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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Summer’s End

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We had a fast and high stress summer this year. We took a trip to upstate New York in June for three weeks to visit family and the time flew by. In July we recovered from the jetlag (that always has us off our sleeping schedule for at least a week), went swimming, went to playgrounds and parks and tried to prepare for an upcoming hospital visit for Lukas in early August. We tried to be as normal as possible in those few weeks preceeding his hospital stay but the stress of bringing my one and a half year old baby boy in for open heart surgery was still underlying and ever present on my mind and was very scary. On August 1st we spent one full day at the children’s hospital in St. Augustine with Lukas as he underwent tests and scans to make sure he was ready for the operation which was to take place on the 3rd. At the end of a harrowing day we were told that a large influx of emergencies had come in and these children required immediate medical attention. Since Lukas’ surgery was not an urgent one, although it is one that has to be done sooner rather than later, we were rescheduled by the hospital to come back in mid-October. I’m more than happy that he is home with us now and that we’ve been granted a slight reprieve. On a lighter note I have put together some pictures from our trip this summer. Some shots were taken by me but mostly the camera was out of my hands this time around so most of them were taken by other family members.

At my Grandfather’s House

Thomas and the boys watching my Dad cut hay and eating Goldfish.

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More Goldfish!

Flower Girl

Flower Girl

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Jay with Ben

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Great-grandad with Lukas

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Great-grandad with Ben

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Great-grandad with Anna

Hanging Around

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Ben

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Lukas

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M. taking pictures on the farm

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Howe’s Caverns

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Our Summer Rental House

house

cow

Jubilee the Cow

chickens

Chickens

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Anna and Me

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Evening view

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Hanging out with Grammy and Uncle Richard

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Lukas

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Anna and Me

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Fooling Around with Grammy’s Glasses

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