Colorful layered cake recipe

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Colorful layered cake

Man, I gave you a little teaser last week of the Balloons & Books baby shower and then I was mum! Well, mum no more, I’m sharing more details about the party and today it’s the colorful cake that Mary Elizabeth Hammond made for our celebration of Victoria and baby Anthem. Layered cakes are nothing new, but I still find them totally charming and shocking—I’ve never actually seen one in person, nor have I ever come close to making even one of those layers, nay, a half of one of those layers. I did burn a cake mix once though, but that’s a story for another day.Baby shower cakeBalloons and books baby showerColorful layered cakecolorful birthday cake

So, I thought it would be fun to make it nondescript from the outside so that it would be a little mullet moment when it was cut open (you know, business in the front, party in the back). Ha! Not true, I just totally forgot to do anything about a cake topper. But I like the excuse so I’m going to stick with it. I should have been a spin doctor.

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Photography by Melissa Leavitt  |  Cake by Mary Elizabeth Hammond  |  Concept and styling by Brittany Jepsen  |  Partyware and balloons from Zurchers 

Click below for full Colorful Vanilla Cake Recipe!

Halloween Dinner Party Menu

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I gave a sneak peek of the delicious dinner party menu for our Halloween vanitas party (read more about the party here) with the free printable menu cards and guys, you will want to bookmark/pin/note/dream about this menu. It’s beyond. If you remember from the Midsummer party, we partnered up with the girls from Ramblin Rose Cafe who created this out of this world menu. These girls have a knack for making delicious, healthy food that’s also gorgeous. And they have graciously provided all the recipes for you. SCORE! You’ll get dishes like:
Roasted root vegetables with honey orange vinaigrette
Roasted root vegetables with honey orange vinaigrette
Autumn Harvest Board
Autumn Harvest Board
Autumn Harvest Board
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower soup
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup
plus a delicious beverage to wash it all down. This dinner party menu is autumnal, flavorful, and beautiful! Go ahead, bookmark!
Food and food styling by Ramblin Rose Cafe
Art directed by Brittany Jepsen
 
See the full recipes below
Roasted root vegetables with honey orange vinaigrette

Dinner party menu: Roasted Root Vegetables with honey orange vinaigrette

  • Red beets, golden beets, rutabaga, black turnip, parsnip, and rainbow carrots
  • Olive oil
  • 1 c. black rice
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/4 inch slice of ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • Big pinch of sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 c. hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (for garnish)

Honey Orange Vinaigrette

  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 c. honey wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper

 

  1. For the vinaigrette: place everything in a jar with a tight lid and shake to combine. Taste and adjust with sea salt and cracked pepper to your liking.
  2. Rinse black rice in a strainer under running water to get rid of excess starch. Place rinsed rice, water, ginger, star anise, salt, and pepper in a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 25030 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and leave lid for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove star anise and ginger.
  3. Meanwhile, rustically cut a variety of root vegetables. Toss in olive oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees until tender (about 30 minutes).
  4. Toss rice in vinaigrette and pour onto platter. When vegetables are done roasting, arrange on top and finish with extra vinaigrette, sea salt, cracked pepper, and toasted hazelnuts.
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

Dinner party menu: Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil
  • Veggie stock to cover
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Yogurt
  • Chili oil

Chili oil

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red chili flakes
  1. In a small pot, bring oil and chili flakes to a simmer, then turn off and let steep for about 30 minutes to let the chili infuse into the oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. Cut the top of the garlic bulb off, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap it in tin foil. Roast the whole garlic bulb until soft and golden.
  4. Roughly chop onion and sauté in olive oil until translucent. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Roughly chop cauliflower. Add to onions and season again. When cauliflower is tender and golden, cover with veggie stock.
  5. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the papery bulb into the soup pot. Blend soup with an immersion blender or high speed blender until smooth. Taste and season with more sea salt and cracked pepper if necessary.
  6. Finish with the chili oil and a drizzle of yogurt
Autumn Harvest Board

