Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tasty Takeaways: Part II

Phew! Holidays are over, so back to the work at hand: Find our landing place. I guess we were on our way from Chicago to Kentucky, where I left off. Well when we arrived, we were most pleasantly surprised with what we found in Louisville….

Garage Bar

Louisville, KY
Who would've known?? Old Lou! Got to give it to that town. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. And subtly awesome too. What I mean is, nothing's too overdone so that it's in your face. Good food? Yeah, we got that. Cool buildings? Sure do. Happening art and music scene? You betcha! Wait…. what about the booze? Oh well, there's the Bourbon Trail. So we decided to stay an extra night.  Louisville has the perfect mix of urban grit and country charm. 21c in downtown Louisville is a contemporary art museum with rotating installations, all from the 21st century. Nestled in the lobby of a hotel, open 24/7, free of charge. Very cool. 

21c and Old Town Liquors 
Market St was a pretty built-up main street, with boutique shopping, some nice restaurants, a great coffee shop, and an okay bakery. But our favorite areas were some of the funkier, more affordable ones like Germantown (must eat: Hammerheads), Highlands (must drink: Holy Grale), Crescent Hill (must eat: Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe), and Butchertown (close enough, must drink: Apocalypse Brew Works, who were hosting a food truck meet-up the night we stopped by). All in all, Louisville is sitting pretty in our top three favorite cities. The thing is, we can see ourselves living there, but it's hard to imagine moving there. It's worth mentioning that I loathe KFC.

Nashville, TN
The most memorable food in Nashville was, hands-down, the spicy catfish sandwich from Bolton's Spicy Chicken. We weren't taken by much else, although Five Points in East Nashville has some hip factor. Wish we could've tried Mas Tacos, but I guess they keep weird hours. 

Spicy Catfish
The best thing about Nashville was the drive from it, to Asheville. First of all, one wrong turn down Hwy 411 and next thing we know, we're at Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams. Steve must've thought he was dreaming when I spotted it and told him, "you might want to pull a U-ey…" Mr. Benton himself showed us around his "hillbilly operation" and then sent us on our way with some great advice and a package of on-the-house prosciutto. We continued the drive towards the Smokey Mountains and took the scenic Cherohala Skyway over the border, to North Carolina. 

Benton's Country Ham

Asheville, NC: 
I went to Asheville with high expectations and it surely lived up to all of them. I knew I would love it there, but what I didn't know, is how much Steve would like it too! It wasn't as urban as he prefers in a city but when it has EVERYTHING else, who cares? Breathtaking nature everywhere you look, unbeatable weather, suuuuuuuch nice (liberal) people, the awesome River Arts District, and although downtown Asheville is completely developed, West Asheville is just over the river, seemingly welcoming to those wanting to start a small business. We had some great food experiences, including White Duck (must try the bankok shrimp taco), the most educational chocolate tasting ever at French Broad Chocolate Factory, and the best pineapple upsidedown cake I've ever tasted from Short Street Cakes. Although timing came in between us and trying Farm and Sparrow, something tells me we would have been quite happy with his elusive, craft bread.

White Duck Tacos and Short Street Cakes

Charleston, SC:
Sadly, I got sick during our stay in Charleston so our time out and about was limited. However, we did make it to Husk for supper before I caught the bug, which was a gift. We had one of the best meals of our lives and to this day, I've never seen such joy as that of Steve-o eating Sean Brock's slow smoked TN pork ribs. 

Angel Oak Tree
Washington, DC: 
The last stop on our road trip couldn't possibly disappoint. We stocked up on wine at the very best wine shop, Schneider's of Capitol Hill, and had a glorious dinner with some of our favorite people ever. Alas, I was still pretty sick so Steve did most of the exploring without me. I did manage to make it to Bloomingdale, the neighborhood adjacent to Le Droit Park, and it is without a doubt my favorite area in DC. Beautiful houses and I loved the small community feel. 

Josh Genderson -- 4th Generation Leader at Schneider's

From DC, we came back to NY for only a few nights before hopping a flight to Cali to spend time with my family and celebrate the engagement of some dear friends. We set out with a pretty distinct plan and I think we accomplished what we aimed to do. Nothing like a month in Hawaii to mull it over... That's right! From Cali, it was straight to Hawaii with us. A blog post on that would just seem cruel. But what the heck, I figure why stop now? So I guess that's next, along with a report on our stops in Seattle and Vancouver. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Tis the Season… for Holiday Pie Orders!

