I touched on this in my last post but I'm declaring here and now that May/June is the new December. I've been trying to get away from using the word "busy" but I'm not sure what the better way to describe it is. Schedule too full? A lot of cool, amazing, fun things going on that this almost third trimester pregnant lady can barely keep up with? No matter which word or phrase I settle on the bottom line is that we had a whirlwind of school musicals, dance rehearsals and recitals, end of year activities and June is a big birthday month around here. It was all wonderful but I'm looking forward to the slower pace of long summer evenings!
On the baking front, this was the month of the birthday cakes. My go-to recipe is this lovely white cake from scratch by Goodie Godmother. I've posted about this before over on Instagram and this is a recipe to try if you've been looking for an easy and delicious white cake from scratch. I modified it to an orange and cranberry version for Christmas and I made an Oreo version for my daughter's communion last year. Super simple to change it up!
The first birthday required rainbows and we went with simple vanilla white cake with vanilla buttercream, topped with white chocolate strawberries and all the rainbow sprinkles. I had strict instructions that she wanted a rainbow birthday. I'm still trying to practice that smooth buttercream finish on a cake and this was a good practice run....I'm getting there! I think I fuss too much and keep trying to perfect the frosting finish and make things worse. Many moons ago, I took one of those cake decorating classes at Michael's with a good friend and I remember our sweet instructor telling us to stop fussing at a certain point, but it's so hard to not be Type A about it and just get that last little bump smoothed out...which then ends up creating 3 more.
The second birthday checked off a goal from our baking bucket list as my daughter and I baked macarons for the first time! This "little one" is Paris obsessed these days and loves everything teal so she wanted a Paris themed cake. She's talked about macarons for months. I said we would give them a go but I admittedly was intimidated. My baking style is totally "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" and macarons are. not. that. They are precise. I needed to use a scale...and a stop watch...and my Vitamix....and a mesh sieve....but we moved forward anyway and we had success for a first try with the very helpful tutorial by Turquoise Toffee. I can't say that each cookie came out like these photos. I baked a few too close together and they crumbled, but they were great for taste testing. We kept these simple with a vanilla, teal macaron filled with vanilla frosting. I'm pretty sure we'll try new flavors soon as they're just too pretty to not make again.
Aannnd for the cake, we continued with the teal and Paris themes by plopping this giant Eiffel Tower stand on top as a cake topper after the cake was filled and frosted with likely too much vanilla buttercream (but is there really such a thing as too much vanilla buttercream? I'm asking for a friend). This cake was made with the same recipe, but somehow I did something wrong this time because the cake was made the day of the birthday party but I found it a little dry. I know it's me and not the recipe because I've made it so many times before. I'm chalking it up to distracted baking, which has happened around here before...more than once. I've had experiences in the middle of a recipe only to get distracted by kids or dogs and then return to the recipe and forget where I was mid-measurement and then oops. Too much flour, too little flour....no sugar...oops. I'm not sure what the specific culprit was this time but I will pay more attention next time. Really...I will.
That's June in a nutshell for me. I hope that you have had a wonderful month and enjoy all that summer sunlight!
I committed to myself that if I wrote a blog that I wouldn't just post the baking successes but I would also share my bloopers....pictures and all. Isn't that half the fun? While we're on the subject, I will remind you that I'm very messy in the kitchen. Baking is an event and depending on how much controlled chaos is going on in the house at the time has a direct correlation to my bloopers whether it's a forgotten ingredient (I once forgot all the sweetener in some brownies...gross), wrong pan size, wrong cook time etc. Baking is an art and a science or something in between and the bloopers are part of it so let's love them.
Despite my gigantic sweet tooth, I somehow married someone who isn't really into desserts. When planning our wedding, he was heavily advocating for a wedding steak versus a wedding cake. Don't worry- we didn't have a beef carving photo session. Buttercream and a combination of chocolate and vanilla cake prevailed. There are only a few exceptions to his less than enthusiastic attitude towards dessert and lemon bars are one of them.
Back in June for Father's Day, I set out to find a lemon bar recipe that would change his dessert mind set. Ina Garten from the Food Network has an amazing recipe that starts with a buttery, shortbread like crust and a sweet and tangy lemon filling that sets just right on top. I set out on my baking journey that day in a rush and here's what I came up with....
The crust looked nice. The lemon curd was to die for. I had to adjust the baking timing recommended in the recipe. It didn't set. What did I do wrong? Wrong size baking pan. The effort wasn't lost but it was a win for baking being a science. Well, Mr. Sunday Bakers had a birthday a few weeks back and I set out for lemon bar redemption with the correct sized baking pan and here's the comparison...
Redeemed! This recipe makes a lot of lemon bars too so I was able to put half of them in the deep freezer for a cold winter day when we need a reminder of spring! The blooper was a nice excuse for a new baking pan also and I've got to say that the crust in this recipe is really a beauty and I've used it for festive strawberry and blueberry tarts over the summer.
So, enjoy the journey my friends; bloopers, messes and all. Have a great week.
New England wife and mom. Faith, fitness, yoga, baking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.