"Jill had a baby!" was what I literally just heard from a text read aloud from Kyle 5 minutes ago. Jill, my parents rescue donkey, just had a baby, unbeknownst to everyone that she was even pregnant. I then got a zillion photos sent to my phone of the new baby donkey next to its mama, then being held by my mom, and then lying in a mess of hay on the ground. Haha!! Did you know that donkeys have 12 - 14 month pregnancies? Yikes.
Besides this text that brightened up my day, this week has been on the slower end since Memorial Day. The morning of Memorial Day, we were pleasantly surprised to find out Kyle had the entire day off, so we took advantage of it by going to a nearby river with Sibbie. We hiked a little along the river and then when it got too hot and we started sweating, we waded into the river and doused Sibbie in the water. She loved it! We only wish we could have let her off leash, but last time we did that it ended up with Kyle sprinting barefoot along the river bed trying to catch her and then she pooped (!) in the water. We were mortified at this but also just very glad when we finally caught her. So, we never let her off leash in foreign places (like at the river) anymore.
After the river day we came back to the apartment to meet up with the people who we sold our couch to on Facebook and they picked it up. We didn't think it would sell as quickly as it did (I had listed it that morning) and now we don't actually have a couch, so we have made a makeshift couch with our air mattress and Euro pillows for now. What were we thinking...? Oh well, it makes for comfy Netflix nights since we just started the new season of House of Cards!
Since my one main resolution of the year was to bake more, I decided that I needed to practice more with cakes and cake decorating. And since my little sister's birthday was coming up, I figured it was the perfect excuse to try it out. While this cake took a lot of patience, it was so fun and almost therapeutic! Kyle has started taking an interest in my food and photography passions and helped me film the stopmotion video above. This is my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I have been using for a couple of years now, but I lightened it up by pairing it with a super light and creamy cherry buttercream frosting. This was my first time making a buttercream with a base of egg whites, and I am hooked! If you want more of a cherry flavor, I suggest doubling the cherry mixture and maybe piping it in the middle layer of the cakes.
for the cherry puree
- 10 - 12 cherries, pitted and sliced
- 2 tbl. sugar
- 1 tbl. water
for the cherry buttercream (buttercream adapted from Style Sweet CA)
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 6 - 8 tbl. cherry puree
for the cherry puree
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add the sliced cherries, sugar, and water. Stir and allow mixture to heat up until it is slightly bubbling. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes or until cherries are soft.
Pour cherry mixture into a blender, and puree until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
for the buttercream
Place the egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Stir until just combined. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and set over medium high heat. Carefully set mixing bowl atop the saucepan to create a double broiler. Check temperature of the egg mixture and whisk occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 150 - 160°F. Return mixing bowl to the stand mixer, and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form and bowl has cooled back to room temperature.
Reduce mixer speed to medium low, and slowly add in the softened butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Once butter is fully incorporated, switch out the whisk for the paddle attachment. Add in the vanilla, and beat until combined. Next, add in the cherry puree, being careful to only add in a tablespoon at a time. Mix until each addition is fully incorporated before adding more. Too much liquid will ruin the buttercream by causing it to break. Beat until completely smooth.
If you made the cakes the day before (this is what I did), take them out of the freezer and level the layers with a knife if necessary. Assemble the cake with the first layer, then pipe a layer of the cherry buttercream. Add the next cake layer, and pipe buttercream around the sides and top, smoothing with a spatula. Pop in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes to freeze the crumb coat layer, and then add more buttercream. You can do the dot swoop method like I did here, or something else, or leave it as a naked cake! There are plenty of tutorials on youtube for how to achieve this look, just GTS!
To get the look on the top of the cake I just smoothed it out with the cake spatula several times until it became this pattern. This only took me about 5 minutes!