Happy August, friends! With summer officially moving into “late summer” mode, I’m reflecting on everything that’s happened over the past few months. Needless to say, it has been one of the most bizarre summers of all time. But amidst all the craziness, somehow one of my biggest 2020 goals came to fruition—one of my cakes was in a magazine!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I shared a TON of photos of this picnic basket cake. One, I was so over the moon excited to have a cake of mine published in a national magazine, but two, this also ended up being one of my favorite cakes that I’ve ever made! So I just wanted to share a little bit more about it, and how the whole thing came to be.
First, let me tell you about the magazine—Entertain & Celebrate is an absolutely wonderful magazine from Hoffman Media. They are a seasonal publication, which makes me look forward to them hitting newsstands that much more! I have so many of their issues (side note: Hi, my name is Julie and I’m a magazine hoarder) and each one if filled with these amazing party setups, recipes and entertaining tidbits. The party feature that included my cake was in this year’s Summer issue, which you can find at most grocery stores or also on Hoffman’s website.
The article itself is the loveliest feature on a 4th of July Porch Party, thrown by one of the sweetest, kindest and most talented people you will ever meet—Lydia Menzies, owner of The Party Wagon. Lydia has such an eye for party design and I am always amazed at how creative even the tiniest details are from her. She thought of every last creative touch down to the star cutout watermelon slices for her signature 4th of July cocktail. When Lydia asked if I would make a sculpted cake to be included as an element of her party setup, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!
When creating a 4th of July themed cake, you have to think outside the box a little to go beyond the traditional red, white and blue cake or American flag cake. Lydia had the most fun idea to create a picnic basket cake as an ode to this summer celebration. She was so sweet and gave me the freedom to put my own spin on that idea, which I had such a blast doing! I knew I wanted the cake to be bright and colorful by including some seasonal summer fruits and flowers to give it a clean, feminine look. The best part? The entire thing is edible!
The basket itself was made from cake, then covered in ganache and topped with fondant to look like basket weaving. Someone asked me how I made it appear as though it were weaved, and the answer is… I weaved it! Seriously. Although it had to be done in pieces, the concept was still very much the same as weaving an actual basket—aka it took several hours from start to finish to cover the basket, but I was so happy with how it turned out!
The flowers are all sugar flowers, and they were just so much fun to make! Roses are definitely my favorite sugar flower to make—I could sit and just do those on repeat all day long. But I will say, the hydrangea took a deceiving long amount of time to create. I had intended for him to be larger, but I just ended up running out of time. And all the little fruits and the box of mini sparklers that filled the basket were all made from modeling chocolate. I shaped each by hand, then hand-painted with different colors of food coloring.
Other Party Elements
My favorite element of Lydia’s entire party setup was that she included so many of my favorite southern businesses—these absolutely adorable fringe cocktail napkins created by Gabby of The Preppy Stitch (who isn’t technically located in the south, but is an honorary southerner), the most beautiful flower arrangements you’ve ever seen designed by Brett of European Floral Design, and of course my favorite pies in the entire world from Amanda at Southern Baked Pie. I cannot recommend all of them enough!
A Final Note
With COVID causing so much uncertainty for gatherings and people are starting to focus on smaller, outdoor parties, I really think the Porch Party is a trend that we’re going to see a lot of over the next year, and I’m 100% onboard with that! I love the intimacy of a smaller porch party, but it also doesn’t require you to give up anything regarding décor details or food spreads. In fact, I think it gives your guests the chance to appreciate every single detail! It really was such an honor to be a small piece of this fantastic 4th of July Porch Party setup, and I am still in such disbelief that my cake actually made it to the pages of one of my favorite magazines.
Photography: Kelli Boyd Photography for Entertain & Celebrate