how to make flower cake for an intimate wedding of 320 people!

three months out: practice buttercream flowers. watch how-to videos. embrace the bedtime instagram session and search #buttercreamrose often. order all of the tips from wilton and all of the color gels from americolor. try swiss buttercream, screw up italian buttercream, settle on american. test the almond cake, the hazelnut cake, and the coconut rose cake six or eight times. make a folder with all of the recipes. order a pan rack! call him jim. make a schedule. acquire a large white board to make some lists. get cake boards, cake boxes, piping bags, parchment circles, and gold pearls. make a sam’s club list and a grocery store list. separate them into perishables and non-perishables. buy all of the non-perishables. think about cake stands, come close to buying this blue one, but decide against it since it doesn’t fit with the overall aesthetic (and since you bought all of the wilton tips when you really only needed some of these and some of these) and this cake situation is about eggsibs, not your personal cake stand desires.

consult with eggsis, consult again, just don't stop talking or thinking about cake.

rent dress, make sure it fits with enough room to allow for taste testing.

three weeks out: clean out one of your freezers. fill it with cookie dough, pop-tarts, and muffins for the before-the-wedding festivities and the after-wedding breakfast. begin baking cake layers at a leisurely pace. once they are cool, wrap them in plastic wrap, label with masking tape, and freeze. do not stack more than two layers on top of one another before they are completely frozen.

five days out: clean out fridge. replace the baking soda box. buy all of the heavy cream and butter in grand forks. take a deep breath, or a nap, or a b-12 shot.

four days out and three days out: realize your vanilla cupcake recipe still sucks. work on it, save all the good ones, bake 16 batches. put them on sheet pans, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze. keep some out to practice frosting swoops. bake all remaining cake layers and freeze. 

two days out: welcome mum to town!! assign her to frosting duty and emergency butter runs. frost all cakes with a white layer of buttercream. don’t be lazy, do a proper crumb coat, firm up in the fridge, and then do another coat. store uncovered in the fridge.

one day out: welcome celeste to town!! color all of the frosting for the flowers, fill piping bags. cut out small parchment squares. pipe flowers ad infinitum. refrigerate on sheet pans until firm. top cakes with a mound of frosting to give dimension to the flowers, top the mounds with flowers. fill in empty spaces between the flowers with leaves and artful blobs. tweezer on gold pearls. store in the fridge.

eat pizza because it’s friday and because pizza appeared on the farm while everyone was outside setting up for the rehearsal dinner and because eggboy came in with a slice hanging out of his mouth and it looked good.

say hi to eggsis and any other visitors that swing by! 

go to the rehearsal, sneak out of the rehearsal dinner early to finish the remaining flowers. brainstorm the finishing touches and a way to differentiate the center cake from the other cakes. brainstorm brainstorm brainstorm. taco bout it with celeste and mum. go to sleep, confident that quality brainstorming really does happen in the middle of the night. wake mid-slumber with the correct idea! cha-ching! set an alarm to go off the next morning so that you don’t forget it. (“marzipan cut-out heart” 9am.)

wedding day: take cupcakes out of the freezer, frost them all, put em in boxes and keep at room temp. make marzipan heart. assign mum to pop-tart glaze and sprinkle duty!

pack everything up (cakes, cake stands, spatulas, gloves, piping bags with any leftover frosting, tweezers, and sprinkles), fill eggmom’s mini van, ride slowly slowly all the way there. set everything up at the venue, add a last-minute border around the center cake. 

yeah go team!!! hi fives all around. cakes stay out at room temp. 

get hairs did! eat a bagel. put on dress. acquire a brother-in-law!!!!!!!! party. cheer on eggsis and eggbro as they cut the cake! steal two slices, go outside with celeste, style those suckers, and get those shots before the sun goes down! eat nachos, lose voice, guard cake leftovers, bring them home, stick them in the deep freeze, and go to bed!!

yayyyy!!!! congratulations, eggsis and eggbro!!!!!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

photos by celeste noche!

orange blossom almond cake

by the time that she's old enough to date i think i'll be so far removed from junior high drama that any advice that i may be able to offer my little sister would be completely unqualified and terrible. same for anything pertaining to fashion and applying eye shadow. but as her trusty middle older sister, i can definitely educate her on the value of sprinkle tweezers and the proper fluffiness of a cake batter. and if her enthusiasm now for baking (and—get this, cleaning up) is any indication of her future, i think that sprinkle tweezers will take her much further than eyebrow tweezers.

all of her birthday and holiday presents for the past few years have been baking centric: cake in a crate boxes, decorating classes with alekka (including one all about buttercream roses!!) and this year i was gonna go for the big piping set but apparently stoopie beat me to it. last week she did baking camp!

when i was her age i was into my tamagotchi flock and doing math, i thought i wanted to be a math teacher when i grew up. now i practically have to use a calculator to compute how many bagels a double batch of 12 will yield. so i realize that the chances are not unlikely that mia will probably get serious about a million other things before she grows up but i do selfishly have this fantasy that she’ll turn into an ivenoven or bk floral delight so the tables can turn and i can go visit her for buttercream flower advice. 

speaking of that, i don’t know what i’m doing on my computer right now, i should really be doing some crumb coats for the eggsister wedding. two days until show time!!!! i just really really wanted to show you these pictures and this cake before the big day! mia came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and, like the rest of our family, has a strong pull toward almond things (yass!!) so we made this almond cake that’s based on the pistachio cake from molly on the range. to keep with eggsister’s floral theme we added a tiny splash of orange blossom water that isn’t easy to detect on its own but it adds a complexity that’s just slightly bitter and fancy. mia chose all of the buttercream colors out of my new fun nifty fifty set. at first i was horrified at the mix of neon and pastel colors that she chose but i love how they turned out! and i enjoyed playing with colors that i otherwise wouldn’t have used. chantell and brett came to take some photos and mia brought out all of her sia-inspired hair bows to choose from. don't be fooled by our very serious concentration faces, it was the best day!!!! 

a couple of notes on this cake: it is so dense and packed full of nuts that it functions best as a one-layer cake (its original form is a loaf, so feel free to go that route if you'd like). it will look super ugly and like a meteor has crashed on top when it comes out of the oven but flip it over and it will be nice and smooth and have a slight dip in the center, which is best for holding a pool of glaze. i’ve included some brief buttercream rose directions below, one of which is to watch a million instagram and youtube videos, and at my current skill level that’s the best advice i can offer. i know i said i was going to try german buttercream this time but we ate all the eggs. oops. 

orange blossom almond cake

makes one 9" cake


2 c (224g) almond flour
1/2 c (56g) all-purpose flour or gluten free all-purpose flour with 1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c (300g) sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp orange blossom water

For decorating

Powdered sugar glaze (a couple cups powdered sugar mixed with milk, cream, or water until creamy and spreadable)
Buttercream roses


Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” round cake pan and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then add the lemon zest, almond extract, and orange blossom water. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Scrape into pan and bake until browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just slightly pulling in from the pan. begin checking for doneness at 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To decorate, pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Watch a million instagram and youtube videos for how to pipe buttercream roses. Pipe them onto little parchment squares and place them on a sheet pan. Freeze the sheet pan for about 15 minutes or until the frosting is firm, and then peel them off the parchment and stick them on the cake. Fill in any spaces with buttercream leaves and sprinkles, if desired.



all photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!

apron by enrich and endure

here are some more buttercream rose posts: 

rose rose cake

We had our first Bagel Sunday at Amazing Grains this weekend!! Robert, one of Grand Forks’ resident bagel experts came in and we spent the weekend making plain and onion bagels. He hadn’t made bagels in 19 years and I hadn’t made bagels in, well, probably 19 years too, so we hacked our way through our first couple of batches and they miraculously turned out so deliciously dense and doughy, just the way I like them. I was so pleased! We used Robert’s recipe that he used when he owned his bagel shop in boise. It doesn’t have barley malt in it, just a nice amount of brown sugar, and we made them so pleasantly plump. (I have never been bound to my bagels having a well-defined hole, is that ok??) We offered three basic options: salmon and cream cheese, egg and cheese, and just cream cheese, and sold out in an hour and a half!! It was so much fun. Sundays are my new favorite. In future weeks I’d like to do pizza bagels, fancy avocado toast bagels, maybe even bagel dogs. But first I really need to improve my bagel rolling skills because mine came out bumpy and lumpy. 

After Bagel Sunday we got a snowstorm and it was so cozy inside. I made a big sunday supper of tahdig (my first try!) and the fava bean meatball dish from Jerusalem, which I loved except for the unshelled fava bean part. I still have a bunch of favas left though so I think I’ll put some on a pizza and then make ful with the rest.

When I wasn't shelling fava beans or rolling bagels these past few days, I was practicing my buttercream roses. Part of me thinks I should just stick to using marzipan since my clumsy hands can handle that so much more easily than buttercream, but I’ve found that once I kind of get into the rhythm of things, I can churn out buttercream roses way faster than marzipan roses (even if they are a little rustic... but that’s why I’m practicing).

And I’ll indeed need to up my speed because I am planning to cover enough cake for 400 million people with buttercream roses for Eggsister’s wedding in July. That's the whole reason I'm on this buttercream rose kick! The idea came after she decided that all of the bridesmaids and eggboy (the man of honor) would wear something flowery. I thought that with a floral theme, a whole table of floral-inspired cakes would be appropriate. So over the next few months I plan to: figure out recipes for a hibiscus cake, an orange blossom carrot cake, a chocolate lavender cake, and any other flowery cakes that eggsister and eggsisterfiancé want (got any suggestions??), and then also improve my buttercream roses and succulents. I tackled this vanilla rose cake first since rose is a flavor I’ve been comfortable with ever since I realized that you only need the teensiest bit of rosewater to have a great effect. 

I watched a bazillion video tutorials on how to make buttercream roses and also looked at instagram accounts like brooklyn floral delight. I figured out a few things:

-American buttercream probably isn’t the best for this since it can get a little bit flimsy. I’m including the recipe for it here since it’s my go-to buttercream when frosting cakes and if you’re just doing a basic frosting job for this, it does the trick, is easy to make, and is tasty. I haven’t yet experimented much with Italian buttercream but that’s what I’m going to use for my next rose practice session.

-It’s important to get one of these thingies and a few of the proper tips (and I’ve been using couplers so that I can switch the tips easily between colors). 

-I found that it was easiest to pipe the roses onto a little square of parchment (stick the parchment onto the metal thingy with a blob of frosting) and then transfer the parchment with the rose on it to a sheet pan. Freeze or refrigerate the sheet pan until the roses are firmed up and then pick em up with your hands, peel off the parchment, and just plop them right down onto your cake. From there you can fill in any empty spaces or clean up the edges with any reserved frosting in your piping bags. One pan of roses made enough to fill up this whole sheet cake, so I’m thinking that I’ll want to pipe about six full pans of roses in preparation for eggsisterwedding. I’m hoping that by that time I’ll be able to bang em all out the day before and then hold on to the extra frosting that’s still in the piping bags at room temperature so that I can fill in any holes the morning of the wedding. I’ll plan to bake the cakes three days out, frost them with a base layer two days out, do the roses the day before, assemble the morning of, and then party my tuchus off. 

-Best not to watch Bojack or anything else that is funny while you’re piping because laughing leads to ruffled petals. Which is fine if you’re going for that look, but I have to get a handle on clean petals before I can start taking artistic liberties.

Alright, gotta go make spätzle! My second rose practice session is in a few weeks, I’ll report back.

Here's a rosewater cake that's got the body of a vanilla cardamom cake but the sparkle and shimmer that only a drop of rosewater can add:

rose rose cake

makes one 9 x 13" cake


for the cake:

1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c flavorless oil, like canola

1 tb vanilla extract

1/2 tsp rosewater

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 c water


for the frosting:

1 c unsalted butter, softened

3 c powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

a couple of drops of rosewater

a pinch of kosher salt

2 tb heavy cream


for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line a 9 x 13" baking pan with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cardamom. in a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, rosewater, almond extract, and water.

whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes.

let the cake cool in the pan before frosting.

for the frosting:

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, rosewater, and salt and mix until combined. mix in the heavy cream.

frost as desired! you certainly don't need to cover the whole darn thing in roses, but if you'd like to, see notes above and then here are a few reference videos: 

video 1

video 2

video 3

video 4