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Have you ever wondered who decorates the White House for the holidays? If so, read on! Our own extraordinary floral designer Anne Miller was among a small group of volunteers invited to help decorate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the holidays. A “glorious experience,” Anne and a talented team of fellow floral designers helped design and produce an alive and majestic sight in the East Ballroom and the Palm Room for this year’s Christmas Display. Working alongside friend and celebrated florist Emily Thompson, she played a significant role in creating an elegant and breathtaking environment in our nation’s capital.
“There were living gardens under many of the trees in the East Ballroom and having a part in determining the logistics to finalize a very natural but dramatic effect was a daunting challenge that we rose to the occasion to meet. Emily was gracious enough to allow me to add my signature tabletop element of paper white bulbs lashed together to form a beautiful candelabra that was featured at the center of the celebration dinner hosted by none other than the First Lady! By transforming our nation’s home into very majestic and triumphant quarters, I transformed myself in a way and left proud and inspired,” recalls Anne.
Their handiwork was even captured for a television special, White House Christmas 2011, which will air on HGTV on Dec. 20 (9 pm and 12 am) and Dec. 24 (6 pm). Don’t miss this exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the White House at Christmastime and witness the artistry and hand work that went into the 2011 White House holiday theme “Shine, Give, Share.”
And in the spirit of sharing, here Anne shares this delicious dessert recipe direct from the White House Pastry Kitchen.
Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
A recipe from the White House Pastry Kitchen
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1¼ cups dark brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
7 ounces of pumpkin puree (either homemade or from a can)
¼ cup whole milk, warmed
Pre-heat the oven to 340° Fahrenheit.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and ground cloves into a large bowl. Put this aside. Whisk together brown sugar and eggs with a mixer. Beat in the vegetable oil and then the pumpkin puree. Add the dry ingredients mixture alternating with the whole milk in three parts. Mix well and scrape the sides and bottom of bowl between each part. Grease and flour bundt pan. Bake for about one hour. Let the cake cool in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack. For the finishing touch, pour the orange cream cheese icing over the top of the cooled bundt cake. Makes one cake from a 2 quart bundt pan
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
Pinch of salt
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice, strained
Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in bowl and use a mixer until it becomes a smooth cream. If you are using a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment for the best results. Add the softened butter to the bowl. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a plastic spatula and then add the orange zest, vanilla bean or extract, heavy cream, pinch of salt and orange juice. Set the frosting aside until you are ready to pour over cake.