Tag Archives: birthday cake

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Regal Buttercream Icing

Y’all, we’re ’bout to have a royal wedding this weekend and that warrants the best cupcakes with THE BEST icing known to man.  Every celebration merits them.  I made these cupcakes years ago for my son, James’, school bake sales.  They were legendary and sold in a flash…for big bucks.  I’ve always been a cake person, scraping off the icing and pushing it to the side of my plate or peeling off the cupcake liner, turning the cake upside down in the liner thereby avoiding the usual sickeningly sweet and way too fluffy frosting.  Doesn’t matter the flavor, I don’t want it.  Unless it’s this icing.  Mercy!  This icing is thick, with  the ample and generous flavors of vanilla and butter it delivers just the perfect amount of sweetness.  I couldn’t stop swiping teaspoon after teaspoon from the bowl as I crowned each cupcake.  The cupcake, as well, is equally astounding.  It falls somewhere between the crumb of a layer cake and a pound cake.  The flavor is of unadulterated, flawless butter.  It is the quintessential bake sale,  afternoon snack, birthday or wedding cupcake.  And when Prince Harry and Ms. Meagan Markle wed early this Saturday morning,  my bff, Andrea, and I will be celebrating with hot cups of freshly brewed coffee and these little royal fairy cakes.  Best of wishes to all the brides out there!

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

  • Servings: 16 cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk, not reduced fat, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Line muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs enough to break them up but not enough to whisk in air bubbles.
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk to eggs and vanilla and stir until completely combined.  Set aside and reserve remaining milk for icing.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar and baking powder until completely combined.
  5. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix with an electric mixer until there are no large chunks of butter.
  6. Add 3/4 of the egg mixture to the butter-flour bowl and mix until just combined.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining egg mixture and beat on high for 1 minute.
  8. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool cupcakes in tin for 10 minutes, remove from tin and cool cupcakes on cooling rack.
  10. Allow cakes to cool completely before icing.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

TLA, True Love Always, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!

Royal Buttercream Icing

  • Servings: 16 generously iced cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 16-ounce bag confectioner’s sugar, SIFTED!
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk, if you made the above cupcakes you’ll have a tablespoon of milk remaining
  1. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, mix butter and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Add meringue powder to confectioner’s sugar and mix the sugar into the butter in 3-4 increments beating well in between each addition.
  3. Add the milk and mix well for 3-4 minutes or until the icing is fluffy.
  4. Ice completely cooled cupcakes.

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Comfort…2-layer Yellow Cake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

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Sometimes not even alcohol can touch my pain.  Last week a horrific late-night boating accident catapulted this town from sleepy, fun in the summer to the nightmare reality that life can sometimes bring.  All the kids on board are about 17 years old, rising seniors at St. Thomas Aquinas.  Several of the teens were critically injured and one boy, one sweet, sweet boy, lost his life.  As a mother I cannot even comprehend that level of grief.  Cannot.  I’ll attempt to post a link to the gofundme fund-raiser below.  When life hits me hard I bake.  Bread, cake, biscuit, doesn’t matter.  And, in the midst of all this, the family was getting together to celebrate my son James’ and my niece Meg’s birthdays at our house.  It was sort of last-minute due to everyone’s schedule.  Meg was preparing to go back to school and my sister, Pamela, was taking her.  Everyone had work of course and Meg’s little sister, Annie, was hostessing at a restaurant at night.   We were all somewhat overwhelmed and certainly shaken up knowing these kids and their families lives were changed forever.  I wanted the cousins to be together and aunts and uncles as well.  Side by side; as a family.  I hastily put together a menu and went about baking a cake.  I wanted something pretty but comforting.  Something that quietly murmured “security”.  No flourless, dark chocolate gateau with coffee beans and sparklers on top for this crowd.  At least not this August.  No, what we needed was something gentle and loving.  I decided on a classic vanilla yellow cake with fresh strawberries whipped into the cream cheese icing.  The recipe for the cake comes from a cookbook I bought years ago entitled “Mom’s Big Book of Baking” written by Lauren Chattman.  It received glowing reviews from Maida Heatter and Christopher Kimball.  The icing recipe is one that I made up and have been using for the longest.  I hope you’ll try this cake.  It’s a kiss and a hug and a prayer all wrapped up in pink love!

