Sunday, July 17

Baby Abby's 2nd Birthday: Part 1--The Cake

 Somehow, my baby turned 2 at the end of June. It is amazing how fast the girls are growing and how much they are learning. These girls are so smart, they amaze me everyday.

    Anyway, we had to keep postponing Abigail's birthday party due to colds--yes, in the middle of summer. Weird. Now that most of us were healthy, it was time to party! 

    The party was set for Saturday. Friday's To-Do list was packed. Near the top of the list was getting started on Abby's cake. My sketches were a bit detailed and....ambitious, to say the least. So I dialed it back a bit. 

    Base layer is to be a chocolate cake. The first icing I planned on making was my White Chocolate Butter Frosting. Wouldn't it taste good if swirled with a raspberry sauce? Perhaps both with be paired well with my rapidly-becoming-infamous white cake. It is a 2-year-old's birthday party. Perhaps the white cake should be of a fun-fetti variety? Nice. And to top it all off, a nice buttercream frosting--my favorite for decorating cakes.

    I have yet to find a chocolate cake recipe that I like. So I made my own recipe as I went--business as usual that Friday afternoon. The cake was baking so it was time for the frosting. Once the White Chocolate Butter Frosting was whipped up, I put it in the fridge since it was going to be awhile before it was time to ice everything. 

    Jumping ahead a few hours and we find me back in the kitchen. The girls had been put to bed, though I assure you they did not fall asleep for some time. It was time for me to get started on the second layer of cake. I used my white cake recipe with just a couple small adjustments. (The thing I like about this recipe is that I alter the extracts and add-ins to fit the occasion it is being made for and it always turns out fabulously.) Once the cake was out, I whipped up the buttercream frosting. 

    While the white cake continued to cool, I doled out the entire bowl of the White Chocolate Butter Frosting onto the cooled chocolate cake. It then got spread out and then swirled with raspberry sauce (jam that I heated). 

    The white cake then was placed atop the icing layer and gently settled into place, in order to try to make sure there would not be any air holes in the middle frosting layer.

    After deciding on purple for the base "coat" of frosting, I set to work. 

    I finished up around midnight--which for the eve of a party is early. haha So I decided to quit while ahead and go to bed. The decorating could be done Saturday.

    Saturday morning came too early. Really. We had a lot of tidying up to do, go to Party City, decorate the apartment and go to the grocery for soda and ice cream. Oh yeah, and the cake needed to be decorated. :)

    I whipped up another batch of buttercream and divided it up into 3 bowls: golden yellow, brown, kelly green. I set aside the pink glittery gel and yellow sugar we bought from Party City. Away we go!

The finished birthday cake.
Top view of Abby's sunflower cake.
I am pretty happy with the way Abby's cake turned out. I really love the way the sunflowers look and the way the colors all complemented each other. For the middle, and biggest, sunflower I sprinkled black sugar around the brown center to enhance the seedy look. I sprinkled the yellow sugar we picked up at Party City to try and enhance the flower petals. I didn't think about it immediately after piping the petals so they were already dried and weren't cooperative in getting the sugar to stick. The pink lettering was written with the glitter gel that was also from Party City.  


Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
        2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
        2 tsp baking powder
        1 tsp baking soda
        1/2 tsp salt
        4 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking pieces
        2 Tbsp evaporated milk
        1 c. buttermilk
        1/2 c. cocoa powder
        1 c. granulated sugar
        3 large egg yolks
        1 c. butter, softened
        1/2 c. vegetable oil

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan; set aside.

     In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    Place the chocolate baking pieces in a small microwave-safe bowl with the evaporated milk. 

Microwave for 30 seconds initially. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir for about 2 minutes. Return the bowl to the microwave and continue heating in 15-second increments. Be sure to stir each time as you don't want to burn the chocolate. Once completely melted, set aside to let cool.
    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and cocoa powder. It will take some effort to combine these two--keep at it. 

    After a few minutes of vigorous whisking, it will come together and look like chocolate-y milk. Add in the granulated sugar and whisk, somewhat vigorously, until combined. Set the bowl of chocolate buttermilk alongside the bowl of melted chocolate.**
    Spoon a small amount of the chocolate buttermilk into the bowl of melted chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Repeat this until you have added 4 spoonfuls of milk into the bowl of chocolate. The melted chocolate should be more of a liquid now, as well as cooled off a bit more. 
    Add the entire bowl of melted chocolate into the bowl of the buttermilk mixture. Whisk until combined.
    Add in the egg yolks and whisk until they are fully incorporated. Then whisk in the softened, almost melted, butter. 

    Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of flour you set aside earlier. Stir until all the flour has been moistened. It may seem thick, don't worry. Stir in the vegetable oil.

    Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to spread evenly around the pan.

    Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-22 minutes.

    Remove from oven and allow to cool, still in the pan, on a wire rack for 3 minutes. Flip out onto the wire rack and allow to finish cooling completely before icing.

**Note: We are adding the buttermilk mixture to the melted chocolate slowly to bring down the temperature of the chocolate without causing it to seize up. Since the temperatures between the two bowls vary by a considerable amount, it is necessary to find an equilibrium and to do so slowly. 

White Chocolate Butter Frosting
     adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook
        1 c. butter, softened
        8 oz white chocolate baking bars, melted and cooled
        3 c. confectioners' sugar
        3-4 Tbsp half & half
        splash of clear vanilla extract

    Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and white chocolate. Beat until creamed together. Add in about one cup of the confectioners' sugar and 1 Tbsp of creamer. On low, beat just until combined. Add in another cup of confectioners' sugar and another tablespoon of creamer. Beat on low just until combined. Add the last cup of confectioners' sugar and an additional tablespoon of half & half, as well as the splash of extract. Beat on low until the confectioners' sugar has been worked in. Turn speed up to high and beat until light and fluffy.
    Makes about 4 cups.

White Cake, sheet
        2 c. all-purpose flour
        3 tsp baking powder
        1/4 tsp baking soda
        1/2 tsp salt
        4 large egg whites
        1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
        1/3 c. shortening
        1/4 c. butter, softened
        1/3 c. half & half
        2/3 c. milk
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1/4 tsp almond extract
        1-2 Tbsp sprinkles

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan; set aside.
    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whisking on low speed until the whites start getting frothy. Increase speed to medium. After an additional couple minutes, increase speed another notch or two. You are aiming for the whites to form soft peaks when the beater is lifted. 
    Turn the speed to low and add in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar a little at a time. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase speed to high. Continue whisking for an additional couple of minutes. You are looking for stiff peaks when the whisk attachment is lifted. Set your clouds of fluffiness aside.
    Cream together the shortening and butter in the bowl of the stand mixer, this time fitted with the paddle attachment. Once the shortening and butter have become combined to form a creamy mixture, turn the mixer speed to low. 
    Add in the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Turn speed back up to medium and beat until creamy again. 
    Now it is time to add the flour mixture from earlier and the milk and half & half. Keep the mixer on low and add the flour and milk/half & half alternately. Make sure to begin and end with the flour mixture.
    After all of the flour mixture and milk/half & half have been combined, add in the two extracts. After the extracts have been beat in, mix in the sprinkles.
    Gently fold in one-third of the egg whites. Make sure that they are all incorporated before folding in the next third of egg whites. Repeat until all the whites have been folded in.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly around the pan.
    Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, still in the pan, on a wire rack.

Buttercream Frosting
        2 egg yolks
        1/2 c. butter, softened 
        2-3 Tbsp half & half
        5 c. confectioners' sugar, approx.
        splash clear vanilla extract

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briefly beat the egg yolks. Add in the butter and beat on medium speed until combined.
    On low, beat in about 1 cup at a time of the confectioners' sugar. After each addition, if it looks a little dry, add about a tablespoon of creamer. Don't forget to add the vanilla. 
    Once all of the confectioners' sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and beat for about 3 to 4 minutes. If the consistency is not where you'd like it to be, you can always add more confectioners' sugar.
    You are ready to ice!!


  1. Gorgeous cake!! Can never go wrong with chocolate

  2. The cake was delicious, and beautiful too!!

  3. That cake looks soooooo yummy! Nicely done

  4. That looks so pretty and the flavours are seriously divine. Belated happy birthday to Abby!

  5. Awesome Cake!!! You did a Marvelous job!!!!

  6. Thank you everyone! I really appreciate your comments!

  7. Happy Birthday Abby! Your cake is beautiful! What a lucky little girl


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