Well guys, I’ve done it. I written the first cake recipe of my 31 before 32 birthday challenge. It was a little labor intensive, mostly because I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted my finished product to look like, but I think things turned out pretty well. Plus, it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. The recipe looks long, I know, but that is also because I included how I assembled and decorated the cake. You don’t have to take it as far as I did; this cake would still delicious without the fussy presentation. Here we go.
- 4 pints of blackberries (minus 10 pretty ones*)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
- 6-8 cups of powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp powdered lavender*
- pinch of salt
- 2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Either the night or several hours before you bake your cake, combine the ganache ingredients in a microwave dish and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Set aside uncovered for at least 3 hours to cool.
- Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and fold in the chopped lavender after the batter is combined. Split the batter evenly between 3 9″ pans and bake as directed.
- While the cakes are baking, combine the filling ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened sufficiently (A). Allow to cool to room temp before using.
- Put a plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before taking it out to test a spoonful of hot filling. Take the filling off the heat while testing. Push your finger through the filling on the plate – you’re looking for it to wrinkle and not flood back in to fill the gap.
- While the filling and the cake cool, beat softened butter (using a hand or stand mixer) adding the powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
- Add in the food coloring and powdered lavender and beat for an additional two minutes.
- Carefully, using a serrated knife or leveler, cut the domed top off of each of the cake layers producing three flat even(ish) layers.
- Fill piping bag (or ziplock bag) with 1/3 of your frosting.
- Starting with the bottom layer make a frosting ring around the bottom and middle layers of your cake.
- Split the black berry filling between the two layers carefully spreading across the cake to the frosting ringed edge.
- Stack the middle layer onto the bottom layer and the gently top with the top layer.
- Using the rest of the frosting in your piping bag (and a little from the bowl if you need) quickly cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and then place into a refrigerator to set for 25 minutes.
- Next, cover the cake in a more generous layer of the frosting, making sure to have a slightly thicker coating on the very top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for an additional 25 minutes.
- Next spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, creating drips down the side.
- Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and the reserved blackberries. I also elected to use tiny chocolate candies.
- I wanted to try my hand at the “naked” frosting look for this cake, so most of the frosting was on the top and the top half of the side. This way there was still the frosting flavor, but the look was sill achieved because the more frosted bits were covered by the ganache.
- Andy took the cake to work with him the day after I made it, and it didn’t even make it to lunch time. Which to me is a pretty good indication that the flavors were all balanced. That being said, despite my fondness for lavender, I didn’t want to over do it so that particular flavor could absolutely be turned up if you are baking for an audience with the same fondness. Be careful though; too much and you end up with a soapy taste.
And here we go again, it’s resolution time people! I am now securely “in” my thirties and I am planning big changes to take control of this new decade. Of course one of the ways I do that is having you guys hold me accountable to my yearly “to do” list, so here you have it, my 31 before 32.
- Take 10 classes.
- Make profiteroles.
- Try 12 recipes from Sweet & Savage.
- Do 2 DIY’s a month.
- Visit Chicago.
- Find my “sexy”.
- Write 10 new recipes.
- Mini makeover on the guest bathroom.
- Repaint the hallway.
- Make Swiss Buttercream.
- Read 30 new books.
- Go somewhere I’ve never been.
- Make profiteroles.
- Upgrade the light fixtures in the hallway.
- Host a girls night.
- Watch a well known movie that I’ve never seen.
- Clean up and re-do my back patio.
- Create 5 new paintings.
- Wear a body-con dress.
- Plant rose bushes in front of the garage.
- Create and maintain a yoga practice 3-5 days a week.
- Dye my hair purple.
- Take a weekend trip with friends.
- Go on a picnic – with a basket & everything.
- Wear heels at least 1 day a week.
- Go through all of my crafting supplies and get ride of at least 25%.
- Make and give a handmade gift.
- Make a pie.
- Collaborate with other creatives on two new projects.
- Try 12 new restaurants.
Last years “TBD” ended up being a lot of fun, so I decided to finish off this years list with another one. I was pretty pleased with the progress I made last year, if you’re interested you can see how I did here.
Image from here.
Well you guys, I have to say it was a pretty incredible birthday week. My 31st year has had a terrific kick off and I am definitely more optimistic about the year to come. After so much outing/abouting and celebrating, I am honestly looking forward to a relatively quiet weekend to recharge. You know, a little brunch here, a nap with the fur babies there, round it all out with a little grocery shopping, light cleaning and some baking just so I feel like I’ve gotten something accomplished. I might even spend some time outside, heavily SPFed of course, but it seems like a waste to not enjoy the few last lovely days of spring before Florida descends into it’s longest season of the year “really hot”.
