One Frosting.Two Cakes.Three Babies.

It’s spring and the little robins in my backyard are hatching out of their sky-blue eggs. We find little pieces of shell on the lawn. Talk about natures’ porcelain.

Three of my sister-in-laws are also about to hatch some babies!
We are eagerly awaiting the arrivals of one girl, a one boy and a surprise in June. My boys are finally going to have some cousins on their father’s side and Baby Mateo, now a chubby-cheeked and smiling 10 lb bundle, is going to have some competition for the cuteness factor.

The girls are all due the same week in June-you’d almost think they got together and planned it eight months ago! (Hmmm, there was that family wedding back in late September…)

Anyway! Babies on the way means back-to-back baby showers and I managed to set aside the mountains of laundry for a while and put together two cakes for the events.

The first was a Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake (boy) for a mama who loves lemon. I sketched the little umbrella lady by hand and then cut her out of marzipan. She is hand painted using food coloring and totally edible. The cake is a basic white cake and layered with lemon curd and a fantastic lemon mascarpone frosting. (See the bottom of the post for the recipe for the frosting)
I wanted poke-a-dots on the cake and as time was an issue (nothing like a crying baby to hasten one along!) I just used candies called Rockets and pressed them into the frosting. Since they are all pastel colors, they worked quite well for a baby cake.

For the second cake, unfortunately I was even more pressed for time; however, I put my Rockets to good use again. My MIL made a white cake and I decorated it with Strawberry Buttercream ( that’s right, this one is the girl) and another pregnant lady out of rolled marzipan.

I have to credit the talented Melody of My Sweet and Saucy for the stencil template of the pregnant lady silhouette. To get the template for yourself or see her totally amazing baby shower cake, check out this post. This is the girl who should be doing your cakes, ladies, not me!

No recipe for this one…my strawberry buttercream separated ever-so-slightly (darn Martha!) so I wasn’t to happy with it. It was all smooth and sexy until I added the pureed jam…

However, here is a recipe you must try out soon. Don’t wait for an event like a new baby–this lemon mascarpone frosting would make a killer icing for cupcakes for any sort of occasion.

Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
24 oz mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups lemon curd

Beat whipping cream and sugar in a large bowl until peaks form.
Add mascarpone to lemon curd in a medium bowl; whisk until blended.
Fold whipped cream into lemon-mascarpone mixture and gently mix until combined.

Covers and fills a 9 inch layer cake.

P.S. OK, since this post is all about babies…

…here’s Mateo at 2 months old. I’m hoping he will be less picky than his brother and hopefully a foodie since his shirt says “I’d rather be eating foie gras at Toque!.” One can always hope.

P.S.2 On another personal note…Laura, you are far away and the third sister-in-law about to give birth. I love you and miss you and would give anything to make your baby shower cake…xxoo.

Cake and Coffee for Dad

Happy 65th Birthday to my Dad!

Today is the birthday of one of the very special men in my life: my dad, John.
Although he’s seems about a million miles away on the other side of the country, I made a cake for him anyway.

Whether self-appointed or elected, I was always the one in the family to make my dad’s birthday cakes when I was growing up. Usually they were ghastly creations, covered in garishly colored icings, but slowly improved over the years, thank goodness! Even though my siblings teased me about how some of the cakes looked, Dad alway made me feel like they were beautiful works of art.

This recipe for coffee cake became a favorite in our home as simply everyone in the family loves coffee (we kids all started drinking at the ripe old age of twelve) and my dad often requested it.
No subtle coffee flavoring in this moist cake! The basic white crumb is steeped in a strong coffee syrup and then layered with vanilla bean whipping cream.

Oh yeah.

I’ll save the really personal stuff for a phone call to my dad, but I will say that he has encouraged me in my cooking skills for as long as I can remember and next to my husband, is my biggest fan.

Thanks Dad, for all the support-not just in cooking, but in every area of my life.

I love you.

“Cake and Coffee” Cake

¾ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons milk

Coffee Syrup (see below)

Whipping Cream for garnish
1 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350F.Grease a 7 inch round cake pan and set aside.

Combine flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl.
With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in vanilla.
With a spatula, fold in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Combine gently.

Scrape batter into cake pan and level top with the spatula. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cake will be fairly dark on top and sides.
Cool five minutes in pan, then remove from pan and cool cake on a wire rack.While the cake is baking, prepare the coffee syrup.

When cool, slice cake horizontally so as to have two layers. Pour a little (1/4 cup) of the coffee syrup into the bottom of the 7-inch round cake pan and place the top layer of cake into it. Take another 7-inch cake pan and add some syrup to the bottom. Place the bottom layer of the cake into it. Pour more coffee syrup over both pieces of cake and place in the fridge to soak. Keep adding syrup to both layers as it is absorbed. Chill well.

Whip cream to stiff peaks and sweeten with sugar. Remove seeds from vanilla bean and fold into cream.
Place the bottom layer of the cake on a cake stand and cover with a layer of whipped cream. Place second layer of cake on top and cover whole cake with whipped cream. Chill well.Slice and serve with -what else- great coffee!

Coffee Syrup: boil two cups strong black coffee with 1/3 cup sugar. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool.

Noah Turns Two

My little one turned two today and I am still coming to terms with the fact that he is growing up. Although he proves to us everyday by accomplishing a new feat or sentence that he is no longer a baby, I still sometimes see that tiny bundle that we brought home two years ago when I look at him.
I wanted to do him an airplane cake as he is bananas over airplanes, and this is what I came up with. In case you can’t tell, it’s a little airplane flying in the clouds.

I made an apple spice cake, layered it with maple butter and iced it with cream cheese frosting.
I wasn’t happy with the overly-dense apple cake part, so I won’t post the recipe, but it was a nice combination of flavors.
And Noah ate it, which is what matters most.

Happy birthday, darling.