How to Make a Wedding Cake: Pumpkin Spice Cake

Triple the Flavor

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!

Just to refresh your memory, we are smack dab in the middle of making a wedding cake: three tiers consisting of pumpkin cake filled with cheesecake and frosted with Baileys cream cheese frosting.

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!

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You guys, I have had it all wrong!

For years, ever since first setting eyes on rugelach on my honeymoon in Germany, I believed that these cookies were always stuffed with dried fruits or poppyseeds.

Apparently…rugelach can be chocolate! Or nutty! Or, really, any flavor you please.

So, many thanks to C Mom Cook, my Secret Recipe Club blog of the month, for showing me the truth of these amazing cookies. I so enjoyed Shelley’s blog, in part because she is a Daring Baker! I was very briefly a Daring Baker until it became clear to me that I didn’t have enough time to be quite so daring. But Shelley is baking up beautiful breads and cakes and pastries, which I just  love reading about and drooling over.

Rugelach are a traditional Jewish cookie that look impressively like filled croissants. They require a small amount of persistence, but are actually quite simple to make! I filled half of mine with a chocolate-cinnamon-date mixture (to die for) and the other half with a honey-nut mixture (almost like baklava). And then I couldn’t stop eating them. So delicious!

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Quick Breakfast Porridge


So far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in giving up refined sugar has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast. (Surprise!)

You see, I’ve been eating Frosted Mini Wheats almost daily for years. I love the chewy wheatiness and the fact that the sweet, frosted side isn’t overwhelming and does not dissolve into the milk in the bowl. I love that if I have to step away from my bowl (to, say, clean up something my son has strewn on the floor), the mini wheats do not turn into mush or breakfast cement in my brief absence.

But, as I’m sure you have guessed, Frosted Mini Wheats are not on the menu anymore. They aren’t as bad as most sugary cereals, but they certainly aren’t skimping in the sugar department.

So I decided, given that it’s the middle of a freezing winter, that instead of making eggs every morning or finding another cold cereal that has less sugar, I would turn to oatmeal.

This is a healthy, filling breakfast; it’s tasty, it takes very little effort to prepare, and I can really feel good about eating it!

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Cookie Mix Jars

Cookies and Mix Jars

Have you ever met someone who says they don’t bake because they don’t like to measure?

(Are you that person?)

I have several friends who have confessed that or similar hang-ups about baking. But here’s how I see it: it’s Christmas! Everyone deserves fresh baked cookies, whether or not they wake up in the morning thinking about creaming butter and sugar!

That’s why this year, I am giving the gift of baking. Err…cookies.

This is a great gift, even for people who do love to bake. It’s sweet and inexpensive—I love finding little ways to tell someone I thought about them without breaking the bank or obligating them to give anything in return. It took me about 1 hour to put together 8 jars, and the cookies themselves are delicious! They are full of oats, spices, chocolate, toasted nuts, and cranberries. (Although I admit I subbed coconut for the cranberries in the batch I baked myself. That, too, was stupendous!)

You should go get some jars and make these cookies for your friends, too!

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Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

One of my college friends has a terrific mom. She is such an excellent hostess—she remembers every conversation we’ve ever had, no matter how long ago; she works hard to make sure everyone who comes to her house has something delicious to eat that suits their dietary restrictions; she has a warm, welcoming spirit; and best of all…she makes amAZING rolls. I have literally eaten meals almost entirely composed of her rolls.

A few years ago, she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me.

This pumpkin version has become a staple at my house, and I know you will love them, too! Happy pumpkin season!

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Donut Muffins

Donut Muffins

I have a confession to make.

I don’t like donuts. (*gasp!*)

Sure, when I was little, I could down a chocolate-creme-filled as well as the next kid. I loved me some powdered sugar, even when I accidentally inhaled it. And that sticky, gooey, sweet coating on a glazed donut made my heart go pitter-pat.

But some time in my teen years, I discovered the Krispie Kreme hot donut light. In fact, I went to school about a mile away from a Krispie Kreme shop, so I used to drive by regularly and snag a donut (or two…) whenever possible. But, um…those things are a gut bomb and a half! After a while, I literally couldn’t stomach them anymore; the mere idea of Krispie Kreme was enough to make me feel sick to my stomach. And ever since, donuts just haven’t been that appealing to me.

Hey, don’t judge me. I figure I eat so many other buttery, sugary foods that it’s really a blessing to have one I am not magnetically drawn to.

But recently, I think Dave has had donuts on the brain. When we were asked to bring a “decadent” dessert to a dinner with friends, his first suggestion was donuts.

I hemmed and hawed and then found a recipe for donut muffins on Secrets from the Cookie Princess, my Secret Recipe Club blog for September!

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Baked Churros with Hot Chocolate

Baked Churros with Hot Chocolate

Ever since I’ve known him, my husband has been on a quest for the perfect churro. You see, his family spent two weeks in Spain when he was a teenager, and Dave stuffed himself with churros for breakfast every morning.

He keeps telling me that churros are one of his favorite things, but every time he orders them in a restaurant, he is completely disappointed. All he wants is the churros of his childhood, which were apparently soft and bready with an intensely chocolate dipping sauce. But here in the U.S., most restaurants serve up the same hard, crunchy churro and mild, powdered hot chocolate—not at all what Dave has in mind.

Secret Recipe Club
So when Secret Recipe Club time rolled around again, I was excited to see that Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers had posted a recipe for baked churros! Dave was so happy he did a cheer.

So will you, when you realize how easy it is to make churros and hot chocolate right at home! These babies turned out soft on the inside, crisp on the outside, with a great cinnamon coating. I added a bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce, and we were transported to Spain.

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Glazed Cinnamon Buns

Glazed Cinnamon Buns

To read the updated post about making perfect cinnamon buns, complete with tips and tricks and much improved photos, click here! 

These cinnamon buns represent one of the worst kitchen meltdowns I have ever had.

Let me be clear…the cinnamon buns were amazing. Which makes me think they are idiot-proof (yay!).

But me in the kitchen at 2:00 in the morning with melted butter oozing all over my counters? Not so amazing. I huffed and puffed about how horrible the buns were going to be and what a failure I was, and my poor husband just kept sprinkling sugar and trying to keep me from going off the deep end and using my giant knife for something more sinister than slicing the buns.

Note to self: If you are making something you’ve never made before, and you intend to share it with a large room full of hungry moms the next day, don’t wait until 10:00 pm to get started.

Despite the fact that my cinnamon buns leaked their filling all over the counter, that they flattened completely when I was cutting them apart, that I only ended up with 36 unevenly sized buns when I was hoping for 50, and that I forgot I needed to make the glaze while the buns were in the oven…they honestly turned out perfectly! I scooped the cinnamon sugar over top of the buns, which rose and filled out until you couldn’t even tell they were once oblong and somewhat different sizes. And the slight delay in glazing the buns didn’t seem to make a bit of difference—they were still moist and sweet and pretty much the best things I have ever put into my mouth.

You should make them for yourself. And all of your friends (because who needs 3 dozen cinnamon buns in their fridge, just waiting to be eaten?). Seriously. These babies are delicious!

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Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans

So…it’s football season. Probably my least favorite thing of all time. The only redeeming quality football season boasts is that it tends to be full of delicious appetizers.

As you accept invitations and visit with friends and their big screen TVs (which you may or may not be interested in actually watching), consider whipping up a batch of candied pecans to bring with you! They are easy and impressive.

Okay, so my recipe does require a candy thermometer, though if absolutely necessary you could forgo the fancy equipment and wing it. But I promise, you will only need to do about 5 minutes of work to make these nuts, and you will definitely not regret it when you pop a hot, melty, sugary candied pecan in your mouth.

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