Coffee Break

close up picture of pink peony

Hey hey hey! Time to catch up on life again.

How are you? How’s your spring/summer going?

Life Update!

Oh my goodness, where on earth did the month of May go? Can you find it anywhere? I swear it was April 30th yesterday. We’ve had a nonstop calendar for the past several weeks, mostly work projects and house projects. We’re in the middle of getting a new roof, as well as various other home projects we’ve had on the back-burner for a couple years. I can’t believe we’ve lived here for 3 years already! PS: remember our kitchen remodel? Still my favorite room in the entire house. 🙂

We were in Philadelphia over the past weekend for a wedding and my dear friend’s baby shower. The wedding was at the beautiful Philadelphia Fairmount Water Works. If you’re local, have you ever been to an event there? The weather was perfect for an outdoor ceremony and reception.

I baked all the desserts for the baby shower! Thinking about adding “BABY SHOWER DESSERT MAKER” to my professional services. Ha! The mama-to-be requested confetti cupcakes, cake batter chocolate chip cookies, and lemon bars. Someone came up to me and told me they were the best cupcakes he’s ever had. Feel good moment! The weekend was so busy that I forgot to take a picture of the spread. Baker fail.

Noelle – 20 Months

Ok, who is this actual toddler and where did my baby go? Noelle is the light of our lives. Honestly, I could just stop there because that sentence totally embodies her. She is a pure ray of sunshine, giggles nonstop, has piercing blue eyes, talks in her own toddler language all day long, and darts through the house like a little firecracker. In fact, we always say that Noelle only knows two speeds: running and sleeping.

Her favorite words are mama, dada, pizza*, hat, hot, uh-oh, eat, and hi. ♥

*Pizza is actually PEE-ZAAAAAAA

Noelle loves tutus, swimming, high fives, bubbles, cheese, and collecting rocks. Not all in that order, as each is equally important to my little miss. She has a BIG personality all day long, but at the end of the day this girl just wants to snuggle in our laps. She’s perfect.

Those little piggy toes! 

By the way… if you need a fun outdoor toddler toy: pick up one of these play sinks. Her grandma and grandpa bought it for her. Now it’s not really marketed as an outdoor toy but when a toddler plays with it, water gets everywhere. Noelle wears her bathing suit and could play with this all day long if we let her! It’s such a fun toy.

What’s on Your Summer Bucket List?

Let’s talk about fun summer activities! What’s on your bucket list?

Here are some activities we’re planning:

  1. Weekend at the beach
  2. Throw a big BBQ party
  3. Family day trip to Hersheypark amusement park
  4. Family road trip to Cleveland (visiting friends!)
  5. Roast s’mores
  6. Make homemade ice cream
  7. Play in sprinklers
  8. Day trip to the zoo
  9. Catch lightning bugs
  10. Pick strawberries (or any fresh seasonal fruit!)

We all know that summer weekends fill up fast, so I’ll be happy if we tackle 75% of this list. And it’s always good to have free time for fun spontaneous activities too!

Organic strawberries

The Perfect One Layer Vanilla Cake

Remember the strawberry shortcake cake I published the other week? Take off the strawberries and whipped cream and you have the PERFECT one layer vanilla cake. If you ever need a simple vanilla cake for a small gathering, this is it. It fits into one 9-inch or 8-inch cake pan. Super buttery, moist, and soft. I topped it with vanilla buttercream and used Wilton 1M piping tip for the roses and swirls and, of course, Sweetapolita sprinkles. By the way, you can use code SALLYSBAKING15 for 15% off her sprinkles!

vanilla cake with pink vanilla buttercream and sprinkles

New pictures alert: Lemon Curd recently re-photographed!

Lemon curd in jar

June Sally’s Baking Challenge

June Baking Challenge recipe: Angel Food Cake

I consider June’s baking challenge to be intermediate. It’s not super easy, nor is it very complicated. I encourage you to read through the post entirely, including watching the video and checking out all the step-by-step pictures. While the recipe doesn’t require any advanced skill, it does call for very particular ingredients and mixing methods. If you don’t have a tube pan, you can make the angel food cupcakes in your muffin pan!

Top of angel food cake

Let’s see some of your angel food cakes so far:

King Arthur Flour Birthday Cake

I had the opportunity to work with King Arthur Flour last month! KAF invited me to bake their Recipe of the Year, the Classic Birthday Cake. This cake has an incredible butter flavor and uses a unique approach to mixing. Using warm milk, melted butter, and oil, you achieve a majorly moist and smooth buttery crumb. The chocolate frosting totally blew us away– it legit tasted like fudge. What intrigued me the most is the addition of water in the frosting– not milk or cream. The next time you need a birthday cake, I highly recommend this one.

