citrus cake

Hello!

A month. I know. A whole entire month, basically, between posts.

Here’s where I’ve been:

– Learning the work-life balance (it’s not easy!)

– Gradually turning my new place into a home

– On vacation for a week/in a wedding!

– Surviving a break-in…

To get it out of the way, yes, my house was broken into. My bedroom, more specifically. It’s unsettling and gross and sad (I haven’t been sleeping very well ever since), but I’m honestly super bummed about what they took—- my bike!

I had just shipped my bicycle down to D.C. and I was really enjoying having it for commuting, exercise and fun. (So if anyone knows anyone selling a women’s bike on the cheap, let me know. Desperate to replace mine!)

Onto happier things: my cousin Erica was married a few weekends ago, and I was lucky enough to be a part of her big day! It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and – of course- bride. Congratulations, Erica and Aaron!

I was trying to think about what both tied into a “sorry I’ve been gone so long” and a wedding and the answer was obvious- cake.

I lifted the idea for this cake from Apollinas, who does perhaps the coolest blog concept I’ve ever heard of – lifts patterns and inspiration from the runways and re-creates them in baked good form. Amazing.

cakes

So the first thing I did was make my favorite yellow cake recipe. It’s from Martha, and I’ve used it before, most notably in my Super Bowl cakes. This time, I made two 9-inch rounds.

When they cooled, I spread lemon curd (my favorite!) in the middle as filling. I didn’t make my own lemon curd, but it’s easy enough to do.

lemon curd

Next up was a lemon buttercream. I put a crumb coat on, and then swirled the whooole lot of it over the cake. Here’s a little secret about me: I prefer the frosting to the cake. So when there’s a solid inch – or more – of frosting on a baked good, I’m a happy camper.

frosting

Lastly, I used thinly sliced citrus fruits  (still loving my mandolin) to decorate the top. It looked adorable – though not as good as Apollinas’ – and was a big, big hit.)

cake2

Frosting:

Lemon buttercream frosting

2 cups of unsalted butter, softened

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (I like my frosting to taste very lemon-y. If you don’t want this, adjust accordingly.)
* Milk or heavy cream, optional
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Gradually and slowly mix in the lemon zest and juice.

celebration cake

Wow, it’s been a long time.

I took a week off and went home. And tried to go off the grid while I was there. And then, I returned to the District and moved into a new place and started a three week training period and then bam!, before I knew it, my senior year started this week!

Back to classes and papers and readings and holy cow, I’m done after this year. That’s mildly terrifying and I’m in total denial.

But the good news is that people are back in the District! And with that comes birthdays and celebration cakes. The beautiful design editor for The Hatchet (and a good friend of mine) had her birthday on a production night, so I made a cake for the staff to eat.

I started with heading to Paper Source and buying some of my favorite silver paper and then stealing some coffee stirrers from Starbucks to make these toppers:

Super cheap! Super easy! And really cute.

I went with basic chocolate for the cake, which I mixed up according to this recipe.

(Thanks, Martha. My go-to.)

Then I mixed up my absolute favorite quick buttercream frosting recipe.

It’s delicious, and super easy. You can make it with a stand mixer and the key is to beat it on high for an extended period of time so it becomes light, fluffy and airy- like whipped cream frosting, but tastes like buttercream.

I’ll put the recipe at the end of the post, but warning: the amount of butter in this frosting is not for the faint of heart. Or the healthy eaters.

Or, my mother.

Proceed with caution.

What you might not be able to tell is that the frosting is tinged slightly pink. My camera isn’t the best, so it’s not super obvious.

But it was a pale pink, which looked great with the silver toppers.

And there you have it— celebration cake! Simply, easy and beautiful. And delicious- I think it all got eaten.

Happy back to school, happy new room (I’ll get pictures up soon) and happy birthday! Speaking of which, mine is in a month 🙂

Buttercream frosting

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened

2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract
* Milk or heavy cream, optional
* Food coloring, optional
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Beat in food coloring a little at a time until the desired color is achieved.

*Note: If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.

Also: I doubled the recipe for the above cake.

staking my kitchen claim

There’s something about moving into a new place that, after the dust has settled, the boxes have been unpacked and personal belongings arranged just so, is inherently exciting.

I’ve felt that small thrill every time I’ve move in somewhere new- dorm room to dorm room to dorm room and now, in my first apartment.

It’s a studio. The walls are really thin, the light in the kitchen only works every other day, the water isn’t always hot, and it’s only mine until August, at which point I’ll cease subletting and move back into a dorm. But it’s mine, and I like coming home at the end of the day to a space that feels like me.

It also has a kitchen with a dishwasher. That’s a whole new world of amazing for me, and one that prompted a serious cooking and baking explosion. Incidentally, you can see the things I’ve created in the kitchen on my Pinterest board!

Things I’ve made so far this summer:

Chocolate peanut butter banana bread- unsurprisingly, I was more interested in the chocolate and PB than the banana.

Zucchini-parmesean cakes and salad with cherries and goat cheese.

Peach cupcakes with peach buttercream frosting. The manpower and sheer strength of will it took to make these cannot be overstated.

Strawberry-raspberry rhubarb crumble.

Chocolate PB cookies with oreo chunks and chocolate chips

And lest I forget my real home: Massachusetts cookies.