Delicious Reads

Top Day in the Park Desserts Picks

Enjoy the warm summer days with family and friends while you satisfy your sweet tooth.  These top “Day in the Park” desserts picks are great for the park, the backyard or the church potluck.

Gourmet Cupcakes

With 80+ gourmet cupcake flavors plus over 15 seasonal and special order flavors to choose from, you’ll find everyone’s favorite for a day at the park. Purchase a single cupcake, a box of four, a half dozen, or full dozen to fit the size of your gathering.  Most of these flavors can also be made in dessert tortes for additional dessert options – be sure to ask! 

Let’s explore a few favorites…

The American Dream

The American Dream gourmet cupcake is a must for any red, white and blue, military family cookouts in the park. White cake topped with a dollop of creamy vanilla mousse topped with raspberry and blueberries is a classic look, yet distinctive touch to your dessert table.

Green Tea-rrific

The Green Tea-rrific gourmet cupcake is a cheerful choice for a Mom and Daughter brunch. Honey butter cake with green-tea creme filling topped with green tea infused Chantilly icing and lemon honey drizzle. If chic were a cupcake, this would be it.

PB&J

A day in the park is not complete without the laughter of children in the air. The PB&J is a nostalgic childhood classic turned scrumptious dessert. Peanut butter and strawberry filling inside a yellow cake, and PB and J buttercream swirl topped with toasted crumbs. This adorable twist on a childhood favorite is a tasty classic for the park or the backyard this summer.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

Chocolate covered pretzel sticks are a fun, self-serve dessert for kids and adults alike. Large pretzel sticks are dipped in chocolate and covered in multicolored sprinkles. Perfect grab-and-go dessert! They’re as fun as they are delicious.

Take it up a Notch with Tortes and Halvsies

Dessert tortes are four layers of cake and three layers of yummy filling topped with specialty icing and decorations. For smaller groups, halvsies offer the same great taste in a smaller package. Halvsies are an ideal choice for smaller groups of family and friends. Both tortes and halvsies require 24- 48-hour notice for preparation.

Island Rum Torte

Walk on the wild side with four layers of vanilla rum cake topped with rum infused buttercream topping. This tropical touch torte is a sure win for your island loving friends at a summer get-together.

Strawberry Shortcake Halvsies

Classic yellow cake filled with strawberry preserve filling and topped with strawberry-infused whipped topping is an elegant, nostalgic treat for your friends or family.

From grab-and-go desserts like cupcakes and chocolate covered pretzel sticks to tasty tortes, we have a refreshing summer dessert pick for you.  Make your next ‘day in the park’ a little sweeter for everyone.

MidSummer in Sweden

American summers are filled with long-anticipated family vacations, patriotic historical holidays, and pool-side picnics. The kids are out of school and parents are working hard during the week to enjoy the long, summer weekends creating lasting memories. Meanwhile, across the pond, the Swedish community celebrates their summer a little differently.

The Midsummer celebration has been tradition in Sweden for hundreds of years, with the earliest recorded celebration in the 13th century. Prior to the 1950’s, Midsummer was celebrated at the high point of summer, June 24th, or the longest day for the region. In 1952, Swedish parliament decided that Midsummer should always take place over a weekend and declared the third Friday of June as the official holiday date. The observance of Midsummer now varies between June 20th and June 26th each year.

Midsummer is celebrated soon after the start of Sweden’s five-week annual summer vacation which gives everyone time to prepare and enjoy the festivities. With Sweden’s vast countryside in full bloom and large gatherings taking place to celebrate the beauty of nature and warmth of the sun, it’s no wonder Midsummer Eve is such a big deal!

Families typically begin the day by picking fresh flowers and making wreaths to decorate the maypole. The maypole is raised up in a central location in or near the town and then decorated with the flowers of each family and invited guests. Traditional songs and ring dances such as the Sma Grodonra’ (frog dance) are performed.

 

Midsummer is rich in tradition including a traditional Midsummer Menu that differs slightly depending on region. Regardless of where, your sure to find a smorgasbord of delicious foods and desserts including pickled herring (as Swedish favorite), boiled potatoes topped with dill, red onion, sour cream and chives, grilled and smoked salmon or ribs, cheese pies, crisp bread with butter, and possibly fresh strawberries with cream for dessert. With a celebration of this measure, a bit of drinking will surely be found, specifically, Schnapps called brannvin is served before and alongside the feast. Some regional traditions state when an empty glass is refilled, a drinking song must commence!

