PINK & GOLD and lots of LOVE

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we couldn’t help but feature a wedding that has all the charm of this saints’ day. One of the most adorable weddings this year had to be Liz and John. The talented Chelsea Brown  took some incredible pictures of the day. We loved getting to make a two tiered ruffle buttercream cake in light pink, lots of mini cupcakes, precious french macarons in hues of gold and pink and gorgeous decorated sugar cookies. Liz took an awesome DIY approach and it sure paid off. She made an amazing back drop of glimmer-y circles, gold hearts and pompoms; set it all against a barn back drop decorated with big blush peonies and you get one charming wedding. 2013-05-26 16.22.28

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Say Hello to Kim!

No,  this is not goodbye. I am simply pursuing my own culinary ambitions as well as helping the Sweet Heather Anne ladies do some baking in the back ( so expect some new flavors and delicious cookies.) I have truly loved working with all our wedding couples and clients. I want to introduce Kim, the new business manager. She is amazing, comes with a wealth of knowledge, a great sense of humor and a true love of cake.  I sat down to ask her a few questions so you could get to know her better. Image(photo by Melanie Reyes Photography)

What is your perfect Sunday? My perfect Sunday, luckily enough, is what I usually get to do–I like to sleep in (even though sleeping in for me is really only until 9) until the thought of getting up and being able to have coffee and read gets me out of bed.  I like making a big brunch while I play some music, and then, while I eat, I flip through cookbooks to look for something new to cook.  Sundays are my Saturdays, so I usually end up making a Sunday dinner and having friends over for Girls and staying up as late as I want because I don’t have to get up early the next day.  There’s usually an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a nap sometime in there, too.  As I write this, I realize that it sounds largely sleep-centric. Oh, well, I do love a good sleep.

What is your favorite thing to bake or cook? Despite having been a professional baker, I really prefer cooking.  I love to make soup-it’s warming, communal, and is fun to tweak as flavors develop, besides being a damn fine way to clean out the fridge without looking like you’re trying to pass off your fridge garbage.   I also like making things that I’ve never made before–my family’s joke is that if the recipe starts with “day one,” it’s a Kim recipe.  And anytime I can coax a lot of flavor out of a less expensive cut of meat through long slow cooking, I consider it a personal victory.

If you could travel to one place tomorrow? Hmm, because we’re saying “tomorrow” and it’s currently mid-January in Michigan, I’d say that right this minute I pick Hawaii–only because I imagine it’s the Hawaii of the 60’s where Don Draper went and it’s bright and kitchy and warm.  Otherwise, lame as it is, my favorite spot in the world is at my parent’s cabin in Northern Michigan, in a lawn chair with a drink, watching the ducks on the lake.  I sound roughly 89 years old saying that, but there it is.

Weird question, what is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is a mystery flower that comes out in the spring, right after everything is all thawed and you’re starting to have hope that it’s not going to be grey forever.  They bloomed somewhere near my first apartment and I would smell them on the way to my car, and it’s all mixed up with feeling independent and excited and just right, and every once in a while, I catch that smell again and I feel the same way.

What’s your favorite hang out? I don’t have a regular hang out, really–a friend and I have a culinary adventure club where we hit somewhere we’ve never been every other week–but if I had to pick a go-to grab a beer spot I’d have to pick the Old Town.  I like that it’s pretty low key, has big booths and weird old portraits on the wall  and a fine club sandwich.  That, plus the fact that I usually run into someone I know, makes it my default when I have to pick a place because no one can decide.

Three words to describe your work style/ethic? Do the words organized efficient perfectionist paint a bad picture?  It sounds kind of stuffy, but I just like everything to be in it’s place and working like a well-oiled machine.  Maybe everyone is like that, there can’t be too many people that like things to go wrong.  So there’s your three words, plus a bucket of extra ones.

peonies

Both Renoir and brides consider this flower, the ephemeral illustrious bud, their muse. Tight spherical blossoms open up in layers of big pedals with flashes of yellow coated pollen in their center.  These flowers undoubtedly have a presence and some say quite the feminine mystique. They seem like the perfect flower for marriage. In Feng Shui tradition, peonies are supposed to be good luck for a couple. During the spring time, these flowers are in full bloom, but the season is short lived. But with meticulous hands, sugar paste flowers can take their place and be a lovely interpretation of the real thing. Throughout this post, our some of our favorite romantic peonies that we got to use or make.

