This past week has been one of those crazy ones, but I think the week (and days!) before Thanksgiving will always be like that. My youngest son, Rhys, turned 4 on Tuesday, and I wanted to do something special for his birthday party that we had today. Usually, when we have family over for a birthday party, I go all out on the food (lumpia, pancit, maybe Filipino barbecue, and any other delicious dishes my family brings to the party). This year, I decided to try something different and make Rhys’s birthday cake. Most times, I buy a fun birthday cake from the grocery store or will buy one of Costco’s huge birthday cakes. Cake is not one of my baking talents.
One of the cookbooks I borrowed from the library – Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan – has an amazing-looking cake on the cover. I had to try making it!
It was not the easiest cake in the world to make. In fact, my first attempt did not work out (the cake layers stuck to the pans) and I used one of the cake layers as the cake crumbs that were pressed into the frosting. So, it took me 3 days to fully make this cake. On Thursday, I had my failed attempt, on Friday, I successfully baked two layers for the cake and refrigerated them overnight, and today, I made the frosting for the cake and assembled it.
I also was not able to make the Italian meringue frosting that was used in the recipe. I only had 4 hours this morning to assemble the cake as well as clean the house. So I went with a simple cream cheese frosting from probably my favorite food blog: Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer. The frosting part was the easy part. Getting the cake crumb topping onto the cake was more difficult. Which is probably why it looks a bit of a mess.
The cake was very brownie-like and fudgy for a cake and it tasted great. It wasn’t too sweet and the chocolate flavor shone through. I used a 60% cocoa chocolate bar for the bittersweet chocolate and Hershey milk chocolate for the chopped chocolate.
The adults all liked the cake, but the birthday boy hardly ate any of his! This is funny to me because he is the one who requested a chocolate chocolate cake. I was also surprised that one of my nephews, who does NOT like cake, ate his whole piece and wanted more! So I guess it really was more like a brownie. 🙂
I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make the Italian meringue, so I am going to try and make it for my husband’s birthday in January.
Tomorrow, our Sunday School class is having a breakfast potluck. I wasn’t sure what to bring as I was a bit baked out from the birthday cake ordeal. I told my husband about the potluck, and then I went looking for something that was quick to make but would still taste good.
I was about to make some Cream Cheese muffins and set about preparing to do so when Josh walked into the kitchen and asked if we could bring cookies. I was a little surprised. Bring cookies to class for breakfast? Then, he specified that he wanted to make Vanilla and Earl Grey tea cookies.
We have been wanting to try making these for a while, ever since we saw Earl Grey tea biscuits on a biscuit episode of the Great British Bakeoff. They were actually not that hard to make, especially with Josh and I both working together. I had a lot of fun baking with him. We should do that more often!
We should have just taken the lid off the food processor to put in the rest of the ingredients: flour, salt, powdered sugar. But this lid isn’t very easy to put on. If we start using the food processor more, we might be in the market to get a better one. We made quite a mess getting all the ingredients in there. Also, because the finer ingredients kept escaping out of the bowl, Josh was not able to grind up the two vanilla beans completely. We had to sift out the larger pieces of vanilla beans using a mesh strainer. To replace the chunks of vanilla beans that were not ground, Josh added some vanilla extract.
All of my children except one liked these cookies. The one who didn’t like them probably had issues with the ground tea leaves. He is very particular about the texture of his food.
The tea flavor is very subtle in these cookies. I was able to taste the black tea but not very much of the bergamot. The vanilla is the best part of the cookies though. They are buttery and perfect with a cup of tea!