Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part Five

Well, ladies and gents, wedding day came and went-- and boy, was it a gorgeous day!

I started out running with my favorite ladies, the Chatty Chicks. Apparently I was sweating powdered sugar and flour (documentation above courtesy of Brenda!)

Then, off to clean up and set up the reception hall!

After the ceremony (true story: I'm a crier!), I rushed over to the reception to assemble the cake!

I kind of had my hands full, so there are no photos of the actual assembly...  

Ta da!

The bride and groom!

Okay, it's always awesomely awkward to feed each other-- but it makes for some quality photos!

With the beautiful bride!

Congrats, Elizabeth and Mark! Thank you so much for including me in your special day-- I am so honored to have been able to attend and be a part of it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

That time I made a a wedding cake: Part Four

The contents of my fridge as of now:
  • Kale 
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cake
  • Carrots
  • Cake
  • Seitan
  • Cake
  • Frosting
  • Cake...

Yesterday was crumb coating day-- hurrah! Look at all the pretty tiers!

Crumb coating and freezing a cake the day before you do the final frosting is a pro move (not really-- it's just how I do it). Then your pretty layer of frosting goes on super smoothly, and no icky crumbs!

... I also made too much cake... Oops.

Today I did the final layer of frosting. I have a few extra sheet cakes to serve to make sure that everyone gets a slice. Since I'll have people/caterers helping me (and they always cut HUGE slices, which is why people run out of cake), I outlined the slices and put a chocolate in the center of each as a guide. Keep in mind these are "wedding-size" slices-- they'll be served at Elizabeth and Mark's wedding alongside a dessert buffet (thank goodness!)

And after putting the final sugary touches on the tiers today, this is how I feel:


Thursday, September 19, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part Three

... and this is only the half of it. Literally.

That's right! Frosting day! Between white chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream, and cream cheese frosting, there was no issue--Elizabeth and Mark were all over the idea of cream cheese frosting on, well, everything. I used an adaptation of my favorite cream cheese frosting (below) from Magnolia Bakery's cookbook.

Thank goodness for Costco-size containers of cream cheese!

Powdered sugar for days. I feel like my whole body and apartment (and dog, for that matter), are
covered with powdered sugar. I sat down on my kitchen chair and a poof of sugar rose up.

Life is sweet.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 lb (2 8oz packages) of cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
6 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and butter; beat for 2 minutes, until fluffy and combined. Add vanilla and beat well; slowly add in meringue powder and sugar, mixing well in between. Beat until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate frosting for 2 hours to thicken before frosting cakes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part Two

This is the ugly truth, friends-- this was only the first batch of cake made over the past two days. Note the everpresent cup of coffee in the lower left-hand corner... it was a tough couple of days, this wedding cake baking thing.

I may have allowed myself to have a spoonful of batter from each of the first two batches of batter (quality control!), coupled that with coffee, and called it lunch. This is the beauty of being an adult, right?

Meanwhile, someone waited patiently at the edge of the kitchen for a "cookie." This is the look I get when I use the "c-word." Yes, I have to spell it out in front of guests so that she doesn't think she's getting a treat when I'm serving C-O-O-K-I-E-S.

I'm going to be bomb at this spelling thing when I have kids.

And, finally, 3.5 dozen eggs and 6 cans of pumpkin puree later, a freezer filled with cake. We've got Flour bakery's Nutmeg Spice Cake (recipe coming soon!), Joy the Baker's Pumpkin Spice Cake (with some espresso powder thrown in for the bride's taste to make a pumpkin mocha cake-- recipe coming soon, too!), and Smitten Kitchen's Apple Cake.

Tomorrow: frosting!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part One

 Growing up, most of my favorite children's books revolved around baked goods. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, The Sweet Smell of Christmas (as a "Cash-ew", we celebrated both Christmas and Channukah in our house), and Jake Baked the Cake.

"The bride's gown was made in town,
The groom's pants arrived from France,
The champagne came from Spain,
While Jake baked the cake."

I seem to have taken these books to heart. Every year, I host a holiday cookie party. While I haven't given a mouse a cookie, I have given my good friend Beth mini Reese's cups to give to her lab rats.

So it's only fitting that I finally bake a wedding cake.

 I am incredibly honored and excited to make the wedding cake for my dear friends Elizabeth and Mark-- just the cutest Minnesota couple ever. I had them over for a cake tasting last week, and made cupcakes with all sorts of combinations for them to taste.

Five types of cake. Three frostings. Two fillings. One sample tier.

Also, parchment paper and sharpies are key to success.

Stay tuned... the rest of this week is all wedding cake, all the time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Spiderman Birthday Cake (and how I'm going to be the worst mother ever)

So I've been offline quite a bit lately-- living life, baking tons of cakes, writing, and job-hunting like a crazy person. I did pump the breaks this weekend to make this Spiderman birthday cake for a colleague's granddaughter. It was so sweet to see her face light up when her grandma and mom brought her by top pick up the cake!

A three-year-old girl pretending to shoot spiderweb out of her wrist? Kind of the cutest thing ever.

