On this Labor Day, I am grateful to have a day off from work. I am grateful that my daughters Meghan and Tricia are within just a few hours of home after a 5-day cross-country drive from southern California. Pretty sure I haven't had one good night's sleep since they started this journey, with my phone by my head just in case. I am grateful for having a 3-day weekend to spend with my boys, now ages 4 1/2 and almost 2 (Pete's birthday is in October, and we're already trying to decide what cake he will have!). I am grateful that Russ was here for even a short while since it's been too long since we've had any time together, though he had to leave too soon. I am grateful to have had breakfast this morning with my lovely friend Claire. We went to Compton's on Broadway in Saratoga Springs and were lucky to get a table at 9 a.m. When we left, there was a line out the door onto the sidewalk. I had a Mexican omelet and it was really very good. I am low-carbing it these days, in anticipation of Tricia's wedding in 6 weeks! It was HARD to say no to toast and home fries, but I did it. I can do this for at least six weeks, and maybe beyond. Quite a challenge for a baker, I must say!
I am also grateful that my friend Tina loved the cake I baked for her family's party last night -- a white cake with buttercream frosting, both with just a hint of lemon extract. When I delivered the cake, Tina said that was just right since a friend was bringing lemon sorbet and blueberries to the party. What a perfect dessert for an end-of-summer celebration!
Here are a few photos of Tina's cake as it came together, followed by recipes so you can make one yourself if so inclined! I took these photos with my Windows phone - I'm getting used to the settings, so I hope my photos get better as I go along!
Simple White Cake
(loosely adapted from allrecipes.com)
Prepare pans: Butter and line bottom of 8" round pans with parchment or waxed paper. Butter parchment paper. Lightly dust with flour.
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk with 2 teaspoons vinegar - let sit for a couple of minutes)
In large bowl of electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Set aside.
In another large bowl of electric mixer, beat sugar and butter for five minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and vanilla.
Mix together flour and baking powder. Add alternately with buttermilk and mix until completely incorporated. Gently fold in egg whites, about a third at a time, until completely mixed in. The goal is to lighten the batter, so don't overdo it.
Divide batter into 2 8" round pans and bake at 350 degrees F until done, about 30 minutes or until center springs back. Do not over bake. Let cool in pans for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling on wire racks. If you're not frosting the cake the same day, wrap cooled layers in plastic wrap.
Light Lemon Buttercream Frosting
(I doubled the recipe for a 2-layer, 10-inch round, decorated cake)
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed
In large mixer bowl, cream butter with shortening. Add extracts. At lowest speed, mix in sugar, pouring in milk as you go. Once the milk is incorporated, beat for a minute. If it needs more milk, add a few drops at a time until the frosting is of spreading consistency. It could take a few tablespoons or just a few drops. You have to judge for yourself. Be sure to add additional milk sparingly, because you can always add more, but you can never take it out once it gets too soft. I keep the frosting white, but if you'd like to add a drop or two of yellow food coloring, that'd be nice too!
(If you plan to pipe decorations on the cake, a little-bit firmer frosting for piping is better.)
Happy Labor Day to everyone! Hope you are relaxed, with family and friends, and enjoying great food!!!