Friday, November 25, 2011

Wedding Cake Wonders

I <3 weddings.
It's true.
I love the dresses, the decorations, the colors, the people, the food. Everything.
There's a feeling of magic there.
I blame it on love.

Two weeks ago I catered for my friend Lark's wedding.
She emailed me a few months ago, asking about my pricing for wedding cakes.
I told her $100. She said yes.
But there was one dilemma...I had never made a wedding cake before.
I was super excited but also really scared.
Cake = easy as pie (ha.)

A few weeks before I bought all the equipment: cake pans, super-sized cooling racks, cardboard rounds, wooden dowels, parchment paper, foil, flour, sugar, and lots of BUTTER!
The week of the wedding came fast. Fortunately my boyfriend's family let me use their kitchen to make the cakes. That was Thursday. It took about 4 hours to bake all the cakes (there were 6 total--2 layers per tier). And Devin (the boyf) helped me out so much. He is a GREAT dishwasher and sous chef :)
I had leftover batter so we made a 3-layered birthday cake for his little brother Dakota (Cody)'s birthday. Funfetti-style: we added sprinkles to vanilla cake batter. Yum :)
Then we wrapped up the cakes in plastic wrap and foil and stuck them in the freezer.
Saturday rolled around. I drove over to Devin's house and got the cakes. Then the real fun came.
It was around noon and I had about 4 hours to get everything done for the wedding.
I made raspberry filling for the bottom two tiers, fudge filling for the top tier, and an ivory buttercream for the entire cake. The cake was three tiers tall--the bottom tier being 12 inches, the middle tier 10 inches, and the top tier 8 inches. I put 8 wooden dowels in the bottom tier, 6 dowels in the middle tier, and 4 dowels in the top tier.  I also placed a cardboard round between each tier. 
Note: wedding cakes are REALLY heavy. That thing must have weighed like 50 pounds. Ha, okay that is a bit of an exaggeration. But it was a beast.
I used this video to guide me.

Here is the the cake: unfrosted.
Get excited.

Here is the cake: finished.

The wedding colors were light pink, ivory,, I think.
Check out the antique cake stand: awesome.
Lark wanted the cake to be simple. So I texturized the frosting and dolloped some frosting around each tier's base.

I took some pink roses and baby's breath from the bride's bouquet and placed them on the top tier.

More pictures :)

These are some pictures that I edited on Pixlr-O-Matic. Pretty cool, huh?

The beautiful bride: Lark.
Her dress was adorable. It was an ivory color with lace, bows, and satin. I LOVED it.

Cutting the cake.

And then they shoved it into each other's faces. My personal favorite :)

They had a photo booth at their reception. Everyone who got pictures taken received one copy and they put the other copy in Lark and Kyle's memory book, with a hand-written note. Rad idea.

Some of the food from the reception. Cucumber deliciousness.


Fruit tartlets.

The wedding was gorgeous and wonderful.
The cake was a success. People loved it. And that made it all worth it :)

Oh, and I almost forgot! Recipes!

Vanilla Wedding Cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch (or 8-inch) round pans. (I recommend placing a round piece of greased parchment paper in each pan.)
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next one. Add the vanilla. 
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Stir in the sour cream. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 minute. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake in the preheated oven, 35-40 minutes for the 9x13 pan or 20-25 minutes for the round pans. The top of the cake should be golden. Test for doneness with a toothpick; it should come out dry and clean.
  7. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans. 

Raspberry Sauce

  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan. 
  2. Cook until raspberries are broken down, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove from the heat and cool.

Best Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a bowl whip butter for 10 seconds. Beat in powdered sugar, until blended.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.

Chocolate Wedding Cake
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans. 
  2. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the three prepared pans.
  4. Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Allow cakes to cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from cake pans.

