Birthday Cake

Newborns cry a lot. Miles cried a lot when he was little, so Roy made up a song for him a few days after he was born. "Little baby Miles, keeping happy all the while, with your little baby smiles, you're so happy all the while..." And, this simple little song about being happy seemed to make Miles happy. The song became something you could hear regularly in our house. We are constantly singing variations of it even though Miles really doesn't cry that much anymore. Over the past year it has become ingrained in our heads.

This year has gone by quickly. Miles turned one this week, and a few days before his birthday I started singing "Little baby Miles" and then I stopped and thought, no he's big boy Miles now. And I suddenly felt sad. Where had my little baby gone? Although I'm loving Miles at age one, that first year seemed too pass much to quickly. I had an irrational mommy moment thinking "Oh my gosh, before I know it he's going to have a license and drive away from the house!"

Luckily my craziness was reigned in by making a cake for him. We had a few people come over to celebrate this birthday. The poor little guy has some eczema that is aggravated by dairy and eggs, so I had to make a vegan cake for him. The cake turned out cute and he liked digging into it. I got the cake topper on Etsy (love that site).  I won't share the recipe here though as it wasn't very tasty. Vegan butter = weird aftertaste.

Luckily everyone else got cupcakes. Chocolate with vanilla frosting, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and chocolate with Nutella frosting. I'll share the recipe for the Nutella frosting in a future post, as it was so good that I'm sure I will be making it again.

Instead the recipe I will share today is Texas Sheet Cake from America's Test Kitchen. About a week earlier we celebrated Miles birthday with our Bible study, and I made this cake then. One of my favorite cakes that my mom would sometimes make for my birthday is Art Smith's Auntie's Chocolate Cake. The two cakes are similar - chocolate cake and warm chocolate pecan icing poured over the hot cake. But, dare I say it, I think I like this Texas Sheet Cake better. I think the main difference is that this icing has less confectioner's sugar than the Auntie's cake. And that means more chocolate flavor. So, I guess we basically celebrated Miles' birthday with my favorite cake. That's okay though because before I know it I'm sure he will be requesting whichever cake ends up being his favorite. And then driving off with his license.

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 sour cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
Cooking spray

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Cake: Adjust rack to middle of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Grease 18 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Whisk together eggs and yolks, vanilla, and sour cream in another bowl until smooth. Heat chocolate, butter, oil, water, and cocoa in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk chocolate mixture into flour mixture until incorporated. Whisk egg mixture into batter just until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 18 -20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and immediately begin making icing.

Icing: Heat butter, cream, cocoa and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Spread warm icing over hot cake and sprinkle with pecans. Let cake cool on wire rack for one hour. Then refrigerate for one more hour. (At this point you can cover the cake tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) Bring to room temperature before serving. Cut into 3 inch squares and serve.

Serves 24.



Scones are nice any time of the year, but I think they are especially good on a warm, sunny morning or afternoon. Since the weather has been nice I decided to make scones last week. Today I will share the basic and easy recipe that I usually use to make scones. This dough is nice and buttery and flaky. You can use any fruit and/or nut combination that you like. If you have a food processor, then you can make these in a few minutes. Even if you don't, they are still easy to make. Simply put the dry ingredients into a large bowl, cut in the butter with two knives, then stir in the cream, almonds and cherries until combined.  

This recipe is adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Baking cookbook. 

Cherry Almond Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into half inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated or turbinado sugar

Position rack in middle of oven and heat to 425 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in food processor and pulse 3 times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 7 or 8 times until the mixture forms crumbs the size of peas. Scatter the cherries and almonds over the dough. Pour in the heavy cream and pulse just until moistened.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and press together gently until the dough clings together. Press dough into a 7 inch round. Cut round into 6 wedges and place on prepared pan. To make the topping, brush the top of each scone with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 13 to 17 minute. Transfer to wire rack and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature either plain or with your favorite jam.

Makes 6 scones.

Note: Can be made 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

A little scone thief!


Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Yesterday we celebrated Miles' cousin Kate's 2nd birthday, and because it was Cinco de Mayo there was a Mexican theme. Becca, my cousin-in-law, made a ton of yummy Mexican food - spicy chicken and beef fillings for tacos, beans, salsas, chips, corn salad, fruit, and a guacamole that I helped smash containing about 20 avocados. Let's just say that I should work out because my arm was sore after all that mashing.

Miles had a good time playing with his cousins, crawling to try to keep up with them as they ran around. The party took place near their pool, and Miles was dying to get in the water. Time to sign up for swim classes this summer! Later, after all the playing and present opening, there were cupcakes and churros for dessert.

Becca asked me to make horchata - a Mexican cinnamon rice drink. If you live in a place with a lot of Mexican food then I'm sure you've had it. If you've never tried it, think about it next time you have Mexican food. It's milky sweetness is a perfect contrast to the spice found in many Mexican dishes.

I referred to my trusty Paletas cookbook by Fany Gerson and I adapted the horchata recipe that I found in there. This book is great if you want to make a variety of Mexican style frozen treats and she also includes a section on aguas frescas, hence the horchata recipe. This recipe is the basic way to make horchata - rice, cinnamon, sugar, but some recipes also call for almonds.


1 1/3 cup medium or long grain rice
6 cups warm water
2 two-inch cinnamon sticks
6 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
Ground cinnamon

Pulverize rice in batches in coffee or spice grinder until the texture is like sand. Whisk the rice powder and cinnamon sticks with the water in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Place entire mixture in blender (including cinnamon sticks) and blend until as smooth as possible. This may take a few minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth set over colander into a large bowl or pitcher. Press on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Whisk in milk and sugar. Adjust according to your taste adding more sugar if you like it sweeter, more milk if you like it thicker or more water if you want to thin it out. Keep cold until ready to serve. Serve over lots of ice with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Makes 3 quarts.