Stu Turns 33
That’s right, the hubs had a birthday Wednesday.
I love birthdays, but this one was especially fun because Ethan got to help plan the celebration! I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to start getting him excited and teach him what “birthday” means: cake and presents.
We started last week with a shopping trip. We needed a present, namely a tie…it is, after all, what the birthday boy asked for. I must have said “Dada’s birthday” about a hundred times during the excursion. Ethan and I looked through a wide selection of ties, finally landing on two bright, solid color, silk numbers.
For the cake,
I we settled on chocolate with vanilla buttercream icing—classic. I set up Ethan in the high chair so he could take part in the baking. While I can’t wait for the day I can hand a spoon over to him to stir his own little bowl of batter, this is not the time…there would have been chocolate goo everywhere and lots of uncooked egg in the baby belly.
The Peanut quickly learned all about licking batter…off the beater, spoon, his finger, etc.
I tried, for the first time, Ina Garten’s (go figure) “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake” recipe. It is made of the most simple ingredients, all of which were already in my fridge/pantry (except buttermilk, but I always make it myself anyway). It contains a WHOLE cup of coffee to enhance the super chocolatey flavor…yum.
I baked the cake in the mini cake layer pans from Ethan’s birthday smash cake. Why? Because they are super cute. (There was enough leftover batter for about eight cupcakes, which I figured Stu could take to work on Thursday) I watched the cakes closely and took them out just in time…cooked to moist, puffy consistency.
BAKING DETOUR: I was feeling experimental(-ish?) and went a little overboard, making two different kinds of buttercream. I just wanted to settle my ongoing debate of which is better: simple (powdered sugar and butter) or meringue-based (egg whites whipped with sugar and butter). I used this recipe for simple and this one for meringue. Both sat, covered, in the fridge overnight.
I’ve tried both recipes before, but can never remember which I like better. The final answer is: I like meringue better when its fresh, but simple better if I want to mak icing the day before. I just don’t feel like the meringue ever comes back together for me after being refrigerated, where as the simple buttercream tastes just as good the second day as the first. So there you go!
So back to the cake. I was kind of lazy with the crumb coat…oh no wait, I had a toddler running around and getting into everything while I was trying to get the cake iced before Stu got home…so a few crumbs came through in the icing process. I call it the “Cookies and Cream” effect. It wasn’t perfect, but looked really cute with the two #3’s on top!
And Ethan thought it was amazing. He said “Wow!!” (course, he says that about pretty much anything you show him)
Stu and I were having grilled tri-tip steak (his fav—a California staple), asparagus, and rice later for dinner so we waited, but Little Man couldn’t stand one more second without cake in his face. So, after the song was sung and the candles were extinguished, we gave him a slice.
This was the first cake he’s had since his birthday party…his cake-eating skills have drastically improved in the last six months.
He broke cake into smaller pieces, then devoured each one. He licked his fingers (mostly) clean. And when he couldn’t take one more ounce of sugar in his system, he gave us an “All done!”
Then it was gift time. Ethan patiently handed the gift bag over to dad and resisted the urge to open it himself.
Stu loved the ties (he’s pretty easy).
After Little Man was asleep, the Hubs and I made a great dinner after which we dove into the cake. OMG. It was perfectly moist, decadently chocolately, yet very light. The simple vanilla buttercream added just the right creamy finish. I may never use another chocolate cake recipe ever again, this one is so incredible.
Though we pretty much turned the whole day into an Ethan-fest (doesn’t that always happen when you have kids?), Stu had a great birthday. I can’t believe he’s 33.