Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Little Turns TWO!

I cannot believe this little thing is TWO years old tomorrow!! Remember how little she started out?  I still love her littleness and she is such a joy in our house.  When I picture her, it's pushing a stroller with her doll or Elmo along for a ride, carrying her diaper bag full of bottles, sippy cups, and doll diapers.  Like her big sisters, she likes skirts and accessories, and she often asks me to brush her hair in "two" (two ponytails).  She makes friends everywhere and people all over town know her name.  She loves music and sings to herself constantly, has a big imagination and takes care of her babies and stuffed animals like such a sweet little mommy.  Little always wants to know where everyone in the family is and what they are doing.  It's her job to call everyone to the table at dinner "time a deeno!" and wake up her sisters for school.  When she kisses me on the cheek, she asks, "happy mama?"  to which the answer is always, "yes!  you make me happy."

Big and Middle are obsessed with planning birthday parties and themes.  They talk about theirs all year round.  Even though theirs aren't until August and September, as of today, the themes will be "Wizard of Oz Slumber Party" and "Wild Kratts."

When we ask (somewhat jokingly) what kind of birthday Little wants to have, she says "cake."  When pressed or given choices, it's "Elmo."  So, Elmo Cake birthday it is!  Little doesn't share our affection for chocolate so I turned to my meyer lemon tree once again for inspiration and made her a lemon cake with vanilla frosting.  It turned out delicious!

 Lemon Birthday Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (makes two 8in layers)
from Cooking Light

2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1.5 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 T finely grated lemon rind
2 T fresh lemon juice

For frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 c. confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 T vanilla extract
up to 4 T milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 (8 inch) round cake pans with baking spray (or butter and flour).

 Measure flour and combine it in a bowl with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.  Set aside.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).  Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Pour batter into prepared pans.  I use a kitchen scale to make sure they're even.  Tap each pan sharply on the counter once to release air bubbles.  Bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make Frosting:

Sift the confectioner's sugar.  Beat butter for a few minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated.  Increase speed to medium and add vanilla, salt, and 2 T of milk or cream and beat for 3 minutes.  If the frosting needs to be more stiff, add more sugar.  If it needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Frost cake and serve!