A centuries-old celebration wouldn’t be complete without a bit of superstition. Legend has it, young women are to pick seven various flowers on their way home from the celebration and lay them under their pillows. That night, their future husband would appear to them as they dream. Weddings are also quite popular this time of year in Sweden as the sun is out and the flora have bloomed.

The Swedish Midsummer celebration was originally celebrated as a summer solstice confirming that the harvest has been planted and to goad Mother Nature into providing a bountiful outcome.  Now it is a time to celebrate growth, new life, and the beauty of nature. It is a chance for generations of Swedes to gather together and celebrate their common heritage. This summer, while you are out enjoying the warm sand and refreshing waters of the USA, take a moment to think about your own roots and celebrate the seasons as your ancestors did.

Stay tuned and follow Gunilla on our bakery Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/americandreamcakes/ as she returns to her Native Sweden during this time of year and posts of her journey visiting local bakeries and family!

5 Key Factors for Custom Cake Costs

When planning a special event, from a birthday party to a wedding, a custom cake helps make lifelong memories. A fresh, custom-designed cake takes an event’s personalized feel to the next level. Custom cakes can require more time and cost more. If you want a personally inspired, custom cake that will fit your budget, here are five factors to consider while preparing for your event.

Event Size / Group Count

The longer the guest list for an event, the more cake you will need to serve at your party. You may want to consider having two flavor options for larger groups. Two or three-tier cakes can be made with various flavors to offer choices to the group. Family-friendly events can pair a custom cake with coordinating cupcakes for children.

Creative Design Work

Deciding the design details of your custom cake is exciting. When considering a specific type of theme or design, remember the more intricate designs will take more time which creates more expense. If you have a limited budget, our design pros can usually scale your design concept to a smaller size or simpler design version that will reduce detail work time.

Custom Cake Details

Part of the fun of creating a custom cake is the ability to completely tailor the design. For example, you may select a favorite specialty flavor of cake or filling. We offer traditional cake flavors such as white, yellow, and chocolate.  We also offer flavors such as almond, lemon, orange, cookies and cream, red velvet, and chipper cherry to name a few. In addition to unique cake flavors, we also offer a variety of cake fillings including buttercreams, ganache, German chocolate, fruit cremes, raspberry, seasonal fruits and more.

With a custom cake on the inside, you can coordinate your cake’s exterior presentation to your event color scheme and décor.

Budget Time Too

Each cake is made fresh and decorated just before your event. It is important to allow time to meet with a cake designer to ensure availability for your event date.  For significant events such as a wedding, we encourage you to plan six to twelve months in advance of the event date for the best results and coordination.

Transportation Arrangements

Planning cake flavors, colors and décor details to personalize your event’s memorable centerpiece is exciting. Another essential element to consider when ordering your custom cake is transportation arrangements.

We offer free delivery for three-tier or larger cakes within the city limits of Jacksonville. Other locations, depending upon the distance from the bakery, incur a delivery fee. Sunday deliveries are also charged an additional $100 to cover staffing non-traditional business hours. Two-tier cakes must be picked up at the bakery.

A custom cake creates a distinctive, memorable experience at your event.  This is a memory you’ll cherish for years to come.  Call us today to plan your next event’s custom cake design.

Making Father’s Day Cakes a Unique as Dad

From swimming lessons to fishing trips, Father’s Day celebrates not only our childhood hero but our biggest adventure buddy. With so many memories to celebrate, you may be asking yourself how to do something original for Dad this year? Out of the (gift) box original.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, you can show your love and appreciation this Father’s Day with a custom cake that’s as original as Dad himself.  What better way to be creative, satisfy his sweet tooth and touch his heart?

Here is an easy 3 step guide to choosing Dad’s yummy, unique Father’s Day cake.

  1. Schedule Free Consultation Appointment

Each custom cake is made fresh, never frozen.  It’s easy to schedule a free consultation to discuss designs for your cake.  It’s best to plan your cake at least two weeks in advance.  The more ornate the design, the more time will be needed to plan and create it. This year, Father’s Day is June 17th.  Call us at (910) 346-2347 to talk about a cake for Dad this week.

  1. Gather a Little Inspiration

Depending on your Dad’s interests, you can gather inspiration from his hobbies or unique memories you have shared together.  You may want to highlight his favorite pastimes, such as hunting or fishing.  Has your Dad inspired health and active living in your family? How about a cake tribute to hitting the weights?

Maybe he likes tech toys or cars…  Once you have an idea for a theme, search for design inspiration in our Cake Gallery or online image search.   If you don’t have a specific look in mind, our cake designers can help.