Because Urban Decay doesn’t feel like they get enough of my money already, they now offer these crazy beautiful lip top coats.
This delicious skillet meal is pretty much custom made for indulgent Sunday mornings in.
This stained glass artist retreat is absolutely gorgeous and I sort of want to become friends with this lady just so I can spend a weekend there.
Pressing flowers for DIY’s is something I haven’t tried in years, but I think it may make the DIY short list this spring.
I am a huge fan of Nectar & Stone and I just pre-ordered a copy of their first book I’m Just Here for Dessert.
Both of the bathrooms in my house came with larger sheet mirrors, I’ve always hated them and have been on the look out for framed mirrors to replace them with for the last year or so. After seeing this bathroom remodel, I am thinking about keeping the one in the guest bathroom and maybe investing the mirror money into a new light fixture instead.
I am such a 90’s kid and almost every single thing on this list cause a second or two of nostalgic flashback.
Image from here.
I love flowers and tea and teacups, so I’m sure it surprises no one when I talk about how much I like Floral Story series by artist Marina Malinovaya. Each image is created with a table, a tea set, and a lot of flowers. I’d also imagine a lot of patience. In addition, I suspect that the artist is some sort of wizard because I’ve seen her Instagram account and she appears to have a cat. I would never EVER be able to lay something like this on the table with out there being fluffy paws all up in everything.
I need that teeny spoon. It’s really cute, plus it might be the source of her cat control magic.
You can check out more of her images as well as some beautiful behind the scenes shots on her Instagram page, and you can purchase some of her beautiful floral a resin jewelry and ornaments here.
Images from My Modern Met.
As of 3:22 this morning (that’s right 3:22 on 3/22), I am 31 years old! Though I am warming to the idea of being securely in my 30’s, most days I still don’t feel like this new age group fits quite right. Today however, I am taking a break from the hand wringing and soul searching to simply enjoy all of the love and well wishes that have been coming my way; and to celebrate the journey to this point I am going to share some of my more interesting life moments with you.
- My role as “Mother Pig” in my preschool production of The Three Little Pigs. That’s what happens when you’re taller than all of the other kids in your class. My job was to kiss my piglets fondly on the cheek and send them off into the world. This much to the dismay of one of my cast mates younger sisters. As I gave her the farewell peck, her little sister angrily shouted from the audience “Julie kissed my Amanda!” Pretty much the highlight of the play.
- The tattoos and piercings that I decided on later in life should have been no surprise for my mother. When I was three, I desperately wanted my ears pierced. They figured I’d wimp out after the first earring went in, but (as my mom has told me countless times) though my eyes welled up and my little lower lip trembled, I defiantly turned my head to that they could pierce the other side. Also a foreshadowing of my tendency to dig in my heels when I want something.
- I went through a phase during middle school where I was obsessed with the Babysitters Club series. Specifically I was a huge fan of the artsy Claudia Kishi who, like me, favored funky accessories and had trouble with spelling. I had to wear a uniform to school, but I stockpiled quirky thrift store accessories and wore as many of them as I could at a time.
- I’d always loved fashion and I’d been sketching princess dresses for as long as I can remember, but it was my very first sewing class that I took in 10th grade that really solidified things for me. I made my homecoming dress that semester, and I knew from then on that I was destined for design school.
- One of the reasons my hair color changes so frequently is that I’ve had to dye it since I was 13. You see, the women in my family start going gray early, and that’s when my class mates started noticing so my mom let me (finally) do something about it. Trust me; you’d get bored with brown and blond after a few years, too.
- My senior year of high school I participated in a fashion show in which all the garments were constructed from toilet paper. It was sort of like the Project Runway “Unconventional Challenge”, but before Project Runway even existed.
- When Andy and I started planning our wedding, he was the one who insisted on the big 200 person affair. I wanted to elope or go to one of those all inclusive BnBs in Savannah that only accommodates 30 people total. Ultimately, we had the big ceremony because he told me I would have to be the one who told his mother if we went with my option. Andy was also the one who wanted to have the big cake (I’d suggested cupcakes), but he wanted something at least three tiers tall. And yes, I still mock him for every single bit of this 🙂
- My friends affectionately refer to my style as “sparkle fairy hippie”, and though most days I am completely confident in my choice of glitter sneakers and flower crown, occasionally I worry that other people just think that I am straight up weird. I mean, they’re not wrong, but still. When I was in Savannah last month, I had a hostess give me what was probably one of the nicest complements I’ve ever received. She told me she loved my flower crown and that I looked like a walking SnapChat filter. Completely made my day.
Obviously, there are many many more stories, some of them you guys have been around for, but I’ll stop here and just say that you guys mean the world to me and I am so grateful that I have gotten to share another year of my life’s journey with you. Happy Wednesday!!!