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Below is the link to help with the medical costs of the boaters.  I thank you for them.  And please keep in mind no amount is too little.  Every bit helps.

http://www.gofundme.com/zaxvw4qs

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Classic Yellow Layer Cake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: 2 9-inch round cakes or 16 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup, (2 sticks), unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Coat the insides of two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.  Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper and coat that with spray as well.  Dust the bottoms and sides of the pans with flour, knocking out any extra flour.  For cupcakes, coat the muffin tins with cooking spray and dust with flour, or line the muffins tins with paper liners.
  2. Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat lightly with a fork.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and, with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low-speed until the butter pieces are no larger than small peas.  (I used my hand mixer and the cakes came out great!)
  4. Pour in about 2/3 of the egg mixture and mix on low-speed until all the ingredients are moistened.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix on medium-high speed for 1 minute.  Stir in the remaining egg mixture on low-speed until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and mix on medium-high speed again for another 30 seconds.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake until the cake is light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes for the cupcakes and 25-30 minutes for the layer cake.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, then turn it right side up on the rack to cool completely.  The cakes will keep, wrapped up in plastic, at room temperature for up to one day or refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Frost as desired.
  6. If using the following strawberry icing, chill the cakes in the refrigerator 3 or 4 hours.  Overnight is ideal.

Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

yield: approximately 3 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup puree of fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  1. In a medium bowl beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the strawberry puree and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time and beat until smooth.
  4. Cover the first layer of chilled cake with several tablespoons of icing and spread a thin layer leaving a 1/4 inch border without icing around the outside diameter of the cake.
  5. Center the second cake layer and carefully place on top of the first layer.  Cover the entire top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of icing and place uncovered back in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.  Chill the remaining icing also.  A morning or afternoon is ideal.
  6. After chilling, ice the top of the cake then the sides.  Return to the refrigerator until serving.

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4 Layer Boston Cream Pie Cake…for Brother’s Birthday!

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Growing up in my house there were three March birthdays.  Mine came first, early on, thank goodness!  Better presents.  Mid-March is Cynthia’s then towards the end of the month came our precious baby brother, Tommy’s, birthday.  Good Lord, when that boy was born you’d have thought the Messiah moved in.  A boy. A BOY.  My parents had a huge navy pram for him, natch, and Mama would let Cynthia and me take him for walks around the neighborhood.  People, mostly women, would stop, lean waaaaay forward to look inside and exclaim, “Oh, she’s beautiful!  And look at those curls!”  Our little bodies at six and eight would stiffen with rage and indignation as we retorted as angrily as we could, given that we had to exhibit perfect manners at all times, “It’s a HE NOT a she and he’s our brother.”  We positively adored him.  We were completely captivated.  We wanted to feed him, bathe him, change any diaper…even the muddy ones.  A little over a year later our younger sister, Pamela, was born.  Tommy became Cynthia’s baby and Pamela became mine.  The four of us grew up extraordinarily close.  Although at times we fought like cats and dogs in the privacy of our home, in public we protected each other to the end and by whatever means.  We covered up for each other with our parents as well.  For example, no one tattled-taled on another sibling if one had been drinking or partying during school hours.  Heck, no!  All our lives we’ve kept an eye out for each other.  And still do to this day.  Whether I ask Tommy, “Which do you like best?  These sandals?  Or these?” or ask his advice regarding the color of paint I should use in my hallway, he helps me with the same intensity, only thinking of what’s best for me.   Early on he helped me with relationship problems and just recently counseled me with the utmost patience and thoughtfulness through the heartbreaking loss of a dear, 25 year friendship.  He’s not demonstrative in the least but a few sweet words, a fast reminder of our quirky, outlandish childhood is all we need to become grounded and back on track.  He gives so generously of himself.  And that’s all we want.  So this cake might just be the tee-tiniest bit late but instead of two layers I made it four.  In place of pudding in between the layers I made a wildly rich pastry cream with lots of vanilla bean.  And rather than finish it off with an everyday chocolate glaze I crowned this beauty with a ravishing, magnificent dark chocolate ganache.  Because he’s OUR brother!

