Vanilla Malt Buttercream Birthday Cake

Literally a few days before Casper’s 1st Birthday, he took his first (unassisted) steps! I am both horrified and delighted by this new skill. I mean, he’s still crawling a lot–it’s more efficient–but, he’s definitely walking even if it’s more of a Tommy Pickles stumble. It’s pretty cute but, it takes all of me to not scoop him up immediately every time he stumbles.

We celebrated his first year with some family and friends with a BBQ over the weekend. Sean smoked ribs–they are seriously delicious and he deserves major props for perfecting his method– I made a nectarine and tomato salad that I’ll post here soon, and my deviled egg potato salad that I’ve been trying to perfect (and I think is just about there). I also made this cake, obvs. The cake itself is just my chocolate cupcake recipe, baked as 2 6-inch cake layers. I split each layer, so I had a total of 4 layers because I like a tall party cake. This recipe makes sturdy, stackable, easy to split layers. There’s just something about all those layers that shout “CELEBRATION!” to me. I wanted a classic cake combo and after vacillating for days I decided on a chocolate cake with basic, sugary, vanilla buttercream. I knew Casper would only have a little, so I just kind of threw caution (or mom-crazy) to the wind and went all out with his cake. Even though I wanted a basic buttercream, I had to bump up the flavor a teeny bit more and add malt powder. I love the flavor of malt in sweet, vanilla desserts and it paired so nicely with the deep, chocolatey cake. I also used my homemade vanilla extract–vanilla beans + vodka + time–I actually used the last of my batch that I’ve had for years. Literally, years. Like, 5. It was a kindergartener. So the flavor was very vanilla-y and had specks of vanilla bean, which I love seeing in frostings but any good quality (aka pure) vanilla extract would be perfect. I iced it in what I’m calling a “water color stripe”–basically I followed the method for making an ombré cake, but alternated white and colored frostings instead. It turned out pretty cute, I think, and it was easy to do. This style of frosting is totally fine if it’s imperfect, leaving plenty of room for error. I appreciate that in a frosting technique. I sprinkled the edges of the cake with little star sprinkles to make it extra festive. For the cupcakes, I piped all the remaning colors–plus some pink, since it didn’t end up on the cake itself–into another piping bag and piped it onto the cupcakes using a star tip. I sprinkled those with some star spinkles plus some disco dust (aka edible glitter) and they turned out crazy but fun. I call them “space unicorn” cupcakes.

Anyway, then I made a little paper Totoro cake topper because Casper has a “Tototo” (as he says) plush toy that he LOVES (as well as a pillow and a print in his room). Sean is a huge Studio Ghibli fan, and it’s definitely getting passed on to Casper. He hugs and kisses Tototo and it’s so cute! It kills me. Initially I wanted to make a cake like this one from Lyndsay. I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea of trying to pipe a Totoro likeness, but I can put together a paper cut-out version, so I went with that. I also stuck some super cute sparkler candles in the top–thank goodness the didn’t catch Totoro on fire! It was a concern, but he remains unscathed and cake was had by all.

 

PS, You can see the lit sparklers and the rest of the food on my Instagram feed.

Vanilla Malt Buttercream Birthday Cake
 
Prep time
Total time
 
I did 2½ times (using 5 sticks of butter) this recipe to frost and fill a 4-layer, 6-inch cake and generously frost 9 cupcakes. For the cake, I usedthisrecipe and doubled it–which gave me the 2, 6-inch, cakes and 9 cupcakes.
Author:
Serves: about 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • dash of salt
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer or stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the salt. Add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Beat in the malt powder, vanilla, and heavy cream (1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desire consistency). Continue to beat the buttercream until it is smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Add more cream or powdered sugar to get your desired consistency. Tint with gel color, if you’d like. Pipe or spread onto the cake layers and cupcakes.
Notes
Adapted from Glorious Treats

Baked Coffee, Coconut, and Cream Cheese Donuts


Guys, Happy National Donut/Doughnut Day! I’m sneaking in an extra post this week to celebrate because, donuts…obvs.

