Birthday: 12 kisses on your cheek, 12 candles on your cake!

Birthday month: welcome September!

Around and around  the Sun we went, and once again the end of September is here! Nature has changed her garment, changed her colors and light. The field has a yellowish tint, the trees are slowly turning to the warmer shades of yellow, red and brown, slowly, very slowly.

 

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The late flowers, like Anemones, Cosmos, and Black Eyed Susans are still beautiful, they are vibrant and bright now that the heat has passed and a milder weather has arrived. The purple Morning Glory vine on my fence greets me every day with its joyful heart-shaped leaves, while the Aster is soaking up all the sunshine during these last warm and sunny afternoons, providing delicious snacks for the hungry bees.

 

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Birthday joy.

The 28th of September is a very special day at our house, because it is my son Niccolo’s birthday, and just like every year we love to celebrate his special day in the most loving way: with the friends he loves, the foods he enjoys, the games that make him laugh, all this to make him feel how happy we are that 12 years ago he came to us, that after a long ride on the rainbow bridge he fell right in my arms with his beautiful chubby cheeks and his little rose shaped mouth. He came to us to show once again how amazing life is, how you can get lost into time just staring at your son, sleeping peacefully for hours, feeling your heart bursting at the seams stuffed with endless joy.

 

Birthday gratitude.

 

My way to give thanks for my most precious gifts is to celebrate happiness and throw a party to share the joy with as many people as possible. When my kids were younger and we would have over as many as 20 or 30 people, I remember I used to start cooking 2 days prior, in order to find myself ready, organized and not stressed. I mastered a secret technic that I use every time I have friends over: half hour before my guests arrive, I stop working, cooking, cleaning, sorting, washing, put my apron down and go change my clothes, fix my hair, put on make up, in order to be able to welcome my friends as the queen of the house. By then, everything is ready to be enjoyed in a serene and stress-free atmosphere. Whenever I recall the parties I threw for my kids, I remember that one  time before Sophia’s 10th birthday. We were living in our Farmhouse in Michigan, it was almost Christmas time, and the ground was covered by a thick layer of snow all around our house. The snow was all the way up to my knees. After putting the kids to sleep at 8 p.m. I ventured outside, got in my car and drove to the supermarket where I bought all I needed for the next day’s party. Around nine I got back home and I started merrily cooking until late into the night, while the snow was softly falling outside the window panes all fogged up from the heat and the good smells coming from the kitchen.

 

Birthday baking.

 

I enjoy cooking just about anything during these occasions, but I especially delight myself with creative baking. The first few years of my son’s birthdays I used to prepare a 3 layered carrot-walnut cake, which my friend Siri gave me, back in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. I believe she got it from the Silver Palate cookbook.

 

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Carrot Cake

3 C flour

3 C sugar (I use about 1 and 1/2)

1 t salt

1 T baking soda

1 T cinnamon

1 1/2 C corn oil (I use canola oil)

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 T vanilla extract

1 1/2 C shelled, chopped walnuts

1 1/2 C shredded coconut

1 1/3 C pureed cooked carrots

3/4 drained crushed pineapple (optional-I usually do not add the pineapple)

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

6 T butter, at room temperature

3 C confectioners’ sugar

1 t vanilla extract

juice of 1 lemon

  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.

2. Slowly sift in confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated.                Mixture should be free of lumps.

3. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch layer cake pans lined with wax paper.

2) Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple (in case you chose to add it).

3) Pour batter into prepared pans. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until edges have pulled away from sides and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

4) Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill cake and frost sides with cream cheese frosting.

 

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During the last few years I have been changing cake, since my son’s tastes change very rapidly these days. Last year to my question to him: “How would you like your birthday cake to be this year? His answer was: “colorful and happy!” Well, I thought to myself, this one is not going to be easy. I looked and looked until I found online something that really tickled my fancy, that is, the recipe for a “Rainbow Cake”!

 

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Rainbow Cake

 

4 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 drops red food coloring

3 drops green food coloring

3 drops yellow food coloring

3 drops blue food coloring

1 egg white

 

Directions:

 

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour four 9 inch square pans.

2) Beat eggs in mixing bowl until frothy. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Beat until light colored and thick.

3) In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. Fold into egg mixture.

4) Into hot milk, stir vanilla and butter until melted. Fold milk mixture into batter. Divide batter in three equal parts into separate bowls.

5) Add a few drops of red food coloring onto one batter. Stir to mix. Spread into a prepared pan. Add a few drops of green food coloring into remaining batter. Stir to mix. Spread into a prepared pan. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring into another batter. stir to mix. Spread into remaining pan. Do the same with the blue. To summarize, make four different colored batters, and pour each into a prepared pan.

6) Bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until an inserted wooden tooth-pick comes out clean. Turn out onto racks to cool.

7) Trim cake layers of rough edges. Cut each layer into even layers. Spread cream cheese frosting (see recipe below) between each layer and around the cake to cover it completely on the top and on the sides. Decorate as you wish.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

6 T butter, at room temperature

3 C confectioners’ sugar

1 t vanilla extract

juice of 1 lemon

  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.

2. Slowly sift in confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated.                Mixture should be free of lumps.

3. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice

 

Few things in life are as gratifying as celebrating something you love. I hope that you will find inspiring the cake recipes I shared above and perhaps you will use them for your loved ones’ next birthdays or any occasion really is good to gift someone with a lovely  homemade, heart felt cake. Just like my beloved neighbors in Michigan did for us when we first moved to our beautiful farm house on Stoney Creek road. Linda and Peter came over to greet us and welcome us with a warm gift wrapped in a kitchen towel. To my surprise, as I unwrapped the gift I found a lovely cake made with much care!  Gestures like this make a difference between an ordinary life and special kind of life. I must say that I am very lucky to have met so many wonderful people in my life!

 

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With Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Barbara
I am a mother, a cooking goddess, an entrepreneur, and a photography lover. Beauty is my passion, in everything that surrounds me: travel, food, relationship, lifestyle, photography. Join me in my joyful tribe! Simone, the eye behind the camera of most of my shots on this blog. His sensitivity towards art and beauty allow him to see things hidden to most. His motto is: "Enjoy life now!"