Dinner party menu: Autumn Harvest Board

  • Artisan bread, torn
  • Artisan cheeses– we used Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Teahhive Cheddar Cheese, and a French Roquefort Blue Cheese
  • Olives
  • Orchard fruit, sliced
  • Figs, cut in half
  • Pomegranate, deseeded
  • Butter and flakey sea salt
  • Honeycomb
  • Spicy dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • Big wooden board to serve on

A few pointers when arranging a harvest board:

  • Use a big enough board. Better to have the contrast of wood showing than all the good stuff rolling off.
  • Place the cheeses and bread down first. Everything else can be scattered around and made to fit.
  • Keep each ingredient clumped somewhat together, to keep it easier to dish from.
  • If using honeycomb, place on the board at the edge. The honey starts to seep out of the comb as soon as it is cut.

Dinner party menu: Pomegranate Ginger Elixir

Equal parts:

  • Pomegranate juice (chilled)
  • Ginger beer (chilled)
  1. Combine in individual glasses or make a big pitcher. Serve chilled.

These foods look *almost* too gorgeous to eat. To complete the dinner party menu, try our vanilla bean skull cake for dessert! And to go along with these dinner party recipes, check out our full post about how to throw a beautiful and spooky Halloween party!

Donut macarons

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I’m super pumped to bring on a new contributor, ME Hammond, who specializes in all things baked. Welcome ME! I’m so excited to have these donut macarons just in time for National Donut Day (ahem, tomorrow!) And macarons are the perfect alternative to real donuts for those who can’t eat gluten. Bonus!
I have spent the last couple of weeks practicing and practicing the art of making French macarons. After a few dozen egg whites and a couple pounds of almond flour I am proud to say that I have found a recipe that works well. I’ve had to adapt it slightly but after many tests, it works! Hallelujah! There are only a few ingredients in macarons, so you think that they would be simple but just the opposite is true. There are so many things that can ruin macarons! For instance, it is better to use all metal bowls because the oils in other bowls can affect the egg whites. Also the humidity in the weather can stop them from properly drying out.
The two most popular macaron methods are the French meringue and the Italian meringue method. French meringue is made when egg whites are whipped with sugar until thick and glossy. Italian meringue is made when sugar is cooked to the softball stage and beaten into whipped whites. The Italian meringue is a little trickier but pays off, as it is also more stable. This tried and true method is adapted from Chef Kathryn Gordon and is publish in the Les Petits Macarons. (It’s in grams for more accuracy. It’s very important to be precise with macaron making!)
styling by Brittany Jepsen
Check out these other donut projects for National Donut day: 
Click below for the full recipe:

Mini baked donuts

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No sugar mini baked donuts
As we all know, National Donut Day is coming up on Friday, June 6th. And since donuts are the new…well, everything*, I thought you might enjoy a spin on the traditional donut. These mini donuts are not only adorable, but they are healthy! No processed sugar! No fried! Now, I know the joy of donuts is that they are not healthy, but these guys are so yum that you can eat 1,000 of them and feel great about yourself still. Kind of. Ok, you might have control issues.
Mini donuts
mini baked donuts with no sugar
mini baked donuts with no sugar
4 mini donut flavors

photography by Laura Sumrak
recipe and assisting styling by Karlee Bronson
art direction and styling by Brittany Jepsen

*If your head has been in the sand the last two years. Donuts are big right now. Like really big. Take a look on Pinterest for all things donut related or Kelly’s Dreaming of Donuts board
Click for recipes on 4 delightful donuts!

Cactus Cupcake Tutorial Video

DIY Cactus cupcake

A few weeks ago we were delighted to have cactus cupcake extraordinaire, Alana Jones-Mann, visit the Lars Studio for our Cactus Coloring book reveal party! She flew in early in the morning and flew out late that same day! Talk about a trooper! Alana was our guest-of-honor at the party, showing us how to make her delicious desert masterpieces step-by-step. It was AMAZING. But, we didn’t want anyone to feel left out, so we created a quick cactus cupcake tutorial video so you too can create these spiky sweets! We collaborated with the super talented Trisha Zemp to make this adorable stop-motion video that will leave you crazy for cacti. You’ll be surprised at how simple the process actually is, so make sure to give it a whirl! We included written instructions as well to help you on your way!

Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper

Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper

During the holiday season, you can always expect to bake at least two times more than you do normally, am I right? Between Christmas get-togethers, cookie exchanges, work parties, etc., chances are you’ll have lots of opportunities to play in the kitchen. What better way to impress people than with a beautiful forest topped cake!  This Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper is an easy craft to take a holiday cake over the top! You know those adorable, but rather expensive bottle brush trees? Consider this an easy and cheaper substitute!

Get the full tutorial and top all your treats with trees!

Conversation heart cookies & printable box

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Conversation heart cookies with free printable box

Are you dying of cuteness overload? I nearly did as we were shooting these little guys. There’s nothing more charming that making a small object giant like these conversation heart cookies. AND the icing on the cake is the printable box they come in. I mean…come on! So cute! Give them out at school or hand them out to neighbors! So many uses for those boxes alone!

Rather than create colored icing, ME worked at dyeing the cookie itself. Much less frosting and easier to transport too!

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baking by ME Hammond  |  packaging by Ashley Isenhour  |  photography by Trisha Zemp

See the full tutorial below.

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

Sprinkles make everything better. Place two treats side by side, one with sprinkles and the other without, and chances are you’ll take the sprinkled one! It’s just so much more appealing than a plain jane treat. They act like edible confetti; Adding just the right amount of sugar, color, and whimsy. Just what you want for a Valentine’s Day treat! With that sentiment in mind, we created the Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper so everyone can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from pouring sprinkles all over your cupcake! Taking a nod from Alice and Wonderland, we made a “sprinkle me” flag to attach to the toothpick, giving the recipient the OK to snip the heart and pour those glorious little sprinkles all over! No need for restraint! Perfect for children and the child within us all, make the Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper for all your Valentines this year!

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

3 Pie Crust Decorating Ideas

3 Pie Crust Decorating Ideas

These 3 pie crust decorating ideas will give that extra bit of flair to your holiday desserts, and they’re super easy to make! You don’t have to be a baker (or an artist) to ace these pie designs.

Use a stencil on your Pie

Get the message across with a stencil on your pie. This “Give Thanks and Eat Pie” does just that with powdered sugar. Perfect for extra sweetness too!

I love how simple yet impactful this one is. Ashley came up with the idea to apply a stencil to a pie…genius! This one is great for the Cricut or Silhouette machine. And it’s perfect for your Thanksgiving pie!

Give Thanks and Eat Pie Stencil

Instructions:

  1. Simply download this file and cut it out on your machine or cut it out by hand. I used a piece of scrapbook paper to create the stencil.
  2. Set onto the pie. Not too firmly, it might take a layer of the pie off.
  3.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top with a sifter.
  4.  Gently take the stencil with hands on either side so you pull it all off at the same time.

Voila!

Give Thanks and Eat pie pie stencil
Cricut ready SVG pie stencil file.Matisse inspired pie crust idea.

Paint your pie crust with food coloring–The Matisse Pie

Last week while I was in NYC I attended the exhibition on Matisse’s cutouts at the MOMA (after getting bummed I couldn’t go to the Tate in London). I was inspired, so we came up with the Matisse pie, of course! Put those beautiful shapes to use!
Carli came up with this brilliant idea to paint the pie crust with food coloring. It went on so smoothly and bakes brilliantly.

Instructions:

  1.  Cover your pie with the dough to have a large surface to work with.
  2. Use a paintbrush to paint on your design with food coloring. We didn’t water down at all but used pure food coloring. We looked at images from Matisses’ paper cut-outs.
  3. Bake it in the oven for 10 minutes to brown the crust (you should have already baked the pie filling).
Matisse inspired pie crust.
Voila! If you want to throw your own tortured artist 
party, try out this pie crust decoration to incorporate Matisse!
Dot pie crust.

