birthday cake

AKA my favourite kind.

I mean, who doesn’t like a slice of birthday cake?

[Especially when it’s been blenderized.]

I’m sorry this post is a little late. Try a lot late, actually – my birthday was almost two months ago. There are pros and cons to baking at home. One pro is getting to use Mum’s fancy camera. A con is that between using that camera, not bringing my computer and relying on a certain brother to email me the photos I took meant that I actually had to wait till I went home again to get those photos back.

But look! I made you cake!

Ok, I made me a cake. My mum was worried I’d be psychologically scarred, baking my own birthday cake. Not really. I love baking, I’m picky with my food. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like to try new things. Therefore, it made perfect sense for me to make my own birthday cake.

Unfortunately this one didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped. I’ve wanted to make red velvet cake for a while now and so this seemed like the perfect opportunity (especially since my favourite colour is red. Most of the time).

I think the problem was that I used a teaspoon of baking powder instead of baking soda, although even baking soda would have had a difficult time inflating this cake. Which is especially disappointing considering the fact that I was at the parents’ house, which meant I had access to a stand mixer, and I didn’t utilise it to its full potential.

Ah well. We’ll just have to wait until Christmas, when hopefully I will get one from, uh, Santa. Yes, I still leave milk and cookies out for Santa, and a bucket of water and carrots for the reindeer. Although that may be difficult this year. I hope Santa finds us.

So, cake. Birthday cake. It was yummy anyway, despite its density, and I got to practise decoration (with pink cream cheese icing! yum! and! pretty!)

You should make this cake. Maybe you’ll make it better than I did. Maybe there is actually something wrong with the recipe. Nevertheless, it was pretty good, and especially so because of the cream cheese icing. I love cream cheese icing. Yum.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Joy the Baker


8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

5 tbsp cocoa powder

4 tbps red food colouring (I used 50 ml and it turned out plenty red) mixed with 2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

2 1/4 cups plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 tsp distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.

Mix cocoa and vanilla with the water and red food colouring, making a thick paste. Add to batter and beat until well incorporated. You will probably want to scrape the bottom of the bowl several times to make sure the colouring is fully mixed through.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the buttermilk. Add half the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Repeat, and mix until smooth.

Add the baking soda and vinegar and beat on high speed for a few minutes, until fully incorporated and smooth.

Divide between the two cake pans and tap them against your bench a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for about half an hour, then invert onto a baking rack until cool. You can make the frosting in this time.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

1 1/2 cups butter (about 300g), softened

8 oz (200g) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

4-6 cups icing sugar

2-4 tbsp milk

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer for a few minutes, until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the butter, beating until well incorporated and smooth. Add sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until incorporated.

Turn off the mixer and add 2 cups icing sugar. Mix on low, adding more icing sugar and milk until you get your desired consistency.

Wait until completely cool before frosting your cake.

swedish visiting cake

Every now and again, I get this urge to declutter. I have to get rid of my stuff and recently, it’s been gnawing at me a whole lot more. It’s not just the ‘oh, I have to tidy and I don’t really use that stuff anymore’; rather, I’m feeling like I need to live a lot simpler and enjoy life the way it was meant to be.

Plus, I have way too much stuff.

So recently, I’ve been sifting through the piles of stuff that I own and sorting them into piles. Stuff I want to keep, stuff I want to keep but don’t have room for at the moment, stuff I don’t want to keep, stuff I want to form into something else, stuff I’m using and stuff I’m not using. It’s a pretty big job and it doesn’t help that a lot of my stuff is still at my parents’ house. Yay, more stuff to go through.

My sister and I are planning to have a garage sale. We both have stuff to get rid of, but not enough for a sale each. (Although going through my stuff, I’m not so sure about that…:)

I come from a family of packrats. Hoarders. My Opa kept stuff in the back room, in his two garages and the tiny shed in the backyard, all over the back yard… my mum is queen of ‘we might use it later’ which is a mindset I’ve adopted. I’m also a collector, of sorts; I like pretty things, those free postcards, business cards, ribbons… I like to remember things.

I write things down and put them on my walls… I have a lot of paper related products lying around that need to go. Where, I’m not sure. They’ll probably end up in the recycling bin. Or possibly the fireplace, not sure yet.

With the help of Love and Trash, Courtney at be more with less, the bloggers at SuperForest and a whole bunch of other influences (including Jesus and some of his followers) I am on a journey to live simply so that others may simply live. On that note, let’s talk about cake.

This is a simple cake. It comes together in about ten minutes, takes about half an hour to bake and is simply delicious. It’s called a Swedish Visiting Cake and so in another, yet somehow related train of thought it immediately brings to mind not only visitors, but visiting – getting to know your neighbours, connecting with real people instead of a computer screen.

