Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Okay, so last week I talked about cameras, settings and lenses. This week I’m going to force you to listen to what I use for my backgrounds and props for food photography. OR…….you can just skip this whole thing, check out the pretty pics and scroll right down to the recipe for these HEAVEN ON EARTH baked chocolate donuts.

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Getting right down to this, I’m going to give you my top picks for reasonably priced ways to make your food pics look great. First, let’s talk about my favourite props. I absolutely love an eclectic mix of vintage and new items to use in my photos. Best places to find these types of items are on eBay or Etsy. For example, in these photos you will see one of my latest finds, an antique cheese grater and my Ovenex Starburst loaf pan, which I picked up on Ebay. Have I spent a lot on these props? Yeppers.

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Most food props that are sold on these two sites can be pricey, especially when shipping to Canada. Were they worth it? 100% YES.

Now, I have found some great items at yard sales, flea markets and dollar stores too. Another one of my “GO TO” places for props is HomeSense, Marshalls, TJMaxx or HomeGoods. They always have what I’m looking for, especially when it comes to tableware and accessories. Today in fact, I made a trip to Marshalls and found the most awesome muslin scarves in the women’s department that will be perfect to drape on the table in an overhead flat lay shot. All you need is a little imagination when shopping for these props. Sometimes I just stand in the store, look at the item and say, hmmmmm, what can I use that for?

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Food photography backgrounds can also be a pricey investment and I’ve learned some lessons on that one the hard way. Example: I ordered two boards on Etsy last year from a seller in Russia. On her website, she had photos of the boards and I fell IN LOVE. These were not cheap. I don’t even want to admit what I paid for them, because you will think I’m nuts. Oh wait. You already know I’m nuts.

Anyways, they arrived at my door and when I unpacked them, they were nothing like what was advertised on the site. In fact, I opened the box and said “WHAT THE HECK ARE THESE”???!!!

I was really upset about this purchase and contacted the seller who remade both boards and resent them to me. Guess what? They arrived and were still ugly. Since the cost of returning them was MORE than they were worth, I decided that I would use a little paint and brush over them to my liking. A little disappointing, but that brings me to say, you can make these backboards yourself. The one in this photo is actually some big box store wood slats nailed together and painted. Easy shmeasy.

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Do you want to know what’s easier? I found these chippy white wood slats at my local Lowes store. I was sick and tired of making my own, so this was a perfect option for me. I can use them as is or just swish on a coat of colour, if I choose to do so. AHMAZING!!

Here’s a list of my top 10 picks that every food photographer should have in their arsenal:

1.    A matte white or black surface – I use one like this that I found on Amazon.

2.    Vintage and new baking pans, cookie sheets and enamelware. Look for the keywords “vintage”, “rustic”, “Ovenex” & “PyOmy”. I have a ton of them that I found on Etsy and eBay like these made by Ovenex.

3.    Marble, porcelain and ceramic floor tiles. You can find them at local tile or big box stores. These are amazing for backgrounds.

4.    Craft, parchment or construction paper. Crinkle it up and it looks even better in a photo. My favourite parchment paper comes from PaperChef.

5.    Foam boards in white and black. You can find these at the dollar store or Walmart and they are fab for directing light onto the set.

6.    Linens, linens and more linens. One of my favourite places to buy these for my photos is Cozy Linen. She has an Etsy shop and is absolutely amazing to work with. Her products are high quality and stunning. Check her site out. You will love her.

7.    Wood cutting boards. Also a great find at HomeSense, but if you are looking for something more vintage, Etsy is your place to search out these finds.

8.    Wood background boards. Look what I found at Lowes! BOOM and BOOM.

9.    Flatware. Once again, I love a mix of vintage and modern. I found amazing vintage flatware on Etsy, eBay, yard sales and HomeSense.

10. Dishes, bowls and cups, oh my! Lots of choices here, all over the place. I love what I find at HomeSense and of course there’s loads of vintage dishes that you can snag on eBay and Etsy.

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Are you ready to tackle food photography and blogging? Of course you are. But wait. What about these donuts? I can’t even tell you how good they are and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Ready? They are good for you. Well. Sort of. First of all, they’re not fried. That’s a plus already, right? Secondly, they contain dark chocolate. Another benefit is that chocolate contains antioxidants. Good enough excuses to stuff these in your face? I think so.

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- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used this one from Ghirardelli)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2½ tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled to room temperature
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1½ teaspoons real vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining 1 teaspoon vinegar mixed with ⅔cup of any type of milk - I used almond


- ¾ cup confectioner's sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 - 3 tablespoons 18% cream
- 1 tablespoon liquid strong coffee
- 2 teaspoons corn syrup
- Assorted sprinkles

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and spray your donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate medium bowl whisk together the melted butter, egg, sugars, vanilla & buttermilk.
  • Add the dry ingredients into the wet & whisk until combined. Do not over mix or you will end up with rubber donuts.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Or pour the batter into a zipper bag, cut off the bottom corner, and pipe the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Test the donut with your finger. It should spring back when baked or insert a toothpick which should come out clean.
  • Allow donuts to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa, 2 tablespoons cream and the coffee. Add the corn syrup and slowly add the remaining cream until the glaze is smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more cream.
  • Once the donuts are completely cooled, dip the top in the glaze and top with sprinkles.