Real Weddings - Jace & Zachary
You don’t have to look far to find a tradition at a wedding. Whether it’s “something old / something new”, wearing your ring on your left ring finger, lighting a unity candle, the toasts (or roasts), or feeding each other a piece of cake, traditions can be found in every part of the ceremony and reception. When Jace first contacted me, she wanted to make sure I was familiar with a specific tradition – cake pulls.
According to neworleans.com, “Wedding cake pulls are a local tradition carried over from the Victorian era as a way to wish good luck onto close friends without extending the bridal party.” This is a great option to include everyone when you only want a small number of bridesmaids.
But what are cake pulls? Cake pulls are charms with ribbon tied to them which are placed between the tiers of the cake. The charms are iced over so only the ribbon shows. At the time of cake cutting, the bridesmaids and other invited ladies surround the cake, each selecting a ribbon. They then pull out their charm, revealing what was selected. Each charm is different and comes with a card describing what the charm symbolizes.
Jace’s twelve pulls included a ring (next to get married), airplane (destined to travel), and a four-leaf clover (bring luck to everyone). Music notes, an umbrella, a tree, and a sun were also part of the set.
In contrast to her vintage tradition, Jace’s cake was a modern design. The four tier cake was iced as double barrels creating the appearance of two extremely tall tiers. Usually, my cake tiers are 5 ½ to 6 inches tall; however, Jace’s “two” tiers were just over twelve inches each. The buttercream icing detail reflected her wedding colors. She selected white chocolate wedding cake with almond buttercream.
Zachary is an avid Dallas Stars fan, and I created a design to reflect his favorite team. The couple selected the team’s alternate jersey colors as a base. I added the logo to the bottom tier, and a jersey with their last name and wedding year as the number. To complete the look I added some fondant hockey pucks and a hockey stick that appeared to go through the cake. Zachary selected lemon cake with raspberry buttercream.
I love delivering custom groom’s cakes as the guys are usually wandering around the venue waiting to take pictures when I arrive. They get the first look – even before the bride! There were audible “ohh’s” and “ahh’s” from the groom and his friends when I set this one up!
If you would like to talk about personalizing your wedding or groom's cake, complete the Contact form, and we can schedule your design consultation and tasting.
Venue - Wildflower Wedding Venue
Planner / Florist - Willner Weddings
Photographer - On the Vine Photography
New Cake Flavor - Snickerdoodle
One of my most popular cookie flavors is snickerdoodle. In fact, they are second, only to chocolate chip.
So what is a snickerdoodle? I'm glad you asked! A snickerdoodle is a cinnamon cookie rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking. I add a little brown sugar to my recipe as well for a richer flavor. Some form of the cookie has been around since the late 1800's, and the name is debated amongst food historians. Some say the name comes from the German phrase "schnecke knodel" (there's an umlaut missing over that o...my keyboard isn't happy with special characters today), which means snail dumpling. Others say the moniker comes from the Dutch "snekrad", also referring to a small snail-ish shape. Escargot? Well that's the French snail delicacy and has nothing to with cookies. Back to desserts!
Snickerdoodles have been on my cookie menu since the beginning, and they are the perfect flavor for the cinnamon lover.
A couple years ago, I had a bride ask for a snickerdoodle cake. I did not have that flavor on my standard menu, but I am happy to offer custom flavors. So I turned on the mixer and started to experiment. After a few trials to get the flavors right, I created a cinnamon cake with a cinnamon and brown sugar swirl, and I paired it with a cinnamon and brown sugar buttercream. The bride loved the sample and decided that would be her wedding cake flavor.
Recently I had another bride ask for a snickerdoodle cake, and I dug the recipe out to recreate the flavor for her. My Flavor Development Team... ok, my kids... love the cookie, and they gobbled up the cake scraps which are the bit of cake that is cut off the top so it is flat. They immediately insisted that I add it to my permanent menu. I couldn't argue with them one bit. Well, not about this.
The swirls and darker buttercream cannot be seen from the outside of the cake, and I recommend cream cheese buttercream as the outer icing for this new flavor. Yum!
If you would like to sample this flavor (or any other) for your wedding, please fill out our Contact form, and we can get your design consultation scheduled.
National Banana Bread Day
According to National Day Calendar, today is National Banana Bread Day! I’ve been making banana bread since I was in high school. My mother had a set of cookbooks that were like encyclopedia volumes, and they were filled with some fabulous recipes, the banana bread recipe was my favorite. Those cookbooks sadly disappeared in a move when she downsized, and I wish I had them today. I tried unsuccessfully to replicate the recipe from memory and by trying and adjusting other recipes, but none of them lived up to banana bread I remembered from my youth.
While on our honeymoon almost 17 years ago, my husband and I found a cookbook in a winery gift shop that just called to us. The book was titled Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook. As newlyweds how could we pass that up? It was meant to be because not only was there a banana bread recipe in this book, but it was almost identical in taste and texture to the one all other recipes were being measured against. I made a couple modifications, and we had a winner!
First, I toast my pecans. Could you skip this step? Absolutely! And sometimes I don’t bother. However, the flavor develops a little more depth when you take the time to toast them. This can be done in an oven at 350°F for a few minutes or in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Stir them a few times, and you’ll know they are done when you can smell the nuts and they darken a little. You could also use walnuts if you prefer, but I’m from Texas so…pecans. I mash my bananas at this time too.
Now I get all my ingredients measured. We mix all the dry ingredients together, then mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a separate bowl.
Next, we alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk and beating until just incorporated. Don’t overmix – the gluten in the wheat flour will overdevelop resulting in an overly chewy bread (not in a good way). I never have buttermilk on hand, and we only need half a cup, so I make sour milk as shown in the recipe. You could replace the milk and vinegar with buttermilk if you prefer or have some in the fridge. We’re really looking for the chemical reaction between the acid in the milk and the baking soda, and the taste is not affected regardless of which you use.
Finally, we mix in the mashed bananas and pecans. Again, just until they are incorporated – don’t overmix. Pour into two prepared pans and bake at 350°F for about an hour. The banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out mostly clean.
My daughter and I enjoy our banana bread without anything added to it, but my husband and son prefer to slather their slices with butter. It also makes a decadent French toast.
You can make muffins with this recipe, but you need to crank up the oven to get the right rise. The tops of the muffins bake in concentric circles. The outside circle sets, then the next circle rises and sets, then a little closer to the center rises and sets…this is what gives muffins their dome or top. Bake at 400°F for 17-19 minutes for regular size muffins or 12-15 minutes for minis.
Yield - two 9x3 inch loaves
Prep time - 10 minutes
Bake time - 1 hour
1 ½ Cups Pecans, toasted and chopped
2 Cups very ripe bananas (about 5 – 6 small bananas), mashed
2 ¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
¾ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 ¼ Cups Sugar
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla
½ Cup Milk
½ teaspoon White Vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two loaf pans with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the oil and sugar on low until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Stir vinegar into milk to make sour milk – it will start to thicken after a minute or two.
Stir the baking soda into the sour milk. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the sugar and egg mixture followed by half of the milk and mix until incorporated. Repeat and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the final dry ingredients and scrape the bowl again.
Add the mashed banana and nuts and mix until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.
The Dream Ranch Open House
The Dream Ranch is a new venue in Wolfe City, about 45 minutes north east of McKinney, and they are having an open house on Sunday, March 5, 2023 from 1:00 -5:00 pm. The venue will be open for tours with a variety of vendors set up to answer any questions you have about their services. I’ll be there with cake samples too.
The venue sits on 36 acres and features several outdoor spaces including a ceremony site, a barn that has been converted to the reception space, a pond with pavilion, and a three bedroom home with pool.
There is a triangular arch at one of the outdoor spaces which is a perfect background for a wedding ceremony.
The barn is 9000 square feet, and the horse stalls are a unique feature. They lead to an outdoor area with string lights – a great space for yard games or extra cocktail tables. The stalls would also be a great place for a photo booth, caricature artist, gift table, or even a coloring station for any kids attending the big day.
Inside the venue are dressing rooms for the bride and groom as well as plenty of space for your guests.
There is no fee to attend the open house, but please register for the event here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/532312750767.
Venue - The Dream Ranch
All photos by dreamranchevents.com
Real Weddings - Hannah and Preston
When Hannah first reached out to me, she mentioned she was interested in a fall theme with pampas terracotta, and peachy blush colors. She knew she wanted a barely iced cake so the design process was quick. She selected Champagne cake with Lavender Blackberry buttercream. Hannah had two small arrangements pre-made so I just needed to add them to her cake. They were each wrapped to a pretty big pick. Normally I would disassemble and rearrange florals like this so they fit the cake better. However, pampas grass is very delicate and sheds easily, so I left them as they were and made a bow to cover the picks.
Shortly after her cake tasting, Hannah let me know that Preston wanted a groom’s cake as well. He had something specific in mind though – he wanted the cake to look like tooled leather and it was going to be Red Velvet.
Tooled leather has gone through an engraving or carving process creating a raised design on the leather which can be made into a belt, purse, saddle, or other product.
To say I was excited was an understatement! I love when couples add personalization to their cakes, and I was sure that I could achieve the look Preston had in mind. I started the search for the perfect rolling pin as embossed fondant was going to be the perfect medium for this kind of design.
Hannah sent me pictures of Preston’s favorite cowboy hat which I replicated in fondant as a topper.
I love how the finished cake turned out!
They also wanted a variety of cookies at the wedding, and they were displayed on a cookie wall. Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, White Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Raisin were offered to the guests. This was a fun way to display the cookies, and the couple provided bags so cookies could be taken as wedding favors too.
The wedding was held at Bethel Rock in Leonard which is about 30 miles north east of McKinney. It is a gorgeous venue with an outdoor ceremony space and numerous photo opportunities. The reception venue is a converted home that has been professionally decorated creating a large bridal suite and the reception space. There is a separate groom’s building where the guys can play ping pong, Xbox, and air hockey while waiting for the ceremony to start.
Congratulations to Hannah and Preston!
Venue - Bethel Rock
River Road Chateau is having an open house on Sunday, February 26, 2023, and I am excited to be a returning vendor! I have partnered with this venue for over 7 years, and they are one of my favorites!
Looking at their gorgeous grounds, it’s easy to tell why I love when couples decide to get married here. First, there is the meadow where outdoor ceremonies take place. It’s a hidden clearing surrounded by mature trees with a stone entrance. The lush canopy gives ceremony an intimate feel. A beautiful wooden arch and chandelier are at the front of the meadow which can be decorated to coordinate with your colors.
There is a French styled garden between the meadow and the venue, and it is the perfect place for portraits.
The reception venue has a stone wall creating a focal point at the back of the space. It is the perfect backdrop for a sweetheart or head table.
River Road Chateau includes a couple copper top tables for gifts and the dessert table. Because the venue colors are neutral, a variety of color palettes work well here.
There are bride’s and groom’s dressing rooms in the venue, or you can rent Belle Manor, the house next door. The house offers more room to spread out and you can even rent the home to stay in the night before or after the wedding. One of the features of the bridal suite is a claw foot tub. Photo opportunity!
The open house will be from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on Sunday, February 26. You can tour all of the venue’s spaces, meet the venue manager, and visit with a variety of wedding vendors including photographers, bartenders, DJs, and caterers. Come say hi – you may even get a slice of cake!
Venue - River Road Chateau
Open House Planner - Fawn Hollow Events
Dessert Table 101
Dessert tables have become very popular in recent years, allowing wedding guests a choice in their dessert on your big day.
A dessert table is any offering other than the wedding and groom’s cake, and can range from a variety of cupcakes to a smorgasbord of treats. Popular goodies include, cookies, tarts, brownies, macarons, and cereal treats.
Well, the desserts are small, so a dessert table will cost less than a wedding cake, right? Not necessarily.
When at a buffet, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) sets in and you want to try it all. The same thing happens with a dessert table. A greater variety of desserts can lead to guests only taking a bite or two of more items than they would typically select.
Can't you hear it? "Of course I'm going to get a mini cupcake, but I can't pass up on a chocolate chip cookie. Is that a chocolate covered Oreo? Oh, lemon tarts!"
So how many desserts do you really need? If you are offering a full size dessert like a cupcake or a full size brownie, count on 1-2 per guest. With smaller desserts like cookies, macarons, bite size brownies, or mini tarts you can count on each guest taking 3 items from the various options.
Right now, people are ready to get out and party after missing all the events that were cancelled during the Covid pandemic. The event planners I work with tell me that about 80% of the guest list are coming to the wedding. Not everyone will have dessert though, and your wedding cake servings factor into the mix as well. If you invite 100 people to the wedding, you won’t need 100 servings of cake and 300 mini desserts – unless you like leftovers.
Ready for some math?
So for your 100 invited guests, let’s say 80 come to the wedding. Only 80-90% of those guests will have dessert, regardless of what you offer. It will be closer to the 90% with a dessert table (again, FOMO), so you need desserts for about 72 people. The smallest three tier cake I make is 56 servings, and if we remove the cake servings, we only need mini desserts for 16 people. At three desserts each, that’s only four dozen mini desserts.
If you want the look of that three tier cake, but want more dessert options for your guests, you can always incorporate a false tier into the wedding cake. The same size cake in the above calculation will look exactly the same but would only serve 24 if you replace the bottom tier with a fake one. Then you would need twelve dozen mini desserts to reach enough servings for those 72 people, which gives your dessert table a much fuller look.
The false tier is decorated in buttercream or fondant like the rest of the cake, so your guests won’t even be able to tell the difference. The only design a false tier will not work with is a naked or semi-iced cake. Can you pick out the false tier in this cake?
There are lots of options when it comes to dessert tables, and I’m always happy to walk through the details with my clients. If you would like to talk about a dessert table or wedding cake just fill out the contact form and we can get started.
Real Weddings - Alexandra and Michael
Alexandra and Michael were married this past May at D’Vine Grace Vineyard in McKinney, Texas, and they used the planning services of Carolina Lopez Events.
Venue photo courtesy of Hannah Way Photography.
Alexandra selected a two tier cake with a smooth buttercream finish. Under that silky vanilla buttercream was our white chocolate wedding cake.
In addition to the cake, the couple wanted to offer cupcakes to their guests. They chose two flavors - chocolate fudge with a ganache swirl and cookies & cream with cream cheese buttercream flowers.
Between the cake and cupcakes, there were 122 servings of dessert which is a good amount for 135-150 guests, keeping in mind that not every guest will have dessert at a wedding.
Congratulations to Alexandra and Michael!
Venue: D'Vine Grace Vineyard, McKinney, Texas
Planner: Carolina Lopez Events
Venue Photo: Hannah Way Photography
2023 Spring & Summer Color Inspo
A white wedding is classic. White dress, white flowers, white linens. It is a beautiful color choice for an elegant affair.
But color can bring a bit of your personality to the party. Pun totally intended there. You can highlight the season or your favorite colors. You could even incorporate a favorite sports team. For example, my husband went to A&M, and maroon was GOING to be at our wedding. Since we were married in October, it fit in with the season too. We decided on maroon, oranges, and ivories with a little gold – perfect for fall.
Pantone is a company that regulated color for print in the 1960’s. They created a standard color system so companies could have consistent branding. Every year they have color of the year as well as seasonal colors which brands use to bring life to their products.
What does this have to do with cake? The Pantone colors are highlighted at Fashion Week and in seasonal home furnishings. Both those influence wedding design – think bridesmaids’ dresses and décor rental. Those details also make their way onto the cake.
The Pantone 2022 color of the year is Very Peri, which is a beautiful shade of blue. Several color palettes include this color. I have seen these particular shades at several weddings this year.
Recently, Pantone released New York and London’s Fashion Week trend reports for spring and summer 2023. They both feature the bright, vibrant colors you would expect for seasons of growth and a Core Classics grouping of more neutral tones.
I would put together Peach Pink, Blue Perennial, Summer Song, and a light ivory. Would you use any of these colors for your wedding?
Real Weddings - Bailey and Nik
All photos in this post were taken by Sarah Tribett Photography.
Bailey and Nik were married at the end of July at The Emerson in Kaufman, Texas. The reception venue looks like a sweet little white country home on the outside, but it is a modern blank canvas on the inside with white walls and a few black accents. I’m not sure how many walls were torn down to create the open and airy space, but there’s enough room for 150 of your closest friends to help you celebrate!
There is an onsite chapel that was designed by HGTV’s Leanne Ford too!
Bailey and Nik chose a 3 tier buttercream covered cake with a smooth finish. The top two tiers were chocolate fudge cake with chocolate hazelnut buttercream filling, and the bottom tier was white chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling.
Bailey wanted the fresh, white flowers on her cake clustered together and extending from the middle tier. I made a reel on Instagram showing a hyper lapse of me arranging the flowers on this cake. You can find it in the BTS (behind the scenes) highlights.
Bailey and Nik chose a pick style topper with their last name in a silver finish. I love these kinds of toppers because they can be customized and look so delicate. However, I also strongly dislike these kinds of toppers because they are Just. So. Darn. Delicate. They can be a bugger to get out of the packaging so they tend to snap easily. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown up to deliver a cake and been warned by a planner, mom, bridesmaid, etc. that the topper was broken. However, don’t let this stop you from ordering one – I carry superglue in my delivery kit, and your planner probably has some too.
Sarah Tribett was the amazing photographer who took all the gorgeous pics in this post. I love seeing cake cutting photos, and she did an outstanding job of capturing the natural joy of the couple. These do not disappoint!
I especially love the "happy cake dance" pic!
Venue – The Emerson https://www.emersonvenue.com/ https://www.facebook.com/emersonvenue https://www.instagram.com/emersonvenue/
Planner – Stairway Events https://www.stairwayevents.com/ https://www.facebook.com/stairwayevents https://www.instagram.com/stairwayevents/
Sarah Tribett Photography https://sarahtribettphotography.com/ https://www.facebook.com/SarahTribettPhoto/ https://www.instagram.com/sarahtribettphoto/
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Yep, only one 's' in my name!
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