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Mimi's 90th Birthday Cake



It’s my grandmother Mimi’s 90th birthday! My father requested that I make a fancy cake for her party; I am so honored that I got to make her this dessert. 

Mimi is a very salt-of-the-earth, low-maintenance woman; she is very thrifty and loves simple desserts like angel food cake and cobblers. However, my father felt that her 90th required something with a little more flash. We decided to keep the flavors simple- it’s just chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, but he told me to go all out with the decorations.

I wanted to keep the decorations to this cake elegant, classy and with some lovely sparkle. Piped rosettes are very classic; I upped the ante by spraying them pearlescent and adding pearl dragees. The next tier I wanted in silver; I sprayed it silver, added edible silver leaf and wrapped the whole thing in edible lace. To add even more oomph to the top (and additional yummy goodness), I made meringue cookies. I found the perfect silver sparkly cake topper on amazon, and voila! A cake suitable to present Mimi on her special day.

My grandmother and I share a lot in common. We both love to cook and bake- in fact, I have inherited a lot of recipes from her and some of my favorite memories in my childhood are helping her out in the kitchen. We also both love to find goodies at thrift stores; especially fun plates and bowls. It drives my dad batty that Mimi has to move dishes out of the way to get at the dishes she wants to use for a special occasion (he thinks it all useless clutter and prefers white plates) but I understand her completely. Our homes are both cozily stuffed with treasures.

Mimi and my late grandfather, Bumbi, were married for 71 years; their birthdays were 1 year, 1 month and 1 day apart. Bumbi used to tell me it proved that they were “meant to be.” They had 7 children together. She has 14 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. She is cherished by us all; she makes each one of us feel special and loved.

Happy birthday, Mimi! I love you very much indeed.



Vanilla Cake:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil



Method:
Prepare 4 6 inch by 1 inch round cake tins with butter, flour and parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder,  and salt.

In a jug combine the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream and milk. 

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined, Spread batter evenly into the pans.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 14 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cupcake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. 

Vanilla Buttercream:
Ingredients:
6 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Method:
In a standing mixer fit with a paddle attachment, add the butter and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and beat until light, white, smooth and spreadable. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined. If the frosting is too thick, add heavy cream once tablespoon at a time until spreadable. 



Chocolate Cake:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream 
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature

Method:
Prepare 4 8 inch by 1 inch round cake pans with butter, flour and parchment paper . Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.

In a jug combine the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, and milk. 

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tin cups.

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Decorations:
1 10 inch silver cake drum
1 6 inch cardboard cake round
5 large straws
Edible silver leaf
Pearlescent spray
6 mm pearl dragees
Edible lace
16 inch icing bag fitted with star tip
Offset spatula
Vanilla meringue cookies (homemade or store-bought)

Assembly:
Stack, fill and crumb coat the chocolate 8 inch layer cake and the vanilla 6 inch layer cake. Put the 8 inch later cake on the silver Trim the edges of the cake if necessary to make the edges beautifully even. Pop each cake into the refrigerator for a half hour to set the crumb coat. While working on one cake, leave the other in the fridge. 

To decorate the chocolate cake, place frosting in the icing bag fitted with the star tip. Pipe roses over the whole of the cake, working in layers from bottom to top. Leave the center 6 inches blank to allow the top layer to sit on the cake flushy. Place 5 straws in the center of the cake where the top layer will sit. Spray the cake generously with the pearlescent spray. Place the pearl dragees in the center of some of the roses; use your decorative judgement to find an effect you like. Return the cake to the fridge.

Spread frosting evenly over the whole of the 6 inch vanilla layer cake. Smooth as best you can. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm it up. Take it out, and run your offset spatula under hot water. Smooth the frosting out while spinning the cake. You should be able to achieve a nearly perfect effect. Apply the silver foil with tweezers- let it flutter and fall. It will add to the texture of the cake. Affix the lace to the base of the cake all the way around. Spray with the pearlescent spray. Pop the cake into the fridge for 30 minutes for everything to solidify.


Place the top layer on the bottom layer carefully. Pipe extra roses on the bottom layer to cover anything glaringly wrong. Before serving, place the meringue cookies on the top and your decorative cake topper, if you are using one. Present to your honored guest!



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