The week my son turned six months was very challenging for me from organizational point of view. Nevertheless it ended up being very successful. I managed to make not one but two cakes (the second one was for the 40 days old daughter of a friend) while taking care about my son. My mom was doing some exams in a hospital for almost four days and I didn’t have her usual help during the day. And exactly this same week my son learned to turn himself from back to belly… a very exciting exercise, apparently, as he started doing it all the time. This wasn’t bad, of course, but he still didn’t learn to turn the other way around so he couldn’t do anything from this point without someone’s help (meaning mine). Even the safest possible place – his bed – now represented a new danger: he was bumping his head at the bars while trying to turn. The bottom line was when he was awake I couldn’t leave him alone for more than 2-3 minutes.
The good thing is that at 6 months age the babies already have some predictable patterns of sleep, so I managed to use my time (or actually his time) wisely.
Ok, enough of motherhood adventures, let’s get to the main point: the cake for my son. Of course it didn’t end up looking the way I initially imagined it. And no, I wasn’t satisfied. If I have to rate this cake from 1 to 10 points I would give it 6. I am not rating it 5 just because I acknowledge the challenges it took to be baked and decorated. Well, the decoration was one of the simplest things I have ever done, literally in half hour. I just didn’t have enough time to do paintings or to make other fancy figures apart from the small rocket on top (yes, it is a rocket, not an airplane or something else :)). Also the rocket was supposed to “fly” on a wire, but the wire I had was too thin for the figure’s weight…so at the end I just put the rocket down in the center. Not very original but at least nice and clean decoration. Oh, I forgot to mention about the stars: I placed them around the edge because the fondant cracked…not for first time (I should consider buying from another brand, I know). I didn’t have any other choice but putting stars all over the cracks. I thought I had different sizes star cutters – it would have looked a bit more interesting with two kinds of stars. But I only had one suitable so I had to make them all equal…
I was so annoyed when I finished the cake that I was grumpy and not in a good mood. But eventually when I put around the blue ribbon (which I kept from one of the nice presents my son received from his grandparents) I found it not that bad. At the end it looked even quite ok for a cake made in such a short time (probably less than 3 hours in total, without counting the baking and cooling time). But I promise to make a better cake for the first birthday!
Tastewise the cake was not bed either. I am not sure if I really like the recipe I chose (from Baker by Nature) because it didn’t become as fluffy as I expected. But it might have been also impacted by my oven. The cake wasn’t too sweet, which was good because it went well with the incredibly sweet fondant on top. The cream cheese frosting was also quite nice.
I made half yield of the original recipe for the cake base and I baked two layers 17 cm diameter each. I am listing most of the products in grams as for me it is easier to weight them when I bake. The two layers become pretty thick, so next time I would just cut each one in half. That way I can also put more frosting which will make the taste richer.
I decided to experiment with a cream cheese frosting for this cake. It works fine also under fondant.
For the cake base (adapted from Baker by Nature):
200 g sugar
280 g all-purpose flour
115 g butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tbs coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tbs lemon zest
1 tbs vanilla extract
125 g plain yogurt
50 ml milk
250 g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
For the cream cheese frosting:
350 g caster sugar
350 g cream cheese
120 g butter, very soft
1 tbs lemon extract
150 g white chocolate, melted on very low in the microwave or in a bowl over simmering water
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two cake pans (with diameter 17 to 19 cm), line them with a circle of baking paper and then grease also the paper.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together butter, oil, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and continue beating. Add yogurt and milk and whisk again. Add also the flour mixture, in three batches. At the end add the blueberries and stir the mixture very carefully until they are incorporated. If the blueberries are fresh, rinse them and wipe them on a tea towel before adding them to the batter.
Spread the batter evenly in the pans. (Note: I have only one pan with this diameter so I obviously had to bake the two bases one by one. In order to divide the batter equally in two parts I used a scale to weight it first and then poured exactly the half in the cake pan. The other half I kept in the fridge until the first layer was baked and removed from the pan). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake turns golden brown (about 40 minutes). Allow the cake to cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Let cool completely on a rack.
When the two bases are completely cooled insert them in the fridge for ½ to one hour. Then use a large serrated knife to cut the cake in half horizontally (it is easier to cut the cake when it is cold).
With an electric mixer beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and lemon extract and continue beating on lower speed for 3-4 minutes. Fold in the melted chocolate with a spatula and whisk gently until well incorporated. Let cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before frosting the cake.
Place one cake layer over a serving plate and spread evenly some frosting over it. Cover with a second layer. Repeat the process with all 4 layers. Spread evenly the remaining frosting on top and around the cake.
If you don’t want to cover the cake with fondant, decorate with fresh blueberries. Alternatively you can colour part of the frosting with food coloring and pipe it on top: it is all up to your fantasy 🙂