The polka dot pie crust decoration

Victoria came up with this fun and easy idea of decorating your pie crust.

Instructions:

  1. Roll out your dough and use the back end of an icing tip to punch holes into the dough like a cookie cutter.
  2.  Apply the dots to the perimeter of the pie then coming into the center of the pie filling and bake for the last 15-20 minutes of the pie cooking time.

Voila!

Pie crust idea.

How will you be making your pies for the holidays? Tell me in the comments!

Have some leftover slices of pie? Check out our printable boxes for Thanksgiving pies and summer pies

Photography by Laura Sumrak
Baking and crafting by Victoria Riza, Carli Randolf, and Ashley Isenhour,

Breakfast in bed idea for Mother’s Day

Breakfast in bed idea for Mother's Day with lavender honey crepe cake
bowl of fresh fruit and blackberry lemonade

GASP! “Brittany, there’s food on the blog? What’s going on?” I know you must be thinking that you came to the wrong site today, but wonder no more. This IS food. It’s edible. And it’s awesome! I’m horrific in the kitchen but I love to eat so the the big question was, how to combine the two? I’ve teamed up with the wonderful Karlee Bronson and food photographer Laura Sumrak to start featuring more recipes that will make your mouth drool. We’re focusing on more healthy choices because uh, my skirts don’t fit like they used to and I thought it would be nice to create dishes that are gorgeous, delectable and mostly guilt-free. Good combo, right?

I’m not the biggest fan of the idea of bringing food parcels into bed, but this one is pretty crumb free so I’m all over the idea of a crepe cake with layers of creme and hints of lavender. Basically anything with creme I’m a fan of. Karlee got the recipe from some friends who lived in Russia and came up with the perfect crepe recipe from their Russian friends. We topped off the meal with a bowl of fresh fruit and blackberry lemonade sweetened with honey. AND, there’s NO SUGAR!

No sugar lavender honey crepe cake
No sugar lavender honey crepe cake recipe
lavender honey crepe cake recipe
lavender honey crepe cake recipe

photography by Laura Sumrak
recipes and assisting styling by Karlee Bronson
styling and art direction by Brittany Jepsen


Click below for recipes

Pineapple pink lemonade popsicle

Pineapple pink lemonade popsicles

You might remember Trisha Zemp from the stellar photos she’s been taking for me for the past year and a half. Well, Trisha recently bought 1,000 popsicle sticks (1,000 was cheaper than 100!) and she’s proclaimed this summer the #Summerof1000Popsicles. This is something I can get behind, folks. Clearly. She’s kicked if off with a few recipes on her Instagram a few weeks ago but now is going gung ho and popsicling until they run out! For this first set of 8 popsicles, we’ve collaborated to create something you will not be surprised about, #PopsicleTheRainbow. Based on #CraftTheRainbow and #LetterTheRainbow, #PopsicleTheRainbow is all about creating a rainbow of tried and true popsicle flavors.

We’ll be posting the recipes here on the blog, but join us on Instagram (and Trisha’s here) for some beautiful rainbow popsicles as well! And if you make some, be sure to tag them with #Summerof1000Popsicles or #PopsicleTheRainbow.

See you there and see below for the full recipe!

Photography by Trisha Zemp  |  Styling by Brittany Jepsen

Paris Cake Topper and Confetti

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Paris Cake Topper and Confetti

Paris is without a doubt one of my favorite cities to visit. Paul and I traveled to Paris last October for a wedding and it was honestly one of the most magical trips I’ve been on. However, had I had this illustrated travel guide, “Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide”, I’m positive my trip would have been even more wonderful! Written by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz, two passionate ex-pats who give you an insider’s scoop on the best things to see, eat, do, and experience in their adopted city! The best part about this book is the dreamy watercolor illustrations. It’s full of detailed walking maps, sites, restaurants and so much more by Jessie Kanelos Weiner! We wanted to give you a taste of her beautiful artwork so we’re offering the most charming Paris Cake Topper and Confetti, illustrated by Jessie herself, for your next soiree!

Download the free templates today!