A Merry Little Christmas

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Lukas, me, Ben & Anna

Seasons greetings! Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a safe passage into the new year. We enjoyed ourselves today at home opening gifts and then spending some time with Thomas’ family this afternoon. We are looking forward to the new year and some birthdays coming up in early January. I’ll be back again after the new year with some more pictures and posts hopefully. Until then be well and enjoy the holiday season!
~ Laura, Thomas, Anna, Benjamin and Lukas

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A fawn that I made for Anna for Christmas.

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Anna was handing out the gifts.

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The boys are helping to open their present.

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Luke is left and Ben is on the Right.

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Lukas

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Ben

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Anna seriously unwrapping her gifts.

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Merry Christmas!

7 years…

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Anna turned 7 yesterday. Where has the time gone? It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we came home from the hospital with her when she was just a wee baby and now she is seven and so grown up. She had a fun afternoon celebrating her birthday with us at home yesterday and since her birthday falls on a Monday this year we’ll be having a kids party for her on a weekend coming up in November… Happy birthday to my dear Anna!

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Anna’s Birthday Cake

3 or 4 Layer Vanilla Cake
slightly adapted from Sweetapolitas Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake

 

  • 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 7 large egg whites (210 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package of Dr. Oetker’s Bourbon Vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups (430 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2-1/4 cups (450 g) sugar
  • 1-3/4 tablespoons (25 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (8 g)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) vegetable shortening

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line with parchment 2 round 8-inch cake pans (if you are making a 3 or 4 layer cake you will need to reuse the pans after baking the first two cakes).
  • In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg, vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • Sift the cake flour. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I used a hand mixer) for 30 seconds.
  • Add the butter and shortening, blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 -1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  • Pour 1/4 or 1/3 of your batter (depending on how many layers you want) into each prepared pan. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure even layers.
  • Bake cake layers for 20 minutes each or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Be careful to not over-bake. Check the cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready check in 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  • Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.

 

For the Frosting and decoration
Inspired by this cake from The Story of a Cake

 

For the Frosting and filling:
250 grams frozen Raspberries
1 cup Sugar
250 grams Mascarpone
200 grams Heavy Cream (whipped to soft peaks)
50 grams Butter
1 jar of Raspberry Jam

For decorating:
Fresh Blueberries, Raspberries, Black Raspberries, Rose blossoms & colored coarse Sugar for sprinkling

In a small sauce pot heat the frozen raspberries with the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer until the berries have reduced and thickly coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and strain the berry mixture with a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the seeds. Set aside and let come to room temperature (or if you’re in a hurry put the mixture into the fridge or freezer to speed up the cooling process).

With a mixer, blend the mascarpone and the butter until well combined. Then blend in the softly whipped cream and enough of the cooled berry mixture to get the desired color and flavor. Don’t add too much of the raspberry reduction or the frosting may become too loose and won’t be spreadable. If it is too loose you can always add more mascarpone to firm it up a bit.

To assemble the cake:
Spread  the first cake with a thin layer of jam and about 1/8 of the frosting. Spread the next layer with jam and 1/8 of the frosting and put the last layer on top. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting then arrange the berries on top and around the cake leaving room to sprinkle the cake with decorating sugar and rose blossoms.

Enjoy!

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