Sugar & Sparrow’s Best of 2021

top 9 cake recipes of 2021

I love the feeling of a new year right around the corner. Though I know I’m not exactly leaving all of this past year behind me, a new year still feels like a blank slate and that’s enough inspiration for me. This week between Christmas and New Years, I like to sit down and reflect on all that the last year has meant to me + think about the things I hope for in the next one. No resolutions, no “new year new me,” no competition mentality. This time is all about reflection, consideration, and also making a few goals because I am a dreamer after all. 

2021 was not a particularly easy year for me or for Sugar & Sparrow, but at the same time it was truly life giving and rewarding. My newborn baby became an infant at the beginning of the year and is now a very curious toddler who is happily into everything. The kid loves life and it’s been so fun to watch him discover more and more. I have been loving motherhood despite it being the hardest job I’ve ever had, and juggling cake blogging on top of it has been a real challenge, but I’m giving myself a lot more grace. I’m learning my limits and how to create a work-life balance I feel good about, all while keeping the creative inspiration for Sugar & Sparrow alive. Thank you tremendously for sticking with me through all of the transition!

sugar and sparrow

As for Sugar & Sparrow, this past year was a lot about re-discovering my passion for cake. Specifically, a passion for teaching you how to make pretty cakes that spread joy. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that one of my recipes has become your go-to or that someone has used my Cake Basics series to make their very first successful cake. I love helping you learn and grow in your cake making skills, and that will be my main focus in 2022 – more Cake Basics, sharing trusted recipes, posting video tutorials, and creating resources you can reference again and again. Other things I have planned: a major kitchen remodel (praise be!) + something else BIG and exciting that I can’t wait to share more about, so stay tuned! 

All of that said, I’d love it if you would comment below what you want to learn this year in regards to cake. I’ve got a running list of ideas and would be thrilled to add your suggestions to it! In the meantime, while we wait to ring in 2022 together, let’s take a little trip down memory lane. Here are the posts you loved the most in 2021: 

Cake Basics: How to Transfer Cakes to a Stand (or Box)

So you’ve decorated the perfect cake. Now how do you get it into a box or onto a cake stand without messing up all the details? Because I know the anxiety that transfer can bring, I whipped up this Cake Basics post and video tutorial to show you how I do it. 

how to move a cake to stand

Cake Basics: Make Ahead Tips for Cake

When I ran a cake business from home many years ago, I remember obsessing over how far in advance I could make and decorate a cake while keeping it fresh for the client. Now that I run Sugar & Sparrow, I get questions all the time regarding cake timelines like this. I wrote out these make ahead tips so that you’d never have to wonder about when to start your baking and decorating, how to make your elements (cake layers, buttercream, decorations, etc) ahead of time so they’re ready to go on decorating day, and essentially how to plan your cake out and reduce the stress of it. There’s even a sample cake timeline that you can use as a reference!

how to freeze cakes

Chocolate Ganache Drip Recipe + Video

While this recipe is not new per se, it has become my most loved of all time. This past year, I finally whipped up a video to go along with it! In it, I teach you my recipe for go-to chocolate ganache, show you how I drip a cake with it, and cover all the troubleshooting I can think of. This one should help you create flawless chocolate ganache drip cakes every time. 

chocolate ganache troubleshooting tips

Heat Stable Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

After one of my cakes full-on melted at an outdoor party last summer, I set up the ultimate experiment in hopes of finding the perfect heat resistant buttercream recipe. I frosted four different cakes with various buttercreams and set them out in the sun to see what would happen over time. Not only did I find a new go-to recipe that takes the heat and doesn’t sacrifice flavor, I had a whole lot of fun along the way. 

four inch cakes by sugar and sparrow

Raspberry Chocolate Cake Recipe

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you’re going to want to stick this Raspberry Chocolate Cake recipe in your back pocket: layers of moist, fudgy chocolate cake + my favorite raspberry buttercream recipe, decorated with rich chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries. It’s romantic, decadent, and the buttercream has the most beautiful natural color ever. 

chocolate raspberry cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

2021 was the year I finally attempted vegan cake recipes! It was one of my new years goals one whole year ago, and I’m so happy with the results. This cake, along with the two other vegan cake recipes on my blog, were featured in the print edition of PlantBased Magazine last summer! You truly cannot tell that this Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe is vegan – it’s rich and decadent, moist and fudgy, packed with chocolate flavor, and so easy to whip up. 

vegan chocolate cake recipe by Sugar and Sparrow

Vegan Vanilla Cake Recipe

This fluffy, bakery style Vegan Vanilla Cake probably took the most testing of any cake recipe I’ve ever written, but it was worth all of it. I was so excited about the final results that I drove the cake around to all my vegan friends for confirmation (spoiler alert: they loved it!). It has a divine texture, moist crumb, and perfect vanilla flavor. If you’re looking for a good go-to vanilla cake for those who are plant based or need a dairy free option, I hope this becomes yours! 

vegan vanilla cake recipe

DIY Food Photography Backgrounds

After searching the internet for food photography backgrounds, I came to the conclusion that I should try making them myself. The results? Amazing photo backgrounds at a fraction of the cost. Here’s how to make your own with some foam core boards and contact paper.

food photography tips for styling

Black Buttercream Recipe (That Won’t Stain Your Teeth)

Love the look of black buttercream but hate how it stains your mouth when you eat it? Yeah, me too. That’s why I decided to experiment with black buttercream recipes in search of one that didn’t require too much black food color gel. Here’s my new favorite Black Buttercream recipe that won’t stain your teeth! 

black buttercream recipe by sugar and sparrow

Thanks again SO MUCH for sticking with me through this crazy year and cheering me on the whole way. I hope you had a wonderful 2021 and are looking forward to the year ahead. Whether cake making is a life giving hobby, your small business, or a skill you want to grow in, I am excited to share the journey with you and grow together. Stay tuned for more news of what’s to come for Sugar & Sparrow in 2022 and be sure to comment below with what you’d like to learn this year! 

4 Comments

  1. Love all of your help! I actually bake now, thanks to you!
    I would love a red velvet cake receipt and non traditional cake and cupcake receipts for guests.
    I cannot find something tall enough to carry a 3 layer cake with icing Any suggestions?

    Thanks, again!!

    W

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