It's my birthday...
In case it is not painfully obvious already, I LOVE celebrating special occasions. And why not? Shouldn't we take time to have a little fun now and then? And when it comes to our birthdays, we should absolutely celebrate and value our lives. I can definitely say I have enjoyed my life to the fullest this last year, and I intend to do the same in the year to come. Oh sure, the year wasn't perfect, but neither am I. All I can ask for is to live a happy life, to do what I love, and to be surrounded by people that I cherish.
Oh, and to eat.
So in the interest of letting my perfectionist self have a little rest, put my feet up, and enjoy a slice of cake today, I am just going to be short and sweet here: I made an old-fashioned birthday cake and I loved it.
This is the type of cake that my mother might have made for me as a child, and I would have ended up with robin's egg blue icing all around my mouth as I ate it. Even though I am an adult now, this type of cake still has an undeniable appeal to me, and I predictably still ended up getting icing everywhere. (And I am not ashamed to admit it.) This cake is perfect in its simplicity, with basic white cake layers with pure vanilla flavor, and vanilla buttercream and icing that you can tint any color your heart desires. There are aren't really any major bells and whistles, with the exception of edible gold stars that I couldn't resist putting on the cake to add a little sparkle.
Maybe I made this cake because it is a throw-back to younger years, or because I just wanted something that felt like home. Who knows, but what I can say is that this cake was just plain fun, I felt all giddy just looking at it, and the taste was exactly what I wanted. So if that doesn't describe a perfect birthday cake, then I don't know what does.
Thanks for celebrating with me, and I hope when your birthday comes around that your cake makes you feel giddy too. Enjoy the photos!
Vanilla buttercream frosting, that I tinted robin's egg blue. Love this color.
And yes... It is the color of Tiffanys.
Adding buttercream frosting between the layers of white cake.
Smoothing out the sides for a crumb coat.
A thin layer of buttercream frosting before adding on the angel feather icing.
The finished cake after adding the shiny angel feather icing, and edible gold stars.
I like pretty things, so I decided I should have some flowers for my birthday too.
Cake after my friends and I had a slice...or two.
These edible gold stars from Wilton are SO much fun.
Isn't the best thing ever to lick the frosting off the bottom of birthday candles?
Old-Fashioned Birthday Cake
Inspired by Sweetapolita
I initially saw a cake similar to this one on Sweetapolita, and I was immediately obsessed with the idea of making an old-fashioned cake. I wavered between tinting the cake robin's egg blue or pale yellow, but I decided on the former and I am thrilled with the choice. To get that color, I used a combination of Americolor gel food coloring in Sky Blue and Turquoise, and I can tell you that if you get it right it will exactly match a Tiffanys box. ;) The taste and texture of the cakes is perfection, and my vanilla buttercream frosting is something that I can rely on being fantastic every time. For the angel feather frosting, I might skip it the next time around and just frost the entire cake with buttercream; it was a little hard to work with and maybe not worth the extra effort. To frost this entire cake in buttercream, double the recipe below.
Recipe for Snow White Vanilla Cake, from Food That Really Schmecks:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups ice water
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 egg whites, beaten until they hold stiff peaks (set aside while you make the batter)
Special equipment: 3 8-inch round cake pans, parchment paper cut into 8-inch rounds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare round cake pans by spraying with non-stick spray or greasing the pans; then place parchment round in the bottom of the pan and spray or grease that as well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. To make the cake batter, add the flour mixture and the ice water to the creamed butter, alternating between wet and dry ingredients and beating after each addition After everything is well mixed, add the vanilla and almond extracts, mix again to incorporate, and then fold in the beaten egg whites until the batter is smooth. Divide evenly between the prepared pans, smooth the top of the batter, and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely on cooling racks, then remove from the baking pans and discard the parchment. Cakes can be prepared ahead of time - kept well-wrapped they can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 1 week.
Recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter until smooth, then turn to low and add powdered sugar in two additions. Beat on low until incorporated, then beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth. (Sifting your powdered sugar ahead of time helps to get a smooth frosting.) Add the salt, vanilla extract, and milk, and beat until smooth again. If the frosting is thick enough for you, add any coloring you like; use immediately or refrigerate tightly sealed. To make the frosting thicker, add an additional 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar. To make the frosting thinner, add an additional 1-2 tbsp milk.
Recipe for Angel Feather Frosting, from Food that Really Schmecks:
I didn't quite realize it when I made this frosting, but it has a texture very similar to fluff, which is interesting because I was expecting it to be more fluff-y. Just be forewarned, that although it is extremely delicious, it is also tricky to work with.
2 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Combine all the ingredients except for the vanilla extract in the top of a double boiler over high heat. (I would be remiss if I didn't remind you not to let the top bowl touch the boiling water below. No one wants scrambled eggs in their frosting!) Use a hand mixer or beater immediately start whipping the eggs, and continue to do so until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract, and continue beating until it is cooler and thick enough to spread. (Mine became very thick.) Add coloring if you like, and use immediately to frost your cake.
To assemble cake: place one cake layer on a cardboard round or serving plate, add a layer of buttercream icing, then top with a second cake layer. Repeat for with the icing and the third cake layer. Then use the buttercream to add a thin crumb coat of frosting all over the cake, and smooth out the sides and top. This is done most easily using an offset spatula. Put the cake in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes, then use either the angel feather icing or a doubled batch of buttercream frosting to cover the rest of the cake. Decorate with edible gold stars or sprinkles if you prefer. If using the angel feather icing, it is best to frost the cake and serve it immediately. If using buttercream frosting, the frosted cake can be kept refrigerated and covered overnight.