Saturday, May 9, 2009

The 90th Birthday Cake

For my grandmother's 90th birthday (and my mother's and sister-in-law's, which are on Monday and Tuesday) I thought I'd take on a bit of a bigger challenge. I got this CIA cake art cookbook for my birthday and wanted to try a lemon chiffon cake recipe from it. This, it turned out, was a bit TOO big a challenge for me. My cakes came out looking like, well, pancakes basically. They tasted alright, but the two of them together barely made the height of a regular single layer and, well, they could have under studied in a street hockey game no problem.

I went back to what I know from there and used a Duncan Hines Golden Butter Yellow mix, but substituted fresh lemon juice for the water and I have to say it was outstanding (and I don't even like lemon cake).

I saved grace a little by finally mastering a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe (also from the CIA book). It was actually kind of easy... It's definitely my new go-to frosting, light and fluffy and without that synthetic kind of taste you get from powdered sugar.

I filled the cake with lemon curd and fresh blueberries which I meant to get a picture of but forgot. Lemon curd is a delightful way to get fat.

I kicked the decorations up a notch and pulled out my rose tips and I have to say that although my "golden yellow" food color seems to have turned peach, I think this cake is one of my finest to date. I even had seconds :-)

The Necklace (not a cake)

My grandmother turns 90 this year (today actually) and as that that is quite an accomplishment, we are doing quite a bit to celebrate. There's a barbeque and a tea with Mother's Day shoved in the middle. We also needed to figure out a gift. What do you get for a 90 year old woman who lives alone in a one-bedroom condo in an assisted living community where she never has to cook her herself? Jewelry!

I came up with this idea to make her a necklace with a bead for each member of our family that somehow represented them. I sent out an email requesting bead preferences from my family members and they actually responded (we're not a big responding family).

So here is the necklace:

The beads starting with the top left: Niece Maggie, brother Josh, nephew Bryce, cousin Mechita, uncle Rick, aunt Marla, grandfather Ezra, grandmother Sonia, mother Linda, father Dan, me, sister-in-law Holly, brother Dave, the last is a clear glass bead that represents whatever other little people are someday added to the family.

The Margarita Cupcakes

I realize now that I never posted anything about the Margarita cupcakes I made for Cinco de Mayo this year (which we celebrated on April 25th (don't ask). There are no pictures of mine, but they look pretty much like white cupcakes with white frosting. I used this recipe from the foodie bride, except I used orange brandy (it was what I had) and I put tequila in the frosting. For the record, I highly recommend putting tequila in frosting, we were eating it with a spoon and I don't even like frosting...