There are parents that sew their kids’ clothes, carry them in an Ergo until kindergarten and take them to Disney World at least twice before they even reach 2nd grade, but if you don’t mind, please don’t tell my kids that such people are options, at, like, the Parent Store. I, in turn, will not tell yours that while I am decidedly none of the above types I insist upon making all our birthday cakes from scratch. It’s not completely selfless though; clearly I love baking them, challenging myself to get maximum excitement from minimal amounts of efforts (i.e. one-bowl cakes, regular ingredients, no special pan sizes, no fondant and ftlog stay away from Pinterest, Deb, or you’re going to be elbows deep in food dye at 2am again) and I love coming up with new flavors for them, especially fun as our family birthdays fall in June, July, August and September, prime time for fresh ingredients.
For my son, there was a chocolate banana monkey cake (1st birthday), a s’more cake (2nd birthday, in the cookbook), a roasted apple spice sheet cake (3rd) and then, on the precipice of my peach-loving son’s fourth birthday I told him all peaches and cream cake with brown sugar and the faintest trace of nutmeg we were going to make and he said, with the soundtrack of a needle scratching off a record, “No. Tchocola. Tchocola with tchocola.” I immediately realized that my husband and his “if it’s not chocolate, why does it even need to exist” mindset had infiltrated and correctly assessed that my free range in birthday cake baking was lost forever so I did the only rational thing: I had another baby. And she also loves peaches. And she has not yet been tampered with by our family’s chocolate-or-bust lobby. And last weekend, she turned one and I finally got to make that cake.
I’m sorry chocolate, you know I love you, but this cake is wonderful. Brown sugar, vanilla, a lot of peaches, sour cream and then the frosting, it’s the really easy kind that’s just butter and sugar that’s always despicably sweet, but I added sour cream to it instead of the usual milk and it was unbelievable, sweet but fluffier and nuanced. Like, I just remembered that I have a cup of frosting left in the fridge and wish I hadn’t.
I could say a lot of weepy, sappy things to say about babies and birthdays, but all I could really think about over the last week is how crazy it is that she almost wasn’t here. That there was this point, we’ll call it July 2014, when she wasn’t and we were bummed and then there’s this other point, we’ll call it July 2015, when we announced her arrival, and it wasn’t, like, divine intervention. Having help brings a whole extra layer of intentionality to it and also the awareness of how easily it could have gone another way, making us feel extra lucky to have this boing-boing-haired wild thing in our lives.
Thank you: For such a warm welcome to this new design, years in the planning, fretting, revising and then some. I have read every one of your comments and concerns (and please, feel free to leave more on the post at any time) and will be addressing them individually and letting the design/developer team know as the day goes on — do not feel ignored. I simply didn’t want to keep you from bigger things — CAAAKE! — while I did. There are many kinks that we are still working out but within a few days, most will be a thing of the past. It’s so fun to share this with you. I hope it makes the site easier for everyone to use, while (hopefully) keeping the clear/clean/easy-to-navigate/frill-free thing I’ve always liked.
One year ago: Chocolate Chunk Granola Bars, Oven Ribs, Even Better and Green Beans with Almond Pesto
Two years ago: Cherry Almond Dutch Baby, Blue and Red Berry Ricotta Galette and Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings
Three years ago: Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw, Peach and Pecan Sandy Crumble and Slow and Low Dry-Rub Oven Chicken
Four years ago: Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken, Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt, Chopped Salad with Feta Lime and Mint, Flag Cake and Blackberry Gin Fizz
Five years ago: Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes, Skirt Steak and Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Six years ago: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Improved, Zucchini and Ricotta Galette, Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble and Porch Swing
Seven years ago: Horseradish Potato Salad, Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes, Mediterranean Pepper Salads and Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Eight years ago: Sweet Cherry Pie, Project Wedding Cake
Nine years ago: Lemon Risotto, Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake, Everyday Yellow Dal, Classic Madeleines and Roseanne Cash’s Potato Salad
Peaches and Cream Bunny Cake
Source: Cake recipe is my own; bunny template and design from Cake Power
This recipe yields 3 1-inch thick 9×13-inch (or quarter-sheet) layers. I used two to make the sheet cake that served the party and the third with the bunny face template from the Cake Power blog. You will be able to cut 4 ovals and 8 ears from it on a 9×13-inch cake. Two bunnies were stacked to make the baby’s “smash cake” and one was used to decorate the sheet cake. The fourth one was great to have around just in case any of the cut shapes got messed up.