This wedding used real peonies with piped buttercream details. Oh so very English garden.

Passionflower showed us how lovely peonies are paired with green blueberries.

Hand painted peonies look like a cool graphic wall paper. Simply the outline of these flowers remain,  yet, a lasting impression.

Who said you can have too many peonies? These gorgeous flowers (hand sculpted sugar paste) will cascade down this cake in true magnificence.

Buttercream vs Fondant

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, or even thinks about it much, but fondant has gotten a pretty bad rap for itself.  It’s not that I don’t understand why, I do.  At its worst it can be a thick gummy paste with a strangely chemical after taste, at its best it is what I call marshmallow-flavored  Play-Doh.  And this is how the buttercream versus fondant debate usually starts.

There are a few points that I always like to make.

The first is that you’re not losing buttercream but gaining fondant.  Every fondant cake has a layer of buttercream underneath the fondant.  We try to make the layer of fondant as thin as possible (typically about an eighth of an inch) that way guests who don’t prefer fondant are easily able to remove their fondant and push it to the side. .

Secondly, because event cakes are typically large, and are serving lots of guests, they are cut differently from your typical home cake.  Instead of the typical pie wedge the cake is cut in concentric circles and then thin slices.  What this means is that most guests will be served interior slices of cakes, which will have only a thin layer on the top.  And in case my description made no sense, perhaps this diagram will help.

How to cut a wedding cake

What the decision really comes down to is a decorating decision.  Buttercream is delicious.  Here at Sweet Heather Anne all busttercream is Swiss buttercream, made with brown sugar and vanilla bean paste.  It makes for a lovely ivory tone with flecks of bean.  Not ideal for a white on white ultra modern affair, but definitely wonderful.  Fondant also receives color better than buttercream, and allows us to make that perfect color match more so than buttercream.   Fondant in all its sugary glory is a tool that allows us to achieve a desired aesthetic.

Buttercream cakes are delicious and stunning in their simplicity.  Check out some of our most recent…

Buttercream Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Abby Rose Photo

Buttercream Wedding Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Adrienne Fletcher Photography

Wedding Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Abby Rose Photo

Buttercream Wedding Cake

photo by Jess + Nate Studios

Chrysler Building + Jenny Packham=Wedding Cake Inspiration

I am so excited to share the photos from Lindsay and James’ wedding at the Colony Club Detroit.  There are so many things about this wedding that I am excited share, it makes it hard to know know where to start.

Lindsay and James live in New York City and love the Chrysler building, its art deco architecture inspired much of the aesthetics of the day.  Wanting the cake to fit with the day, we took literal inspiration from the Chrysler Building, making the top of the building the top of the cake.  The middle two tiers incorporated elements of the bride’s gorgeous gown, Astrid by  Jenny Packham. We tied it all together with architectural elements of the Chrysler building on the bottom tier. Sweet Heather Anne wedding cake at the Colony ClubI love this shot of Lindsay next to the cake, she and James look so happy, and the inspiration her dress served is so apparent.Sweet Heather Anne wedding cake at the Colony ClubSweet Heather Anne wedding cake at the Colony Club

Lindsay wasn’t the only one to have the day’s apparel memorialized in cake.  James loves shell toe Adidas, and for the wedding wore the very special Adidas “Diamond” Original Superstar–60 Year Anniversary Shell Toes.  Lindsay wanted to commemorate his love by creating the shoe out of cake.  We captured all the details including the diamond trefoil on the laces.

Adidas Shell Toe 60th "Diamond" Anniversary CakeAdidas shell toe groom's cake

And to put both cakes in the broader context of the Colony Club is breathtaking.  Many thanks to Blaine Siesser and The Shooting Gallery for the gorgeous images.

Sweet Heather Anne wedding cake at the Colony Club

Wedding Cake Design: Inspiration

When clients come to the studio for cake design appointments I always ask that they bring along  photos of the aspects of the wedding that are most important to them.  The great thing about cake design is that the cake can be as personal as the client would like.  Often couples will bring photos of other cakes they like.  While that is helpful, it’s even more helpful to see your colors, patterns, and other design elements from the wedding that you love.  That is what helps us to design a cake that is personal and enhances the event design.  We’ve drawn inspiration from all kinds of sources, everything from stationary, to florals, and even the bridal gown.

The gown was the exact source of cake inspiration for Maureen and Derek’s recent wedding at the Colony Club in downtown Detroit.  Maureen’s gown was Monique Lhuillier‘s Hyacinth.   The top tiers of the cake mimic the texture on the bodice of the dress, and similarly the bottom tiers are inspired by the gown’s skirt.  The cake isn’t so literal that you think immediately of a dress, but it does have the a similar  *gorgeous* look and feel, keeping the design of the evening cohesive.  And of course the inspiration can come from anywhere, so don’t hesitate to bring us that scrap book you’ve been putting together since you were five.Wedding Cake design based on gown

Wedding Cake at Colony Club

A big thank you to Robert Bruce Photography for sharing the cake image.

Move over Cupcakes, the Cake Table Has Arrived

I really love cake.  I love looking at them, eating them, baking them, and perhaps most of all, creating them.  The layers of cake filling and buttercream offer so many opportunities for creating complex flavors.  And that is why I love cake.

It also is the same reasons I don’t love cupcakes.  I do apologize to those of you who love cupcakes, I know there are a lot of you out there.  The cupcake simply does not provide my ideal cake to filling to buttercream ratio.   For those of you laughing, I dare you to do a side by side taste test, you will quickly realize the ratio’s importance.

Cupcakes so far have been integral to the recent dessert table trend.  I do get it.  Dessert tables are great for so many reasons: enhancing your decor and overall theme, getting guests up and moving around after the meal, and others.  Which is why I’m so excited about the next step in the dessert table: the cake table.  It gives you all the beauty of a dessert table, but with cakes instead of cupcakes.  I am obsessed.

Last wedding season we did a few cake tables, one of which you can read about here, another was a rustic cake table for Taylor and Anton who married at Misty Farms.  We decided to keep the cake table simple, so as not to interfere with Misty Farm’s rustic feel.  The simple buttercream cakes look so at home there. I just want to eat them, don’t you?

custom cakes, wedding cakescustom cake, Metro detroitcustom cakes, Sweet Heather Annecustom cakes, Metro Detroit

Many thanks to Amanda Dumouchelle for the gorgeous images.

“I Love You More than Michigan Loves Football” (+ other fine details)

Ann Arbor is home to so much talent, wedding industry included.  As our business has developed I have been amazed at the power of community among Ann Arbor’s wedding professionals.  And it is such a wonderful experience to be amongst such a talented group.

Amanda & Chad’s wedding was so much fun, in part because so many of us were involved.  Abby Rose Photo (our next door neighbor and lunch buddy) took the photos, Stacy at The Gown Shop did the dress, and we did the cake and dessert table.  Amanda also had a very specific vision for her wedding (fun!) and was totally involved in the planning process.  She and her mom had the most impressive binder and organizational system.  I don’t know if they’ve thought about planning weddings, but if they have watch out!

Judging from the photos all that work was worth it.  Amanda and Chad had a beautiful day full of gorgeous details and personal touches. (Be sure to make it to the end of the photos, the signage in the last photo totally makes the cake display, I can’t stop loving it!)

Sweet Heather Anne Metro Detroit Wedding CakesMetro Detroit Wedding Cakes, Sweet Heather AnneMetro Detroit Wedding, Sweet Heather AnneMetro Detroit Dessert Table by Sweet Heather AnneMichigan Football Helmet groom's cake by Sweet Heather Anne

A Perfect Start to the New Year

Everyone knows summer is wedding season.  For oh so many reasons.  And who can object?  I for one do not like the cold and have always thought I would prefer to hibernate from January through April and emerge May 1st rested, warm, and ready for the sunshine.  Recently, though, I have begun to realize winter may have some redeeming qualities.

Emily & Oriol obviously realized before me, what better way to start off the New Year than by getting married?

There’s the coziness,cake by Sweet Heather Annethe splendor,Cake by Sweet Heather Annethe fun,Inn at St. John'sand the magic.Wedding at the Inn at St. John'sTheir wedding celebrated all winter has to offer in one beautiful evening with one gorgeous cake by Sweet Heather Anne and the help of JLB Photography, the Inn at St. John’s, and Emerald City Design.

One Beautiful Dessert Table

One lovely dessert table in the ballroom at the Inn at St. John’s. Featuring a buttercream cake, french macarons, decorative sugar cookies and lemon thumbprint cookies.  Captured beautifully by Abby Rose Photo.

cake and desserts by Sweet Heather Anneconlon_powers-532conlon_powers-531conlon_powers-521Images by Abby Rose Phot