  1. Bring it to Your Consultation

During the consultation, you can share your theme idea, inspiration pictures and more.  Our cake designers can help you personalize Dad’s cake, choose flavors and determine what size cake fits your needs for Father’s Day.

Now you can relax until it’s time to pick up your cake masterpiece for Dad.  American Dream Cakes is a professional bakery with a proven track record for custom cake design. Your freshly-made cake will be ready for pick up on the day scheduled during your consultation.

Together, we will work to make this Father’s Day a delicious memory for the books. Call (910) 346-2347 now to schedule your free consultation and reserve your spot.

“I Do” Don’ts for Military Weddings

Image courtesy of  Elise Abigail Photography

Military weddings are rooted in carrying tradition and history to the altar whether the venue is held in a military chapel or at a scenic location. For many brides, the planning of a wedding can become stressful while trying to orchestrate each detail. Those who are planning a USMC wedding have to coordinate each detail with the current military requirements. This ordeal can develop into an overwhelming task that leads to many mistakes.

The best way to avoid mishaps is to contact the protocol officer and chaplain in order to stay current with the military requirements. If this is not an option for you, you can always hire a wedding planner who will be able to assist in meeting such requirements.

In the meantime, here are a few areas to avoid while planning your USMC wedding.

Attire

You do not want to casually select the wrong class uniform. Mess, Class A uniforms are suited for semiformal and suit-and-tie events. This uniform is typically dark blue depending on the season with optional white or blue trousers.

Remember that the groom/bride cannot wear a boutonniere or place anything additional to his or her uniform.

Do not choose colors that coordinate with the military unit without first checking with the chaplain. You will need to make sure that your colors are acceptable.

Additional items worn during the ceremony are white gloves and swords. Do not plan your date without checking to see which color is used for each season. This could cause a clash with bridesmaid dresses and the flowers.

Location

If you are choosing to get married in a military chapel, you do not want to go ahead and select your flowers and music without first getting permission from the chaplain. Music selections are often coined too secular and are rejected. You may want to be considerate of what is secular before choosing your special song.

Do not go ahead and hire a photographer for the ceremony without checking to see if one is permitted. You will need the permission of the chaplain prior to selecting your photographer. In some cases, you will need to reenact the wedding because photography is not permitted.

If you want to display the American flag, you will need to check with the chaplain, first.

Do not assume that you may marry in a military academy. In order to marry in a military academy, your “soon to be spouse” or parent had to graduate from the desired academy.

Although the chaplain is free, it is customary to make a donation to the chapel. It is also required that you attend one or more premarital counseling sessions. Be sure to check with the chaplain and their availability.

Swords

If you plan on using the famous sword arch in your wedding be sure to know the difference between NCO swords and Officer swords. You want to make sure you have the correct sword for each Marine. Be sure to seal the deal with a kiss at the end of the arch, not the middle.

The sword has also found its way into the cutting of the cake. American Dream Cakes understands the importance of carrying on the traditions of military weddings and can help you create the cake of your dreams.

Seating

It’s important to carefully consider the seating when placing military and nonmilitary guest at each table.

Be sure to pay special attention to the high-ranking officers. Generally, military guests are placed at a table together or very near to the head table. However, they can be placed with the family members but it is best to check with them to find out their preference.

Planning your USMC Wedding begins with understanding that permission is everything. These tips will help guide you to creating that special moment.

Planning Your Military Reunion? Don’t forget the cake!

There are many things to consider in planning a successful military reunion.  What location is ideal?  How many will attend?  What travel & lodging plans are needed?  What will the length of the reunion be? How will communication and media be managed?

The foundation of a successful reunion is providing attendees with memorable experiences that are easy to enjoy and to share.  Jacksonville boasts attractions on and off MCB Camp Lejeune including the Lejeune Memorial Garden, the Montford Point Marine Museum, and beautiful waterways to explore.

The capstone of a great reunion is often the Gala Banquet Dinner.  For venues, menus and entertainment, working with professionals who know the local market is helpful.  When it comes to making a centerpiece statement that’s just as delicious as it is beautiful…  that’s where American Dream Cakes can help!

We’ve created USMC Birthday Ball Cakes, Parade Cakes, and more.  If your reunion adopts a theme, we can integrate your reunion theme into a military reunion cake that provides a striking centerpiece for your Gala Banquet Dinner.

From formal emblem and logo cakes to more fun-loving dimensional designs, we’ve got you and your Gala Banquet guests covered.  Contact our team for help planning your military reunion cake!

