Painter-photographer creates dessert cookbook to inspire the inner artist

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Heather Baird’s exquisite macarons, velvet cupcakes and cloud meringues don't hang in a gallery, but her baking techniques come straight from emulating her polished artistic skills.

The 36-year-old accomplished painter and photographer from Knoxville, Tenn., whose works are in public and private collections, is also a devoted student of international confectionery technique.

Instead of arranging recipes by dessert type, she organizes them by line, colour and sculpture.

The result is her first book, “SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist” (Sterling Epicure, C$23.95, paperback).

When she moved to another locale after her recent marriage and wasn't exhibiting her art at a local gallery any more, “I was no longer inspired to paint, so I began to bake a lot of things,” Baird says.

“I started to use the art technique that I used in my paintings with baked goods and it was really a natural progression for me and I loved it,” she explains.

From simple sugar cookies, delectable lady fingers and luscious ganaches, Baird’s confections have easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos, so anyone can make her creations, she insists.

Taking that creativity even further, the self-taught artist and photographer took all the images in the book using unusual props from craft stores and her own kitchen.

Baird makes wedding cakes but only for family and close friends.

“My home kitchen is so small I don't have the facility to do big orders,” she says.

“A challenging project that comes to mind is the French macarons that everyone is crazy about just now," she says.

“I was almost scared to try them because so many people had failures, but then I thought ‘what was the worst that could happen?’”

The title "SprinkleBakes" comes from the sprinkles Baird loved as a child. The tiny sweet garnishes “just make a dessert or baked goodies that much more special.”

One fun recipe is her plaid sweater cookies, created for autumn baking.

“These cute checkered spice cookies are a fun way to celebrate the season with plenty of eye appeal,” Baird says. “The pattern may look complex, but the technique is very simple.”

Those familiar with Indian mehndi design can try her recipe for mehndi hand cookies which are baked cookies incorporating henna designs that are used as temporary skin decorations. Molasses replaces henna in these unusual confections.

Baird’s aim with the book is to “imagine it is for people who need a little creative expression as a way out of their 9-to-5 jobs. “It is for someone who wants to be creative and use the recipes as lasting memories.”

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Online:

The link for Baird’s blog is www.sprinklebakes.com.