Naked Cakes….it’s the only way to celebrate

As the old saying goes “what’s on the inside counts” truly applies for a dessert trends that I am loving and adding to all of my celebrations.

As a family of five, a lot of cousins, and family around, our celebrations are always big. There is no such thing as a small intimate gathering and it truly makes for lots of fun! We gather to catch up on life, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and everything in between. Each gathering consists of a table full of food and usually the same amount of dessert to end the night and one of my favorite desserts that is added to our table is a naked cake.

Sounds a little silly, what is a naked cake? Isn’t the best part of cake the thick icing layered on the outside? Trust me…try it and you will be hooked.

In the bakery world, this method of icing was originally called a crumb coat. It was just enough icing to seal all the crumbs of the cake before putting your final coat of icing on for a smooth and clean finish. Now it is called “the naked cake”. It is a rustic, minimalist and barely there look that is found in kitchens for homemade birthday cakes as well as fancy bakeries for tiered wedding cakes. This is not only about the look, the biggest benefit to creating a naked cake is letting the inside shine through. The cake and filling are equally as important as the icing and this allows you to enjoy the true flavors without being over powered by icing that is to thick and sweet. The simplicity of this cake is my second reason for loving it so much. This relieves the stress of icing a perfectly smooth cake that needs to be over decorated. Layer your cakes, spread a thin coat of icing and garnish with fresh flowers and you will have the most beautiful centerpiece for your table.



My favorite naked cake:

Cake: Vanilla Bean
Layer 1: Sweet Cream Icing and fresh strawberries
Layer 2: Fresh made lemon curd
Icing: Sweet Cream
Decoration: Fresh flowers and sparklerIMG_9895 IMG_9872

Vanilla Bean Cake
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  1. 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  2. 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Baking Powder
  4. 3/4 tsp Salt
  5. 12 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Cold and Cubed
  6. 5 Egg Whites
  7. 1 Whole Egg
  8. 1 Cup Milk, Whole
  9. 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 3-8 inch cake pans with non stick spray and parchment paper lining the bottom of the pans
  2. In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. On low speed, slowly add cold cubed butter to the flour mixture until it is fully combined and powder like
  4. In a small bowl, combine egg whites, whole egg, milk and vanilla bean paste; whisk until fully combined
  5. Slowly add in egg mixture to the flour until smooth and no lumps
  6. Mix on high speed for 4 minutes until thick and creamy
  7. Pour batter equally into three prepared cake pans and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cake springs back when you touch it.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans
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Citrus Simple Syrup
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  1. Citrus Simple Syrup
  2. 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  3. 1 Cup Water
  4. Peel of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  1. In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients, stir and bring to a boil
  2. Boil for 5 minutes until all sugar is dissolved
  3. Allow the citrus peel to infuse in syrup until cooled
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Lemon Curd
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  1. 1 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  2. Zest of 5 Lemons
  3. 3/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  4. 5 Eggs
  5. 1 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Cubed
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until fully combined
  2. Place the bowl over the sauce pan of boiling water
  3. Cook on low-medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon
  4. Once sugar and butter are melted, continue to stir until the curd is thick and coats the back of the wooden spoon
  5. Strain the curd into a new bowl and place plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming
  6. Allow the curd to cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator to thicken and set completely before using
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Sweet Cream Icing
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  1. 2 Cups Unsalted Butter
  2. 1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
  3. 8 Cups Powdered Sugar
  4. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment combine butter, shortening and vanilla extract
  2. Cream together until smooth
  3. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low until combined
  4. Speed up the mixer to medium-high until icing is thick and smooth
  5. Store in airtight container until ready to use or store in the refrigerator
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Crawfish Boil….Ending with the best ever Bourbon Bread Pudding

crawfish boiCrawfish season is one of our favorite times of the year. It’s time to get our backyards set up to enjoy spring weather and family get-togethers.