While I know I still owe you some more tasty takeaways from our trip (I still have to explain why Louisville and Asheville are two of my favorite cities ever, and give you the scoop on at least 5 other cities we visited!), that will have to wait. Because today…. we need to talk pie. Simple, wholesome, unadorned, baked to perfection pie.

Salted Caramel Apple

Tis the season folks! Don’t settle on store-bought pies this holiday season. Shantilly Picnic is offering pre-orders from now through December 21st for pickup and delivery.

Crisp flaky crusts – Rich fillings – Fresh seasonal ingredients – Local and Organic – Gluten Free Options – Homemade from scratch with love

Cranberry Frangipane Galettes & Mini Pumpkin Pies 

Choose from 3 delicious homemade holiday pies – salted caramel apple, maple pecan with bourbon whip, and frangipane cranberry (tart) – each only $30

Or order my Pate Brisee and DIY! Two slabs of classic, rich, butter pastry dough, for your own sweet or savory pies. One order is enough for one (9-inch) double-crust pie, two (9-inch) single-crust pies, or up to 24 small tarts. The dough is sold frozen and bakes up incredibly flaky – $12

Call (310) 938-4031 or email with your order details, including pick-up/delivery date.

*Christmas orders should be placed by Friday, December 21nd. Local deliveries will be made December 22, 23, and 24.

**If it’s not pies you’re after, I can make custom desserts with whatever ingredients you have in mind, although I do like to use as many seasonal and local ingredients as possible. Holiday cookies, festive loaf or layer cakes, ready-to-bake croissants, gifts for your favorite foodies... Send me an email with what you have in mind and we can come up with the perfect solution to all your holiday sweets needs.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tasty Takeaways: Part I

Photo taken at a gourmet salt shop in Portland

Well it's about time I checked in and gave a little recap of our travels thus far. The "east coast" loop was so much fun; eye opening, inspiring, fulFILLING, and exhausting to say the least. Our top three favorite places were Detroit, Louisville, and Asheville. Surprised? We kind of were. Not that we didn't really enjoy the other places we visited. We surely did. Here are some of our tastiest of takeaways from each place we visited.

First stop, New Paltz, NY:
Our days were jam packed in New Paltz, spent toting around with some of our favorite food lovers. If you ever find yourself in the beautiful Hudson area, here are my top recommendations: start of with a lazy brunch at The Village Tea Room, walk it off with a gorgeous hike through The Gunks, slip in for tea time at the Monhonk Mountain House, head for Tuthilltown Distillery for some whiskey tasting by the old gristmill, then grab a bite and chat it up with Essel The Alternative Baker, make sure to catch some live music and sample some of the delicious local craft beers on tap at Hopped Up Cafe, and end your day with my favorite cocktail of all time, the Gin & Jam from A Tavola.

Gin & Jam 

Portland, ME
Our absolute favorites were The Standard Baking Co, Oysters with kimchee ice from Eventide, and a trip to Maine Beer Comapany

Local Maine oyster with kimchee ice

Montreal, QC
The most memorable part of Montreal for me was the baguette kamut et miel from Boulangerie Guillaume. Great tear and chew with a slight nutty flavor from the kamut flour, a tinge of honey, and coated in poppy seeds to perfection. Their plain croissant was also one of the best I've ever had. While you're in Mtl, you must try the famous wood-fired bagels from St Viateur, go to the Jean Talon Market, and just to say you did it, try some poutine. 

Croissant sampling

French picnic on the steps of St. Joseph's Oratory 

Ottawa, ON
We didn't get to explore Ottawa at all but we did make one stop at Art Is In where we met one of the friendliest of bakers ever. Kevin was so passionate about his place, he gave us a tour of the 9,000 sq ft operation, let us sample some warm gooey chocolate cookies straight from the oven, boasted about his talented team, and gave us a little lesson on tonka beans.

Detroit, MI:
I'm not gonna lie, some of the best food we ate in Detroit was what we made at home with our talented cheffy friend, Rohani Foulkes. So excited to see her company, Tuckerbox Foods, develop. During our visit, we had one of the most dedicated Detroiters there is show us around, and I'm pretty sure seeing it through his eyes helped secure it's place in our top three. I can't even begin to describe what it. No matter how much you read up on Detroit's socioeconomic analyses and the devastating riots that ensued, nothing can prepare you for an actual drive through the nearly half vacant city, abandoned skyscapers and all, or seeing The Heidelberg Project firsthand. The most incredible thing about Detroit, by far, is the people who are still there, doing everything they can to sustain a community. We can't help but to imagine 
a life amongst these optimistic creative people where we too can contribute to the rebuild of this historical city. We were impressed by many of the independent businesses. Supino Pizzeria by Eastern Market served awesome big, thin crust pies; closeby, City Bird is run by a brother and sister who sell their house line of Detroit-themed items as well as work by hundreds of other local artists and designers; Astro Coffee in Corktown has amazing coffee not to mention a beautiful layout of baked goods and pre-made sandwiches; and the only thing that stopped us from sitting down at Slow's BBQ was the 2-hour wait time (which is not a bad sign). A post on Detroit food would not be complete without a mention of Zingerman's, even though it's in Ann Harbor. That place is unreal. You're mind will reel with the endless amount of specialty food on the shelves and the best part is, you can try it all! 

Heidelberg Project

Chicago, IL:
Downtown Chicago is something to see for sure. Beautiful compact skyline, clean streets, and a straight forward, concise mass transit system. But all of favorite things about the city were found outside the city center, in Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square. My food recs are Cafe Lula for breakfast, bring your own six-pack and share a big plate of Nayarit style prawns at Mariscos El Veneno for lunch, and snuggle up for a cozy dinner at the bar of Longman & Eagle (where you should also consider sleeping.. they run a boutique hotel upstairs).

Nayarit style prawns

Phew this review is getting much too long for one post. Next up, Louisville through DC and the route to Hawaii. We're just getting started... 

Beautiful Portland

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Taking Thyme

Sometimes you just need to put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone, away from your daily distractions, to make sure you're still where you want to be. A couple months ago Steve and I decided that we were ready for a new adventure. I have been in Brooklyn for a little over two years and he, much much longer. Our lease was up in Fort Greene so we decided to put our stuff in storage (aka Steve's parents garage) and play gypsy for a while. Career wise, I'm so so thankful for the solid year of kitchen experience I gained at Saltie; those women are incredible chefs and my time there was invaluable. After deciding that marketing was not the field I wanted to be in, the ladies of Saltie took me under their wings and totally fostered my learning. I'm sure now that baking is what I want to be doing. I am a baker. But where? I have no clue! And that's why we're taking a few months to explore, to see what's out there, to get inspired. We will be making 13 stops, with the goal of eating some of the best food this side of the States has to offer. Who knows, maybe we'll find a new place to live too. 

We set out Friday for a 3+ week end all road trip (a 3 hour tour.....), staying with friends and soon to be friends along the way. I have to just say that the community has blown my mind with the amount of generous, welcoming people that have opened their doors to us. We'll be staying in most places for only 2 nights and we are determined to get the most out of each stop.

New Paltz, NY --> Portland, ME --> Montreal, QC --> Ottawa, ON --> Detroit, MI --> Chicago, IL --> Louisville, KY --> Nashville, TN --> Knoxville, TN --> Asheville, NC --> Charleston, SC --> Washington, DC --> Philadelphia, PA

We'll be documenting our gypsy degustation tour on Tumblr - So stick around if you want to get some serious plate envy. 

Here's a little recipe treat for you. I made this indulgent pudding to celebrate the kickoff to our road trip. It's lovely. 

Honey & Rose Water Tapioca (adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson)
serves 4-6

3 c milk
1/3 c tapioca pearls
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup honey
zest of one small lemon
1/2 - 1 tsp rose water
Chopped toasted pistachio, for garnish

The process for making this tapioca pudding is just like any other custard base. But first you want to soak the tapioca pearls in 1 cup of the milk for 30-60 minutes to soften them up. Then add the rest of the milk, honey, and egg yolks. Heat on low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spatula. The key to custard is patience. Don't rush it. If the custard breaks (ie. heats up too much too quickly), it will never set correctly. (You can tell if it breaks when it looks curdly.) When you feel the custard start to thicken, turn down the heat even lower and continue to stir until the tapioca balls are fully cooked (transparent). Then remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Once cooled for a bit longer, stir in rose water to taste. Serve warm or chilled. Your preference. Enjoy!

We ate our way through New Paltz, hung with some of our favorite people in the world, and drank some amazing craft beer and Hudson bourbon along the way. Next stop, Portland. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Potato Rolls and Crab Cakes

Photo by shantilly picnic

This is a pretty delayed post but way too good of a meal to keep to myself. Buttery crab cakes on fluffy potato rolls with tartar sauce made from my own homemade dill pickles! Delicious. Every time we make it down to Avalon for a beach weekend we absolutely cannot resist the crab cakes from Back Bay SeafoodThey might be the best on the East Coast. This time we froze a few and brought them back to Brooklyn. 

Photo by shantilly picnic

At the same time, we've been getting inundated with potatoes from our CSA, so potato rolls seemed like a win win. Ever wonder why potato bread is so good? Well, potato starch granules are about five times larger than wheat starch granules which means they can absorb at least five times more water, resulting in that moist crumb that we love!

Photo by shantilly picnic

Potato Rolls (Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
Makes 12 rolls

1 lb small red potatoes
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour (I used AP which worked ok but a high protein flour would have been better)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Photo by shantilly picnic

Place potatoes in medium saucepan and add water to just cover (do not salt the water). Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain potatoes but safe the water. Return potatoes to saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, shaking pot occasionally, until any surface moisture has evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Process potatoes through ricer or mash well with potato masher. Do not remove the peel. Measure one very firmly packed cup potatoes and transfer to bowl. Stir in butter until melted.

Photo by shantilly picnic

Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer. Add warm potato mixture to flour mixture and mix with hands until combined (lumps are ok). Add 1 egg and 5 Tbsp of reserved warm potato water. Mix with dough hook on low speed until dough is soft and slightly sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will look dry at first. That's ok.
    Photo by shantilly picnic

  1. Shape dough into ball and place in lightly greased container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, 30 to 40 minutes. Turn out dough onto counter, dusting with flour only if dough is too sticky to handle comfortably. Pat gently into 8-inch square of even thickness. Using bench knife to cut dough into 12 pieces. 
  2. Photo by shantilly picnic
  3. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, shape each into small boules. Arrange rolls on prepared baking sheet. Brush each round with oil or dust lightly with flour, then cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. (I egg washed this batch but I didn't really love the way they colored. I prefer a dull potato bun.)
  4. Photo by shantilly picnic
  5. Bake rolls until deep golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool on wire rack before slicing them open. These were really good, perfect for the crab cake sandwiches, but next time I'd like to try roasting the potatoes rather than boiling. 
Photo by shantilly picnic

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wedding Cake Chronicles: The Finale

Photo by Kyle Hepp

I did it! I made a wedding cake. Even better, I made a wedding cake for one of the most amazing weddings I've ever been to. Emma and Bobby's farm love fest was pure magic. Friends and family came from all over the world to share in the celebration. Everyone was beaming with happiness all day long, including me! Not even the stress of assembling a 3-tiered cake in 90% humidity could keep the smile off my face. 

So my timeline worked out like this:

Wednesday: Baked all cakes and made the lemon syrup (4 hours)

Thursday: Made lemon cream filling (1 hour)
Friday: Made berry filling, espresso syrup, mascarpone filling, first double batch of buttercream, filled and frosted the 6" and 12" tiramisu cakes. (6 hours)
Saturday: Made two more double batches of buttercream, filled and frosted 9" round and 9x13" lemon berry cakes, picked flowers for decorating, assembled/stacked the cakes, decorated, prayed. (5 hours+)

My suggestion is, do as much as possible beforehand. Especially if you plan on attending the wedding. And make sure to give yourself a few buffer hours incase you find yourself with thinner-than-expected-lemon-cream-filling-that-results-in-an-entire-4-layered-cake-strewn-all-over-the-refrigerator... Hot humid weather is a bitch.

Alas, I was able to pick up all the pieces (or layers in this case), clean them up and start fresh. Once the cakes were frosted and chilling safely in the refrigerator, I took a nice calming walk around the breathtaking Millstone Farm to collect flowers. I gathered sunflowers, dill flower, borage, chrysanthemums, calendula, clover flowers, magenta lambs quarters, and lots more. It was just me and the bees.

Photo by Kyle Hepp


The base of the entire cake was chiffon. I chose chiffon cake because it's light, not too sweet, and it doesn't dry out like most wedding butter cakes. You can find my favorite chiffon recipe on my last 'Love Party' post.

I used Italian Buttercream because out of all the varieties I tested, it had the best texture, best taste, was the nicest to work with, chilled and stayed hardened the best, looked beautiful, and just worked the best for me. Yes I'm aware I wrote "best" four times in the last sentence. That should tell you how strongly I feel about this particular buttercream. It's the standard recipe, which makes 6 cups. America's Test Kitchen says to make it 3 times in order to have enough to fill and decorate a 3-tiered wedding cake. I made it 6 times.. Well actually 3 double batches. True I had an extra 9" x 13" sheet cake to frost. Also true that I used up quite a bit extra during my cake slip crisis. In the end, I had about 1 1/2 quarts of buttercream left over which is much better than being 1 1/2 quarts short. Make more than you think you'll need or at least have the ingredients on hand.

3/4 c egg whites, room temp

1 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 c butter, cut into chunks and softened
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Cook the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.

2. Without letting the hot sugar mixture cool off, turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites without hitting the side of the bowl or the beaters. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the bowl is no longer warm, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the vanilla and salt. Gradually add the butter, one piece at a time, until completely incorporated, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until smooth and silky, about 2 minutes. (If the mixture looks curdled, wrap a hot, wet towel around the bowl and continue to whip until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.)

4. Use the buttercream immediately or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the buttercream thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Before using the refrigerated buttercream, scrape it into a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the buttercream, breaking up the clumps with a whisk, until it is half melted with small curds (like wet cottage cheese), 5 to 10 minutes, then whip together with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and stiff, 2 to 5 minutes.

Photo by Kyle Hepp
Espresso Syrup:
makes about 4 1/2 cups

1 1/2 c espresso

1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c dark rum (or to taste)

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a cool bowl, let cool for a bit, then chill for half an hour. Stir in espresso and rum.

Mascarpone Filling (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):
makes 6 cups 

I made 4 batches of this recipe which was way more than I needed to fill the 6" and 12" cakes. Two would probably have been plenty..

2 8 oz containers of mascarpone

1 c confectioners sugar (10x)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp dark rum
2 c cold heavy cream

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped/shaved

Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and rum in a large bowl and whisk until blended and smooth. Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

Photo by Kyle Hepp

Lemon Syrup:
makes 3 cups 

1 c water
1 c sugar
1 c lemon juice
1 Tbsp ground cardamom plus pods

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and cardamom and bring to a boil over medium heat. Strain and transfer to a cool bowl, let cool for a bit, then chill for half an hour. Stir in the lemon juice.

Lemon Cream (adapted from Tartine):
makes about 4 cups 

1 1/4 c lemon juice
6 large eggs
2 egg yolk
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 c unsalted butter

In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the lemon juice, eggs, yolk, sugar, and sea salt (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Whisk them together constantly until very thick, or 180°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and let it cool down until warm to touch, or 140°F on a thermometer. Place the lemon cream in a blender and with the motor running, add the butter in small pieces. Allow to cool completely.

I must admit, this lemon cream gave me some trouble. On the hot summer morning, it seemed to almost liquify causing some heart wrenching cake slippage. I ended up switching the filling ratio for the lemon berry cake and doing two layers of berry with only one thin layer of lemon cream. 

Photo by Kyle Hepp

Berry Filling:
makes about 2 1/2 quarts 

5 c fresh raspberries
6 c fresh blueberries
2 c cane sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
5 Tbsp arrowroot

Bring berries, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and arrowroot mixture to boil, stirring occasionally, in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape mixture into small bowl, cover, and chill thoroughly before using. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.)

Photo by Kyle Hepp



I recommend starting with the base tier so that it has the longest amount of time to cool. Save the back-up sheet cakes for last since they don't get displayed at the reception. If the tops of the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them up. Split the two largest chiffon cakes horizontally into four equal layers. Place one layer on a cake board and moisten evenly with syrup (in my case, the 12" base tier was tiramisu so I used the espresso syrup. a lot of it.). Spread a thick layer of mascarpone over the cake, then scatter with chocolate shavings. Repeat with 2 more layers. Top with the fourth cake layer and moisten with the remaining espresso syrup. Place cake in the refrigerator to chill while you repeat this process for other tiers of the same flavor (in my case, the 6"). 

Repeat this process for any other cake flavors you're making. For the lemon berry cakes I made, I moistened each layer evenly with the lemon syrup and filled with alternating berry, then lemon cream, then berry. To solve the cake slippage fiasco, not only did I switch up the berry to lemon filling ratios, but I also piped a border of buttercream to seal in the filling. Saved my bum. Chill immediately (even in between filling each layer if necessary.)

With your offset spatula, smooth the buttercream around the sides of each cake and over the top. It's going to take practice to achieve the type of texture you want. Click here to watch a helpful youtube video on frosting technique. Just note that she's using buttercream to fill and frost the cake, while I use specially made fillings to fill and buttercream only to frost. Once you're happy with the look, refrigerate the cakes for ideally 3 hours (or up to 1 day) before stacking. 

In my case, I finished frosting at 3pm the day of the wedding, at which point my friend came to pry me from the farm kitchen and drive me back to hotel to get ready. I had less than one hour...


Instead of writing out these step by step instructions I'm just going to direct you to this helpful video on tiered cake assembly. Do not try to stack a tiered cake without dowels. Disaster will strike. Thank God for youtube. 

Once your beautiful tiered creation is stacked, get out that pastry bag and pipe around the base of each tier to conceal gaps and visible cake boards. I chose to pipe simple small pearls. Then, kneeling in the farm's walk-in cooler while everyone else was at the reception, I took my time laying out the flowers. This was one of my favorite parts of the process. It was very meditative. 

Not to get all oscar acceptance speech on you, but I must give a humungous gigantic thank you to Steve, for insisting that I start everything sooner; Kate, for being my crisis control management; and Dolores, for making sure that I actually got myself to the wedding. Also, big thanks to the cake pros Ruben, Meryl, and Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my never ending list of questions. 

Yes, making your first wedding cake will be stressful. It might also be one of the most gratifying accomplishments ever. Especially if it's for a very special couple that you love dearly, as I do Emma and Bobby. I am truly looking forward to my next wedding cake. I'll just cross my fingers that it takes place in winter...

Photo by Kyle Hepp
Photo by Kyle Hepp
Photo by Kyle Hepp

Supplies List

Figuring out what supplies I needed was one of the most tedious parts of the job so I really wanted to .

  • Cake pans - I purchased (2) 6"x2", (2) 9"x2", (1) 12"x3", and (1) 9"x13"x3". I only got one each of the larger cake pans because they're more expensive and I figured I'd only want to bake off one at a time anyways. I got the smaller pans with 2" walls and the larger pans with 3" walls based on the recommendation of an experienced cake baker. It worked well for me. I think the larger cakes can benefit from more insulation, hence the taller pans.
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors - to cut parchment and wooden dowels
  • Pastry brush - to brush cake layers with syrups
  • Stand mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk - used for the mascarpone filling
  • Thermometer - used for the lemon cream and the buttercream
  • 4" spatula
  • 6" offset spatula
  • Pairing knife
  • Rotating cake stand - this will make your life so much easier when it comes to icing
  • Pastry bag + tips
  • Wooden dowels - you will need to cut them to size (
  • Cake boards - try to have a few on hand for each tier size. I couldn't find 9" boards so I cut them out of the 12" rounds
  • Heat proof rubber spatula 
  • Magi-strips - purchase or make yourself by cutting an old towel 5" longer than circumfrence of pan and 1/4" shorter than the height
  • T-pins - to hold strips in place
  • Cake base - check with the caterer for this, usually they'll have something you can put the cake on

I think that's it. Aside from this stuff you'll need lots of cooler space, whatever you're decorating with, and your ingredients. Good luck!