Oooh birthdays. Where do I start?!
In one year I will officially be a quarter of a century. That's slightly terrifying, but in a kinda cool way. People still think I look like I'm 17, so I'm not too afraid of "getting old" or "looking saggy". Instead, I just see more opportunities: more places to go, more things to try, more time spent with amazing people!
Until then, however: 24.
Although it isn't the biggest milestone sort of age, I can foresee some pretty interesting details coming up. First, I should probably get a job. I think it's time. That's something I'm excited about, sure, but actually really freaked out about at the same time. I'll probably move, which is getting slightly old, but I love new places (or even all of my "old" places), so that's fine. I'm not too stressed on that front. Hopefully I'll meet some cool people, but honestly, I have actually the best friends in the universe, so I hope EVEN MORE that I find additional time and space and place to hang out with the pals I already have. And traveling... there has already been a lot of traveling in 2013, but the age of 24 promises even more.
I'm pretty much open to anything that comes my way at this point.
Except a meteorite. I'm not down with that.
Having birthdays motivates me to think about the little time that I've spent on this lovely earth of ours. I'm the happiest person, and I honestly couldn't ask for more (except, ahem, perhaps a job). I have the most wonderful family and friends. And, I know that I've said this a trillion times, but it will never be enough: I am so grateful for all of them. They make my life sparkle on a daily basis, and they help make me ME!
I'd like to extend this big thank you to all of those people who helped out with my party (and everyone who attended - cause if you were there, I definitely love you!). It wasn't a massive affair, but it was special!
And, um, since we are now talking about parties... what would a birthday party be without CAKE?!
I thought a lot about my birthday cake, but finally decided on a cardamom and pistachio flavour base! It reminded me of a cake that my friend and I used to bake together, and gave me the happiest memories. That cake had strawberries - and after going over the taste (repeatedly) in my head, I knew that strawberries had to get involved for my birthday cake as well.
Cardamom Pistachio Strawberry Cake - What you need:
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1 tablespoon whole cardamom pods
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 can of white beans, rinsed and drained (250 grams after being drained)
- 4 grams agar agar powder
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
- 3/4 cup pureed strawberries
Cardamom Pistachio Strawberry Cake - What you do:
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees celsius. Prepare two cake pans by greasing them with either margarine or butter, and coating them with flour. Set aside.
In a food processor, grind together the pistachios and cardamom until finely ground.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and salt. Add the pistachio and cardamom mix. Set aside.
In the food processor (again), blend together the oil and beans until no lumps remain. Scoop out the mixture into a large bowl. Beat in the agar agar, apple sauce, and strawberry puree until well combined. Beat in the sugar until well combined.
In three additions, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, stirring well after each addition.
Scoop the batter into the two cake pans, dividing it up equally. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. The tops should be golden brown.
Allow the cake to cool slightly, and then run a knife along the edge of the pan. Flip the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
I used a swiss meringue buttercream icing to frost and decorate this cake. I could give you the recipe, but honestly, Whisk Kid does an amazing tutorial, so... I would just follow her steps to a perfect frosting! Don't be afraid to try this icing... it takes some time, but it looks much harder than it is.
I chose this frosting because it behaves well. It holds its shape and pipes out nicely.
To start frosting the cake, I did a crumb coat - a light layer of frosting around the cake to even out the "canvas". After frosting the crumb coat, it helps to stick your cake in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to prepare it for decorating.
I coloured the frosting with leftover strawberry puree.
I wanted to try an "ombre" cake, but I don't think there was enough distinction between my shades of pink. Oh well. It still looks pretty, and most importantly - it tasted GREAT!
It's always hard taking photos of cake at a party (bad lighting, no set up, etc), but here is my attempt at snapping the inside of the cake! ... plastic plates and all!
Nom. It was great! My sister bought me a unicorn sprinkler shaker (pictured waaay above; as in: you put sprinkles inside the unicorn, and then you shake them out like a salt shaker!) I had a very good time with this little tool. I'm pretty sure the entire flat was covered with sprinkles by the time I was done decorating everyone's piece of cake.
Baking soundtrack - Tunes to inspire your inner baker:
The kids in this band look so young! Power to them. I really love this song... it is so dreamy!