April is a month full of birthdays in our family, and it has become a tradition to host a casual backyard crawfish boil to celebrate. It’s so relaxing to spend time with the people we love most, eating on paper-lined tables piled with spicy crawfish, shrimp, corn and potatoes and listening to music. There is nothing fancy about this, but it brings everyone around the table for the first time after a busy winter.

Throwing a crawfish boil is easier than you might think. Here are answers to typical questions:
When is crawfish in season?
What equipment do I need?
The first step to hosting a crawfish boil for a large group is investing in a large stockpot with lid, basket and burner. If you plan to host a crawfish boil every year or several times in a year, it is worth the purchase. (These stockpots can also be used to fry a turkey.) An 80-quart pot will boil 30 pounds of crawfish.
How many crawfish do I need?
Although there are social crawfish eaters and veteran crawfish eaters, a good rule of thumb is around 2 to 3 pounds of mudbugs per person. Don’t worry about leftovers — there are many wonderful recipes you can make with them.
Where do I get crawfish?
Crawfish has to be cooked alive, so ordering from your local seafood market will be your best bet. (We went to Rex’s Seafood, You will typically need to order early in the week and pick them up the morning of your boil. While you are at the seafood market be sure to pick up your crawfish seasoning and liquid crab boil. Don’t be afraid to add fresh shrimp and crab legs to the mix.
How much time does it take?
Hosting a crawfish boil is a very social event — lots of talking, cooking and drinking beer. While you are waiting on the crawfish to boil you should enjoy the weather and your friends. It takes about an hour total.
How should I serve it?
This is the fun part! Cover a large table in paper, dump the hot crawfish boil on it, and start eating. Make sure to have the music on, beer on hand and empty bowls for the shells. If anyone is new to a crawfish boil, be sure to teach them the tricks. To finish off the night, serve Bourbon Bread Pudding for dessert. (see recipe below)bread pudding

What do I do with leftovers?
If all the crawfish is not consumed, do not throw them away. It will take you a little bit of extra time, but you must clean and remove all the shells in order to save the meat. Refrigerate or freeze the leftover crawfish meat to enjoy later. Some of my favorite crawfish dishes are crawfish mac and cheese, crawfish fritters, crawfish cakes or traditional crawfish étouffée. You will not regret having leftovers

Crawfish Boil
Serves 15
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  1. 1(16-ounce) package powdered shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  2. 1(8-ounce) bottle liquid shrimp and crab boil
  3. 3(4-pound) boxes of salt
  4. 1(30-40 pound) sack of live crawfish
  5. 8 large lemons, halved
  6. 4 large oranges, halved
  7. 1 bag small red potatoes
  8. 8 large heads garlic, not peeled, tops cut off
  9. 6 to 8 onions, cut in half
  10. 1 large pack of mushrooms (optional)
  11. 1 pack of smoked sausage (optional)
  12. 8 ears of corn (frozen)
  1. Fill crawfish pot about half full of water and bring to a boil. Add powdered seasoning, liquid shrimp and crab boil, and two boxes of salt to the pot.
  2. In a large washtub, add crawfish, water and half a box of salt to purge the crawfish. After 5 to 10 minutes, empty water, add remaining salt and wash them a second time. Make sure to remove any dead fish, grass or trash from the crawfish at this time. Making sure the crawfish are purged and very clean is essential to ending up with a tasty product in the end.
  3. Once water has come to a rolling boil in the pot, squeeze the juice from the lemons and oranges into the pot and toss in the rind. Add potatoes, garlic, onions, mushrooms and sausage to the pot, and boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Add crawfish to boiling water, cover the pot and bring back to a rolling boil. From the point that the water comes to a rolling boil, boil for no more than about 3 to 5 minutes depending on size of crawfish.
  5. After the crawfish have boiled, turn off burner and add the frozen ears of corn.
  6. Let crawfish soak for about 20 minutes or desired seasoning level. The longer they soak, the more seasoning they absorb. Never do less than 15 minutes or more than 30 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!
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Bourbon Bread Pudding
Serves 10
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  1. 5 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  2. 4 cups whole milk
  3. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  4. 2 cups sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1/2 cup raisins
  8. 1 cup pineapple, crushed
  9. Bourbon Caramel Sauce (see recipe below)
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place cubed French bread into a large bowl. Pour milk onto the bread and allow the bread to soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon together in a separate bowl and pour over milk and bread mixture; stir to combine.
  4. Fold in raisins and crushed pineapple until fully combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a 9x13 glass dish and bake for 35-45 minutes or until custard is set.
  6. While the bread pudding is baking, make the Bourbon Caramel Sauce.
  7. Serve bread pudding in a bowl with sauce poured on top.
  1. Bourbon Caramel Sauce: Combine 1 cup unsalted butter and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir consistently until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons bourbon.
Adapted from Fishmongers Seafood Market
Adapted from Fishmongers Seafood Market
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Dressing the Table…Monkey Style

