Pb&J Wedding Cake

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My Dearest Sally,

What an amazing day! I could not have imagined it more beautiful than it was and I am so blessed that you were there beside me. Jesse and I cannot thank you and Jason enough for your love and support. We love you very much.

I can hear the many voices along the way telling me that I was crazy to try and make my own wedding cake. This is true. But everyone knows I am a little crazy so they really should not have been surprised. It was a process and a journey that was stressful and OH SO MUCH FUN at the same time. The hardest part was not scraping my panggangan clean after I did a trial run and filled the pans too full. Nor was it trying to cut the layers perfectly flat or the dowling just right. Nope, nope, nope. The most difficult part was getting Jesse to approve the icing flavour. We tried various forms of buttercream to no avail. They just didn’t taste the way icing should apparently! Finally I found a simple recipe for vanilla frosting. Jesse liked vanilla alright but wanted to experiment. I put peanut butter in one small batch and chocolate in another. He loved both of those options but his favorite was the combination! In the end we had peanut butter vanilla frosting with a strawberry rhubarb vanilla filling. Three tiers and many hours later BAM! Wedding cake. The simpulan product was a 10″ chocolate pound cake followed by an 8″ vanilla pound cake, topped off with a 6″ simple white cake. I used three dowling pieces in the bottom two layers for support and I am glad I did. The cake was heavy!

Peanut Butter Vanilla Frosting

(adapted from Wedding Cake Art and Design – Toba Garrett)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) icing sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 cup peanut butter (determined by flavour)

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Simple Vanilla Pound Cake

(adapted from Wedding Cake Art and Design – Toba Garrett)

4 3/4 cups cake flour
4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pkg. cream cheese
2 tbsp vanilla
5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk

1. Preheat panggangan to 350. Spray or line the cake pans.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix for 2 minutes on stir speed with the paddle attachment to sift and blend in the ingredients.

3. Add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape the bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Stop and scrape the bowl. Beat for another minute.

4. Whisk the eggs and whole milk together. Add the batter in 3 increments on low speed. Stop and scrape the bowl; then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Stop, scrape the bowl, and then beat for 1 minute longer.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I cannot thank Rebecca enough for volunteering her advice and her amazing cake pans. Jesse has decided that I need to make cake more often. Oh what have I done! Jesse and I will begin to tear apart walls next week and plan to have you and Jason over a visit before the summer is out. What is summer without your people?

All my love to you and Jason. God bless and buckle in for whatever we have coming for us! I can’t wait.

Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham was named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on Monday night. Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles was also named best in the country, making the restaurant the runaway winner at the awards. A panel of chefs, restaurateurs, and food journalists gave chef and owner Frank Stitt’s modern Southern restaurant the honors. The other big winner of the night was Seattle’s Edouardo Jordan, whose JuneBaby was named best new restaurant in America; he was also named Best Chef Northwest for his restaurant, Salare. “People always talk about Portland [Oregon] as the Pacific Northwest restaurant city,” said Jordan. “But they’re like the cool kid with a new name every season. Seattle is showing we are an ongoing force.” He doesn’t credit the rise of Amazon.com Inc. for his restaurants’s successes, although owner Jeff Bezos has dined at Salare. “Seattle has always had big companies—Boeing, Microsoft. They come in and eat, but it’s the people in the city who are making it happen. They’re more engaged than anyone gives them credit for.” The James Beard Foundation Awards recognize restaurants, wine programs, chefs, designers, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, and journalists from around the country. The awards, established in 1990, have recognized industry leaders such as Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park. While it may not have been a good year for such famed restaurant cities as New York and San Francisco (which won only two chef and beverage awards, including Best Service at Zuni, and the Best Chef West winner Dominique Crenn), it was a very good year for women. Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in New York was named Outstanding Chef in the U.S, and Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn was named Best Chef New York. Forty percent of this year’s nominees were female. Women won many of the major awards, including Caroline Styne, who was named Outstanding Restaurateur for Lucques Group in Los Angeles. Forty percent of the winners of the regional chef awards were women; last year, that number was 30 percent. For the first time, voters were encouraged to consider qualities beyond food, wine, and ambiance, including respect and integrity. This follows accusations of sexual harassment against such past Beard winners as Mario Batali and John Besh.

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