This past summer I created cake recipes for the Holiday issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Once I baked, tested and ate dozens of cakes, I went to Iowa, home of the magazine, and created the final cakes for the issue. It was about 99°F and the midwest sun was beaming straight down on us, but we were in the Christmas spirit or at least creating the illusion of the holidays with cake. I had such a blast baking in the Better Homes test kitchens, working with the photographers, writers, food stylists, art directors and everyone else at Meredith publishing who make these magazines come to life. It was pure JOY to create these cakes and I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did.
Below you can see the cakes I sent them when I was developing the recipes and then the final images we created together for the magazine. You’ll also find all the recipes. Visit my instagram account to see some behind the scenes photos and videos of our photo shoot this summer. What a blast!
This is a spice cake, studded with rum soaked fruit and layered with lemon curd buttercream. The top is adorned with a crown of candied hazelnuts. You can watch me make the hazelnuts in my instagram highlights (look for the Hazelnut Cake video).
This White Chocolate Cheesecake Bombe has just a bit of fresh ginger in it to balance the sweetness of the white chocolate and the crust is made with crunchy feuilletine (there are brilliant substitutions if you can’t find this) as a nice contrast to the smooth cheesecake. The whole thing is draped in white chocolate ganache and covered in chocolate shavings to look like a snow globe. You can watch me bake a cheesecake bombe in my instagram highlights (look for Choc Cheesecake video), where you will see how easy it is to bake and unmold.
Eggnog Baked Alaska is so gorgeous, easy and fun to make. You can make your own ice cream or buy your favorite vanilla and add bourbon and nutmeg to it for a super fast and easy alternative. In my original recipe I baked a red velvet cake and made a surprise circle of it in the center. In the end we wanted each slice to have more of the cake layer, so we added a stripe at the bottom. The cake is then covered in meringue and toasted with a blow torch. You can see me create a baked Alaska in my instagram highlights and you can see me use an uber blowtorch in the Diva Cake video. (Look for Baked Alaska and Diva Cake videos)
The Eton Mess (Holiday Pavlova Parfait) was probably made popular by the Great British Bake Off, which is one of my all time favorite cooking shows and has introduced the world to so many wonderful classic desserts. This is essentially a mess of cream, lime curd, meringues and a cranberry sauce to make it more holiday festive and beautiful. I candied cranberries to set on top as little holiday jewels. You can watch me make meringues and the candied cranberries in my instagram highlights. (Look for 101 Meringue and Parsnip cake)
This silver and gold yule log is the quintessential holiday dessert and one I make every year for Christmas eve. This version is flavored with almond praline buttercream and garnished with light meringue mushrooms. You can watch me make a Yule log in my instagram highlights (look for Yule Log, it is the very first video, so you’ll have to scroll way back)