Of course, another coworker brought her babies in today, and I proceeded to have this chat with a friend (yes, I was bad and was on GChat instead of writing-- so sue me):

Me: Nothing worse than baby noises.
Friend: HAHA!!!
Me: I like little kids. I don't like babies-- they're useless until they can talk back. :P
Friend: Then you had better adopt, lol.
Me: It's not the babies. It's the cooing. 
Me: Dude, I am going to be the worst mother ever. Zero maternal instinct. I'm going to be like one of those baboons on animal planet that ignores their baby until it can walk.
Yep. This biological clock ain't ticking yet... I'll stick with the dog and making cakes for cute toddlers.
On that note... Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gluten-free Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars

It's the last of the dog days of summer. Even my dog knows it.

It's hot. My A/C is blasting. I really don't want to turn on the oven too often, since my apartment can heat up like woah. For some cases, I'll make an exception.

With the last minute slew of barbeques, it's nice to have a recipe on hand that you can bake up a ton of goodies, freeze, and have on hand in case of potluck emergencies. It's also nice if you can rig said goodies such that they'll appeal to your (several) friends with gluten intolerances.

Enter the PB&J shortbread bar.

These bars are sweet and light-- the perfect ending to a heavy cookout meal. They're a classic combination of berry preserves topped with a peanut butter crumble. The "shortbread" base is quite cakey and crumbly, but still manages to be super-buttery at the same time.  I used Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup flour to make these, and oats that were certified gluten free (you really need to check-- not all rolled oats are processed in a gluten-free environment!).

They're quick, easy, and require minimal oven time during this Heartland heatwave. Get on it!

Gluten-free Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars

Inspired by The Complete Magnolia Bakery

For the Crust:

2 sticks butter, unsalted, room temperature
2 cups GF all-purpose baking mix flour (I used Cup4Cup)
1 tsp lemon juice

For the filling:

1/2 cup blueberry preserves
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

For the Crumble:

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9"x13" pan and set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine all crust ingredients until crumbly. Press into the bottom of the pan, and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for crumble; use your hands if necessary (messy, but they are your best tools!).

Swirl the preserves together over the top of the shortbread. Crumble peanut butter topping on top, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until you can start to smell the peanut-buttery goodness. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars of desired size.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vintage Housewife Bridal Shower!

I don't know about where you are, but here, engagement/wedding season is still going strong. There are still bachelorette parties to go to, engagements to celebrate, and bridal showers to be thrown. Two of my good friends are getting married in the next few weeks, and since we didn't have an opportunity to spoil them here (since their showers were all family-oriented and out-of-town), we decided to host a (relatively) low-key potluck-style shower... with a 50's housewife twist.

Invitations included recipe cards to help the ladies build their cooking repertoire.

The guests were all invited to sign The Casserole Queens Cookbook for each bride-- because what good wife wouldn't know how to make a proper tuna noodle casserole?

The buffet set up. Since the brides' colors were blue and green, we were able to easily decorate for both lovely ladies!

The dessert table was filled with pineapple upside-down cake stacked high, and tons of candies in the brides' colors (you can find bags of single-colored/flavored candies at places like Party City). Pearls were provided, to ensure that each woman was properly decked out.

Deviled eggs, hot crab dip, cheese and chips...

... and a Jell-O mold on the table, for good measure.

Who knew that they still sell Jell-O salad molds in the grocery store?! Hy-Vee had around twelve different options, of varying palatability...

No housewife would be complete without a lovely apron!

On to the fun and games... The Price Is Right-- 50's Edition! We were none too pleased to find that we could all have been homeowners already, had we lived in the right decade.

Bridal Shower mad libs! It got... raunchy. There were netherregions involved.

Gifts! One bride tried to keep all ribbons intact, the other tried to break every one... We all know what that means for future children!

More lovely matching aprons!

And the lovely housewives-to-be and housewives-for-a-day strike a pose. Congrats on your impending nuptials, Elizabeth and Amber!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Walnut Honey Cake

 L'shanah tovah, friends! Let's start the new year right, with a moist, gorgeous cake packed with honey, apples, and walnuts. Let's start with sweetness...

...and forgiveness. Because I know this cake looks rough, but it was so sticky/moist/delicious and comfy in the bundt pan that it didn't want to come out. But forgive me, because the taste makes up for it... and because Yom Kippur is on the way, and it's time to ask for forgiveness (though apologizing for cake presentation is probably overkill).

I brought this treat to temple last night, and it was definitely a hit. I pre-sliced it, to a) make it easier to serve during oneg, and b) to make it slightly more presentable.

A riff on two cakes from Smitten Kitchen (one from Deb's cookbook, the other from her site), this smash-banged recipe is totally the answer for "what honey/apple dessert should I bring?" It comes together easily, bakes up with a soft crumb, and melts in your mouth.

And, forgive me. The batter isn't too bad on its own, either!

Apple Walnut Honey Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoonsground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee
 3/4 cup unfiltered apple juice (I like the one from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups finely chopped crisp apple

Preheat oven to 350F, and grease a bundt pan or two loaf pansVERY WELL with butter and flour or baking spray.

Into the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add in the vegetable oil, then honey (makes it easier to get the honey out of the measuring cup!); combine, and then add sugars, vanilla, eggs, coffee, and juice. Stir on low speed to avoid any major spillage, then beat until combined (batter will be very thin). Fold in the chopped walnuts and apple.

Pour mixture carefully into prepared pan(s). Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with apple slices and honey!