I made us Coffee, Coconut, & Cream Cheese Donuts! I realize that’s a mouthful–figuratively and literally, but they’re really so good. Last weekend when I picked up a mega-spread of donuts for Megan and I to try, I chose a coffee, coconut cheesecake number at the last minute and I am so glad I did! I can’t believe I almost just glazed on over it and let it sit there in the case waiting for someone else to eat it. It inspired me to make them at home…so I could have another. I mean, there are a lot of things happening in this donut, but they somehow don’t compete at all. The springy donut cake is flavored with just enough espresso to make it taste like coffee without any bitterness, there’s just a little more espresso in the frosting which compliments the smooth tang of the cream cheese so well, and the toasty coconut gives it a buttery, nutty aspect that brings everything together. It’s like coffee AND donuts in one bite…plus, cream cheese frosting.

These aren’t true-blue, fried-and-delicious donuts. I have a hard time making them at home because of two things: patience and vats of hot oil. Baked donuts, while not exactly the same thing as their fried brethren, are easy and still knock out that sweet tooth. Plus, they’re quick. If you have your shit together, you could have these in less than 30 minutes. #donutemoji

 

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Coffee, Coconut, & Cream Cheese Donuts

About 1 dozen baked donuts, or 6 baked donuts and 18 (ish) minis.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

a few gratings of fresh nutmeg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 egg

2/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown sugar

for the icing:

4 ounces softened cream cheese

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1-2 teaspoons milk

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

toasted coconut for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a donut pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, espresso powder, egg, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and fold to combine. Either spoon or pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling nearly to the top of each well, and bake the donuts in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the donuts have risen, are dry, and spring back to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool about 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Repeat with the remaining batter.

While the donuts bake and cool, make the icing by stirring together all of the ingredients until well combined. If the icing seems too loose, add more confectioner’s sugar a few tablespoons at a time. If it is too stiff, add a bit more milk. Ice the donuts once they are cooled and top with coconut.

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Pumpkin Bread with Bourbon Icing

It’s just a few days before Eat-Fest-USA, aka Thanksgiving, aka only one of the best holidays ever.

It’s just Sean and I this year, as we are staying put, and I’ve had the menu planned for a few weeks now. I’ve ordered our turkey and picked it up, planned the sides, shopped the pantry goods, written my produce list, and picked out the wines. I was going to bake up another batch of this pumpkin bread for Thursday morning, but I’m thinking we’ll go the fruit and cheese route for breakfast and snacking.

Not that this pumpkin bread wouldn’t make a lovely, easy breakfast to share with your fam and friends this thankful holiday. It would be perfect sliced and set-up next to plenty of coffee and/or tea to begin Thanksgiving day and kick-off the feast prep. This bread is super moist–and, I know we don’t all love that word–but it is what it is. And, I channel my inner Jesse Pinkman as I type this…

This bread be moist, yo.

The moisture comes from pumpkin puree, olive oil, and greek yogurt, there’s a bit of whole wheat flour for wholesome goodness, just a little spice, and a buttery layer of bourbon icing just for kicks. I also added some candied ginger to the top, for good measure. Maybe the icing and ginger are a little much but, they fancy-up this super easy quick-bread, making it holiday breakfast AND dessert appropriate.

Pumpkin Bread with Bourbon Icing

Makes 1, 9×5 inch loaf

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Since this is a quick bread, it comes together very quickly with few dishes. The bread also tastes great, maybe even better, the next day. This recipe makes 1 standard loaf of pumpkin bread–however, I baked this batch up in a 6inch round pan and a mini-loaf pan. Either way, this bread is delicious. Feel free to make this bread sans icing for an every-day breakfast bread sitch. I use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour in this recipe, you could us less whole wheat or go with just all-purpose with great results. I would be wary of making the entire recipe out of whole wheat as it may result in a very dense and even gummy bread. 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter

2-4 teaspoons bourbon

milk to thin

Preheat oven to 350*F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, or other baking dish, well. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices.

In another bowl, mix together the pumpkin, olive, oil, beaten eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix well to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and fold to incorporate until just combined and there are no longer any dry flour streaks. Be careful to fold the batter and not overmix it. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes (about 45 for the round pan) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For the icing, whisk together the melted butter, bourbon, and powdered sugar. Add milk to thin to desired consistency. Spread icing over cooled bread. Sprinkle with chopped, candied ginger if desired.

Will keep for 2-3 days wrapped well at room temperature.