12 Aug 2011

DIY Cupcakes

there were a few things ben and I decided to do ourselves for our wedding to save some money and whatnot.

one of the things I latched onto early on was making all the cupcakes myself.
ben said "have fun, but I am not going to be frantically frosting cupcakes two hours before the wedding. at that point you're on your own".

I had to admit there was risk so, thankfully, it didn't come down to last minute decorating.

I also had help.
my mom, my sister and kitchen-aid all came to my rescue.

here's how it went down:
I spent the entire wednesday before the wedding baking.
it was a 98 degree day.
not the best timing on my part.
but they all got made.
all 112 of them.
(I am a baking machine!)

the next day my family come up to nh from ct, and I put molly to work on the frosting.
(she wants to be a chef. this is practice. it's good for her. really it's me helping her out.)

she whipped up the buttercream, but the second she stopped the mixer the eggs and butter separated.
it was that hot.

we decided to stop baking and go drink cool beverages by the river instead.
frosting could wait til morning.

thankfully friday morning it had cooled off and the frosting stayed in frosting form!
glorious non-melty frosting.

she set herself up at the dining room table and frosted like the devil.
(do devils frost? how do they keep their buttercream from separating in the heat?)

they were done.
they were delicious.
and we prolly saved ourselves a couple hundred bucks.

not to mention all the bragging rights we obtained.

it's all about the bragging rights.

working in the tiniest kitchen known to man.

consulting the recipe.

smiling through the heat. with our kitchen savior in the bottom right. (orange!)

testing the stiffness of the peaks.

getting down to the real frosting.

with my stolen apron.

I may have stolen a cupcake in retribution. (they were delicious)

and now, on to the recipes!

the spread

carrot cake
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/8 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Beat together the eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl, and mix in the oil and vanilla. Fold in carrots and pineapple. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Fold in 1/2 cup walnuts. Transfer to the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out cream cheese frosting and sprinkling with remaining walnuts.

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes.

chocolate cake (from this book)


  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate or vanilla buttercream for frosting cupcakes 
  • Grated chocolate for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and set over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan; stir frequently until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not overmix.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
  5. Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream, garnish with grated chocolate if using, and serve. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)

buttercream frosting (from this book)
  • ingredients

    3 large egg whites, at room temperature
    3/4 cup sugar 
    Pinch salt
    1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces


    In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a sauce pan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about two minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture on high speed until it is fluffy, has cooled to room temperature and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry) about 6 minutes.

    With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and then the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the flavoring(s) of choice and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Use right away.

    Makes about 2 cups

    almond flavoring

    the book says add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp almond extract, but we accidentally switched the two measurements (1/4 vanilla, 1/2 almond) and liked it. so we kept it.

    chocolate flavoring

    slightly altered, as we did not wish to to stand over a double boiler again, we cut out the melted bittersweet chocolate and doubled the cocoa powder. we added 6-7 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder into a double batch of buttercream frosting.

    cream cheese frosting (from this book)

    • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and mix until thoroughly combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away, or if the consistency is too soft, refrigerate until the frosting is spreadable, about 15 minutes.

    and good cake was enjoyed by all.

    THE END.

    [photos 1-7 my myself or my mom, photos 8-11 by amy ritz, photo 12 by an unknown person of genius seated at table number 13]


21 Jul 2011

so I know it looks like I've been avoiding you.

and that's only, like, 65% true.

mostly I've been waiting for some pictures to come in.
as illustrated summaries are the best summaries!

we should hopefully be getting the professional photos soon, and a few of our friends took some really good ones and have promised to send them our way.

in theory, by 2012 at the latest there will be some more activity round these parts.
(but the real goal is before we fly back to london...)


7 Jul 2011

a few quick-fire recollections
(before [eventually] getting into the in-depth play-by-play analysis, sports center style)

wearing sneakers on our wedding day was the best decision I ever made. my feet never hurt. not once.

you know somebody caught the princess bride references you wrote into the ceremony when you hear snickering from behind you.
(and more so, you know exactly who it is...)

looking through the photos coming in from friends and family, it seems there were very few moments where I did not have a beer bottle in my hand. I am not sure if I married ben, or sam adams...

putting manikins on all the tables may have been the bestest idea ever in the history of bestest ideas.

[all photos from friends, family and the disposable cameras left on the tables (also a good idea.)]

28 Jun 2011

hi there.

I swear I haven't abandoned you.

I've been busy.

there's been work.

we just discovered we're flying back to london a bit sooner than we thought we were.

and I'm lazy.
(mostly I'm lazy)

I'll be back soon.

for placation purposes:

[again, image by our photographer amy ritz]


24 Jun 2011

the kn*t is like a freakin ouija board.

