Happy Birthday Ami!!

Is there anything better than a birthday party to a 4 year old?  Balloons…cake…gifts…cake…friends…did I mention cake?

This past weekend we celebrated Ami’s birthday.  Treasured time spent with close friends to celebrate the 4 wonderful years of our daughter’s life.  This year the birthday girl chose a “dog” theme.  I have to admit that I had my doubts about the creative offerings of such a theme, but after several weeks of planning and quite honestly, obsessing specifically about Dalmatians, I might have been more excited about the festivities than even the birthday girl.  In fact, I’m still seeing spots!  I’ve always had an unnatural passion for polka dots…and this theme allowed me to take that obsession to new heights!

It turns out that the possibilities for imagination were endless and my only constraint was time.  I made the dog topper for the cake about a week in advance and by the time Ami’s party arrived, “Spot” was practically considered a family pet…he was that cute.  Isn’t it true what they say that “dog is man’s best friend”…imagine if it’s made out of sugar?!  Anyway, the outdoor event was a success surrounded by a special group of friends and manageable backyard temperatures.  The cake was a delicious double layer vanilla buttermilk cake with chocolate chips (very Dalmatian I must say) with chocolate buttercream frosting.  The chocolate buttercream frosting was a one bowl buttercream perfect for kids because it doesn’t have any egg whites like a traditional swiss buttercream (my personal favorite).  All of the decorations on the cake were made out of gumpaste (one of my favorite sculpting ingredients to work with).  Technically, gumpaste is edible because it is basically a sugar dough, however, I don’t find it all that appetizing.  The kids felt differently…Ami had barely blown out the candles before the dog bones and ball were seized and consumed by several sugar starved children.  I grabbed our new family pet…Spot (whom I’m quite attached to if you haven’t noticed)…and his dog bowl as fast as I could in order to salvage the last remnants of all my hard work.

Buttermilk & Chocolate Chip Cake         {Print Recipe}

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour (plus 1 Tbsp at high altitude)

1 Tbsp baking powder (2 tsp at high altitude)

½ tsp salt (3/4 tsp at high altitude)

2 sticks butter

2 cups granulated sugar (minus 1 Tbsp at high altitude)

4 eggs (5 eggs at high altitude)

1 tsp vanilla extract (2 tsp at high altitude)

1 cup milk (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk at high altitude)

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position rack in center of oven. Butter and flour (2) 9” pans or 9×13 pan and use parchment paper, if desired.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Beat in the eggs 2 or 3 at a time, along with the vanilla, beating well to blend. Then scrape down the bowl and beater again. Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled, the flour will bring it together.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk or buttermilk. Once the batter is blended together, increase the speed and beat for about a minute, until smooth and creamy.  Add the chocolate chips and beat until chips are just incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans or the 9×13 pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 22-28 minutes for 9″ pans and 30-33 minutes for 9×13 pan (rotating after 20 minutes) or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry. Cool pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake layers and pan sides to release the cakes and let the cakes cool completely. Fill and frost as desired.

*Note: I doubled the cake and frosting recipes to create a double layer 9×13 cake.

Recipe from Pie in the Sky, by Susan Purdy

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

2 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture alternately with the milk.  Beat to a spreadable consistency, adding milk as necessary.  Stir in the vanilla.

Recipe from All Recipes.com



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