A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of baking for another wedding. The bride’s family and mine have been friends for about 20 years now. There’s a long history of swim meets, 4th of July fireworks and homemade ice cream, and both of our families even moved around the same time to the same area when we were in junior high. And then we started over on a new swim team in the new neighborhood (see the central piece here?). After high school we continued to A&M, and then both became teachers- although in different cities.
The couple wanted cupcakes and settled on four different flavors: strawberry, snickerdoodle, red velvet, and chocolate with peanut butter frosting. I don’t always get to watch people eat the cake after I set it up, so it was fun to watch the cupcakes disappear at the wedding. I wish I could take credit for the signs on the cake table, but that was all the bride’s doing. The entire wedding was absolute gorgeous and I loved being a part of it!
I’m going to pretend like it hasn’t been a month or so since my last post. Because it’s now May. I feel like May kind of gets screwed because that’s when everyone starts counting down to summer. And by everyone, I mean students and teachers. That’s how I view May…a gateway to summer. I had been baking every weekend since February and thought last weekend would be a little break…until I was approached with a cake request that was different from what I normally do. Of course I couldn’t say no. I was asked to do a CrossFit cake, which I’ve done before, but this one was all fondant. Now I know how to make fondant, and decorate with fondant and gumpaste. It’s just my personal opinion that it doesn’t taste that good and that regular frosting is better. Fondant usually wins in the looks department though (I guess that means buttercream has a great personality.) Anyways, I hadn’t made a fondant cake since I took a cake decorating class four years ago. I will say it is much easier to do fondant than pipe buttercream!
First I made a kettlebell out of rice krispies treats. This was to go on top of the cake. It took me about 20 minutes to shape the rice krispies into a kettlebell, a lot less stressful than trying to make one with cake. I covered the bell and handle in fondant separately, and then attached the handle to the bell with toothpicks. I cut out a 4-0 and glued it to the front (birthday boy was turning 40). Edible glue y’all…basically sugar water. I also made jump rope handles out of gumpaste. I did all of this the day before I made the cake, so it would have time to set.
I baked two 8″ cakes and leveled them off. I placed one cake on the large cake board and covered it in buttercream, then fondant. I put the second layer on an 8″ cake board and covered it in fondant as well. Then I stacked the second layer on the first layer, but slightly off center to represent stacked plates. I cut out “Happy Birthday” in gumpaste and adhered it to the two layers. I also added letters and numbers on top of the cake to add some detail of the plate. I added the kettlebell on top, glued the jump rope handles with frosting, and added a fondant rope to the handles. I left some of powdered sugar on the kettlebell and the cake because it looked like chalk. That’s it! I love how bright this cake is!
Last weekend I ran my third marathon, but the main reason I’m telling you this is because of the name on my bib. I honestly don’t remember giving them this name. The lady handed me my bib and said, “You’re cupcake?!” Why, yes…yes I am, but how do you know that? Apparently I was feeling clever when I registered.
Which brings me to cake. I’ve witnessed my share of baby’s first birthday cake. The idea of a smash cake is pretty ingenius- the baby gets their own cake to dig into, while the other guests can eat their own baby germ free piece. And it makes for cute pictures. However, the majority of the babies I’ve seen do not dig in and make a mess of the cake! They are not taking advantage of this. I know plenty of adults that would love to attack a piece of cake. But anyways. This was a Mickey Mouse smash cake I did recently. Vanilla cake with buttercream frosting- babies don’t have many preferences by one year. Have you ever seen a kid really smash a smash cake?
Word Press just informed me that this was my 2 year anniversary of my blog- I figured that deserved a post if anything. Two whole years. This time of year lends itself to reflection and there is so much that I’ve done and still have yet to do. I’ve done 7 weddings in that time span, and have 2 more coming up in the spring. Not shabby considering this is my side job. Or is teaching my side job? It’s hard to keep straight. I never dreamed of baking on this scale and sometimes it still surprises me how much it’s grown.
Posts about goals and bucket lists have been floating around the interwebs…I find most of them annoying. And I’m very much a goal-oriented person. I’m constantly writing goals, rewriting them, and figuring out what I need to do to get there. I’m in the middle of that process right now. But the thing is, my goals don’t apply to anyone but myself. You don’t know need to know them. Not one of these lists going viral will apply to your life 100%. I hope you do make goals for the new year- and if you achieve them before the year is out, write some more. You don’t need a new year to dictate when you set goals. Figure out what you want, write goals (physically write them out), and go after it. Cover all areas of your life- health, spiritual, relationships, career, and financial. That’s only slightly overwhelming. Bottom line…where are you now, and where do you want to be?
Now, let’s get down to the baking. One of my recent projects was a smash cake and cupcakes for a sweet boy’s 2nd birthday. His party had a barnyard theme, which I thought was adorable. I decided to create cow and pig toppers with gum paste for the cupcakes. I drew the eyes and cow print on with a cake pen. These things are amazing. I originally ordered mine online, but I’m starting to see them in stores now.