 

Five years old at Happyland kindergarten. Sweet boy, sweet days!
Five years old at Happyland kindergarten. Sweet boy, sweet days!

Although this cake is definitely old school I thought I would crank it up by making my favorite vanilla cake but if you’re short on time or energy a boxed mix is just fine.  If you choose a boxed mix then a few simple additions will make it even more luscious.  In place of oil use butter.  Replace water with whole milk, add an extra whole egg, a teaspoon of good vanilla extract and continue to follow the directions on the box.  While the cake cools make the pastry cream.  I use this recipe from Epicurious by Chef Lou Jones.  I must say the directions state that the cream thickens in about 1 minute but it took mine roughly 5 or 6 minutes to thicken.  Other than that it was pretty much on target…I wanted to eat it out of the pot.  The perfume of the vanilla in the kitchen was absolutely heady and intoxicating.  I spread it in between the layers of cake then refrigerated it.  I covered it with the chocolate ganache the following day.  Uhhh,  sweet Jesus, but it was gorgeous.  I studded the top with fresh strawberries that had been given a shiny shellac job with the help of a small paintbrush and melted passion fruit jelly.   I’m so glad it turned out to be the perfect birthday cake!

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Boston Cream Pie Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pastry Cream:

yield: about 3 cups

  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Transfer the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.  Scrape in vanilla seeds from bean and add the pod.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar undisturbed sink to the bottom.  Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.
  3. Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture.  Return all to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly until pastry thickens, about 1 minute. (Took me a few more minutes but nbd.)
  4. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod and whisk cream until smooth.
  5. (At this point I covered 3 layers of cake each with 1 cup of cooled cream, assembled the cake stacking the layers leaving the top of the 4 layer cake bare but well covered with wax paper.)
  6. Transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface.  Chill until cold, about 4 hours.  Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on the surface, up to 3 days.

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Chocolate Ganache

yield: about 2 cups

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon liquor, such as orange flavored, Armagnac, brandy, rum
  1. Place chocolate in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Heat cream to just before boiling point.
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate bits in bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  4. If using, stir in liquor until completely incorporated.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over cake.  This works best on a chilled cake.

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If you are decorating the cake with berries wait to place them on the cake a few hours before serving it so the fruit stays fresh.  Heat up a bit of clear jelly in the microwave and with a small paint brush spread the liquid jelly on the bottom or cut side of the fruit.  The jelly will act as your “glue”.  Carefully paint the jelly on the top and sides of the fruit to give it a glossy finish.  If the heated jelly starts to thicken while you’re working with it, it can be warmed up again in the microwave.

Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing…omg!

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Next week is my older sister Cynthia’s birthday.  She was my first friend, my first confidante and my first co-conspirator.  She loved tennis and french, classical music and fashion.  She was the best big sister.  She watched out for me and was always there for me especially when I went through my “wild” stage.  She never judged and has unfailingly given me the best advice she could our whole lives together.  We share the early years in Puerto Rico before Tommy and Pamela were born.  We shared Crayola crayons while coloring and spent hours playing “little dolls”.  While in college the clouds of cigarette smoke billowing out of her bedroom were epic during our late night girl-talkathons.

