Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Valentine's Day Cupcake Bouquets AND a GIVEAWAY!!

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I'm SO excited about these cupcake bouquets! They are such a fun and SWEET alternative to sending the typical fresh flower arrangements. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love fresh florals, but they are just so expected on Valentine's Day. These bouquets will be sure to make your Valentine feel extra special and make everyone jealous!

I am only selling 6 of these, but may consider adding more if I get a large enough response.
Each bouquet is handmade and includes 6 cupcakes in your choice of flavor (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, or carrot) and a card with a custom message. It will be hand delivered by ME in a large gift box tied with ribbon.

Here are the three designs available to choose from:

$45 plus delivery (based on location)
$50 plus delivery (based on location)
$50 plus delivery (based on location)

AND because I just love LOVE, I am GIVING ONE AWAY!!!

Here's how to enter:
Send an email to info[at]fresh-bakes[dot]com, telling me (in 2-3 sentences) who you would send a bouquet to and why, and include a photo of you with that person -- could be your significant other, your friend, you parents, siblings...heck you could even enter yourself! Please also include the city of delivery (I wont need the exact address).
I will post each email entry received on to facebook for the public to vote. The entry with the most "likes" on their photo will win a bouquet that will be delivered to a location of choice on Valentine's Day. So be sure to share and tell all your friends to vote for you!

Submissions must be emailed to me by Friday, Jan 31 Feb 7. As soon as I receive the email, I will post to facebook and voting will begin immediately -- so enter early!
Voting will end at 11:59pm Friday, Feb 7 Tuesday, Feb 11 and the winner will be notified the following day, Feb 8 12.

If you want to guarantee your chance to get one but still want a chance to win one too, you can buy the bouquet up front and enter the contest. If you win the contest, I will refund the amount charged.

***Please note: this giveaway is only open to DC/MD/VA (within 35 miles of Ashburn, VA).

Good luck!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

{WEDDING} Zeina & Alejandro

Exactly one year ago today I had the privilege of baking for a friend of mine from high school, Alejandro. His beautiful fiancé Zeina, saw some of my work on facebook and contacted me about making cupcakes for their wedding. In addition to the cupcakes, she wanted to surprise her Pilot groom with a 3-D airplane cake. A 747 airplane to be exact. Right away I told her I didn't feel comfortable making one, but that I would contact some local cake artists to get pricing for her since she was out of the country teaching English. Her response was "oh, it can't be that hard. You can make it out of rice krispy treats." I had never met this girl before, but when I did for our tasting, I had this strange feeling she was going to be my first "bridezilla." 

When Zeina got back from teaching in Spain, she came over so we could practice making the plane. I really wish I had a photo of the practice planes to share with you, but needless to say, she realized it wasn't as easy as she thought. I believe she said my plane looked like a "killer whale." Thanks, Z. We ended up bonding over some laughs, and that's when I realized I wasn't dealing with a bridezilla but instead a girl who just knew exactly what she wanted. A girl who wanted to do something extra special for the man of her dreams. <3

We ended up compromising and decided to go with a small round cake with a fondant airplane topper. I think it came out really cute!

Not sure if you noticed, but that's Jim Vance (news anchor from NBC4) who officiated their wedding! 

Happy Anniversary Zeina & Alejandro! I wish you both a lifetime of happiness! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day!

Photography Credit: Samantha Smith Photography

Friday, May 3, 2013

Carnival Party

I suppose it's probably time I share this party, being that it took place back in February!

My friend Julie, who owns StudioX, a Zumba Studio in Gaithersburg, MD, contacted me in January about throwing a carnival themed party for her daughter's 7th birthday. She wanted to include a full dessert table and asked if I would be interested. Uh, DURR! I immediately turned to my trusty friend Pinterest and started pinning away! Check out my inspiration board here.

Since I typically work with party planners who do the table design, I was so excited to finally style one all by myself. While searching for ideas, I came across this adorable cart from Fairy Floss Party and REALLY wanted to replicate it. But although it would have been an awesome element to have, I decided it would be too big of a project to take on. On top of that, I'd have to worry about storing it after the party. I barely have enough space to store my flour and sugar, let alone a large piece of furniture! So, sadly I scratched that idea.

I had a lot of fun making the desserts which included: a carnival tent cake, sugar cookie whirly pops, "popcorn" and "ice cream sundae" cupcakes, and my favorite, the clown and "corn dog" cake pops.

Overall, I think it came out  really nice and I think everyone enjoyed it. Looking back now, I can think of a few things I would have done differently. I think I'll leave the styling to the pros in the future though because styling AND baking together proved to be a much larger task than I thought it would be.

As for the party, Julie thought of everything! From inflatable bouncies, to  cotton candy and popcorn machines, a tattoo station, goldfish toss game, THREE piñatas, to a huge spread of delicious food!! Both the adults and the kids had a great time!

Seriously, are these not the cutest little girls you ever did see?

If you haven't taken a class at StudioX, what are you waiting for? The instructors are awesome and the classes are tons of fun, even if you are as uncoordinated and have no rhythm like me!
Also, since StudioX is such a large open space, it's the perfect place to throw your next party. Contact StudioX for details. http://www.dancestudiox.net/

Thank you to my friend Lanh for snapping and sharing these photos! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Peacock Wedding

Winter weddings aren't the most common in the DC area, but these two lovebirds couldn't wait to get married! So after a short 6 month engagement, Lana & Matt exchanged their vows in January and I had the honor of providing the desserts for their big day.

The ceremony took place at the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and made for a beautiful backdrop for their photos. I mean seriously, how gorgeous is this?

Ryan snapped a photo of me setting up. Don't you just love my dress/chucks combo?

With a guest count of just under 200, Lana and Matt decided to go with a cupcake tower display with a small cake topper for their cake cutting ceremony. Going the cupcake route allowed them to offer a variety of flavors without breaking the bank. Flavors included, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet, chocolate espresso, chocolate chip cookie dough, raspberry, and almond coconut (a gluten free option).

The inspiration for the desserts came from their wedding invitation. I wanted to create a display that tied in their peacock theme, but didn't scream peacock.

I made the peacock feathers out of fondant and used some edible paint to paint on the design. I just love how they turned out!

Congratulations Lana & Matt!!! Thank you for allowing me to be part of your big day!!!

Photo Credit: Peter Bang Photography
Photo Credit (images 4 & 5): Ryan Guthridge
Reception Venue: Harbour View

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Peanut Turns 6!

Yesterday, we celebrated my favorite little guy's 6th birthday. Seems like it was just yesterday that I brought his little 2.5lb self home.

Of course, no birthday is complete without some type of yummy treat, so this year I made him his own little personal cake, full of his favorites - peanut butter & bananas, and iced it with a peanut buttery carob "buttercream." My original plan was to make a carob glaze, but carob doesn't melt like regular chocolate, so I ended up using a spatula to spread it on. And finally, a party ain't a party with out a party hat, so I made Peanut a tiny hat out of some leftover scrapbook paper. He absolutely hated the hat but LOVED the cake.


Monday, February 4, 2013

SCAM Alert!

First off, congrats to all the Ravens fans out there! I guess if it can't be the Redskins, I'm happy to see our neighbors bring home the win!

Moving on...

Last week I received the following email:

From: Barbra Williams <barbra_sugardiva@yahoo.com>

Hi! Been to your website. I'm Barbra Williams. Tom & I will be getting married soon. We are interested in learning more about your CAKES. If you would get back with the necessary pricing. We are currently looking for a 3-4 tier tall wedding cake, cupcakes to feed our guest count of 200 people.

Safe to say we are looking for a 3-4 tier tall wedding cake to feed 100 people & 200 cupcakes in assorted flavors..

- wedding is Saturday- MARCH, 16th, 2013.. and in Virginia.
- No delivery is needed, we arrange to pick these up at your store OR at your preferred location...

Just get back with the necessary pricing information to discuss further.

Thank you
Barbra Williams

I responded with a very lengthy and detailed email explaining all the pricing, options, and even offered to set up a tasting with her. Her response was that she was "out of the country and hearing impaired." It sounded a little fishy to me and sent me googling her email address. The first result: SCAM ALERT! Ugh.

I couldn't figure out how this person would benefit from this situation. So, I bake a 4 tier cake & 200 cupcakes and get stuck with them, what do they get out of it? A laugh? So, I read into it a little more. Here's how they get you. They send you a bad check for more than you asked for, to which they say "oops, I sent you more than I should have, please wire me the difference" and by the time you realize that their check has bounced, it's too late.

These people are so persistent. I once tried to sell a laptop on ebay and had someone try to pull one over on me. Craigslist, same thing. It's so frustrating. Lucky for me, I am aware that these scams exist and can detect them pretty quickly. But there are obviously people out there who aren't aware and fall for them, which is why these scammers keep on keeping on. With the amount of time they spend thinking up new ways to scam people, creating all those false email addresses, and communicating with their targets, they could be doing something positive and maybe actually be a productive member of society.

Anyway, I'm posting this in hopes that I can help someone else from being scammed. If it weren't for others outing this person online, who knows how much longer I'd be wasting my time with "Barbra."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Tuesday {RECIPE}

When Ryan and I first got our place together, we dubbed Tuesdays "Cinnamon Bun Tuesday" with the intention of baking fresh cinnamon buns for breakfast every Tuesday morning. It might be because I burned my batch or that sleep trumps cinnabuns to me, but either way, the idea was short lived lasting only about 3 weeks before we gave up on it.

So today, I thought I'd surprise Ryan with a nice little treat since it's been awhile. This recipe comes from one of my favorite Chefs at L'Academie de Cuisine. It's a yeast-less dough, so it's quick and easy, but just as fluffy and delicious.

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2t cinnamon
1/8t salt
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1T melted butter

2.5 cups all purpose flour
2T sugar
1 1/4t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6T melted butter

2T cream cheese
2T buttermilk
1 cup 10x

1. Prepare a 9 in cake pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Make the filling by combining all the ingredients using a fork or your hands (my preferred method).
4. Make the dough by whisking the dry ingredients in one mixing bowl and the butter and buttermilk in another. Combine wet ingredients into dry and stir with a wooden spoon until all dry ingredients are absorbed, about 30 seconds.
5. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and knead gently until the dough becomes smooth. Once smooth, pat the dough into a rectangle thats about 1/2" thick using your hands.
Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough leaving 1/2" border around the edges naked.
Press the topping onto the dough firmly and begin rolling the rectangle into a tight log.
Crimp the seam and turn it so the seam faces down.
Cut into 8 equal pieces and arrange in the prepared cake pan.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and immediately invert the baking pan on to a plate to unmold buns. Let them cool slightly.
7. Prepare the icing by first whisking the cream cheese and buttermilk, then adding the confectioner's sugar and whisk until smooth.
8. Drizzle the icing over the buns and scarf 'em down!!

Of course, being that it's almost February, I just had to add a little bit of Valentine flair and sprinkled some mini hearts over them.

If you haven't taken a class with L'Academie, you are missing out! They offer a wide range of recreational classes from culinary to pastry, beginner to advanced. They even have classes specifically for kids, teens, & couples (which is a nice change up from your typical dinner-and-a-movie date night). Check them out!

Enjoy your Cinnamon Bun Tuesday!