I unsubscribed from that thing weeks ago but that sonofabitch just keeps coming back to my inbox....


22 Jun 2011

yesterday I found an old wedding to-do list under a forgotten pile of door submittals on my desk.
I didn't even think about it.
I crumpled up that bastard and threw him away.

and it felt incredibly good.

no more wedding planning ever again!

and I swear I will get back here to do some (actual) post-wedding writing/reflecting/what-not, but as I am still recovering from "damn, I'm not on vacation anymore"-itis, I can't quite focus.

here's a bit o' eye candy to tide you over:

[photo by our photographer Amy Ritz]


10 Jun 2011

9 Jun 2011

I finally found a use for all those architecture textbooks!

they are excellent for weighing down things and flattening them.


6 Jun 2011

anatomy of a boston bachelorette

from this:

to this:

with a little bit of this in between:

I have the bestest of bestest friends.

that night was epic.

3 Jun 2011

amanda got me the most kickin' gift ever.

that's right.
that's a personalized hanger for my wedding dress.

and it's bright yellow.

I love it.

(excuse the ad hoc photos, only so much you can do with a point and shoot camera at work...)


31 May 2011

sometimes I think this site can read my mind.

just last night I was telling ben I am going to have to make a flower for my hair myself cause I procrastinated too long it is too late to order one and have it arrive in time for the wedding.

and what happens to show up in my google reader this morning?

how to make a wedding hair flower.

is that excellent timing or what?

similar things have happened with i-pod dj-ing and setting up your own photobooth.

I am getting the impression the universe doesn't think I can pull this off without some major outside help...

[the universe may be right...]


30 May 2011

things learned this weekend in the land of wedding logistics:

-you don't get to sign the marriage license at your wedding like we had hoped. you have to sign it when you get it.
-even in a tiny northern nh town early on a saturday morning, you will have to wait about half an hour to get the license (kinda maybe sorta making you late to meet with your officiant....)
-a lot more goes into a marriage ceremony than we had any inkling of.
-apparently "vows" and "I do's" are not the same thing. (ben says knew this, but I had no idea.)
-it's a small world. our officiant's wife is from the town in georgia my dad's lab is relocating to later on this year.

things learned this weekend completely unrelated to the wedding:

-mosquitos are bastards, every single little one of them. and I have the multiple bug bites to prove it.
-I can apparently get sunburned while sitting in the living room. I mean, I knew I was pale, but this just brings it to a whole new level.


27 May 2011

have dress again.

it fits perfectly.

my seamstress is awesome.

don't know why I ever even worried.



I like boxes.
I like wood.
I like wine.
I like typefaces.

I like this.



25 May 2011

reflections on a wedding shower

it was really really nice.

no bow bouquets, so silly games, no awkwardness.
just good friends, awesome family and a lot of damn delicious food.

ben and I decided that we didn't want to ask for typical gift-type gifts twice (wedding and shower) so we asked everybody to bring a copy of their favorite book (or two. or three or four...). (we love books)
(we also threw some up on our wishpot registry for those who weren't avid readers and didn't have a favorite book. more on wishpot later. I have to sing it's praises. it's been fantastic.)

what we ended up with is pretty much our definition of bliss.
some really nice classics, a few old favorites (including a count of monte cristo (!) from my neighbor eileen. its apparently her favorite too. add that to the fact we share a birthday, and we both pretty much rock), my nanny gave us a set of books that my grandfather brought down from canada with him when he moved to connecticut, some books on gardening, cooking, drinking and architecture (all things we love), a couple of books on the history my hometown and, for good measure, some books on americana to remind us of our home country when we go back abroad.

some random snapshots of the day:

Molly making her chocolate-covered strawberries.
the random dog that came to hang out before he went off again in search of his owners. for a second ben and I thought we just  got the most awesomest wedding shower gift ever.
remember these?
bria was a rock star and made some for me.
they looked pretty awesome.
and amy brought a ton of balloons, tied em to books (theme!) and had vases of beautiful yellow lilies scattered about.
looked ever so festive.
also, almost everybody wrapped their gifts in green paper/bags. totally unintentional, but it looked so coordinated!
ben and nanny!
the rain stopped for a bit, so we converged out on the deck.
keeping watch over the tasty snacks.
more friends!
undercover friends.
delicious chocolate cake (does my mom know me, or what?)
molly's incredible chocolate-covered strawberries.
the afore-mentioned book tower.
this time with yardstick juxtaposition.

I had a few worries, based on previous bridal/wedding showers I had been to, but I should have know with my mom and amy at the helm (combined with molly, bria and our wicked awesome community of family, friends and neighbors) we had nothing to worry about.

it was a great party.

thanks guys!