Photos By Millie Batista
New York-based bridal couturier Sareh Nouri recently unveiled her spring collection at The London NYC during Bridal Fashion Week, and each handmade piece is truly something to behold. Inspired by floral elements and nature’s matchlessly exquisite textures, the airy yet intricate collection features richly light fabrics that flow like water, pastel hues, and delicate laces from around the world. Continuing her work with renowned French lace house Sophie Hallette, Sareh aimed to create a work of art with each gown. In this she succeeded brilliantly.
Photos By Jennings King Photography
One-time college sweethearts Kristen Kelley and Charles Thompson returned to their undergraduate stomping grounds in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, to tie the knot on October 26, 2013. The bash they threw at the Carolina Yacht Club was just as big as the college parties of their past, but refinement took the place of raucousness.
“We both wanted a classic Southern wedding,” Kristen said. “It had to be one fabulous party!”
A subdued palette of white, champagne, and pale gold lent a feeling of traditional elegance, while magnolia leaves woven throughout the floral décor added to the Southern vibe. Though the colors were quiet, the other elements were anything but. Following the couple’s church ceremony, a serenading bagpiper led the wedding party and guests on foot to the reception venue, passing down Stoll’s Alley, a tiny cobblestone street that has been around since the colonial era, on the way. “That walk was like a party of its own,” Kristen said. “People came out of their houses to cheer us on and watch the procession.”
At the yacht club, an outdoor lounge area had been set up so that guests could savor the sunset over Charleston’s harbor. The flavorful menu was centered around fresh, local seafood, and guests sipped a cocktail called The Colonel, which was inspired by the couple’s beloved chocolate lab. A cigar roller was on hand for the menfolk, and a jazz band played throughout the evening. “Our band made the night!” Kristen gushed. “They kept the party going into the wee hours of the morning.”
Photos By Rise to the Occasions
Nothing says Easter like farm-fresh eggs, pink gerbera daisies, and little girls in pretty dresses! This sweet-as-can-be spring shoot was both orchestrated and photographed by Heather Muto of Rise to the Occasions, which specializes in creating beautifully styled bridal and engagement shoots for brides and couples seeking an all-inclusive experience. The location Heather chose—Reel Kick Ranch in Malibu—holds a special place in her heart. The property is owned by two of her close friends, Hollywood stunt performers Sam Hargrave and Monique Ganderton, who purchased it two years ago and recently opened it up for shoots and events.
“The ranch inspires me,” Heather said. “I spend many a day there riding horses, taking care of the animals when Sam and Mo are away on location, and hiking in the surrounding hills. The space is filled with so many unique places to shoot—chicken coops, barns, gardens, woods, and even an ocean-view area.”
For this shoot, Heather wanted to showcase the ranch’s family-friendly farm-to-table feel. “The eggs used in the shoot were fresh, and the tiny models had such a good time visiting with the animals and exploring the grounds,” she said. “It’s a great spot for family shoots, as well as bridal and engagement sessions.”
Photos By Claudia Gödke
Today, we’re thrilled to welcome a new contributor to Swooned! Claudia Gödke is a brilliant Berlin-based photographer and food stylist who has a clean, modern, and freshly distinct aesthetic. Just in time for Easter festivities, she’s sharing two beautiful recipes—one for a speckled egg liqueur cake with passion fruit frosting, the other for pastel-colored vanilla macarons with lemon curd buttercream—and an easy-as-pie tutorial for creating the most darling little eggshell planter place cards. We’ll let Claudia take it from here.
Eggshell Planter Place Cards
♦ Egg carton
♦ 1 pin or needle
♦ Printed name tags
♦ Cress seeds
♦ Paper towels
Note: If you can’t get a hold of cress, just use whatever you have on hand, like other herbs or grass.
1. Make a hole in the top of each egg with a pin or needle. Enlarge the holes and pour out the egg whites and yolks. Remove the shells to one-third of the way down and clean the shells well.
2. Nestle the eggshells in an egg carton. Place a cotton ball or 3 layers of paper towel shreds inside the eggshells and spray a little water on them to make them damp.
3. Sprinkle cress seeds over the cotton ball or paper towels. Make sure that the seeds don’t clump together.
4. Cover the egg carton loosely with cling wrap to prevent the cotton or paper from drying out.
5. Check on the cress every day and spray it with water. Remove the cling wrap cover when the sprouts have grown about a centimeter (0.4 inches).
6. After five to seven days, the cress will grow out of the eggshell. When this happens, simply nestle the name tags carefully into the cress, and the eggshell planters are ready to be used as escort cards or place cards!
Vanilla macarons with lemon curd buttercream
Lemon Curd Buttercream Ingredients
♦ 1 stick of butter
♦ 125 grams of lemon curd
♦ Icing sugar, to taste
Directions for lemon curd buttercream
1. Whisk butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon curd and mix to combine. Sweeten to taste with icing sugar.
Vanilla Macaron Ingredients (Makes 12)
♦ 1/2 cup of ground almonds
♦ 3/4 cup of icing sugar
♦ 1 egg white
♦ 2 teaspoons of white sugar
♦ 1/2 a vanilla bean
♦ Food coloring, optional
DIRECTIONS FOR MACARONS
1. Sift the almonds and icing sugar into a bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.
2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with a paper towel soaked in lemon juice to remove any trace of grease.