- 6 cups chopped peaches (from 6 to 7 large or 12 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams or 12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (285 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
- A few gratings of nutmeg
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups (480 grams) sour cream
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea or table salt
- 6 cups (780 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (455 grams or 16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 7 1/2 cups (from 2 1-pound boxes) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
Frosting and filling
Make the cake: Line 1, 2 or 3 (if you have) 9×13-inch baking pans with parchment and coat the bottom and sides with nonstick spray. Don’t worry if you only have one pan, you can bake these one at a time. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
If desired, peel your peaches. A commenter pointed me to this life-changning peeler many years ago that works great for peaches, tomatoes and other thin-skinned fruits, or you can cut a small x in the bottom of each and briefly dip them in boiling water, after which their skins should slip off easily.
Cut peaches in half, remove the pits (don’t worry if yours weren’t “freestone” and are making a mess; the cake doesn’t care) and cut the halves into about 1-inch wide fingers, then cut the fingers thinly, creating flat square-ish slices of peach. I like this shape because it’s light enough to not sink but you know you’re biting into a peach when you do. Set peaches aside.
Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, nutmeg and eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl every egg or two. Add sour cream and beat to combine. Sprinkle batter with baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat to combine, then add flour. Mix only until it disappears, and carefully. If you’re using a 5-quart bowl as I was, it’s going to be very full at this point. Add peaches and (again, my bowl was nearly overflowing) fold them with a spatula in very very carefully.
Divide batter into 3 pans (mine clocked in at 39 1/4 ounces per layer) or 1/3 of it each into the number of pans you have. Bake cake layers for 23 to 27 minutes, rotating once for even color. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into batter portion comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake and flip it out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely. If you need to use your cake pan again, just wipe it out, coat it again with nonstick spray and pour another 1/3 of the batter in.
Make the frosting: Beat butter and powdered sugar together until very fluffy; add sour cream and vanilla and beat again. If frosting feels too firm, you can add more sour cream, 1 tablespoon at at time. This frosting gets soft pretty quickly (especially during summer peach season) so you might need to periodically put it in the fridge to keep it at a good consistency. Just don’t leave it in there so long that it hardens.
Shape and assemble cake: To make a bunny cake as shown, print the template from this page and cut out the face and ear shape. Lay it over the cake and use a thin knife to cut out four oval faces and 8 long almond-shaped ears. You will use two sets to make a miniature bunny smash cake. Arrange the first bunny layer on a plate. I do not attach the ears with anything more than frosting. Spread first layer thickly with frosting, place second layer on top and coat entire outside with a very thin layer of frosting. Place cake in the fridge or freezer so that this crumb layer firms up.
Repeat on a larger scale with the two sheet cake layers. Trim the tops so that they’re level, fill them thickly with frosting and coat the outside with a thin layer of frosting chill it.
Once the first frosting layer on the miniature bunny and sheet cake are set, cover more thickly with a final coat of frosting. Use another one-layer bunny face and ear set to decorate the sheet cake, frosting this too. I used a small star tip to pipe dollops of frosting around the edges of the ears and face, and around the bottom rim of the sheet cake. Tint a tiny amount of the frosting with an eye, nose and mouth color. If you don’t have a small round piping tip, you can just snip a tiny bit of corner off a sandwich bag. A jelly bean also makes cute eyes and noses. I covered the sheet cake with confetti sprinkles.
Chill cakes until you’re ready to serve. Don’t take it out more than an hour or two before needed.
First published July 15, 2016 on smittenkitchen.com |
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