Not just a crazy dog lady…

Good morning!

It’s a gloriously sunny Sunday morning in southwest Georgia.  As I drank my coffee this morning and procrastinated studying, I decided I’d start the day off by showing any blog readers I may have that I have other interests besides dogs.  I thought a good way to start would be sharing with you a dessert table I put together back in September.  The Husband and I helped host a couples’ shower for some good friends prior to their wedding, and the theme was sort of a country BBQ – very casual and fun.  Dessert first!

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To go along with the theme, I found some red gingham cupcake liners at Walmart (online here).  The turned out so very cute!  For the toppers, I used some old scrapbook paper I had lying around, along with silver glitter letter stickers from Michael’s.  I am obsessed with bunting cake toppers, and make buntings for practically every celebration these days!  I just cut some diamond shapes out of the same scrapbook paper, and used double sided tape again to tape them over some off-white yarn I already had.  I tied them to wooden skewers, which I could have painted to match everything, but I figured the plain wood went with the country vibe of the party.

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The milk glass cake stand and small pitcher I borrowed from my mother (Thanks, Mama!) and topped the cake stand with a black magic cake with chocolate buttercream icing.  I don’t have pictures of the process, but I make this cake fairly regularly, so I can do that some other time.  It’s always a hit with chocolate lovers!  If you’re interested though, you can find the recipe for black magic cake on my Baking Pinterest board here.  P.S. – Follow me on Pinterest for lots of baking related pins! If you use this recipe for black magic cake though, I recommend splitting the batter into three round 9″ cake pans instead of the two or the sheet pan the recipe calls for.  This batter rises a lot, and just seems to do better when split three ways.

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The cupcakes are a vanilla cake with vanilla bean swiss buttercream icing.  I used this Martha Stewart recipe for the cupcakes – it’s my FAVORITE!  There is a similar one claiming to be the same one floating around on Pinterest – but beware: the baking soda measurements are wrong!  Fortunately, I read the comments before trying the recipe, so I did not fall victim to my cupcakes exploding in the oven, but it’s a good lesson that reading the comments on a recipe will often save you quite a headache later on.  Back to the cupcakes – if you are like me and just love a delicious, moist, light vanilla cupcake, this is the recipe for you.  One of our co-hosts of the party must have eaten close to ten of these.  The ultimate compliment to the chef!

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I think buttercream icing is either God’s or someone related to Paula Deen’s gift to us here on earth.  My secret to baking is that I make the buttercream (vanilla) ahead of time in extra large batches and freeze it!  I could probably do a post on buttercream frosting alone, but since I pretty much got the entire lesson here, I’ll spare you.  It’s a time consuming undertaking, but it is SO worth it to have that buttercream in the freezer and ready to go any time you want to bake a cake (or eat it with a spoon…).  When I froze my buttercream batches, I went ahead and divided it into amounts that would frost 2 dozen cupcakes or frost a typical 3 layer cake.  I have found that if you divide each batch of buttercream into quarters, a quarter is about right to frost 2 dozen cupcakes.  It takes a bit more to crumb coat and frost a 3 layer cake though, so I like to divide a batch into quarters, but then take away some from two of the quarters and add it to the other two – that way I have enough for 2 cakes and 2 batches (of 2 dozen) cupcakes.  Does that make sense?  Maybe I should do a post on buttercream…

To make the chocolate buttercream, I defrost a “cake size” of vanilla buttercream, per Brave Tart’s instructions.  Basically, you just break of a third or so of the frozen icing, melt it in the microwave, and add it to the frozen icing in the mixing bowl.  Whip it right back into beautiful buttercream and you’re ready to go!  At that point, I add in melted milk or dark (or both!) chocolate until it’s how I like it.  You pretty much can’t mess this part up, and can add any flavorings you’d like.  Just whip it until it’s cool.

One more picture of the entire table.  You can also sort of see how we set up the back yard for the party through the window.

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The rest of the party was real cute, too.  Crystal, who was our party planner extraordinaire, put together some adorable stuff.

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It was a real team effort.  Crystal sent out the adorable invitations and put together the menu and signs.  I already had the red frame, so we popped the invite in it.  The Hobnail drink dispenser is from Pottery Barn and was a wedding gift.  I couldn’t find it online anymore, but it matches this set (which we also received as wedding gifts).

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We borrowed the burlap and the table cloths from a friend, the antique and new Ball jars I already owned, and Crystal picked the cotton from her family’s farm.  We thought it turned out pretty well!  The happy couple loved it, too.

Thanks for stopping by!

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