Betty Crocker Fall Baking: The backstory

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Many of you may have seen the cover of the Betty Crocker magazine I posted several days ago. You know… the one with these Pumpkin Cake Pops on the front cover. Yeah, pretty crazy stuff. I was so overwhelmed when I first saw it. Completely overwhelmed. I knew they were going to feature some of my recipes, but I never expected they would really pick one to be on the cover. It was all very exciting and it still is. Anyway, I thought I would share with you how it came about.

Several months ago, I was asked by the nice folks at General Mills if I would be interested in submitting some recipes for one of their baking magazines. My first response was internal laughter. Are you sure? Me? I’m not anybody.

But it turns out they didn’t think so.

So I submitted several fall baking recipes for consideration and they liked them. Liked em enough to print them. Months later I found myself on a flight to Minnesota to visit the Betty Crocker Taste Kitchens. It was a short but, jam-packed trip.

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I arrived in Minnesota and headed straight for the test kitchens where I was greeted with goodies and smiles. I arrived just in time to take part in their daily taste panel. Every day, several people get together and taste recipes and give their feedback.

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Kristen takes notes on everything. Every comment anyone says, good or bad, and then they go back and re-evaluate if necessary.

And they do this every day. Every. Day.

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Luckily the day I was there was filled with sweets. Cupcakes and cookies and cakes. I know. It was tough. Really tough.

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Look familiar?

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I can’t tell you enough how nice everyone was. I didn’t want to leave.

After we finished the tasting panel, Diane (above me) took me down to the photography studio to check in on things because the next day I was going to hang out there and decorate cake pops.

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When I walked in, everyone was working hard making my recipes look pretty for the photos. Food stylists rock.

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It was so amazing to see this all come together. From the kitchen to the camera. Amazing.

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Look. Cake balls ready and waiting for me.

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Their computer setup is incredible. The recipe cards for the magazine are already laid out and when they take a photo, it is immediately displayed with the recipe. The photographer can position the photo right on the spot… or take another one and know instantly if it will work with the layout or if they want to change something.

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Then, they have a huge monitor on the wall that allows them to view the entire book at one time.

This makes it very easy to see the flow of the book while it is still in progress.

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Here’s a page with photo placeholders from my website. Part of the reason I came to the headquarters was to have pictures taken for the featurette. They are replaced in the actual magazine with images shot from the trip.

All super efficient.

So, after saying hi to everyone, several of us went out to dinner.

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Grace, Michelle, Andi, Diane, Naomi, Chris, Me, Cherryl and Sue. I had a great time.

And after dinner, I went to my hotel room and crashed. Hard.

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The next morning I was greeted by these two.

Tara and Joe. I loved them both immediately. So much fun. Tara did my hair and makeup for the photos and Joe photographed me making cake pops for the day. It was a real treat.

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Hey Joe – I really like this one.

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This is what I saw all day. I would rather be where he’s standing.

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And these are some of the pics he took. I asked him to take most of the pics as action shots … close up… so I wouldn’t be in the photo :)

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Tapping.

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And more tapping…

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and styrofoaming. That’s a new word. You can have it.

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Here you can see how they can test photos for the cover right on the fly.

Cute … But these pumpkins definitely need faces.

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Luckily I brought my handy dandy edible ink pen.

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Yes, faces for sure.

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Faces = fun!

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After adding the appropriate amount of spooky sweet expression, I played food stylist for a few minutes and arranged the pops for the photo.

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Then I chomped on one and Carol came in with the big guns and performed minor surgery to make it perfect.

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Here’s Chuck. He was the photographer for the all the magazine food photos that day.

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Chuck is great. Super cool.

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He took the photo and then I practically ran out the door to make my flight home. It was a whirlwind.

When I went out the front of the building, I actually had to stop the tears. I’m kind of a sap and cry easily.

Everyone was so nice. Like nicer than nice. I really hated leaving. The trip was way too short, but full of fun, excitement, emotions and memories I will cherish. Thank you everyone at General Mills that made is so special. Oh… and thanks for putting my pops on the cover. Way cool.

P.S. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Here’s the final cover if you want to look for it through September.

And… for those of you who have emailed wanting to find it, you can also buy one online.