A year of cakes

January 23, 2019 |  Category:   baked goods + desserts the biz

Some people crave pie, and some chocolate, but when I have a sweet tooth craving, it’s often for cake. We made quite a few cakes last year for friends’ events, including two weddings—one of which we attended. It was a beautiful ceremony and it was so nice to see the cake (pictured above) in context at the wedding dinner.

Wedding cakes are a pastry industry of its own category, and while we’re not in the business of making cakes for customers, we will make cakes once in a while for friends. We decided this early on when we made our very first wedding cake for the business way back in 2008 when we started. Maybe some of you remember? Although Mark had baked wedding cakes for his past jobs as restaurant pastry chef, he never had to transport a cake before—and holy hell, was that stressful! Mark drove the car with me in the backseat holding the box of cake layers very carefully, desperately trying not to move. We assembled the cake at the venue, which is pretty typical. I had never really decorated a cake before, so I felt like I was completely winging the placement of the flowers and felt all the pressure in the world trying to make this cake hold up for such an important life event. All turned out well in the end, but the stressful episode was enough to make us swear off adding wedding cakes to our business early on.

That first wedding cake episode definitely flashed back as we agreed to do two wedding cakes last Fall, but I guess in our older age, we learned a thing or two because the experience wasn’t nearly as stressful as we recalled. We now prefer assembling and decorating prior to delivery with any necessary touch ups done at the venue. It went more smoothly this time, aside from a small incident where the top two layers of one of the wedding cakes started to slide after turning a corner in the car.

Lately, we’ve started to dream about where we’ll retire and what we’ll do in retirement. The idea of having a very small local bakery wherever we settle, just to do cakes has landed on the table (most likely in a small town, preferably like Stars Hollow if we can make such wishes). I know I’ve said it before and I know I’m biased, but I do still think Mark bakes some of the best tasting cakes around. I still haven’t gotten around to learning how to make icing flowers 10 years later, but I guess that’s what retirement is for.

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  • Lulu January 24, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Beautiful! How do you prep fresh flowers for decorations? Someone told me that each stem needs to be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap for safety. That seems overboard…I’m thinking just washing would be enough.

    • Jenna January 24, 2019 at 7:36 am

      That’s a good question! I do wash the flowers well and make sure they are dried, but for the topper bouquet piece, they are placed into these small plastic spike containers that you can fill with a bit of water to keep the flowers fresh.

  • Lilly January 24, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    I have similar wishes for our retirement. A winter cafe on the beaches of Mexico near my family, so I can be on my father’s hometown, 2 hours away from my sisters, cooking nice sandwiches and cakes for all the American retirees who live there. And then, during the hot summers there, come back to Chicago.

  • Nora January 26, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Retirement dreams Jenna!myself and my friends have this same conversation all the time 🙂 Your cakes are stunning, I’ve not seen nicer anywhere else. I love reading your blog and check in all the time.

  • Stephanie February 5, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    The wedding cakes are beautiful. All of them look delicious!

  • Amy February 13, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Your cakes are super beautiful and I hope your retirement dream will come true. It’s interesting how I started reading your blog when my kids were little and now I came to a stage when I’m also thinking about retirement plans (and second career). Always happy to read your candid sharing about your life journeys.

    On a separate note, can I ask about your wooden table bought back in 2012? The thing is, I’ve been thinking about replacing our very old but still good glass top table with a wooden one, but am just a bit concerned about whether the maintenance (water marks, etc) is difficult. Then I remembered your post. How’s your experience in caring for it? Thanks Jenna!

  • Kathy February 17, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    These are the most gorgeous cakes I’ve seen. I want something like these for my wedding, if I ever get married! Or a fancy birthday. 🙂

  • Lakshmi May 28, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Such dreamy cakes. I hope to taste one of these someday, vegan diet be damned. 🙂

    Hope all of you are well.

  • Durjoy Mitra September 30, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Beautiful! How do you prep fresh flowers for decorations? Someone told me that each stem needs to be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap for safety.