I feel the need to keep apologizing for my sub-par photos, but probably should come to terms with the fact that this is how it's going to be for a little while. Baby Mateo is now a laughing 16 lb, 4 month-old who Must. Be. Held. and so I usually end up shooting with him on one hip. Also Noah, who is almost 3 now, and thinks it's great fun to traverse the kitchen at top speed and slam into my knees right when I have the perfect shot. YOU try holding a camera steady! Sigh. So for the last time, sorry for the lack of inspiring photographs. Check out the super talented Aran's photography on Cannelle et Vanille if you really want to see some gorgeous stuff.
Now, onto the cake.
We love babies around here and in the last few weeks were thrilled to welcome Angelique, Jesse and Owen to our extended family. I wasn't kidding when I said that three of my sisters-in-law were pregnant! Congratulations to the proud parents and best wishes for the new chapters in your lives ahead.
This cake was for a friend of mine and first-time mama, Valerie, who is due in just a few weeks, but I have to admit, it was a trial run for the wedding cake I am doing this weekend. I wanted to see if I could cover an 11-inch cake with rolled fondant and actually succeed, not like this disaster!
It came out OK and was lots of fun to do, even if it involved waking up at 6:30 am to decorate so as to be ready for a 9:30 AM brunch baby shower. Who does that??
I was unsure of how else to decorate the cake, as I was still a little bleary eyed, but after my morning coffee kicked in, and with time ticking on--oh look, I haven't done my hair yet, either-- I decided poke-a-dots would be cute and easy.
So I rolled out more fondant and used the small end of an antique piping tip (size 12) to cut perfect circles. Again, improvisation is key at all times! By this time the fondant was sweating ever so slightly, and all that was required to fix the poke-a-dots to the side of the cake was a gentle push of the thumb.
I used two really reliable recipes for this cake: a buttermilk cake for the top and chocolate for the bottom; that way everyone gets a sliver of each so you never have to decide what flavor you want. Who can make these kinds of decisions before noon anyway?
Email me if you have any questions about quantities.
Buttermilk Vanilla Cake (adapted from Demolition Desserts)
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the salt after sifting and set aside. Measure out the buttermilk and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and the sugar using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, letting the eggs beat for 1 minute in between additions. Scrape down the bowl in between additions.
3. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients. Start by adding one third of the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate. Add half of the buttermilk. Add another one third of the flour mixture. Mix to incorporate. Add the last half of buttermilk, followed by the last third of flour.
4. Pour into two buttered 7-inch round cake pans or one 9x13 pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
One Bowl Chocolate Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among pans. (If I have any extra batter I like to make a few mini cupcakes.) Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed.
Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.