I used Wilton piping tip 844 for the rose and star decoration. This cake was FUN!

birthday cake with chocolate frosting on blue cake stand

Piped decoration with chocolate frosting

Slice of birthday cake with candle

New Cookbooks on the Scene!

I have 4 new cookbooks in my collection and I can honestly say that these are some of my favorites. Let’s chat about each!

  1. Happiness is Baking by Maida Heatter, foreword by Dorie Greenspan. I was sent this cookbook from the publishing house and I’m truly so thankful to have received it. It’s a masterpiece! Maida Heatter is a wildly famous pastry chef. She’s dubbed the Queen of Cake and this cookbook is a collection of her best. Stay tuned because I’m sharing a recipe from this book next week!
  2. The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. Literally every family with young children needs this cookbook. It includes an array of recipes including homemade purees for babies, toddler-friendly snacks, easy family meals, and more. I’m sharing a recipe from this book soon!
  3. My Little Pony Baking Book by Christi Johnstone. My sweet friend Christi authored a cookbook geared towards children who love My Little Pony! It’s filled with kid-friendly sweets and super happy rainbow-filled pictures. Recipes include Princess Pancakes, Cupcake Cones, Rainbow Bundt Cake, and more.
  4. Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff. You know I’m a huge fan of Tessa’s work and this cookbook is no exception. Blackberry Lavender Cake came straight from these beautiful pages. If you appreciate lovely desserts, add this cookbook to your collection.

Happiness is Baking by Maida Heatter

Monthly Newsletter

The newsletter is here! Launched in April, the monthly email newsletter includes the month’s most popular recipe, reader recipe reviews, reader recipe photos shared on Instagram and in my Facebook Group, my current favorite baking tools, Sally’s Baking Challenge updates, and more!

If you’re currently on my email list, you’ll automatically receive the monthly newsletter. If you’re not and want to sign up, use the form below. I’ll send you new recipes and recipe updates as I publish them on my blog.

Sign Up Using this Form

I think that’s about it. Thanks for reading and have a great week!


  1. I was super intrigued by the “happiness is baking” book but was disappointed to see she doesn’t list ingredients in grams! 🙁 If I hear some good reviews, I’ll have to pick it up and convert before I dig in!

    1. I wasn’t thrilled about that part either– you’ll have to convert yourself if using metric. I really love this book though. Lots of VERY WELL tested recipes for classics!

    1. Honestly, I’m terrible with flowers. I thought it was a peony? Maybe someone who is an expert can chime in!

      1. Landscape Designer here! That top picture is a peony 🙂 Looks very similar to a redoute rose. Petal structures are slightly different.

  2. Love the updates, especially Noelle! Time passes so quickly, so enjoy it while you can! My babies are both in college now.

  3. Thank you for all you share with us.
    I come to you for all my baking recipes and suggestions. All your recipes are soo dependable and delicious. You explain everything so well, Sally.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  4. Love all the. It’s and pieces of your life, your favs, your family.
    I have taken a baking class up at KAF, and it is a routine stop when we are up in NE. What a fun place, like a kid in a candy store!
    Your cakes is beautiful…
    Hershey park…ahh, we went just for the candy shop!
    Nothing like home made ice cream, summer s’mores, and lightening bugs…enjoy it all with precious Noelle. Time flies!

  5. My late wife passed away in Nov. 2017. It was either eat TV dinners from now on or learn to cook. I decided to learn to cook. I started collecting cookbooks (I now have over 200), and started learning. Have found that I really enjoy it and have gotten rather good at it. I also write down in notebooks recipes I find on sites like this one, and have filled 5 notebooks so far. So much to bake. So little time. But I have learned so much just from reading the cooking tutorials on this site. Thank you Sally.

    1. This is so lovely to read, thank you for sharing. There’s nothing like picking up a new hobby and it sounds like you dove right in.

  6. I love Maida Heatter’s books. I have a couple of her earlier ones. Have not yet seen Happiness is Baking. Her father was a radio commentator, and I remember hearing him on the radio when I was a kid. I’ll always remember his sign in – “there’s good news today” (or tonight).
    Sally, I love to look at your website and see what’s new, and try something new. Keep on keeping on!

    1. What a positive way to sign on! Positivity in the media is, sadly, few and far between these days. Thanks for the kind comment and for reading!

  7. I love your coffee break catch ups, Noelle is adorable…wonder where she gets her personality plus! The newsletter, tips, tutorials, updated photos, delicious recipes….I just can’t bake without you . To me, you’re that sweet neighbor next door who is always there with the needed cup of sugar and just the perfect recipe!

  8. Have you ever taught a baking class at KAF? If not, you should!!!
    I’ve taken a lot of their classes and always find them informative. You’d be a great addition!

  9. I was so excited to read a Life Update from you! It has been a while =) I love the photo of you and Kevin, you both look so well!! I live 15 minutes from Hershey. If you do plan a day trip, I would love to help you plan it (and low key stalk and fan girl you.) Kidding sort of. I love your summer bucket list and hope you get to as many of those things as you can! Also love seeing sweet Noelle grow! And lastly- happy belated birthday. We are a day apart, mine was the 28th. I hope that you summer is as beautiful as you! Take care!
    – Angela// Dulce_and_Desserts on Insta!

    1. Happy belated birthday to YOU! I grew up going to Hersheypark. It will definitely be different as an adult… and with a toddler in tow! I hope there’s enough for her to be entertained. I remember there being plenty for very young children. If not, she’ll enjoy the day in the (hopefully) sunny weather!

      1. Oh my gosh girl- get ready, it’s definitely not the Hersheypark you remember! We are about the same age and let me tell you, going as an adult will be such a different experience, but Noelle will LOVE it. In addition to the park, there are museums and candy workshops along Chocolate Avenue that are very kid-friendly, and make sure to take the tour ride at Chocolate World, too! If you want a great local spot for food- hit up the Chocolate Avenue Grille. The lobster risotto is to die for. Have so much fun if you go!!

  10. Speaking of cookbooks, are you coming out with a new one soon?
    Noelle is adorable. Thanks for sharing pictures!

    1. Hi Lynda! Not anytime soon. 🙂 But I want to write more in the future for sure. It would be so hard to balance a young daughter, the blog, and a book right now!

  11. A Coffee Break without Jude and Franklin?! It’s like a peanut butter sandwich without the peanut butter.
    Have a fun and adventurous summer!

    1. Ha! There’s no new news about either pup! They’re enjoying the warmer weather, but Franklin is NOT a fan of all the housework we’re doing. Too many loud scary noises!

  12. Hey there!
    I saw earlier on Instagram that you’re hiring but I missed taking a picture of the details, where can I find them?
    Thanks a lot 🙂

    1. Hey Carolin! I AM hiring, yes! I’m looking for part-time weekend help with my social medias. Can work remotely from anywhere, about 2-3 hours per weekend day. I kept the post only to Instagram because I’m looking for an instagram savvy team member and figured that’s the best place to find one. Go ahead and send your resume (and anyone reading this, too!) to [email protected] and a few sentences about why you think you’d be a great team member!

  13. I too enjoyed “A Life Update” You are an inspiration to me; I love your recipes and the in-depth explanations. I wonder how on earth you stay so slim with all the baking you do!! Two things are on my bucket list for the summer: 1) home made ice-cream and 2) macrons! Have a wonderful summer!

    1. Macarons! Wonderful project to accomplish. Thank you for the compliment. I actually workout very regularly, always have, and I share most of what I bake. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t fit in my kitchen (or in my clothes!) ha!

  14. Can I just say that I am SO excited
    that you are coming to Cleveland?! Clevelander here! I wish you were in town for a book signing, because I would love to meet you!

    Be sure to stop by the West Side Market when you’re here – it’s a “foodie” paradise, lol. Also make time to get some homemade ice cream at Mitchell’s- best ice cream in town!

    You and your husband are adorable, and Noelle is so precious!

    I love the cake too. I’ve read mixed reviews of it on thr KAF website, so I’m glad to see you give it a vote of confidence.

    Hope you have a wonderful summer and trip to Cleveland!

    1. Hey Laura! I’ve actually been to the West Side Market before. It’s SO FUN! Cleveland is always a fun city to visit. And yes, I truly loved the KAF birthday cake. Very moist, very buttery.

  15. I just baked all the desserts for my friends taco themed bridal shower and phew was it a lot of work! It’s rewarding to watch everyone enjoying the goodies though.

  16. Noelle is precious. I can’t believe she is almost two! Time really does fly.
    I made your one layer vanilla cake this weekend (with the whipped cream and strawberries). It was delicious! It is a great cake for me to make since it is usually just my husband and I most of the time now that my oldest moved out and my youngest is away most of the year in college. She did get to try this one though since she is home for the summer. She also loves your site. We had some bananas that needed to be used so she decided to make banana bread. Your site was where she immediately went to find a recipe she wanted to use. (It turned out great too!) Thanks for sharing all the wonderful recipes.