The American Dream Cakes Story

Video Transcript:

“People ask me why I got started? I started a long time ago.  My grandma and I… we used to do a weekly baking. Lots of cookies, cakes, rolls, etc. – for the traditional Swedish ‘fika.’  When I met my husband in ‘89, it was a blind date on Valentines. We met over in Yugoslavia and a couple of years later, we got married in his home town in Minnesota. One of his family friends made our wedding cake and that’s when I really kind of got the bug and wanted to learn how to do this.”

“About a year or so later, we moved to Germany and that’s when I had the first opportunity to actually try the cake decorating. Our son wanted a Ninja Turtle birthday cake but there were no American style bakeries to be found in Germany. So, I bought a cake decorating magazine and all the equipment that was needed and I read that magazine from cover to cover probably 3-4 times. I made the cake for him and it was such a success at the party that all the other parents were asking to see other photos, that they wanted to order cakes of their own. So, I started a small business over there to serve the military community”.

“Later, when we returned state side, which was in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to work for several great bakeries of mom and pops and some retail bakeries. A year later, we moved to Jacksonville, NC and I came to find out that there were no commercial bakeries, so I decided to start my own”.

“The importance of American Dream cakes came literally by looking through a dictionary. I knew I wanted the name cakes in there and I started from the beginning and when I came across the word American I said, well, I’m making American cakes. Specifically, American style cakes. I kept on looking and I came to the word Dream. And I said yes, I want to make people’s Dream cakes and I want to live the American Dream. American Dream Cakes, because I love making life delicious”.

“Being a business owner, I am able to give back. Our community has been so good to us over the years. Not only has it given me the opportunity to be a rotarian and support local, regional, and even international charities and give back but it has also given me the opportunity to take on culinary students, have them do their internship. I have had interns from Connecticut, New York, I have one from Montana, I have even mentored a wounded warrior in his process of leaving the Marine Corps so that he could go back home and start his own bakery. It also gives me the opportunity to support local and national charities, not just through Rotary, but through the bakery itself. We try to support as many people as we possibly can by making their Dream Cakes and support their functions.

All of this is possible because I was able to create the American Dream Cakes company. I am very proud of our team, proud of our work. Our mission is to make life delicious. To me, doing this, is living the American Dream. “

Graduation Cakes – Graduation Day is Coming!

Graduation Day. A day to signify the end of a season and the beginning of a new. 15 years in the making, and they are finally reaching that exciting day to celebrate all the hard work and dedication to education. Planning the perfect graduation party takes time and organization. Let us add the perfect, tasty piece to their special day. Much like party planning, planning for a cake takes time. If you are looking to partner with American Dream Cakes, please call ahead and make an appointment to discuss the many design options for your grad’s cake.

If you’re looking to order a sheet cake, a 2-4 week notice is recommended for ordering basic designs. 1/4-sheet cakes serve 16-24. 1/2-sheet cakes serve 32-48. Full-sheet cakes serve 64-96.American Dream Cakes can place high resolution photographs on sheet cakes to personalize for the special day. Please note, professional photographs require a signed release from the photographer to place on cakes.

Don’t Forget College Grads!

Graduating from college deserves a special cake! We’ve made many over the years and enjoy making something custom for each Grad. It’s important to start early in the process of making the decisions for design and style wanted. Many cakes require weeks, sometimes months of prep work and time to get written permission to use and create copyright protected University logos, mascots etc. We bake and decorate all of our cakes fresh which limits the amount of orders we can accept for each date. It’s never too late to inquire about availability, but we recommend placing orders 2-4 weeks in advance for Basic designs and 2-4 months for tiered and sculpted cakes.

Sheet Cakes are also a great option for College grads. Make it personal with 2 & 3D fondant work. Fondant work takes a minimum of 1 week to create. The sooner you can plan and order your custom cakes, the better!

Whether it’s for your High School or College grad, American Dream Cakes can make it delicious and memorable. To schedule your cake design consultation, please contact us today!

I Do, Round 2 For Military Couples

Many times, military couples marry far from home or on short notice before a deployment or overseas duty station.  When that happens, family may not be present for their vows and there may not be time to plan a big ceremony or reception.  A courthouse wedding or small ceremony with a few friends is conducted with plans to include family and more formal traditions for a “real wedding” at a later date.  Your wedding was as real as it gets, but some brides and grooms missed the feeling of celebrating their union with traditional elements and family present.  It’s time for “I Do, Round 2.”

