It’s only been a few days since our Aunt Beth’s passing, so things are still raw. I find myself opening up photos of her on Facebook and just looking through them, unable to decide if that’s a normal thing to do or if I’m just torturing myself. I miss her and my heart breaks for her children and her husband, as well as her mother and her brother (my father-in-law). I feel like I can still hear her laugh, and I keep playing her voice over and over again in my head. She’s not talking about anything in particular, but I find it comforting to think about her voice. I think about her saying things she said to me so many times. “Why are you laughing? Why do you think Tyler is so funny? She laughs at everything he says!” or joking about where the next bottle of white wine was. She was such a dedicated person, not only to her immediate family but to Kramer and me and to his sister, Rachel. Whenever we saw her, she’d go on and on about how beautiful we looked, or how handsome Kramer is. She’d ask about my parents and my brothers and always wanted to know everything that was going on in our lives as well as theirs. She was so funny and the first one to be self-deprecating to push the attention off of herself and onto someone else – classic move, Beth. She was a big fan of this blog and forced people to go online to check it out, even if they didn’t give a damn about cooking and baking. At her funeral, so many people referred to me as “the cook” or “the baker”, even people that I had never met before, and they all told me about how Beth never stopped talking about my blog. I can only imagine how uninteresting someone’s niece’s blog would be to a stranger, but Beth was my champion and only wanted me to succeed. Word of mouth from Beth alone probably accounts for a big chunk of visitors that I get here every day. Thinking about how much she cared and how highly she thought of me is what makes me cry the most, even though I know she would hate that. She was a talented baker in her own right, too. She had her own cake pop business called Behr Pops and each one was more impressive than the last. We’d talk about baking and how it doesn’t matter how many times you make something, you keep eating while you cook or bake and make yourself sick, not wanting to eat the final product. I loved that I wasn’t the only one to hit the frosting a little too hard while decorating, and I especially loved that we could literally have a conversation about the best ways to eat the leftover scraps of cake from whatever project either of us were working on. She just got it. I’m going to miss that so much.
Together at Rachel’s wedding this past November.
I wanted to make cake pops or something for Beth, but I am a t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e decorator and don’t have half of the patience that she did. Honestly, I started looking up recipes and different pops that she made and just stopped. There was no way, which is just another way that Beth was amazingly talented. I still needed to get in the kitchen and distract myself, though, so I made this cake. Beth made a lot of cake pops in the shape of birthday cakes. I decided to make something bright and happy and colorful and full of sprinkles. I even used the edible glitter that I dug up in one of my many overfilled, rarely used bags of baking decorations. I think she would have loved that. When I went to the store to grab supplies for this cake, though, I couldn’t find the sprinkles in any of the aisles and I panicked. I’m probably just tired and my brain is fuzzy, but I couldn’t find them and started to have a mild panic attack because I felt like I needed to make this cake. Thankfully, one of the store’s employees helped me find them, and honestly, when he handed me two jars of sprinkles, I almost broke down crying. I’m glad for his sake that I didn’t – I’m not sure he’d know what to do with a girl sobbing over sprinkles. Obviously all went according to plan, so now I’m sitting here, covered in glitter, as I’m sure Beth often was after making countless cake pops, thinking of her and crying again as I write this, but proud of the cake and confident that Beth would be excited that I made it for her. I hope it’s the kind of cake that she would decline to eat initially, like so many moms do, but then maybe she’d sneak a piece later while inevitably cleaning up after everyone. It’s not a cake pop, but it reminds me of her and I think she’d forgive me for not being able to craft cake and white chocolate into animals, balloons or superheroes. Maybe her daughters picked up some of her skills over the years and can teach me some pop tricks some time. Either way, this is my cake for Beth – we love you and we miss you.
I used a few different kinds of sprinkles, including some shaped like pigs that I got at Whisk a few weeks back.
Make your batter.
Then fold in your sprinkles.
Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or so, until set and lightly golden.
Allow the cakes to cool before frosting them.
Frost your cake with a thin crumb layer first, to keep any rogue crumbs off of the finished product.
Then finish frosting, decorate, slice and enjoy.
I think Beth would have found this cake to be delightful (but still not as intricate as her cake pops).
- 2 cups cake flour (make your own by combining 1¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons clear imitation vanilla (I did not use clear vanilla)
- 1 cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup plus 1 tablespoon sprinkles
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract (again, I didn't use clear)
- pinch of salt
- additional sprinkles, for decoration (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and cut out 2 circles of parchment to fit into 2 8-inch cake pans (I used 9-inch), then butter well or spray with non-stick spray. Whisk together your cake flour (or homemade cake flour), all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set it aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, for no less than 3 minutes. Add in the egg whites, one at a time, incorporating the first before adding the next, again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the oil and the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the flour and milk into the batter in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour (so add ⅓ of the flour, ½ of the milk, ⅓ of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the rest of the flour), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the sprinkles - resist the urge to add more than the recommended ⅔ cup, as I promise they will be plenty!
- Divide your batter evenly into your two prepared pans. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sprinkles over each of the cakes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden and set. Allow the cakes to cool completely before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and removing them from the pans to frost.
- When the cakes are ready to frost, make your frosting by beating together your butter and sugar until smooth, then adding in the vanilla and salt and beating for another few minutes.
- To frost your cake, place one of your cakes on a secure work surface (I like to put a dollop of frosting under a cardboard cake board to keep it still). Place a dollop of about ⅓ of your frosting on top of your first layer and smooth it out.
- Place your next take on top, top side down so that the flat side is facing up, and push the layers together a bit to secure them. Frost your cake with a thin layer, called a crumb layer, just to secure any loose crumbs. Place your cake in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to secure the crumb layer. Finish frosting your cake as you like, then finish with lots of sprinkles and/or edible glitter, depending on how crazy you want to get. Let the cake chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes or so before slicing and serving. This cake will keep well in an airtight cake container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.