    1. How wonderful to share the one layer cake and bake with your daughter! Such sweet memories 🙂 Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes!

  17. I’m with you, Sally. Spring just flew by at an alarming rate, but I’m welcoming summer with open arms! Little Noelle looks absolutely adorable in that rainbow skirt 🙂 So cute. She really has grown up quite a bit, but toddlers are still as fun as babies! When they begin to talk (with mainly understandablewords, that is) and dance… 😀 That dress you wore to the wedding is so pretty, and you look lovely! As for summer bucket lists…all I want to do is swim, sit in the sun, camp (and make s’mores, of course), hike, go cycling, have friends over, eat (and make) ice cream, and bake bake bake. Your piping work on that one-layer vanilla cake is beautiful! I can’t wait to make it, and am planning on doing it whenever someone comes to visit. I’m also a fan of KAF, though I’ve never made that particular cake. Your rendition of it is beautiful, though! I hope you enjoy your summer immensely, Sally! <3 <3 <3

  18. I can’t get over how Noelle has grown since your last coffee break. She is adorable. Also where did May go?! I can’t believe we are already in the 1st week of June. Sounds really special that you got to make the dessert for your friends shower. No surprise they were a hit. You must have been so pumped to make the KAF cake of the year. It looks amazing. I love those roses every time I see them Sounds like a reasonable summer bucket list. I hope it all happens. Love when you catch us up on life.

  19. Sally,

    I just want to say thank you for all of your hard work that goes into every element of your company. Your recipes have quickly turned into some of my family’s favorites, and the recipes give me another fun memory to share with my little kids as we create delicious food with each other. Your positivity and honesty in your blog posts are wonderful! It’s always a challenge to balance everything in life, and your site is one of my favorites!

    Enjoy every big and little moment with Noelle! We have some of the same summer bucket list ideas in my family, and I am looking forward to the memories to be made!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Anne! Reading your comment brought a smile to my face 🙂 I’m so happy you and your family enjoy many of my recipes- what sweet memories you are creating with your kids in the kitchen! Thank you for your readership and positivity- I hope you have a wonderful summer! xoxo

  20. Thanks for the updates. I’ve been to KAF in Vermont and had that birthday cake. It was very delish! I bake lots of your recipes and have told lots of people about your blog-and some have started making some things! I regularly send my husband to work with stuff I bake from your blog and his co-workers rave about them. I just made your hummingbird bird cake and they thought it was the best to date! It was so good. I added your homemade caramel sauce to the cream cheese frosting to kick it up that much more. OMG!

    1. Your husband’s coworkers are so lucky! Hummingbird cake is one of my faves and what a great idea to add caramel sauce!!! YUM 🙂

  21. Love this post. That is definitely a peony…interesting fact…they have a symbiotic relationship with ants. I love that, so when you bring your homegrown ones in…check for the ants. I am planning to make the angel food cake and the strawberry shortcake.
    I love, love, love the pictures of your sweet Noelle. Glad you got out and enjoyed a wedding and how lucky for everyone at the shower that they got to eat your wonderful baked goods. I still need to send you the pictures of my cinnamon cookies from your cookbook I made for my son’s wedding…the wedding treats. I don’t have instagram or twitter…will need to figure out another way.

    1. Hi Karen! I hope you love the angel food cake and strawberry shortcake 🙂 Would love to know what you think once you make them! I would very much enjoy seeing a photo of the cookies you made for your son’s wedding- feel free to email them to me!

  22. Oh my gosh, Noelle is getting so big. She is just simply adorable. She will be baking with you in no time. Speaking of that, I was cleaning out a box of stuff from my kindergarten teaching days and came across two of my very favorite books…”Cookies, Bite size Life Lessons” and ” Sugar Cookies,Sweet Little Lessons on Love” The author is Amy Krouse Rosenthal with beautiful illustrations by Jane Dyer & Brooke Dyer. The books are actually little story dictionaries tackling words that might be challenging for young children to understand…compassion, cooperation, fairness, empathy, forgiveness, consideration.
    I loved reading them to my kindergartners and really talking about the words, connecting to their own experiences and our classroom. Plus, it was so much fun to bake the recipes in the back of each book. There are two additional books…”One Smart Cookie” and “Christmas Cookies”…more words and recipes to share.
    I checked Amazon and all four books are still in print and available. One is even available in board book form. I hope you have a chance to check them out.

  23. Thanks for the update, Sally!! I love everything from America’s Test Kitchen, so I am sure that book is equally wonderful!

1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love



Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally