You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Given that my last blog post was on March 30th, you may have thought I dropped off the face of the baking universe, but trust me – it’s been quite the opposite! Before I dive into the reason why I am finally back and posting again (ummm, some fabulous chocolate mint cookies; see tomorrow’s blog), I want to give you the lowdown on what’s been happening in the life of Neufangled Desserts during the past couple of months…
Well, let me clarify: this was not MY wedding (ha! As IF), but the wedding of two dear friends of mine, Aaron and Rhonda Schmidt. Aaron and Rhonda asked me around the beginning of the year or so if I would do them the honor of baking a variety of desserts for a dessert table at their July 11th wedding. I was thrilled, not only to do this for them, but because I knew it was a challenge I was finally ready to take on. Furthermore, they wanted good, old-fashioned desserts: cakes, pies, tarts – no frilly, cutesy cupcakes or quadruple-decker, tiered, fancy wedding cake. Just honest-to-goodness, delicious desserts.
Keeping the couple’s particular likes and tastes in mind, I came up with a menu of about 13 desserts, yielding about 18 desserts made in total (I doubled up on a few). This was a touch ambitious, I was quick to learn. It was loads of fun, however. I discovered that it’s truly all in the planning. When you’re working on a huge baking project like a wedding, it’s wise to:
1 – Invest in a decent freezer. I didn’t own a chest freezer prior to this project, but had always wanted one. Buying one was the smartest thing I did. I baked several of the layer cakes a month in advance and plopped them, all tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, into the freezer. I also made several items in advance – fillings and curds, toasted nuts, etc. – anything that could stand up well over a week or so to decent storage or refrigeration. Making piecrust and freezing it in advance worked well too. Finally, I took the day before the wedding off, as well as the day of, for baking off tarts and pies – which are always best made a day before you eat them, no earlier – and finally filling and frosting all of the cakes (and yes, I frosted the cakes right from the freezer).
2 – Having good refrigeration is also key. Fortunately, my boyfriend works for a local ice cream maker (Purple Door Ice Cream), and they were gracious enough to let me store some of the desserts that required refrigeration in their cooler temporarily – and they were also only a few short blocks from where the reception was held – fabulous! Our tiny refrigerator in our apartment fast filled up; I was using every single inch of available space.
As we loaded the car with all of the cakes, packed in cardboard boxes (I really need to invest in some good Rubbermaid totes for transport if I’m going to keep doing this), I admit to having some panicked moments. It looked like it was going to rain (it sprinkled). I was hoping we wouldn’t forget anything, plus I was hurriedly dressing myself as we were running out the door. Time was getting tight – and drat, I still hadn’t tied my new bow tie, a process that takes me at least a good twenty minutes! With only a few mishaps – I did leave an entire cake in the refrigerator and Jake needed to drive back and get it – we made it to the wedding and got everything set up on some pretty glass cake pedestals I found at a vintage market in Chicago, as well as several I previously had in my collection. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. The desserts were a huge hit, not only with the wedding guests, but even with the caterers! I was quite proud of all of my hard work.
RHONDA AND AARON’S DESSERT TABLE
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache
Almond Raspberry Layer Cake
Raspberry Truffle Tart
Chocolate Derby Pie
Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart
Apple Slab Pie
Lemon Sour Cream Pie
Lemon Cake with Blackberry Curd Filling
German Chocolate Cake
Balsamic Strawberry Pie
S’Mores Layer Cake
(including a small S’Mores Cake special for the bride and groom – photo above!)
Chocolate Whiskey Tart
Blackberry Jam Tart
You may have read about a few of these desserts before – the Chocolate Whiskey Tart, for one – on this blog, but I have to say there are a few new recipes I discovered that I will need to share with you in the future. Namely, I’ve made Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ Balsamic Strawberry Pie probably 4-5 times in the past few months. It is fantastic! I also adore their Lemon Sour Cream Pie. It dirties a few more pots and pans than you might like and is a touch labor-intensive, but the pay-off is totally worth it. I’ve fallen in love Alisa Hunstman’s book, Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, from which I obtained the recipe for the Almond-Raspberry Cake (I admit I was tipped off to this recipe, and book, by Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen). I am bemoaning the fact that this book was published for only a short time, as I would really like a hardcover copy. Fortunately, I downloaded the book on my Kindle Fire – but who really enjoys using a cookbook on a Kindle? Not I. If any of you can find a gently-used copy of this for a fairly reasonable price, I will pay for it – shipping and all, if you send it. I really need to get my hands on an actual copy, as it’s a gem.
My sincere thanks go out to Rhonda and Aaron for making my desserts a part of their special day. It was such a beautiful wedding, and we had so much fun. For as much work that goes into putting together a dessert table, the entire project was rewarding. In fact, I think it only further solidified for me the notion that baking, and working in a kitchen, is really something I should be doing on a more regular basis. It’s one of my strongest passions. Most folks would be exhausted after putting together something like this, but I hopped out of bed the next morning and starting thinking about what I might do with that extra ball of piecrust that was left over in our fridge! I also have two potential wedding gigs booked in 2015 as a result, and the caterers even took my card with my info!
So now… I am back. The wedding is over, and while theatre is still keeping me busy (I’m closing my 5th show of this year this weekend…phew!), I’m hoping to find my way back into the regularity of my Neufangled Desserts blog once again, with some interesting developments for the ‘future’ of ND in the works. I’ll keep you informed, but for now – onto the cookies! Check out tomorrow’s post on Baked’s Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies with Chocolate Chunks. YUM.