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Here she is circa 1974 after a tennis match and cooling dip in the pool.  Slender, feminine and a helluva flirt she drove her college beaus mad.  Today we both have a passion for books and the sophisticated appointment of rooms.  Pearls thrill us beyond measure.  And she has a thing for lemon cakes (but she calls them “lemon kuchens”).  “Kuchen” being cake in German.  Every single time she comes home to Fort Lauderdale, which is three or four times a year, she’ll ask me, “How ’bout that lemon kuchen? and I always answer, “What about it?”.  I answer that way because I once baked her a lemon pound cake, from scratch, and ultimately she never had any because she never made time during that trip to come over to my house.  So no more lemon kuchen!  Until now.  I’ve been on a pound cake kick, not surprising when you see my girth.  I’m certain I’ve gained at  least 4 pounds since I started on this mission.  I craved… no, lusted after a dense, lemony-bright, tart and rich pound cake topped with a crown of smooth, creamy citrus icing.  As you can well imagine the development process has been a short visit to Dante’s fifth hell.  Not.  Also, here in South Florida, it’s key lime season and I would venture to say that here in this tropical end of the state, key lime cake comes in close right after key lime pie in popularity.

Creamy yellow is the shade you want in a key lime. In this case big is better. Look for limes the size of ping-pong balls.
Creamy yellow is the shade you want in a key lime. In this case big is better. Look for limes the size of ping-pong balls.
I participated in a one day travel writing class downtown and took these slices to suck up. It worked. It’s the miracle cake.

 

I was lucky enough to have a plethora of key limes given to me and have juiced and zested my fingers down to the bone.  Consequently long after the season is over I will have juice and zest safely tucked away in my freezer portioned out and labeled rendering me capable of baking great quantities of my new favorite pound cake.  This cake bakes up beautifully.  It would make an exquisite wedding cake, the icing decorated with the dramatic “pop” of fresh blackberries or raspberries.  On the other end of the “pretty” spectrum around the “practical” end James mentioned to me in passing me that for the past several days he has had a thick wedge for breakfast.  I’m telling you people, you cannot stay away from this cake.  It’ll sing out to you from the next room.  It’s the devil.  And if loving it is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  Yes, the cake is sweet, however the substantial addition of lime zest propels it to a new world of citrus wonder.  The crumb is heavy and dense, incredibly moist while at the same time smooth and somehow almost weightless.  The icing is a recipe in richness.  The cream cheese works in tandem with the lemon to make a “dolce-crostata”, or sweet-tart heaven in your mouth.  That being the case I look forward to having a key lime cake baked the next time Cynthia comes down for all of us to delight in and savor.  Happy, happy birthday, sweet sister.

Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: one 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

  •  4 sticks butter, that’s 1 pound, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk, (I always keep a good number of those small, 5 ounce cans in my pantry.)
  • 4 teaspoons key lime zest, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 300°.  Cover inside of 10 inch tube pan with non-stick spray.  My pan is 10  1/2″ and it’s just fine.  Set aside.
  2. Using a stand-up mixer or electric hand-held, beat the butter well until light in color and fluffy.  Add the sugar and again beat well for at least 5 minutes.  I use a stand up mixer and beat the mixture 10-15 minutes.  I don’t like a “grainy” cake.
  3. One at a time add the eggs and beat only until the yellow disappears.
  4. Stir juice, milk, zest and vanilla together.
  5. Now mixing by hand, gradually flour to the butter-egg mixture alternating with the key lime juice and milk mixture.  Begin and end with flour.  Mix well but just enough to incorporate all ingredients.  You don’t want a tough pound cake!
  6. Pour evenly into the tube pan and tap pan on the counter to loosen any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack for 20-25 minutes in the pan then transfer from pan to cooling rack and allow to cool another hour or until completely cool.

The cake is far better the following day or 2 days later.

Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Using a hand mixer beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well mixed.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat well until completely smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add key lime juice, zest and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Ice cake.

This makes quite a bit of icing.  After icing the entire  pound cake I fill the middle hole with the excess icing.  When the cake is served icing can be taken from the middle and dolloped along the side the slice of cake.

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