When I was in high school, having a pen pal was all the rage. One of my best friends, Soul Sista, had a crazy amount of them – I swear, at one point she was writing to between 15 to 20 people from all corners of the world. She wouldn’t just send one or two letters and then cease all communication, as I did with the one pen pal I had. She would actually carry on conversations for months on end with each person.
Do people still have pen pals anymore? Strangers from a foreign land that you write letters to, describing your life and learning about another’s in return? The internet has probably made that obsolete. Now, we connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We email, text, Skype. We meet each other in on-line forums.
And we blog.
We start typing out words and sharing our thoughts in the virtual world. If we’re lucky, we get to meet amazing people who share our interests and become our friends.
I’ve been extremely lucky. And today’s post proves it.
I’m getting together with a group of extremely talented, kind, supportive and hilarious bloggers to celebrate the birthday of one of our own. I met all these ladies online. I’ve gotten to know them on a personal level in the short 10 months that I’ve been blogging. Our relationships have gone beyond the superficial and instead, they feel like real friendships.
The birthday girl we are feting today is the amazing Carla of Chocolate Moosey. I met her through my Sunday Supper group. At first, I was simply in awe of the delicious desserts she makes. Seriously – if you don’t do anything else today, make sure you visit her blog. You’ll be treated to tantalizing items like her Cadbury Creme Egg Milkshake, Award Winning German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling and Cookie Dough Frosting …the list goes on and on. I was also completely inspired by her photography. Carla is a giver – she’s constantly posting wickedly useful, straightforward, Dummies-esque tutorials on photography. I started out by complimenting these two things in her blog’s comment section and eventually, we starting chatting about things outside of our blogs. I’ve really come to appreciate how smart, funny and sassy Carla is. She’s scrappy. She’s tough. She’s hilarious and tells it like it is.
We live a world where, more often than not, people are so wrapped up in their own lives and issues that they don’t bother to ask you how you’re doing (or they won’t even pretend to listen to your answer when they do). Carla is that rare person who actually wants to know what’s up. She’s not asking about your day simply to pay lip service to common courtesy. She digests what you say and comes back at you with a thoughtful, engaging answer. We’ve had many conversations where she’s patiently listened to my angsty complaints and actually tried to work my problems through with me. She does so while keeping her sense of humour and brightening my day with one of her many witty, sarcastic remarks (I’m a snarky bitch – if you can’t speak sarcasm with me, it’s doubtful we can be friends).
So my dear friend, Carla, today we’re all celebrating you and the real difference you’ve made in our lives. And what’s a birthday without cake?
Lemon Poppyseed Layer Cake (adapted from Pastry Affairs)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp poppyseeds
zest of 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8″ cake pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add in the sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Beat together.
Add in the dry mixture, alternating with the milk (dry, milk, dry, milk, dry). Mix until the batter is combined. Add in the poppyseeds and mix until fully incorporated.
Divide between the three cake pans. Because I only have two cake pans and I didn’t have the time to reuse one of them, I filled the two pans pretty high and used the remaining batter to make cupcakes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to fully cool before assembling and frosting cake.
Marshmallow Frosting (adapted from Trophy Cupcakes as found on Martha Stewart)
8 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 5-8 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or simply use an electric mixer. Beat the egg white mixture, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Use this frosting immediately.
Lemon Curd (from the Joy of Baking)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (don’t use the bottled stuff)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp lemon zest
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick, to the consistency of hollandaise sauce. Do not stop whisking – you don’t want lumps of cooked egg to form. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately pour the curd through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let it cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with plastic wrap placed directly onto the surface of the curd so that a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate for up to a week.
*Note before we start: I had to cut my two cakes into four layers. If you make 3 cakes, you don’t need to cut them. You can just use the cakes to make a three-layer cake. My instructions are applicable to however many layers you have*
After the cakes have fully cooled (place into the fridge if you don’t have time to let them cool on the counter), cut them into two layers. Take the bottom layer and spread blackberry jam (or whatever flavour jam you want) over top. Spread it thinly – I was a bit heavy-handed and the sweetness of the jam was a bit overpowering. Pour 1/3 of the curd over top of the jam. Place the next cake layer on top and repeat steps until you place the last layer of cake on top. Frost with the marshmallow frosting. Store in the fridge until time to serve.
The cake part is out of this world. This is an excellent cake recipe – it produces the fluffiest, lightest, most moist cake ever. In a way, I thought it was a bit TOO light to stand up to the jam, curd and frosting. There were too many soft textures, in my opinion. The next time I make this, I might either use a sturdier cake or omit either the jam or curd. I know you won’t hold it against me, Carla, for not making a perfect cake. Regardless of all the negatives that immediately came to mind when I was eating this (I’m extremely hard on myself) it was still pretty darn tasty. And it’s a showstopper. I had to bring something lovely to this virtual birthday party.
Because you, my friend Carla, deserve it.
- Coconut Fudge Cream-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars at Juanita’s Cocina
- Chocolate Mousse Cake for Chocolate Moosey at Chocolate, Chocolate, and More
- Chocolate Moose Cookies | Happy Birthday Chocolate Moosey at Cravings of a Lunatic
- Individual Funfetti Cake at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
- Chocolate Moose Cupcakes at Daily Dish Recipes
- Torticas de Moron (Cuban Sugar Cookies) at Magnolia Days
- Cake Batter Funfetti Cookie Cups at The Messy Baker
- Happy Birthday Thumbprint Cookies at Family Foodie
- Lemon Poppyseed Layer Cake for a Chocolate Moosey Birthday at Gotta Get Baked
- Blackberry Cobbler at Jen’s Favorite Cookies