn!

lifesafeast's picture
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The beauty of your desserts never ceases to amaze me! You prove that the more stunningly beautiful the presentation, the more our mouths water and we want to eat whatever is in front of us! Your work and your photography are amazing, Deeba!

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the dehydrated peach slices are gorgeous

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Joined: 05/21/2009

I so love your photography on you blog. I'm not sure I could ever dress up my food as beautifully or as elegantly as you but I can dream! Thanks for the tips.