And yes, I’m aware that you’re reading this off a computer screen.

The point is that by learning to live without, others can live with. And you don’t even notice the difference, except that you’re happier, more content with yourself and with the world. Surprising, isn’t it?

So make the cake. Bring it to a neighbour’s house and share it over stories, stories that remind you that each person you encounter is the star of their own story, just as you are the star of your own.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours

zest of one lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/scrapings from one vanilla bean/two teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour*

125g butter, melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter your pan. Traditionally this is made in a cast-iron skillet. I don’t have one so I made it in a springform tin – I suggest using a nine-incher, as my ten-incher cake turned out a little thin. Not that I’m complaining…

Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until incredibly lemony and you can just help yourself licking your fingers. Or not. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

Fold in the flour, then the butter. Pour into your pan and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake about half an hour.

Share with strangers.

*The first time I made it, I made it with spelt flour and it was amazing. I think you could also do this with a mix of almond flour and perhaps another type of flour for the gluten-free among us. Just a thought.

happy birthday chocolate cake

Woah. I haven’t been here in a while. Is that a spiderweb I see in the corner over there? Gee, someone needs to do some vacuuming.

It’s been a bit of a birthday week this week. My Oma (that’s grandma for all of you who aren’t Dutch [or German?] out there) turned 80 [!] (double [!] – I revealed a lady’s age!) and there was a party and there were relatives who flew in from all over the wide brown land (I actually don’t really like that poem… sorry…) and there was cake.

But not this cake.

Because then my friend had her birthday today and I made this cake for her.

It’s chocolate. It has cream cheese icing. It’s soft and moist and crumples up when you smoosh it on someone’s face, as I found out this evening.

I was the smooshee, rather than the smoosher, in case you were wondering. My hands were full with camera so I couldn’t defend myself. And it was totally unexpected because Leah was threatening my sister with the smooshing so when the cake came my way…

You get the idea.

So we had a birthday feast with onion soup and birthday cake and cookies and much junk food, some tunes and a fancy camera to play with.

But back to the cake…(and yes, those are cookies there and yes, I will be posting about them… I thought I might give you guys a break from cookies) ┬áit is really beautiful, soft and moist and crumbly, shiny dark and yummy. The cream cheese icing I think went really well but was a little too overpowering so I would definitely use less next time. And use an electric beater so there aren’t any lumps in it. [whoops].

It is the most beautiful chocolate cake. But make sure you grease the pan really well because mine stuck just a little bit to the sides.

There are also baby chocolate cakes… because the original recipe made a layer cake and I had no time for layers. None whatsoever. So I made a slightly larger than usual cake and eleven cupcakes.

Yep. Eleven Exactly. If my cake pan was a nine incher, I feel I would have just tipped over into twelve (and the perfectionist in me was really disappointed in my eleven!) but it turned out fine. Especially when m ‘n’ ms were added.

If someone you know has a birthday, make these. In whatever format you use, they will taste delicious. I promise.

Or you could do this.

Chocolate Cake

I always seem to try a different chocolate cake recipe. It’s not that they don’t all taste delicious, I just feel like there’s always a new recipe to try and while the ones I’ve already made would be fine to use, I love the excitement of a new recipe.

This one, I adapted from i am baker – I didn’t have vegetable oil, so I used olive. I didn’t have buttermilk or even vinegar with which to make buttermilk, so I used sour cream and milk. I didn’t sift my dry ingredients (but I implore you, even if you are not a sifter, like me, to sift your cocoa. You will appreciate it.)

1 3/4 cup plain flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup good cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

about 1/2 cup sour cream

the rest of the cup measure filled with milk (as in, about 1/2 cup milk)

1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you’re not like me and you keep essentials like that around the house)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed coffee
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Prepare your cake pans – I used a ten inch springform tin and eleven cupcakes.

Sift (if you’re a sifter) your dry ingredients into a large bowl. Combine the sour cream, milk, eggs and vanilla in another bowl, then make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk until just combined. Add in coffee carefully and slowly and whisk until combined.

It’ll be pretty thin but don’t stress – it comes out just fine.

Pour into your cake pan(s) and bake large cake about 35-40 minutes, cupcakes 20-25 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing

I just kinda threw this together… It is infinitely adaptable. I would maybe add a splash of milk next time and just glaze the cake a little.

250g cream cheese, softened

juice of half a lemon

about 3/4 cup icing sugar

Again, I’m not a sifter but I would suggest you sift the sugar for this one. Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth, then add the sifted sugar and lemon juice and beat until combined.