I did the cupcakes first, and when I started the smash cake I decided to use the same gum paste decos. Continuity, folks.
I’m looking forward 2014 and everything it will bring! I hope you all get to ring in the new year with loved ones and with new goals. And of course, some delicious treats!
Hello my long lost friends! I probably should apologize for my short hiatus, but I’m not going to make any excuses. Bottom line is my real life takes precedence over the cyber one. This time of year tends to get nuts for everyone. Work (for me) always gets a little crazier, “run season” shifts into full gear with training and races, the baking is non-stop, and of course as the holidays approach, the social calendar just keeps building. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining at ALL. But it does reach a point where I have to stop and figure out where my priorities rank. I think that’s one of the keys to keeping stress levels down- figuring out what’s important to you and your well being and what can be put off. I am constantly telling my students, “You don’t HAVE to do anything.” They get excited for a minute before I remind them of the potential consequences of their decisions. But really, we don’t have to do anything. I think sometimes we forget that. The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving and joy, not “I just need to make it through the next few days”.
One of the main reasons why I love baking is getting to share and celebrate joyous moments with friends. The past few weeks I’ve done a couple of projects for dear friends celebrating various events in their lives. One friend found out that she was having a boy and wanted to share that with her family with cake pops. I made vanilla cake pops (colored blue of course) and covered them in white candy bark.
Another friend was celebrating her boy’s first birthday. I made the gender reveal cake for this couple over a year ago, and I was excited to make a smash cake for my favorite one year old. I’ve watched him grow up this past year and can’t believe he’s already one! Pretty sure he’s a customer for life since his momma started him on my cake in the womb.
This past weekend one of my closest friends got married. Let me back that up. Two weeks ago, she and her fiance went to Vegas with their families and they got hitched. This past weekend they threw a reception so the rest of us could help celebrate. Pretty genius idea- you get two weekends to celebrate, two times to wear your wedding dress, two weekends where it’s all about you. But who would want that?!
These friends also happen to be some of my loyal taste testers. They even go the extra mile and try other bakeries, then give me feedback and suggestions. I’m pretty lucky. Since their venue took care of all the catering needs for their reception, my services weren’t needed. However, they did still want a small cake to do a traditional cake cutting and that’s where I come into the picture. A couple of weeks ago I asked them what flavor they wanted. They had recently tried a cookies n cream cake somewhere and decided on that. They were pretty specific on consistency and flavor, so I had a good framework to work with. I actually didn’t get a piece of the cake, but everyone said they really enjoyed it. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with Oreos.
Cookies N Cream Cake
1 1/3 c. butter
2 1/2 c. sugar
3 c. flour
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. double stuf Oreos
Preheat the oven to 325*. Grease and flour two 8″ round pans. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating by starting and ending with the flour. Crush 2 of the 3 rows of Oreos in the package, and fold them into the batter. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Crush the remaining Oreos and fold into the frosting. I needed to pipe the frosting, so I only used Oreos in the filling. I also made the frosting a bit too thin the first go round. I knew as I was piping it that it would not hold, but I was hoping prayers would keep it from being a disaster.
I scraped off the sides and had to make another batch of frosting. Fortunately, it doesn’t take that long to pipe those roses.
Last week was a whirl wind and I’m still not quite sure how I did it. It was the first week of school and I was baking for a wedding the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It’s okay, I know I have a few bolts loose. This was my seventh wedding to bake for in some capacity- seventh! At first I was only helping out good friends that were getting married and at some point it snowballed. Part of this is due to the amazing replica my friends made of Kyle Field (the football stadium at Texas A&M for all of you non-Aggies). This post is mainly going to be pictures, but as I was preparing for this wedding I did realize I had several check points/strategies that helped me get everything done without having a breakdown.
Get ALL supplies ahead of time. This includes wrappers, containers to transport, cake toppers, decorations, and ingredients. The more you can have ready pre-baking, the better. The last thing you want to do is be in the middle of baking and have to run to the store. Walk through each recipe to make sure you have everything- sometimes things like vanilla will slip our minds.
Figure out a baking schedule and STICK. TO. IT. I divided everything thing over 5 days (since I was doing cake balls I could start that early). I knew if I stayed on schedule everything would get done.
Be efficient. If you’re waiting for cupcakes to bake or cool, start the next batch or start on frosting. Start on washing dishes. Frost one batch while another is baking. Just don’t waste 20 minutes because cupcakes are in the oven.
Know what you are doing for transport. This is easy to forget since it doesn’t involve baking, but transport and set up are so much more stressful than the actual baking (to me anyways).
All of that being said, everything went smoothly! Here are some pictures from the baking prep and the actual set up at the wedding. Enjoy!