A second ceremony can be planned shortly after a deployment or years later as a vow renewal.  No matter what brings you to the place you’re ready to celebrate your marriage with family and friends, it’s never too late to commemorate all your love has brought you through together.  What’s special about it this time, is that you and your spouse have some time invested in this relationship and are poised to make a ceremony even more personal and memorable because this time… it’s all about the two of you sharing your story with your world.

Enjoy a few tips below, then download the full version of our “I DO, ROUND 2” Guide.

  • Embrace the Round2 Factor: This is round 2. You’ve already “been there, done that” on some items.  Make it personal, and feel free to skip whatever fails to make your heart sing.
  • Guest List: You can trim it down or go hog-wild.  Your call.  Just be sure you include the folks you want to have present with you for the memory making.
  • Dress Code: Gown… yes.  It’s your last chance to wear that dress!  Check with regulations for your branch of service if your groom will be in uniform.
  • Vows that Wow: Decide together if you want to recite the same vows you originally made at your wedding or make it more personal by writing your own together.

What Goes into that Cake?

We’re often glad to receive compliments on the details of our cake designs and creations.  From custom event cakes to corporate cakes to gorgeous wedding cakes, we’ve had a lot of experience as cake artists.  What may surprise you is the level of engineering and time that are required to make the ornate flowers and detailed facades of the cakes we’ve had the privilege to create.

Here’s an inside peek at the process and the time it takes to construct a detailed custom cake.  This project was a recreation of the Fisher House, a facility that serves military families aboard Camp Lejeune during a medial crisis.  As a military family and milspouse-owned business, we were honored to complete this cake.  Here’s the low down on how long it took our team!

Every great project starts with a good consultation to determine the goals and vision for the cake, how many servings will be needed and any special requirements.

  1. Consultation with client at bakery. 1 hour.
  2. Site Visit:  Travel to the building and time to take 360-degree photos of the Fisher House including the architectural details like windows, doors, patios, landscape etc. 3-4 hours

3.  Diagram to scale: Now that we had photos of the building and its surroundings, we needed to convert that information to an accurate diagram at the size of cake that was desired. Drawing the diagram to accurate scale including the roof pitch.  1-2 hours

4. Edible printing: We downloaded and printed out all the photos of windows and doors on edible paper.  That paper is attached to fondant and then each piece is cut out individually.  2-3 hours.

5. Custom cake board: Because of the size, shape and weight of the cake, a custom cake board and templates were needed.  Creating those for the cake took about 2 hours.

6. Sculpt detail pieces: Our team made and formed all the details for the cake.  These included items like the patio trellis, wrap-around porch, brick walls, light posts, trees, etc.   4-5 hours

7. Bake cake layers that will be used to carve the final sculpted cake.  2 hours (not including clean up)


8. Carve the cake base: layers to the shape of the building template. 30 min.

9. Ice the cake in buttercream. 30 min.

10. Pattern and airbrush sides: Make brick pattern on sides of cake and airbrush colors. 30 min.

11. Stack and hand-carve the roof portion of the cake. Ice in buttercream. 2 hours.

12. Color and cover roof: Hand color fondant to match roof color. Roll out, texture and cover roof top potion of cake. 2 hours.

13. Assemble the Cake: Major components of the cake were assembled in the four steps below.  Items that were not attached to the base of the cake directly cannot be assembled until after the cake is moved to the location for the event.  These steps took about 5 hours

  • Secure roof portion to base
  • Attach all cut out windows, doors etc. to the cake.
  • Hand-cut fondant for roadway, walk way, grass etc. Attach to cake board.
  • Texture grass and other areas with buttercream.

14. Deliver cake at location 4 am and put final decorations in place. to avoid breakage during transport. – 4 hours

15. Inspect all details to ensure everything is in correct place. Take photos of finished cake. Move cake to display table. Clean up the area where we completed the final decoration steps.  1 hour.

The process to create the Fisher House cake took over 25 hours. It required 2-3 staff members working together to get it all complete, so all-in-all it took about 75-90 hours to complete.  Specialty carving skills, sculpting skills, and edible printing equipment were all required.  We also had to engineering proper supports, so the cake would not crack during transport and complete assembly at 4am on-site.

Custom created cakes take an investment of time, talent and materials.  Next time you see an amazing cake, remember it didn’t happen in an afternoon.  Many times, days of preparation go into the final results you see.  For our team, it’s worth the effort to get the details right.  Nothing compares to seeing the impact when we deliver a custom creation that our clients love.

Planning a company event? To make life easier, here a free download that contains an all-in-one corporate event guide: