So you’re thinking of cutting back on refined sugar. Maybe this is a New Year’s resolution thing, a short-term reset-your-habits thing, or a long-term reclaim-your-health thing, but whatever your reasons, I applaud you! You can do this!
If you’ve been hanging out at Savored Grace for a while, you may know that I cut out refined sugar at the beginning of 2017, and it hasn’t been back. For me, this was a calling from God to depend on Him more than on food. I had to learn that God would be enough for me, and that I didn’t need to be greedy with what I put into my body.
I dearly wish I had taken pictures of the fancy cakes I baked last summer when they were in the car. Then I could have shown you that they did actually survive being in my car. Alas. I must have been too panicked about delivering them in pristine condition despite the scorching heat. You will just have to take my word for it! Instead, I will share a few photos of a smaller, much simpler cake I made for a baby shower.
Transport is the most terrifying part of baking a wedding cake. After spending about 24 hours actively working on these cakes, I had to put them in the back of my car, where I couldn’t see or protect them, and drive them away from my house.
I am a big believer in “practice makes perfect,” so I practiced transpo, as well! I gingerly placed that trial bridal cake in my trunk and drove 20 minutes away, down windy two-lane roads, to see whether the cake would arrive at the bride’s house in one piece. It did! What a relief.
And the Big Day went without a hitch, as well, all cakes delivered as pristine as they started.
Now all that’s left is just assembling the cake! And believe it or not, while this step is a little scary, it’s actually not that hard. (We already did all the hard work when we frosted each layer!)
And when we are done, we will have a beautiful, delicious tiered wedding cake! At last!
I also just want to heap some praises on the wonderful wedding photographer, Lisa Rice of Lisa Rice Photography, who graciously sent me a few of the official cake photos after my camera battery died! If you are looking for a stupendous photographer, especially if you are based in Ohio, go take a look at her work!
Before Jake was born, several of my well-meaning friends told me to say goodbye to homemade cookies and from-scratch dinners. Wish my kitchen well and move on.
I both scoffed and worried about that advice. Was it really true that I wouldn’t be able to spend time cooking and baking the way I really like to?
While it’s certainly true that having a kid turned my world upside-down, I have discovered that we can do almost anything together if I am patient. Including baking!
Here’s the thing: baking/cooking together is not only a great way to build culinary confidence into a toddler, and a great way to make a fun activity out of something you were going to do anyway, but it also has a lot of developmental benefits for a little tyke! From early math (let’s count the eggs as we add them to the bowl!) to dumping in the ingredients into the bowl, baking is full of magical learning for little kids. (And guess what, folks!? Toddlers are super capable! I even let Jake help me make this wedding cake I’ve been going on and on about, and it turned out just grand.)
This Christmas season, during a time when family and togetherness are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, I thought I would share with you a few tips that may encourage you to spend time in the kitchen with even your littlest ones. Jake and I have been baking together since he was old enough to stand on his own—he can’t wait to help or watch with even the most mundane kitchen tasks, like making coffee! And it is my sincere hope that he will grow into a confident chef as we continue to cook together!
You guys, this step is totally daunting. I’m not going to lie to you. The frosting is the part everyone sees! Everyone is going to judge your delicious wedding cake by its cover. So we had better make sure it’s a beautiful one!
What you see on this wedding cake is purely frosting. No fondant here! (I was very pleased that the bride asked me not to use fondant, because I think buttercreams and cream cheese frostings are way tastier than fondant…but I must admit that fondant is easier to smooth than frosting, so I had to bring my A-game.)
And let me tell you, this cream cheese frosting infused with a splash of Baileys Irish cream was divine!
So…it’s been a while since I started sharing the process of making a wedding cake with you. A lot has been going on around our house, and I will tell you all about it soon, hopefully amid oodles of Christmas recipes.
But for now, let’s get back to a very important job: making a wedding cake. It’s cake baking day!
Baking the actual cake is obviously a big deal. But I found this to be the easiest and least stressful step!
The cake recipe I used was originally meant for cupcakes. Often, cupcake recipes don’t translate well into larger layer cakes, because they aren’t always leavened properly to rise well in different size pans. But this recipe, kept moist by the pumpkin even under long baking times, always came out perfectly!
This cake is probably the simplest from-scratch cake I’ve ever baked. It’s not fussy at all! There is no creaming, no sifting, and no alternating of wet and dry ingredients. It’s basically a dream cake…and I think we should take this recipe and turn it into a dream wedding cake!
It’s a tall order! Not only is a wedding cake a nerve-wracking, complex thing to take on, but I embraced the additional step of baking cheesecakes to fill the layers, rather than filling with a simple frosting or ganache.
Have you ever make a cheesecake-filled cake? It actually isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it does require extra time and a mountain of extra dishes. The cheesecakes are typically baked in advance and then frozen, which makes them firm enough to handle without crumbling or smushing during assembly.
I may have been somewhat MIA over the last several weeks, but I promise I have not been idle. I have been hard at work on a wedding cake for a good friend of ours!
When the idea first came around, it was almost a joke. You see, I have a frustrating tendency to volunteer for everything. And even to make up events so I can then volunteer to do everything. It’s a sickness.
So as the groom-to-be was teasing me for volunteering to make a dairy-free Sweet Sixteen cake several months ago, he suddenly asked, “Hey, do you want to bake our wedding cake?”
A few weeks ago, Sarah and I decided that the next logical step in our cooking adventures was making our own cheese. She promptly sent away for a cheese making kit and we geared up to eat some very fresh mozzarella!
Okay, before I lose you (geez, crazy lady always making things that are readily available in any grocery store…), let me just say that making cheese is a fun adventure, and it really is a lot easier than it sounds! If you’re really doubtful, you should try your hand at fresh ricotta first, because it is the simplest cheese of all. But if you are willing to be brave and have 30–45 minutes to spare, you won’t be sorry!
This afternoon, as I was awkwardly stuffing the contents of four sacks of groceries into my fridge, it occurred to me that we haven’t really talked about Christmas dinner.
That’s partly because the entire first half of this month was a blur for me, as I spent it organizing and cooking for a multi-day party in the Outer Banks for my husband’s 30th birthday. Dave requested mostly meaty Asian foods (pho, moo shu, pad ka pow), which I made from scratch (no mixes of any kind!)…and then sat back and ate cookies while dinner was served. The main attraction was about 50 board games, which Dave and most of his friends and family proceeded to play for three days straight. It was a lot of work, but it turned out totally awesome!
And I learned something extremely valuable from feeding 20 people for three days: preparation is everything.
This is a lesson that really should be extended to all events, especially holiday feasts! Because, honestly, the last thing you want is to be running around frantically on what should be a day for family time and celebration.
Whether you are hosting Christmas breakfast or dinner, throwing a dinner party, or just bringing one dish to a potluck, planning—and doing—ahead will make your special feast relaxing and fun. So pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on your favorite Christmas music, and let’s get to work!