Mother's Day

Sunday, May 10, 2015
"I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that's what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard."

- from "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins

The beginning of May is always a busy time in our family. My mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day usually fall in the same week, and they did again this year. That calls for double the celebration. 

I wanted to make a cake for her birthday, but it was complicated by the fact that she, my oldest daughter and I were out of town until just before dinnertime on her birthday. (More about that in Thursday’s post.) I made this cake ahead of time and froze it, which meant I just had to frost it when we got home.

I was thrilled with the results. This is the best vanilla cake I’ve ever eaten. (And it freezes beautifully!) The frosting is lovely, too, but a touch rich; I used jam between the layers instead of using all the frosting, and would definitely do that again. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Vanilla Birthday Cake
(adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake; refer here for instructions on making  two 8” cakes)

For cake:
1 cup milk, at room temperature
6 egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup), at cool room temperature

For buttercream frosting:
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract (first amount)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract (second amount)
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Peach jam or apricot jam (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two 9-inch pans and line with parchment paper.

Make sure milk and eggs are at room temperature. Pour milk, egg whites, almond extract and 1 tsp vanilla paste into a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Measure cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on the slowest speed, just until combined. Cut 1 1/2 sticks butter into small pieces and add to the batter. Beat for a couple more minutes.

Add half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for about one minute.

Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool to room temperature.

To make buttercream, beat 2 1/2 sticks of butter at medium-high speed until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla paste and beat until combined.

Add powdered sugar and salt; beat at medium speed for a minute. Scrape down the sides and beat until mixture is fully incorporated, another minute. Add 1 tsp vanilla paste and heavy cream and beat for 4 minutes at medium-high speed, stopping to scrape down sides as required.

Frost cooled cakes. If you like, spread a thin layer of peach or apricot jam between cake layers instead of vanilla frosting.


Julie said...

Happy Mothers Day! Great picture of all of you!!

Gloria Baker said...

Happy mother's day Beth!
Lovely pic of you, your mom and gIrls!
Lovely cake too!

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy Mother’s Day Beth! I love the beautiful picture of 3 generations!

Kayte said...

Happy Mother's Day, Beth! And Happy Mother's Day and Birthday to your mother as well. What a lovely photo of you all...and the cake looks wonderful!

Barbara said...

Such a cute photo, Beth. Glad you were all able to celebrate with that delicious looking cake!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I loved the pictures, especially the one with your mom, you, and your girls. Hope you had a fantastic Mother's Day!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Happy belated Mother's Day. Looks like you had a great time!

Unknown said...

Another gorgeous photo of you and your family! This cake sounds fab. Nothing better than a great vanilla cake.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the pics!
Cake sounds great - my son might actually like this one (he hates chocolate) I'll have to give it a shot :)

Tricia Buice said...

How nice you got to spend mother's day with your mom - lovely cake, lovely day!

We Are Not Martha said...

What a beautiful post! Glad you had a nice day :)


Katerina said...

Happy belated Mother's Day Beth! What a gorgeous cake you made!

Marcela said...

What an amazing post, Beth! Happy belated Mother's Day!

nancy at good food matters said...

A favorite Billy Collins poem---thank you! I have a similiar vanilla cake recipe, made with a touch of almond extract also, fruit jam in the layering. Simple, elegant, delicious. happy belated mothers day!

Beth said...

Thanks, Nancy! The poem speaks to me both as a mother and a daughter.

Juliana said...

Beautiful cake Beth...awesome picture of your mom, you and your girls...
Have a great week :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Fun poem! And even more fun cake. Always like a cake that freezes well -- so versatile. This looks great -- thanks.

Joanne said...

Happy belated birthday to your mom and happy belated mother's day to the both of you! This cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate!

Valerie Gamine said...

Sometimes white cake + vanilla frosting hits all the right spots. Lovely cake for a lovely mom. Beth, your daughters look more and more like you with every photo!

Beth said...

Thanks, Valerie! And this cake did hit all the right spots. I use vanilla all the time, but loved giving it a chance to shine on its own.

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