4 years blogging + one-and-a-half baby birthday ::::
I admit it. We made no effort to celebrate Sky-girl’s first birthday this summer. None. Judge me. That week involved keeping the kids busy and saying goodbye to many friends while getting organized to move across the country two days later. I just could not even get my ass in gear to buy cupcakes. And I figured, Sky-Girl really doesn’t care or know the difference anyway. Eat and I have a long history of shying away from any possibility of expected birthday bash celebrations for our kids when ages 1 or 2, the ages when overstimulation with balloons and new toys, raucous guests, and a sugar rush from cake and ice cream just puts the tot in a vile mood, with multiple melt downs anticipated, and a stomachache. This applies to the parents, too.
So what of a missed one-year-old birthday? I mentioned this to my sister and mother when visiting in Maine this summer, and my sister immediately went into action. She was working at a the wonderful Morning Glory Bakery in Bar Harbor, and ordered a lemon lavender cake. It was wonderful: full of lemon flavor without too overbearing a lavender note (translation: it didn’t taste like soap or smell like a bathroom). It’s also important to note that Sky-Girl wanted nothing to do with the cake. This reminds me of her brother at the same age, celebrating with a pear galette. It was a lovely, intimate party, Sky-Girl ready for bed soon after the cake was presented and candled (as I imagined).
My intentions were so whole, so pointed to redeem that birthday-not-birthday in our own household (Eat was not in Maine to celebrate) that I gallantly planned a birthday-and-a-half celebration recently. Not because I felt guilty. Not because anyone expected me to. Mostly because I wanted an excuse to make a fun, girly cake. And I’m sure that Peach and Grub would enjoy it more than anybody. I reviewed cake recipes, bought a cake pan, considered of the themes (Polka dot? Butterflies? Fondant with piping?).
Then I didn’t do it.
It was just before Christmas, this one-and-a-half birthday date. I couldn’t get organized before a holiday roadtrip to the grandparents’ house and couldn’t justify eating that much cake before we left. Could we have had cake for two of three meals? Probably, but not without a bellyache. Could I have brought leftovers to the nieces and nephews to easily devour within minutes of arrival? Probably. But there was at least one adult in the car that didn’t want more perishable clutter on the trip. (It wasn’t me.)
This inauguration finally bloomed in the form of collaboration. This cake is a late birthday-and-a-half as well as a four-years-blogging celebratory dessert. It’s a huge cake so I’ve got to pack a lot celebration into it. Even better: not only is it a creative outlet and excuse for sweets, it passes my cake snob test. It’s not too sweet. It’s light and doesn’t taste artificial. And I know it’s good since my friend Wendy has made it countless times with great success. It is one of the few cakes I will eat without reservation. And it’s green! We have a win!
Happy fourth year anniversary on the blog, me! Have I really been doing this that long? Don’t I say this every year? Thank you for reading, everyone.
And Happy Birthday, Sky-Girl, our baby. We have seen you learn so many things in a year and a half! You try to run and jump. You smirk with your funny pursed-up lips. You love giving goodnight kisses. You are often so patient with your siblings’ want for your attention. You talk more and more: “[S]top!” when Big Brother or Sister pick on you. “Cute!” when you imitate Big Sister talking about you. “Yah! Yah!” You agree to so many things that your siblings talk you into, like random dress up sessions and being dragged around like a doll. And the clearest: “Mommy.” Love and kisses, to my shadow.
One year ago: polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan
Two years ago: mulled cider with homemade spice sachet
Three years ago: cannellini bean, ricotta, chocolate torte
Four years ago: the first post! – debutante cake
- 1¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- scant ⅔ cup (5 ounces or 150 ml) coconut milk
- 8 egg yolks
- 10 egg whites
- 200 g granulated sugar, separated into 140 g (3/4 cup) and 60 g (scant ⅓ cup)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (see Notes below – this may be optional)
- 1 teaspoon pandan paste or extract (for cake)
- scant 1 pint heavy whipping cream (UPDATE: If you plan on swiping on frosting to cover the cake without fancy piping, 1 pint is enough. If you want to pipe roses or the like, you'll need about 4 cups of heavy whipping cream.)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
- A drop or two of pandan extract (for frosting)
- THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Sift flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a stand-up mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites, starting on slow speed until foamy then increase speed. Sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon of sugar (from the measured 60g) to stabilize the whites as they whip.* When egg whites are whisked to soft peaks, add the remaining 60g (scant ⅓ cup) sugar, and a pinch of salt (and cream of tartar, if using). Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Scoop whipped whites into another bowl and set aside. Using the same mixer bowl without washing it and attaching a paddle attachment, cream egg yolks and 140g (3/4 cup) sugar until mixture is creamy and thick.
- Add in sifted flour and baking powder, vanilla, coconut milk, oil, and pandan paste into the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
- Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Start by adding ⅓ of the egg whites into flour mixture, folding gently with a fold-and-bowl-turn method. Fold in the remaining ⅔ egg whites, folding and keeping the volume light.
- Once incorporated, pour into the UNGREASED chiffon cake pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
- When cake is baked, invert it immediately and cool down for at least 3 hours. I used a ramekin on which to balance the center of the cake pan. A wine bottle works. Check your inversion device BEFORE you start this recipe, lest you end up with something that won't fit or is too wobbly. Once cooled, use a knife to cut around the sides, then inch your fingers between the cake pan walls and cake to loosen underneath. If you tear the cake, who cares! Piece it back together and whip up some frosting. It will cover all the mistakes. You can wrap the unfrosted cake well and store for a day at room temperature without sacrificing the taste. I suspect freezing would also work, but you would need to bring the cake to room temperature before frosting and serving.
- THE FROSTING: Using the whisk, whip heavy cream until firm peaks form. Just before firm peaks form, sprinkle in sugar and mix. Drip in the pandan extract for a light green color and blend well.
- Now, get your cake stand and an offset spatula and frost that beauty. Take pictures. Eat multiple pieces. Eat it for breakfast. This cake with frosting keeps in the refrigerator a few days if gently wrapped with plastic wrap.