Happy September to you!
What are you busy rushing around doing now that the “school year” has begun? Are you continuing the same-old-same-old? Waving early morning goodbyes to your little scholars? Or cracking open the books? I’m feeling over the moon to be back at work teaching music to my kiddies again. Oh how I missed them! It’s been a gorgeous, adventurous summer, but I’m ready to say hello the real world work life. Do you ever get that same feeling too about returning to your job?
Whatever you are up to now that fall is on the horizon, I hope you have time to enjoy the last few weeks of the warmer season. Fall officially takes the stage September 22nd, so there is still time for those activities you were hoping to check off your list: — an ocean kayak? Beach bbq with your best buds? Hike the Lions? I bet September’s changing colours and brisk air will make your adventures all the more glamorous. Perhaps use it as an excuse to bundle into your long fuzzy woollens? :)
A couple weekends ago, I got together with some of my friends for one last garden BBQ hurrah. One of my girlfriends was on the move to greener pastures, so invited some buddies over for a goodbye party that included homemade burgers (one of the best I’ve ever had) and croquet (yes, our idea of fun!). I decided to make her a little going away gift, and what could be better for a BBQ bash than a scrumptious dessert to share? One of my girly’s favourite things in the world is her Jack Russell Terrier puppy, so I decided to make her… a puppy cake! That sounds so wrong.. to clarify, I wanted to make her a decadent yellow butter cake frosted with cocoa buttercream icing, all in the shape of a pup!
Martha Stewart has some great cut-out cake recipes ideas, so I decided to go with her Yellow Butter Cake recipe as a tried and tested route to bring my puppy to life. It worked wondrously! Here are some pictures of my process:
1. Bake cake in two buttered rectangular cake pans.
2. Pencil out a dog drawing on a piece of paper and trace/cut out body parts.
3. Cool cake. Place paper stencils on top of cake with enough space between each stencil .
4. Carefully assemble cake pieces into formation. Make adjustments as necessary to fit the puzzle together!
5. Begin icing cake with the base coat colour of your pup. My friend’s puppy was a cream colour, so I began with her body and saved some cocoa icing for her spots.
6. Glue legs/tail/body parts together with the buttercream.With time and care, the little creature will come to life!
Yellow Butter Cake
Yield: Two 9 by 13 inch cakes. Time: 1.5 hours.
1 cup unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 cups cake flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 3/4 cups sugar 4 large eggs 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/4 cup milk
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9 by 13 inch cake pans and butter, dust with flour. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. 3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition. 4. Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth top until flat! Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. 5. Scrape around sides of pans with a butter knife, and shake pans gently from side to side. Carefully invert cakes onto the cooling rack. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up. 6. Frost cake with buttercream frosting recipe below. Cakes can store up to 2 weeks in wrap and in sealed containers. Recipe credit: Martha Stewart.
Classic Buttercream Frosting
Yield: 2.5 cups.
1 cup unsalted butter 3-4 cups icing sugar sifted 1/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp vanilla extract 4 tbsp heavy cream *optional: 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes for garnish For brown spots: 2 tbsp cocoa
Directions:1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been blended into the butter into a creamy, fluffy form. 2. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time. 3. Divide icing into 2 separate bowls with 2/3 frosting in one bowl and 1/3 saved in the second. Mix 2 tbsp cocoa into the 1/3 portion or until you reach the colour of your preference. 4. Ice cake gently with a small spoon or knife. Try not to pick up crumbs from the cake. Here are some tips. *Hint: Garnish puppy cake with some coconut flakes to give your puppy a fluffy look! Recipe credit: Savory Sweet Life
And there you have it! I hope you enjoy making this cake yourself! It is fluffy, creamy and delicious in its traditional simplicity. This cake is so much fun and is a great way to bring a special meaning to a certain person’s big day be it a birthday, grad, wedding or going away party! Be creative :) My lady friend loved her gift and I can personally say seeing her smile on her big day made it worth the extra effort to bake this cake for her.
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead full to the brim with tasty food, some zen moments (I’ve just taken up yoga!) and.. a few smiles at strangers! (I dare you!)
PS: Here’s something that I bet will make YOU smile. I loved reading through this blogpost on these untranslatable foreign words, non-existent in the english language. Isn’t it touching to know across all cultures we all appreciate the simpler beauties in life? ( If only we had the ability to be more articulate, like the Japanese with their word “komorebi”: the way sunlight looks when it filters through the trees.)