Last Friday was my first full day home alone with two kids. Yikes.
The hubby was able to take about a month off for Amelia’s birth, which was wonderful — but it also means that we have some more adjusting to do now that he’s back at work. Nora is in preschool four days a week, which makes it considerably easier on me, but on Fridays, it’s all Mommy, all the time. I was pretty anxious about how it would go, given that Nora tends to get bored with just me, especially hanging around the house, and with a new baby — especially in cold and flu season — there is necessarily a lot of hanging around the house involved.
We all survived, so I count that as a victory. And, honestly, it went just fine. Trying to brainstorm fun indoor ideas (since, of course, it was rainy on top of everything else), I had asked Nora the night before if she’d like to bake cookies the next day. Nope. “I want to bake a cake,” she countered. “A vanilla cake. With vanilla frosting. And chocolate inside.”
Thankfully,* the chocolate inside idea got dropped somewhere along the way, but we did bake a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. And it was, per her specifications, very vanilla.
*For simplicity’s sake only. A chocolate ganache filling would have been delicious!
I love that Nora is getting to an age where she really likes to help out in the kitchen, and she can actually help (slightly) more than hinder. And I am pretty darn proud of myself for managing to bake a cake with a 3-year-old sous chef and a one-month-old sleeping in the Moby wrap. Skillz.
It was not a beautiful cake, which is why I don’t have a glossy, magazine-ready photo of it. It turned out little bit dry, since I left it in the oven for a couple of minutes too long while we finished up a book we were reading, and I let it cool for too long in the pan, rather than turning it out onto a rack, since it was time to put Nora down for her nap, so the bottom sunk in a little bit. But it was still delicious, and we had fun making it, which is really what counts.
- 1¾ cups (7 oz) cake flour, plus more for pans
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 3 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
- 2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tsp good-quality vanilla
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and fit the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease the parchment and then flour the pans.
- Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low speed until combined. With the mixer still running, add the butter a few pieces at a time and mix until beginning to clump, with the largest pieces about the size of peas.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and add about half of the egg mixture, beating until light and fluffy. Add the remaining egg mixture in a stream with the mixer still running. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and then beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is well combined and beginning to look slightly curdled.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, smoothing with a spatula, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack and then turn out onto the rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, beating until combined.
- Add the milk, vanilla, salt and lemon juice and beat until well combined and smooth.