food and family in salt lake city

Happy Birthday Cake!

Somebody turned one last week, and I am still in shock.

The first taste of birthday cake is an important one. I wanted Zoe to have something simple and delicious. She loves strawberries, and I thought Fresh Strawberry Buttercream and a simple vanilla cake would go nicely. It turned out perfect.

Vanilla Cake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

I didn’t expect to get emotional while making my daughter’s first birthday cake.  It started when I was at my mother’s house in Arizona. I was excited because I got to use all her kitchen gadgets and her fancy double oven. I pulled out her Kitchen Aid mixer that had once belonged to my Grandma. I began creaming the butter, and my mind wandered to my Grandma. She passed away almost 13 years ago on the night of my High School graduation. I miss her. She was a round lovable woman with a great big deep laugh, and always a nice firm hug. She made all sorts of goodies with that very same mixer.

Once the the cakes were baked, I went to pull them out of the oven when I noticed the pot holders. They were knitted with bright orange, red, and brown yarn. They looked as though they were straight out of the seventies. My Great Grandmother, Zoe’s Great Great Grandmother, knitted those potholders years ago before she passed away. Many of us were given a set to use and remember her by. The ones I have at home are the bright green seventies version.

When I started layering the cakes on my mother’s cake platter, I felt as though this cake was in a way, from all the women in Zoe’s life. Not only from me, but her Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers, Great Great Grandmothers, and all her Aunties. I feel that Zoe already has so much love and support from all these different, beautiful, and strong women. As a mother, this support for my daughter overwhelms me with emotion, the emotion of love. For my daughter’s 1st Birthday Cake the main ingredient was love.

My main ingredient.

{scroll down for bonus pictures}

The Whiteout Cake

(as printed in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, via Sweetapolita)       

Yield: 1 three layer (8-inch) cake

For the white cake layers

2 1/2 cups of cake flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I used Vanilla Bean Paste, you can find it at Williams-Sonoma)

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups ice cold water

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the over the 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Strawberry Buttercream

(from Confessions of a Tart)

2 sticks (16 tbsp) of butter, room temperature
1 cup strawberries, pureed (I measured out the strawberries first and then pureed them)
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter in the mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. On slow speed, gradually add about 2 cups of powdered sugar and turn back up to high for a few minutes to really incorporate the sugar. Turn to slow speed again and fold in the strawberries. Add more sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn to medium-high for a few minutes to mix well.

Note: We had a big crowd, so I made the three layer cake and then halved the cake recipe and made 2 dozen cupcakes too. I also doubled the Strawberry Buttercream and had more than enough frosting for the three layer cake and 24 cupcakes.

Princess Zoe

Zoe and her Great Grandma

Zoe, Grandma, Me

Zoe's Aunties and Me

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Comments on: "Happy Birthday Cake!" (13)

  1. I love this post! From the mixer story to the smile on zoe’s face in the picture with you mom. She is looking more grown up everyday, maybe it’s the cute dresses.

    • Thanks Katie. This post took me a little longer than normal but I really like it as well. I do think all the dresses make Zoe more grown up. I also think the headbands help too.

  2. Wow what a yummy looking birthday cake! I can’t believe she is 1 already!
    Grandma is sure looking old and frail these days.
    I also have a pair of pot holders. Mine are raspberry pink!

  3. susy manninh said:

    fIRST OF ALL, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT SUSY MANNINH IS ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE MANNING:)
    BUT MOST IMPORTANT, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT THIS PARTICULAR POST GOT ME TEARY EYED AND CHOKED UP, CUZ IT IS ALL TRUE, EVERYTHING MY SWEET DAUGHTER HAS WRITTEN. ALLLLLLLLLL THE MEMORIES, ALL OUR LOVED ONES, MOMS, DAUGHTERS, SISTERS, AUNTS, FOOD….AND THIS CAKE MIND YOU, WE COULD NOT NOT STOP EATING, IT WAS SO FRESH AND MOIST AND TASTY, I GAINED MOOLA POUNDS, WHICH I AM NOW WORKING OFF….BUT SO WORTH IT! MISS YOU ALICIA, KEEP THOSE POSTS COMING! MA

  4. Aunt Susan said:

    Man, you know how to make people go teary! I love the look and imagined taste of that cake. It seems like yesterday that Zoe was getting her first photo shoot. I am so jealous you got to have her party there in AZ with all the family. What a doll Zoe is and what a talented Mom she has.

  5. I LOVED this post — and, like all the previous comments, it made me a little teary. Sorry that I missed Zoe’s big day but thanks for sharing the photos and the fabulous-looking cake. She’s a lucky little girl…love you all. Mimi

  6. stephanie said:

    I can’t beleive the zo-zo is 1. She looks so big. I am glad that you guys had a great time in AZ, but sad to have missed out on that cake. John will be two soon, do you think he wants strawberry buttercream???

  7. I want to try the cake. Yummylicous! I also have the sweetest, cutest cousins and auntie in the world. My life has certainly been enriched by all of these little ladies. Cousin thanks for letting us stay with you the other week. We had a great time! Love you.

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