Because Summer…

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Memorial Day is upon us. Lucky for us here in California, its nice, sunny and warm. My favorite kind of weather! Which also means bikini season is upon us. So I thought….Hey, lets make a cake to celebrate! I mean it has berries in it. So don’t get too worried. A piece is all you’ll need (but its so yummy you’ll want more!)

This cake will have everyone at the party in a buttercream, berry cake daydream just at the sight of it. Once they eat it, they’ll have died and gone to summer dessert heaven. Floating on clouds of vanilla buttercream. Bouncing along spongy white cake tops, popping berries in their mouths with wild abandon. At least that’s where I went with it. It’s that good. And berries are kinda my thing. So there’s that.

IMG_8562It’s light enough to be served at any summer affair and elegant enough to make it the center of attention.

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The four layers make a spectacular plating and a very generous serving. And if you are genuinely keeping an eye on your bikini ready figure, then you could easily split this in two and share. Not gonna lie….I ate the entire piece. Now chicken, rice, tilapia and asparagus will be in my near future.

True story. More on that to come.

I really did love the combination of all these components together. The cake is light and moist. The buttercream frosting adds just the right amount of richness. While the berries are the highlight of the cake and add the perfect amount of tartness to balance it all out. And lets not over look the colors, the quintessential summer palate. Everyone wins! You will be standing on the podium giving your acceptance speech the next time you show up with this winning cake.

 

Summer Berry Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS

For the White Cake (as adapted from Sweetapolita Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake)

  • 1 1/2 cup (360ml) whole Milk, at room temperature
  • 7 large egg whites (210g) at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon  (23ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups (430g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2-1/4 cups (450g) sugar
  • 1-3/4 tablespoons (25g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (8g)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170g) butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) vegetable shortening, cut into cubes

For the Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) (460g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • Approximately 4 cups (500g) confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (47ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the Berries

  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 2 pints blackberries
  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • splash of lemon juice
  • sprinkling of sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° Grease, line with parchment paper and flour two 8″ rounds pans (you will be using the twice). If you have four 8″ rounds, you can use parchment paper circles for ease.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (the “stir” setting on most kitchen aids) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, blending on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the four cake pans (or divide batter into two pans, you will bake the first two layers, then follow with the remaining batter) Or the best way to do this is to weight the batter out in the pan on a scale to ensure each layer is even (this is my preferred method). Spread the batter evenly with a small offset palette knife.
  7. Bake cake layers two at a time in center of oven and 2″ apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean with inserted into the center. Be careful to not overbake! Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before. If cake is not ready at 20 minutes, re-set timer for 2 minute intervals until tester comes clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Then take small metal spatula and loosen the sides and invert cake onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up so the tops are up and cool completely.
  8. Wash the two cake pans and line, grease and flour again and repeat.
  9. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to two days.

 

For the Vanilla Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 6-8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale and creamy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  3. Best if used right away.

For the Berries

  1. Pick through, rinse and dry all berries.
  2. Cut stems off of strawberries and quarter them with a paring knife.
  3. Place all berries into a bowl, squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice over berries and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Stir until coated.

Assembly of Cake

  1. With a serrated knife, gently trim the dome top of the cake layers. Set aside (these are you taste test bites!)
  2. Place first layer of cake, cut side up, on cake plate or an 8″ cake round (easier to use if you will be transporting your cake). Dollop a generous amount of vanilla frosting on cake. Using an offset spatula, spread frosting evenly over the cake. Then take about a 1/4 of the berry mixture and spread an even layer of berries over the frosting, keeping in mind to bring some berries to the edge so they peek out!
  3. Repeat process for all remaining layers. For the top layer place berries however you like for decoration.
  4. Place cake in refrigerator to set. Before serving bring cake out for 15-20 minutes, cut and serve.
  5. Enjoy!

 

This cake is just as much a joy to make as it is to serve. Take time this Memorial Day to honor those that gave their lives in order for us to be here having our cake and eating it too. Happy Summering everyone!

V~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priority vs. Passion

If you ever get a chance to read any of Mark Manson’s articles, I highly suggest reading them. Not only is he a talented writer, he’s direct and to the point. Brutal honesty. I love that, cause at the end of the day what else is left?

One of my favorite articles was from October 2015  titled “Screw Finding Your Passion.” In it he discusses the disillusion we have in regards to finding our passion. What we all fail to realize is it’s already in us, we’re just ignoring it half the time. My favorite quote from the article reads:

“Seriously, you’re awake 16 hours a day, what the fuck do you do with your time? You’re doing something, obviously. You’re talking about something. There’s some topic or activity or idea that dominates a significant amount of your free time, your conversations, your web browsing, and it dominates them without you consciously pursuing it or looking for it.”

See. Brutal truth. So, this is how I arrived at baking and fitness.

I literally have ALWAYS been doing these two things on some level my whole life, without even recognizing it.  With baking, I was the little girl who would pretend play at her kitchen cooker for hours cooking and baking up a storm. I was always by my moms side as she made a million Christmas cookies to deliver. I was the teen who did Ski Team in High School and the Cindy Crawford video in her living room on weekends. And not even one time  did this occur to me this was a passion of mine, until recently. Like, wow, holy shit….this is my thing!!

Lucky me, right? Not really. It comes with work. It comes with diligence and making it a priority. Sure it makes it more fun, but I also have to make it a priority. Cause let me tell you, there are plenty of days I wanna sit my butt on the couch with pre-made cookies and a glass of wine and do a whole big bunch of nothing. Problem is….that won’t get me anywhere.

So how does this apply to fitness with someone who’s passion is to sit on the couch with pre-made cookies and a glass of wine doing absolutely nothing? Well, just because fitness isn’t your passion or you have zero drive for it, doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate it into your life like any other priority. Shouldn’t one’s health be at the top of your priority list? Like if you’re walking around feeling like crap all the time, wouldn’t you wanna fix that? We all have things on our priority lists that aren’t also on our passion list. I mean, lets be realistic, paying bills isn’t exactly a passion. Yet we find a way to get the bills paid.

I think we have a tendency to feel pressured to love fitness. All of us on the other side, who really do love fitness, seem to take it on as our moral obligation to help all those others see the light. We cheer, encourage, support, throw out lots of “atta girls”, coach and coddle you through each rep. We want you to wake at 4am bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to get your sweat on!!

No. Just no.

I love working out, but that still sucks ass. So there’s that. But, I choose that because I make exercise a priority. There are days that I know that 4am is my only opportunity to get it in, so I go. So, sometimes we don’t have to love it. We don’t have to pretend to be that person who’s all excited to be up and at it with the sun. You don’t have to fake it if you hate it. However, you still need to do it. You can go screaming and crying all the way through, but you still have to get it done. If you want to look and feel a certain way, then you better put those cookies away, put a cork on the wine and get your ass off the couch.

Truth is, you may never love fitness the way I do. You may have to drag your tired, lazy, whining ass to the gym every day, but  you’re making it a priority. You’re doing something that’s putting you first. You’re doing something you can at least take pride in. And maybe in the daily grind of making it a priority, you’ll find an acceptance of it, but never love it. And that’s ok.

V~