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Happy Birthday Huck!

30 Aug

Oh-my-goodness was this a fun cake to make!  A cake to celebrate the 3rd birthday of one of Bella’s very best friends in the This kid loves dinosaurs.  I mean loves them.  The theme was a no brainer.

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Coconut Cake

28 Aug

So, I guess I took the summer off blogging.  I didn’t really intend to, it just kind of happened.  Between being back at work, figuring out Bella’s daycare routine and spending every unplanned moment outside soaking up the summer I have ignored this space.  And I miss it.  So this is me, dipping my toe back in the water of the blogging world.  I am officially the baker of an adorable local restaurant around the corner from my house. I am churning out Southern influenced layer cakes, seasonal pies, cobblers and dozens and dozens of biscuits to hungry Philadelphians a few days a week.  Cakes like this one.   Coconut layer cake, each layer soaked with coconut water with coconut caramel and coconut moussline buttercream.  This particular cake was made for my little family.  The sweet bite to finish up lazy Sunday supper outside.

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Berry Picking at Johnson’s Farm

26 Jun

A few weeks ago Martin, Bella and I drove 45 minutes outside of the city to pick strawberries.  After years of failing to get my act together in time, I managed to get the family out to Johnson’s Farm in New Jersey on the last saturday of the strawberry picking season.  Johnson’s Farm was also picking snap peas, cherries and early season peaches and blueberries.  We picked a bit of everything, but really focused on the strawberries. Martin and I positioned ourselves on separate rows, a few hundred feet apart. Isabella ran between us. Ferrying empty containers to me and carefully taking my full containers back to Martin. We ended up with hundreds of tiny, deep red, jewel- like berries.  The kind of fruit that you take a bite, your eyes widen at the intensity of flavor, deep red juice dribbles down your chin and silently you reach for another, and another.

Once home I set out to make jam from our strawberries.  I envisioned opening a jar sometime near the end of the year, when berries are few and far between, perhaps snow would be gently piling up on my window sill and with one taste I would be instantly  transported to early summer.  The end result wasn’t exactly what I had hoped.  Anyone who has preserved anything knows that there is a delicate balance that much be reached to both preserve flavors and freshness and create the desired consistency in your end product.  Jams and jellies rely heavily on the dance between sugar, pectin and fruit.  Too much sugar and you mask the flavor of the fruit, too little and you don’t have jam, but a sauce or compote.   There was so much sugar in test batch that I couldn’t taste the beauty of the berries.  I knew I was playing with fire but I didn’t just pick pounds of beautiful berries to make a sugary spread devoid of the experience of eating the berries fresh from the farm.  I reduced the sugar.   It didn’t set.   However it was incredibly delicious, transportive even, so I froze my strawberry sauce.  I will spin it into vanilla ice-cream, spoon over yogurt in the morning, pool under wedges of cheesecake and  spread it  in-between cake layers.  I did a bunch of reading about jams and jellies after putting my jars in the freezer (maybe I will do this beforehand next time) and learned that there is a pectin on the market made specifically for low sugar recipes.  Let’s see if I remember that for the next time I decide to make some jam.

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Angela’s Birthday Cake

24 Jun

Everyone should have a birthday cake, especially friends as wonderful as Angie. I have been obsessed with ombré cakes for a while now.   I played with the effect on Nancy’s cake, but I have been wanting to do a simple, modern version.  Angie’s birthday was the perfect occasion.

As luck would have it, baking Angie’s cake coincided with the end of strawberry season.   On the last day of the season Martin, Bella and I spent a morning at Johnson’s Farm picking hundreds of jewel-like berries, and sugar snap peas and early cherries and peaches.   Some of the strawberries ended up in this cake along with some of the last rhubarb of the season.

Vanilla Cake, vanilla buttercream and strawberry rhubarb compote – the same combination I used in my own birthday cake.   Happy Birthday Angie!

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Happy Birthday Liam!

4 Jun

Liam’s 2nd Birthday Cake:  2 layers of vanilla cake, one layer of strawberry cake, vanilla buttercream with fondant.

Happy Birthday Liam!

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Ashley’s Baby Shower Cake

20 May

Nancy’s daughter and Leo’s aunt Ashley is expecting a little one this summer.  This cake has a lot of firsts: my first stacked cake, my first time making fondant flowers, my first fondant covered Rice Krispie treat figures.  The cake is based loosely on the nursery bedding – a charming quilted pattern of owls and trees and flowers and polka dots.

Three tiers of strawberry cake with cream cheese buttercream.  All of the decorations are fondant.  Congratulations Ashley!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

10 May

My birthday was almost a month ago.   30 days to celebrate turning 30.  Every weekend for the past 4 weeks or so has had a portion of a day dedicated to celebrating with different friends and family, in Cayman and here in Philadelphia.  Dinners, balloons and champagne.  A gloriously massive chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache, cookies, lemon cake and more.

To cap off the birthday month I made a cake of my own. A cake to celebrate my birthday, a day I share with Joey Lawrence and my dear friend Drea.    Drea and I share a great many things: a birthday, a middle name and a love of Terry Gross to name a few.  Drea loves fruit in her desserts, I love a layer cake.  We both love Mexican dresses – our 2012 birthday cake was born.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Mousseline Buttercream and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

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