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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mom's Berry Birthday Cake

 Berries take this cake from a 9 to a 10. And add a bit of flare to this scrumptious cake.

 Fact: Birthdays are awesome. Why? Because on birthdays, you get cake. And I am more than willing to work my butt off for hours in the kitchen to create a cake for someone I love, especially if I get to eat a piece at the end of the night, and especially if it's my mother.
 Embarrassingly, I'll admit I've never used a vanilla bean before. Not only have I never used one, I've also never purchased one. 
I went to the store, asked someone who worked there to show me the vanilla beans, and he did. It would have cost me ten dollars for one vanilla bean. Yes, I said one bean. I said to the guy "uh screw that, I'll just use vanilla extract".
Turns out, my father had vanilla beans. They were hard, not sure how old they were, but sure enough, I cut into it length wise, scraped out seeds, and voila! It worked!
I must admit it was fun to scrape the seeds out.

 Why blueberries you ask? Why not. They are delicious. And blue. And pretty.
 This is the best icing I've ever tasted. I mean it! The cane sugar really tastes so good, and it almost tastes like you're eating fluffy, creamy, sweet, butter. And who can argue with that?
So, I made these candle holders out of forks and candles. It took a good amount of time, and involved some profanity on my end, but was worth it in the end. 
How unique!
My mother loved the candles. Loved the cake. I'm so happy that I made her so happy. I love my mommy. 
Also, this cake makes enough for twelve people. And, ya know what? Only four of us ate it, meaning we have leftovers, and I happen to have a piece of this right in front of me, waiting to be eaten (not that I'm bragging).
Mom's Berry Birthday Cake  
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round baking pans and set aside.  This recipe also makes 24 cupcakes.  
In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is well mixed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  
In a small bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt.  
In a separate small bowl combine the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds.  
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture in three batches.  Start and end with the flour mixture.  When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixture and thoroughly incorporate the dough with a rubber spatula.  
Divide the batter between the two pans.  
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pale golden color, and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  For cupcakes bake 25 to 30 minutes.  
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool.  Frost and berry only when cakes are completely cool.

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting
3 sticks (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cup cane sugar
1.5 cup whole milk
3/8 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Cream the butter on medium speed, 3 to 5 minutes, in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer until soft, adout 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.  
In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup mil with the flour and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until there are no lumps.  Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly and cook until the mixture comes to a low boil.  
Reduce the heat to low and continue mixing until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.  
When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat but keep stirring.  After you have removed the pan from the heat, the mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own.  
If you overheat the mixture and find that you have some lumps, try to whisk them out with a little elbow grease, or pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Place the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.  
With the mixer on low speed, slowly poor the milk mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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