Last weekend, we celebrated Adele’s 2nd birthday…time goes so fast!  One of my favorite times of the year is when I get to plan my girl’s birthday party.  I know planning a party is not always easy and so much time and effort goes into a few hours that is over before you know it, but it is all worth it when you see the excitement of the birthday girl or boy and all the guest that have come to celebrate!  To make party planning a little easier, I have several of my go to places to get some of the cutest supplies that will make your table a piece of art.  Here are some of favorites that made Adele’s Curious George birthday party a success.  Curious George Birthday Party

 silly yellow bananas, Red Glitter Number, Felt Fetti, Polkadot Napkin, Balloon Table Runner, Polkadot Plates, Balloon Table Confetti, Confetti Balloon, Felt Yellow Hat, Curious George Book
 Party Menu 
Monkey Bread
Monkey & Banana Shortbread Cookies
Banana Nut Muffins
Banana Pudding Shots
Pigs in a Blanket
Donut Holes
Birthday Cake
Water Bottles and Table Cards by Joy Creative Shop


Mint + Gold Dessert Buffet


A slice of cake and a glass of champagne are typically the perfect combination to end any celebration, but if you have a love for design and desserts you will want to spoil your guest to a lovely dessert buffet!  It can be a simple baby shower or an extravagant wedding, you are sure to send your friends home feeling extra special. 

Dessert Buffets are becoming more and more popular and will insure that you have something sweet for everyone’s liking.  Deciding on a dessert buffet will start with a theme; pick something you are celebrating or colors of the season.  While deciding on your menu, make sure to include baked goods as well as candies and confections concluding with the perfect cocktail.

Mint green and gold are two of my favorite colors for spring and perfect for any celebration, along with my favorite item on this dessert table, the perfect Toasted Coconut Marshmallow.  Enjoy spring and celebrate with your favorite sweets!



Tabletop Items: Chevron Gold Runner, Gold Circle Banner, Chevron Straws, Scalloped Cake Stand 

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
Yields 28
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  1. 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  2. 2/3 cups cold water
  3. 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  4. ½ cup water
  5. 2/3 cups light corn syrup
  6. ½ tsp coconut extract
  7. 2 cups toasted coconut
  1. • Brush 9x13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil and line with plastic wrap
  2. • Sprinkle ½ cup toasted coconut to cover the bottom of the pan
  3. • Pour 2/3 cup water into the bowl of the mixer with whisk attached
  4. • Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes
  5. • Stir together sugar, corn syrup and ½ cup water in medium saucepan and bring to boil, stirring often
  6. • Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage)
  7. • Turn mixter on slow and add syrup to gelatin
  8. • Beat on low until slightly cooled and then gradually increase speed to high
  9. • Continue beating until the mixture is cool and peaks form
  10. • Pour mixture into prepared pan (over toasted coconut)
  11. • Immediately sprinkle ½ cup toasted coconut to cover the top of the marshmallows
  12. • Allow marshmallows to cool and become firm, about 3 hours
  13. • Pour remaining toasted coconut into a bowl
  14. • Dust a cutting board with confectioners sugar and coat your knife with oil
  15. • Cut marshmallows into desired size and toss each piece in toasted coconut to coat completely
  16. • Store marshmallows in airtight container for up to 1 week
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