Monday, January 12, 2009

Let the Month Long Birthday Celebrations Begin!!!

January is THE month of birthdays in our family. It starts out on the 1st with John's Grandma Betty. Next comes John on the 8th. Then MacKenzie on the 12th, my Aunt Jeanne on the 14th, Kristen on the 17th, Brian on the 20th, me (Becky) on the 21st, and Valerie on the 31st.

For John's birthday, we celebrated as a family and had dinner at home, cake and ice cream (not enough candles), and opened presents. The kids were super excited and were dancing and spinning in the kitchen. We told them to stop repeatedly, but Dante managed to not listen to us, and also managed to hit the back of his head on the corner of the banister causing bleeding and crying. We thought it looked bad enough that we took him to the doctor to check it out. Fortunately, he didn't need stitches, but they did cut his hair a little, and irrigated it. We were there pretty late for Dante, so he fell asleep on the way home. A very eventful night.

Speaking of birthdays reminds me that we spent time at our friends' house (Michelle and Lowe) after Christmas one evening. We brought a cake for dessert (what was I thinking? I was thinking I hadn't had cake in a long time, so it would be great. I forgot that we eat cake all January, but it was really good anyway) Michelle wanted the recipe so here it is. This is one of the easiest and best tasting cakes I can make from scratch (without eggs because of allergies). It is simple, but can be made extra special with layering and frosting, which I did for our friends.

Crazy Cake (also called Eggless, Milkless, Butterless Cake)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into and ungreased 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredients. Pour oil into one, vinegar into one and vanilla into one. Pour water all over and mix thoroughly with a fork to moisten all dry ingredients. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This is the simplified version. Nowdays, I just add the vanilla and vinegar into the cup of water before I pour it in and that works too.

To make this cake extra good, I double it and pour into 2 greased 9" round cake pans and bake. I take the cake out of the pans after it cools for maybe 5 minutes and cool on a rack. Even out the layers using a serated long knife (to take the rounded top off the cakes). I like to fill with a chocolate buttercream frosting and top with ganache, but you could top with buttercream as well. Or, use any frosting recipe you have and like. It is hard to go wrong with chocolate cake.

Here is a buttercream frosting recipe. I have used this recipe without the cocoa powder for a white buttercream recipe (add food coloring to make colors).

1/2 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder (haven't used this amount of cocoa before, it seems like a lot, I might use less, edited: I made this recently and used 1/2 cup and it was a lot. I would go between 1/4 -1/2 cup)
1 lb powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp mik

In mixer add everything and mix slowly at first so you don't get a mess. Use more milk to thin frosting, less for thicker frosting. I like to beat it for a while to make it fluffier. This will make about 2 cups I think.

I like to use ganache on the tops and sides because you pour the ganache on top and let it drip down. It is easier to make it look good, if you aren't a professional, which I'm not.

Ganache Frosting

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp granulated sugar (or corn syrup)
1 cup heavy cream

Heat cream, sugar, and butter just to boiling point. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate (in bowl), Let stand 5 minutes, then stir with whisk until well blended. Let cool, then pour on cake. Pour a lot in the middle, so you have enough to drip over the edges. I use a spatula to direct it over the edges and around the sides. You can refrigerate leftover ganache in fridge and make truffles when hardened.

Sorry I don't have any pictures of this cake, but it is really good. I will have to try to remember to take a pic the next time I make it fancy.

Happy Birthday everyone!!


We haven't posted in a while, mostly because we haven't downloaded our pictures off the camera yet. And I realized that we really didn't take very many pictures at Christmas. It must be because we did video record some of the morning. Anyway, we had a great Christmas. We spent the evening of the 24th at Mike and Megan's house in Kearns. It was fun to spend time with their family. Christmas morning was spent in excitement and glee as we opened out gifts. The kids all loved their presents and we spent the rest of Christmas break playing new Wii games and having fun with all the new toys. If asked, Dante will tell you he got lots of boy stuff for Christmas. And he loves it all (and lots of it was Star Wars related, which is why Darth Vader made an appearance at our house).

I guess I didn't get any pics of Val that morning, but here is one from her class party. She is playing "Don't eat Santa!" which is one of our favorite games to play at kid parties. We even had a round with the hometeachers when they came this month. It was very entertaining.