With my middle child’s birthday on December 20 and my youngest on the 26th I make more cake this time of year than the rest of the year combined. It just so happens that I was also asked to make cupcakes for a bridal shower coming up in January as well, so we’ll add those to this month-long cake-baking extravaganza.
While I’ve truly been up to my eyeballs in cake flour and buttercream, family events like birthdays and Christmas are also the times I try my very best to step back and to just simply be a mom and not so much a food blogger.
I don’t ever want my kids to wonder if I’m working hard at decorating their cake or taking pictures of every moment on their birthday for just another blog post and not because they’re that gosh darn special to me and totally worth it.
Does that make sense?
That’s just me and something I’ve come to value as I’ve grown and evolved as a food blogger. I am 100% not passing judgment on other food bloggers who can be fully present during special family moments and turn them into blog posts as well; I’m simply saying that I’ve found, from experience, that I am not particularly good at doing that. I’ve found it makes me more stressed and less present when I’m trying to be everything all at once. I lose out. My family loses out. But, we can talk more about the ways in which this amazing profession called food blogging shapes life and boundaries in another post on another day.
All this is to say that there are some pretty great cake and frosting recipes that have become my go-to recipes, that for the reasons I mentioned above, never seem to make it onto the blog. So, I’m going to tell you about some of them, post some Instagram photos of them, and give you the links to the recipes so you can go and try them yourself. Sound good? Good!
First, I made dozens of these mini yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my kids’ classrooms in honor of both of their December birthdays. For the cupcakes, I used this recipe from Simply Scratch. I’m a fan of Laurie’s and I visit her blog often, so if you haven’t checked her out yet, please do. You’ll love her. The cake is light and airy, yet rich and buttery in flavor at the same time, and not too sweet. For the frosting, I used the chocolate frosting recipe attached to this famous Ina Garten cake (more on this recipe later in the post). It’s to die for. I’ve used this frosting recipe several times in the past and I just keep coming back to it.
My middle son asked for a “banana cake” this year, because he adores bananas. However, I was convinced that an old-fashioned banana cake with walnuts and cream cheese frosting wasn’t what my soon-to-be 9-year-old really had in mind. What I envisioned, instead, was a Banana Cream Pie in cake form. So, I invented something along those lines. I made an awesome yellow layer cake using this recipe from The Kitchn. I will definitely be making this one again. It’s simple and basic, using very common pantry ingredients, and produces a tasty, reliable yellow cake. I filled the cake with vanilla pastry cream and layers of ripe banana (with a little lemon juice to prevent browning) and topped the cake with a stiff whipped cream frosting. Voila! Banana Cream Pie Cake. It was a hit.
Finally, for my daughter’s 6th birthday, she requested a chocolate cake. My go-to chocolate layer cake is Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. Always. It’s moist and rich, and in my mind, the perfect chocolate cake. I always make it just exactly as written, except this time, I used cake flour instead of all-purpose. I’ve made it both ways and it turns out fabulously either way.
Then, to frost my daughter’s cake, I used the rose technique by my incredibly talented blogging pal, Amanda, over at I Am Baker. If you haven’t met Amanda or visited her blog yet, you need to. You’ll be in awe of her skills and drooling over her sweet treats. And, she’s just a treasure of a person. I selected two of my daughter’s favorite colors for the buttercream – turquoise and lavender- paired with clean, wintery white (a color combo recently made very popular by the movie Frozen).
That’s it, my friends, the cake-baking extravaganza that has been my life these past couple weeks.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year!