3. Whisk egg white on high with an electric mixer for half a minute. Add the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean to the egg white. Whisk for another 10 minutes until very stiff peaks form.
4. Carefully fold through the icing sugar mixture until smooth. Place the mix into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
5. Pipe one-and-a-half-inch rounds of the macaron mixture onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280° Fahrenheit.
7. Bake the macarons for about 14-17 minutes. Let cool completely on the trays.
8. To assemble, pipe or spread the buttercream on half of the macarons and sandwich with the remaining macarons.
speckled Egg liqueur cake with passion fruit frosting and strawberry-rhubarb jam
This cake recipe calls for egg liqueur, also known as advocaat, which makes the cake incredibly moist and delicious. Even though most of the alcohol evaporates, I’d recommend baking a regular vanilla sponge cake if kids will be eating the cake too.
For the frosting, I used a typical German recipe for “buttercreme” that calls for custard as a base for the frosting. It’s not as sweet as the American frostings I’ve tried, but it’s so versatile.
Basically, you cook custard/pudding with any liquid you’d like, using 400 milliliters per package of custard (usually 500 milliliters are recommended). Alternatively, you can use 500 grams of made-from-scratch pudding.
Here are a few ideas for liquids to use:
Classic vanilla frosting → Milk
Coffee-flavored frosting → Add 2 espresso shots to milk.
Apple frosting → Cloudy apple juice
Tangy lemon frosting → Apple juice plus juice of 2 lemons
Berry frosting → Purée 750 grams of mixed berries, strain through a sieve, and use the liquid to cook the pudding. The frosting will have a nice pink color without added food coloring.
Chai frosting → 200 milliliters of very strong brewed chai tea plus 200 milliliters of milk
Vegan frosting → Use a plant-based milk or any juice you’d like and vegan butter.
Egg liqueur cake ingredients
♦ 250 grams (2 cups) of flour
♦ 250 grams (2 cups) of icing sugar
♦ 6 eggs
♦ 250 milliliters (1 cup) plus 1 tablespoon of egg liqueur
♦ 125 milliliters (1/2 cup) of vegetable oil (sunflower)
♦ 4 teaspoons of baking powder
Directions for cake
1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two round 7-inch baking pans.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. Beat the eggs and icing sugar until pale, thick, and creamy. This will take up to 10 minutes. Add oil, egg liqueur, and flour. Whisk carefully until combined. Don’t overmix!
4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 40-50 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap in cling wrap and store in fridge overnight.
5. This cake will stay fresh and moist for a few days.
Passion fruit frosting ingredients
♦ 1 package of vanilla pudding/custard powder
♦ 200 milliliters of apple juice
♦ 200 milliliters of passion fruit juice
♦ 3-5 tablespoons of sugar
♦ 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
Note: The first four ingredients can be substituted by 500 grams of pudding made from scratch using apple juice and passion fruit juice.
Directions for passion fruit frosting
1. Prepare the vanilla pudding according to the directions on the package. Let cool completely.
2. With a hand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of pudding, mixing constantly. If the frosting is not sweet enough, add icing sugar to taste.
3. Both butter and pudding should have the same temperature before you start, or else they won’t combine.
4. Add a few drops of food color and mix until your desired shade is achieved.
Strawberry-rhubarb jam Ingredients (makes 1 1/2 cups)
♦ 2 cups of rhubarb, diced
♦ 2 cups of strawberries, hulled and quartered
♦ 1/2 cup of sugar
♦ 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
♦ 1/4 cup of apple juice
Directions for strawberry-rhubarb jam
1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and stir to coat the fruit with sugar.
2. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Transfer to clean jars and refrigerate over night.
supplies needed for Assembly of the Cake
♦ Egg liqueur cake, preferably refrigerated
♦ Passion fruit frosting
♦ Strawberry-rhubarb jam
♦ Easter eggs in desired color (I was lucky enough to find these candy-covered chocolate eggs in turquoise and white, so I matched the color of my frosting to the store-bought eggs. You can also make your own colored eggs using fondant or sugar paste.)
♦ 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
♦ A pastry brush
♦ A few teaspoons of water
1. Trim any doming or top crust and side crust from the cake. Cut the cake in half horizontally.
2. Put one of the four layers on a cake stand or plate.
3. Pipe a dam (a rim around the top perimeter of the cake layer) of passion fruit frosting around the cake layer using a large round pastry tip fitted inside a decorating bag. Then pipe another smaller circle of frosting a few inches toward the center. Spoon some strawberry-rhubarb jam into the open spaces and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife, taking care to keep the jam within the dam.
4. Place a second cake layer on top and press down gently. Repeat the third step twice and place the final cake layer on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
5. Remove cake from fridge and put a generous scoop of frosting on top. With a small offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from fridge and cover the cake in a thick layer of frosting, creating a smooth finish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Arrange the candy eggs on top of the cake. Mix 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder with a bit of water until the consistency is quite runny.
8. Cover your work area with tin foil or old newspaper. Dip the brush into the cocoa-water mix and slide your fingers over the brush to splatter the cake. I recommend practicing this process a few times in the sink.
9. Voilà! Enjoy your cake!