Around six months before my son Miles was born, I started to get deeply interested in good food. I had always loved food, but I was never really great at cooking or baking. I had long decided before Miles was born that I wanted to raise my kids on good tasting, healthy food. I knew I had to get working on my cooking skills. I’ve since come a long way after almost a year and a half of practice. I make a habit of cooking at least two new meals a week. I can even say I’ve now poached an egg (not that I can say I’m good at it).
Now that I feel a little bit more comfortable in the kitchen, I decided that I was going to make the cakes (yes that’s plural: a smash cake, a vanilla, and a chocolate cake), appetizers, and side dishes for Miles’ first birthday. We’ll be ordering pizza from one of our favorite local restaurants, Galactic Pizza. This post focuses on my attempts to make Miles’ birthday cake. The cake ended up taking me several attempts before I got everything right. I whipped the egg whites four times (stiff peaks are the devil — but I now have it down). I baked the cake twice because the first time I ran out of parchment paper and by the time I got them in the oven, the egg whites had gone flat. Although I’m not going lie and say it wasn’t frustrated, I am happy to say it helped me master baking a traditional white birthday cake!
The basic recipe for the cake came from Food That Really Schmecks which I discovered from Cilantropist who got the inspiration from Sweetpolita. The cloud frosting came from grandmother and I am unfortunately uncertain of the source.
I was immediately smitten with the idea of making a traditional white birthday cake. I am personally not a huge fan of buttercream unless it is a meringue buttercream. The cloud frosting is a perfect alternative to buttercream without all the fussiness of meringue.
(3) 8-inch round cake pans
offset spatula (optional but helpful)
parchment paper cut into 8-inch circles
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 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups ice water
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg whites, beaten until they hold stiff peaks
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare round cake pans by greasing the pans, placing parchment rounds in the bottom each the pan and then greasing the top of the parchment paper.
(2) Separate the egg whites from the yolk and allow them to sit out on the counter covered for no more than thirty minutes.
(3) Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients (ice water, vanilla, and almond extracts) to the creamed butter and sugar. Be sure to beat thoroughly after each addition. Set the bake batter aside while you make the egg whites.
(4) Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, being careful not to overbeat. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter until it is just combined.
(5) Divide the batter evenly between the greased pans. I poured approximately 2-3 cups of batter into each pan. Don’t be alarmed at how little batter is in the pans. The cake will rise. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely before frosting the cake.
Baker’s Note: I prepared my cake the day before and frosted the cake the day of the event. After the cakes had cooled completely, I wrapped them tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight. Chilled cake is easier to frost as the crumbs are less likely to flake off while you frost.
Cloud Frosting, from my Grandmother (original source unknown)
1 cup and two tablespoons of sugar
3 large egg whites
¼ cup of water
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
a pinch of salt
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 drops of Turquoise Americolor Gel
1 drop of Sky Blue Americolor Gel
1. In a saucepan, bring a small amount of water to a simmer. Set a large stainless-steel bowl over the simmering water and combine the sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar and salt. Beat the egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer until the frosting holds stiff peaks and registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Remove the bowl from atop the simmering water and continue to beat the frosting until it has cooled, swells, and becomes cloud-like, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and food coloring gel and beat until just combined.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE:
Position the first cake layer onto a cake stand or serving plate. Using an offset spatula, add a ½ inch layer of cloud frosting and top with the second cake layer. Add a ½ inch layer of cloud frosting and top with the third cake layer. Frost the entire cake with the remainder of the cloud frosting.
Note: I’ve noticed that if the cloud frosting is properly brought up to 150 degrees, it will keep longer. It is recommended that you use the frosting immediately. However, we were able to continue eating cake for 2 days. After 2 days, the frosting began to shrink and bubble.
My next post will focus on making Miles’ smash cake!
whenever i can find time in between miles’ naps, i make him batches of baby food. this morning i tackled an organic baked peach puree. i’ve found that even with organic fruits and vegetables, making baby food is still cheaper than purchasing baby food pre-made.
there are a lot of ways to cook peaches for baby food, but i find that the best flavor is produced from baked peaches.
here’s what you’ll need for making baby food:
food processor or blender
ice cube trays or other baby food trays such as the beaba multiportion freezer trays
preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. wash the fruit. i’ve used organic peaches because i had recently read that organic peaches are on the dirty dozen list of fruits/vegetables with the most pesticide residue. cut each peach in half by running a paring knife from the stem to the base and back up to the stem again. take ahold of each side and twist the sides in opposite directions. one side of the peach should come out clean. the other side should have a pit. carefully cut out the pit.
place open sides down on a baking sheet filled with 1/2 to an inch of water. bake at 425 degrees fahrenheit for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the peaches are soft and tender. remove the peaches from the pan and let them cool to the touch. reserve any left over water for thinning out the puree. once the peaches are cooled, peel the skin from fruit. (note: the skin may be left on your baked peaches if your child is 8+ months old). place the peaches into a food processor or blender and puree the peaches. if necessary, add the reserved water to the puree. this will help create a smooth, thin puree.
pour the puree into ice cube trays. i used the beaba multiportion freezer trays. let the purees cool on the counter before putting them into the freezer. this will keep the puree from warming up any other foods in the freezer.
once the purees are frozen, remove them from the trays and put them in freezer bags. label the bags with the name of the puree and date it was frozen. i used labels from martha stewart that i printed onto laserprint sticker paper.
ORGANIC BAKED PEACH BABY FOOD
1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
2. wash the fruit.
3. cut each peach in half by running a paring knife from the stem to the base and back up to the stem again. take ahold of each side and twist the sides in opposite direction. one side of the peach should come out clean. the other side should have a pit. carefully cut out the pit.
4. place open sides down on a baking sheet filled with 1/2 to an inch of water.
5. bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for approximately 15-20 minutes until the peaches are soft and tender.
6. remove the peaches from the pan and let them cool to the touch. reserve any left over water for thinning out the puree.
7. once the peaches are cooled, peel the skin from fruit. (note: the skin may be left on your baked peaches if your child is 8+ months old)
8. place the peaches into a food processor or blender and puree the peaches.
9. if necessary, add the reserved water to the puree. this will help create a smooth, thin puree.
10. pour the puree into ice cube trays or other baby food tray.
11. let the purees cool on the counter before putting them into the freezer. this will keep the puree from warming up any other foods in the freezer.
12. once the purees are frozen, remove them from the trays and put them in freezer bags.
13. label the bags with the name of the puree and date it was frozen.
I blogged for years prior to starting buttonpom. After my business grew beyond my means, I barely had time to come up for air and so blogging took a backseat. Then, I had my son Miles and I took a year long break from buttonpom as well. I am now ready to get back into things, including starting a blog. Since he has been almost my entire life for the past 8.5 months, I thought a sweet little post about his nursery would be a great start to this blog.
Prior to giving birth to my petite gnome, the nursery was my old office. Although I never ended up taking photos of it completely decorated, I do have photos of its bare bones.
I realized after becoming pregnant that buttonpom would probably be placed on hold for a year or so while I focus on our new family. I have since come to terms with the short-term abandonment, and I believe it will be a constructive separation. I was becoming a little jaded and began to not enjoy the process anymore. So, my husband and I boxed up my “creative life” and it now sits in our attic.
Although I had fully intended on finishing my new space before my chouffe was born, he arrived two weeks earlier than we had expected. My to-do list has been uncompleted for eight months. I have new priorities and all appear to focus on my son Miles. I am content with that outcome, though, and it brings me back to the nursery. I now have time to focus on crafting new things for myself, or more specifically, Miles! I have slowly been piecing his nursery together as I never had the chance to complete it before he was born. I originally had the Dwell Studio Hippo pattern decorating his nursery but it felt too monotone for my tastes. Of course, we are still going to rotate this bedding in his nursery but I did not want to focus the decorating all on this theme. So, I decided create a new inspiration board.
Changing Pad/Sheets :: Dwell Studio Skyline
Bumper Pad (handmade by me) :: Fabric – Zen Garden by Patty Young Sanctuary
Ottoman Pouff (handmade by me) :: Pattern – By Pickles
Chair :: Baxton Studio Letterio White Cradle Rocking Chair
My progress has been sluggish but it is coming together little by little. The next few posts will focus on how I pull it all together. So, bear with this mama!
I imagine I am going to enjoy my return to blogging and I hope I can reconnect with all of those that I had lost touch with over the years.