Chocolate Fudge Filling
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place chocolate chips, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat evaporated milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate mixture; let stand until chocolate melts, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla, whisk until filling is smooth and well combined.
  2. Transfer chocolate filling to refrigerator; let chill until slightly firm, but still spreadable, about 2 hours.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Peanut Butta and Choco Chip Granny Bars

I am obsessed with peanut butter.
And chocolate.
And granola bars.

And the three of them together? DIVINE.

These "no-bake" little guys are incredibly simple to make. Just mix together and put in a pan.
My mouth is watering just at the sight of them.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

(makes one 9x13 pan...about 15 bars, depending on how much you eat yourself...)

  • 2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal, oats, and flax seed. Set aside. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium size bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute (just until bubbling), then remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips (I put them in at the end so they do not melt!)
  3. Press into the prepared pan using the back of a large spoon. Allow to cool (I put them in the freezer), then cut into squares.
  4. Eat as many as you can.
Ideas for add-ins: toasted coconut (favorite!), peanuts, almonds, walnuts, white chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, sprinkles :)

    You wanna know something sort of embarrassing?
    I used to have another blog back in the day.
    Yep, I did.
    It was called Hinckley Health and Happiness  (dork alert!)
    Please don't judge me for it's layout. I was just a baby when I started it!
    Okay, it was only 2 years ago...
    But being 19 makes me a baby, right? :)
    But seriously. Every time I look at it I just laugh. My recipes were great. My food photography skills and overall layout = not my greatest work.
    Not saying that I am amazing at photography now...that is most definitely not true.
    But I have come a long way since then.
    Yay me :)

    I started making these granola bars over a year ago and I haven't been able to stop since. AND I haven't even gotten sick of them yet! It's a miracle. Here is the link to them on my old blog.

    My good friend Jessica is serving a mission for the LDS Church right now, so I just had to send her some in the is meant to be shared with those you love :)

    And these cute little guys just had to be bagged up.
    Off you go!

    Okay, so this is a little random and silly, but I want to start asking questions to all my readers...

    So today's question is:

    What is your favorite kind of granola bar?

    (Feel free to reply in the form of a comment on this post)

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    autumn fall awesomeness

    Do you love autumn?
    I do.
    And if you don't, you should.
    Because there are so many things to be grateful for!

    family, friends, school, the crunchy colorful leaves, the feel of the crisp morning air, smoke billowing from houses, the smell of pumpkin goodies in the kitchen, scarves, boots, long socks, hot apple cider...

    Have I mentioned that I LOVE autumn?

    The other day I was browsing along, looking at other blogs like usual, and I found something spectacular...this little thing called the 30 Day Photo Challenge.

    Basically how it works is that for each day in November, you take a picture of something you are grateful for. That's it. What a neat way to document what you cherish in life :)
    I found this on a blog called: Positively Present
    Click on the link below to see the post on the 30 Day Photo Challenge...

    I think it's a really cool idea.
    That's why I decided to participate.
    And you should too!

    Click here to see my daily pictures!
    On Flickr...
    Or Pinterest...
    Whatever floats your boat.

    Here are a few of my pictures, however I am not going to post all of them until the end of the challenge (AKA the end of November).

     Day 6: Books

     Day 8: Favorite Color

    Day 4: Leaves
    Join the fun!
    It will be well worth it.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Pumpkin Pear Pesto Pizza

    Okay, yes, Halloween is over...darn :( 

    I truly love Halloween.
    Costumes. Candy. Crazy people.
    It doesn't get much better than that.

    Halloween accomplishments this year:
    • Dressed up like a leopard
    • Went to parties
    • Danced the night away
    • Watched scary movies
    • Went trick-or-treating! (you can never be too old, right?)
    • Ate WAY too much candy
    • And...made pumpkin pizza...oh it was divine 
    I felt like it was a successful holiday.

    This is me and Devin about to head out the door to go trick-or-treating.

    Our conversation:
    (A few days before)
    Devin: "Let's go trick-or-treating on Halloween!"
    Me: "Okay, that sounds like fun!"
    (An hour before)
    Devin: "Are you ready to go?"
    Me: "Devin...I don't know...aren't we a little too old to go trick-or-treating?"
    Devin: "Sarah, seriously? You can't just change your mind right before we go..."
    Me: "But all these little kids keep coming to my door. I haven't seen any adults yet. And I feel bad..."
    Devin: "Sarah, we are going."
    Me: "Ugh..."
    (After about 10 minutes of Devin and my roommate Jane convincing me to go)
    Me: "Okay, fine...I'll go."

    And I am so glad we went. People LOVED our costumes. Plus we got invited into someone's house to eat mouthwatering scones and hot apple cider. Yum :)
    Oh, and did I mention that Devin dressed up as Moses?
    I could not stop laughing when I saw his costume. I couldn't even look at him...but in all seriousness, he looked like a stranger to me. Thank goodness he only looked this way for one night :)


    Best friend couples! Me and my bestie Katie. And Leah and her bestie Ashley.

    Okay, so this guy's costume was amazing. He dressed up like an old man AKA Mr. Rogers. He dyed his hair gray, drew wrinkles on his face, and dressed in old-school clothing. Definitely legit.

    Bored Sarah = photo editing

    Now onto the FOOD!
    Have you ever had a pear gorgonzola pizza?
    Or a butternut squash pizza?
    Well if not, you are missing out.
    To me, pizza is not that great.
    Pros: tastes good.
    Cons: greasy, too much cheese, unhealthy toppings (sorry pepperoni-lovers...)
    However, pizza can taste delicious without all the bad stuff...
    This pizza is proof.

    First things first...roasted butternut squash with caramelized onions and rosemary.
    You will think you've died and gone to heaven. Roasted veggies are my weakness. I eat them like a little kid would inhale candy. Nom nom nom.

    And what better way than to serve them on a pizza?

    And not to forget about another AMAZING pizza topping...pear.
    Yes, you heard me. Pear, with gorgonzola cheese of course.
    I had never had this combination before until Devin told me about it.
    He had it a couple of times at restaurants, and loved it.
    So we gave it a try. And it was...SO GOOD.
    The combination of the sweet pear with the salty cheese. Perfect.
    Oh, and don't forget the pesto!

    Get in my belly...

    Devin showing off his pizza dough tossing skills.

    Show-off :)

     Flattening pizza dough my way.


    We decided to eat on the floor. Cute, right?

    Confession: I only have one chair in my house...hence why we sat on sofa cushions.
    Let's just pretend that we made the decision to sit on the floor ourselves :)

    The wonderful pumpkin we carved.
    A bit gruesome, I admit.


    Classic Pizza Crust

    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


    1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
    2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
    3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
    4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
    5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

    Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 cups white-wheat flour


    1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
    2. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white-wheat flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining white-wheat flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
    3. When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
    4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.
    5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

    Basil Pesto
    • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (or 1 cup fresh basil leaves and 1 cup fresh spinach leaves)
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
    • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    1. Combine the basil/spinach in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
    2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Pumpkin Pizza (Butternut Squash Pizza)

    • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
    • 1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • salt and black pepper to taste
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • Pizza crust dough
    • Pesto (or marinara)
    • Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sliced onion and squash in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; toss to coat.
    2. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until onions are lightly browned and squash is tender; set aside.
    3. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. 
    4. Spread pesto or marinara over the pizza dough (I like to spread half of the dough with pesto and the other half with marinara). Cover with Mozzarelle cheese (however much you like). Distribute squash mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
    5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is firm.

    Pear Gorgonzola Pizza
    • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese (or swiss cheese)
    • 1 Bosc pear, thinly sliced
    • 2 ounces chopped walnuts
    • 2 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
    • Fresh basil
    • Pizza crust dough
    • Pesto (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
    2. Place pizza crust dough on a medium baking sheet. Layer with Provolone (or swiss) cheese. Top cheese with Bosc pear slices. Sprinkle with walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese.
    3. Add fresh basil, if desired.
    4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.

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