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.
Last summer, I tried on the hat of official wedding cake baker, and I baked for a gorgeous wedding with 200 guests! Today I am going to share with you the ultimate challenge of that adventure: the bridal cake.
After making this cake, I truly understand why wedding cakes are so costly.
The intricate detail, the careful timing, the insane pressure of delivering a perfect masterpiece for the most well photographed day of anyone’s life…
The lovely bride envisioned some very fancy decorations on her cake, with a swirly, lacy look and pearls and pretty much everything that a fairy tale cake would have, minus the ability to actually glow. (The bride would glow enough on her own!)
I was initially so worried about frosting a bridal cake with a brown frosting (can you make a cake look “bridal” when the natural color of the frosting is so dark? and not at all conducive to being dyed a pretty color?), but in the dark, romantic light of the country club where the reception was held, this cake stood tall and lovely, surrounded by pink flowers and twinkle lights, and it was a vision.
You can’t photograph flavor, but I can promise you that this wedding cake, with its dark chocolate crumb and rich espresso buttercream, was utterly delicious.
Last summer I made a wedding cake! Or, to be more precise, I made a bridal cake, a groom’s cake, and several sheet cakes for the absolutely gorgeous wedding of some friends of mine! The bride used to babysit my children, and her mother is one of my dearest friends and mentors.
It was such a labor of love. Delicious, chocolatey labor.
And today I am sharing part two of my series about my wedding baking adventure!
Last time I shared with you the ups and downs of my planning stages, including the timing of making all this happen. Today I want to share with you the recipes for the groom’s cake: a two-tiered vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling, chocolate mousse frosting, and a shiny chocolate drizzle, topped with a chocolate fish to honor the groom’s favorite pasttime.
Last year, when a dear friend asked me to do the wedding cake for her daughter, I was immediately all in. Yes, of course!
The beautiful bride and groom just celebrated their first anniversary, so despite all of the changes going on around these parts, I thought this was the perfect time to share with you last summer’s adventure of fancy baking!
Little did I know how much baking for this elegant wedding would stretch me as a baker.
These wedding cakes humbled me in many ways. I had to ask lots of questions of professional bakers. I renewed my search for the perfect yellow cake recipe, one that produced a consistently moist and tender and flavorful vanilla cake. I had to practice my piping technique. I also had to ask for help from friends!
I think they turned out just beautiful (and amazingly delicious). These cakes were my babies. And they took a village!
These cakes were powered by: one very understanding and patient husband; my parents, who spent the wedding weekend at my house offering moral and practical support; beautiful friends who shared supplies, refrigerator space, childcare, kitten care, and an extra hand; lots of prayer; the entire first season of Gilmore Girls; several gallons of coffee; a bottle of Riesling; not enough sleep; quite a bit of anxiety; and one happy little taste tester.
Not to mention: 9 pounds of butter, 16 pounds of sugar, 6 dozen eggs, 4 pounds of chocolate, and 150 pounds of love.
This year, Jake knew exactly what he wanted for his birthday.
It was s’moresy. It had ice cream. It was a layer cake.
I had never made an ice cream cake before, but it turns out that it isn’t hard! Also, it turns out that Jake is once again a dessert genius, because this birthday cake was phenomenal!
When I was in high school, my best friend and I liked to take walks through Carytown. We almost always started our jaunts at Montana Gold Bread Co., where we would snag a free slice of challah and slather it with butter before venturing out to a bench to people-watch and pretend we were cool.
Challah has always been a little amazing to me. It’s stunning, with an intricate braided pattern, as well as soft and chewy and a little sweet: everything that a great bread should be.
Until now, I’ve been a little afraid to try baking it on my own. I worried that braiding the bread would be messy and awkward and, well, hard.
But when I was assigned Oh! You Cook! for the June Secret Recipe Club blog exchange, I knew it was time to go for it.
Dena has devoted her blog to kosher cooking. I have only the barest grasp on what it means to keep kosher, but at its most basic level, it requires avoiding certain types of animal meats (famously, pork products, but also shellfish and a few others) and completely separating meat from dairy (both in what you eat when and in how you prepare foods). Dena has shared many traditional Jewish dishes that look interesting, but since I am a vegetarian and a baker, I knew immediately that I wanted to try her challah recipe.
Taste buds, get ready for a treat! It’s cookies. Cookies with everything good in them: cookies filled with more cookies as well as cream cheese and milk chocolate and malted milk powder.
These are sneaky, late night, guilty pleasure cookies. These cookies are the masters of the school yard, and everyone else might as well just go home.
I like to call people up on their birthdays and sing to them.
So someone call me up and croon a little tune, because this blog is FIVE YEARS OLD! And I just can’t believe it.
Naturally, to mark the occasion, I baked a cake. Because what good is a birthday celebration without cake?
Happy birthday to Smells Like Brownies! Here’s to five more years of doing things deliciously (and making my family and friends wait around to eat until I finish staging a hundred photos).
My husband has been asking to make cheese danish for years.
You’d think I would have taken him up on that right away! I love to bake. I love to be bossy in the kitchen. I love cheese danish.
But for some reason, I felt intimidated. Do you ever feel paralyzed by the desire to do something absolutely perfectly the first time, to find the right recipe and execute it just right, and make the most delicious thing anyone has ever tasted?
I had made croissants exactly once: they were a lot of work, and in the end, they were only fine. Fine! How dare they. I knew that cheese danish was in danger of turning out the same way, so I put them on the back burner.
But this month, when I was cruising through Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for my Secret Recipe Club challenge, I spotted a cheese danish recipe…and I knew I would have to go for it. This recipe is somewhat unusual, as it uses puff pastry instead of a typical laminated, yeasted dough! This had the potential to be way simpler, and equally as delicious. Plus, I have been all about puff pastry lately.
I know you are probably getting sick of sweets from me. And I was all geared up to share a few simple savories…but then I realized it’s going to be Valentine’s day very soon.
And I have a long tradition of covering you in chocolate for Valentine’s day. Chocolate is, after all, one of my first loves.
So here we are. And you may, if you have been tracking with me for a while, notice something special about the amazing pastries I am sharing with you today: they are full of BUTTER!
Woot! Caitlin’s pediatrician cleared me to eat dairy again. This may or may not have happened two days after I had a small psychotic break and ate a cupcake that I totally meant not to eat.
Anyway. You better believe I have been loading up on all the cheese and butter and cream I have been craving for the last few months. Because as delicious as food can be without dairy, it’s hard to achieve true decadence in the absence of butter.
So I decided this year that we would indulge in breakfast instead of saving all our chocolate for dessert. (Though, let’s be honest, these strudels make an amazing dessert if you have the patience to wait for dinner time!)