THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!!!!!
I had the most amazing birthday ever! The Saturday before Mom and I went shopping. We really went to pick up my earrings, but they are still being tinkered with a month later since they had to be converted to clips. However, while perusing the Neiman Marcus Last Call sale, I found an adorable handbag that I had to have. Mom bought it for my birthday. It may be my new favorite.
My birthday itself was crazy cold, as was the entire week, so I did a lot of staying home and protecting myself from chilblains as much as possible. The sun shone in the house a tiny bit, always welcome. Dad took the day off so we could all spend it together. I may have had an ulterior motive in that it meant he would go pick up fish and groceries for the week, but shhhhhh . . . he doesn’t have to know that 🙂 After catching up on morning news and eating breakfast, I blogged and opened presents. A gorgeous purple nail polish and all three of the cookbooks from Baked Bakery! You guys should be really excited about those. I can’t wait to break them in. The homemade marshmallow crème to be used in fudge caught my eye immediately. I discount so many fudge recipes because they call for marshmallow crème, but now I don’t have to! During baking, the most beautiful, seriously most beautiful flowers arrived. Bright lilies that smell like summer, roses, daisies, tulips, and flowering kale. I love flowering kale, they are so pretty with the shape of a rose. The fabulous flowers came from Tiffany Florist in Birmingham, Michigan. If you live in the area, the next time you need flowers, call them. You will not be disappointed. I just want to sit and stare at them all day long.
Mom and I baked and watched some more TV, and I read more of Gone Girl. Can’t wait to see what happens – so engrossing. Dinner was broiled swordfish and Cabbage Slaw with Vinegar Dressing, followed by dessert. We rounded out the evening watching ParaNorman. It was seriously the cutest movie ever and the perfect way to end the day. In fact, at the very end I found an eyelash on my finger. I thought about what I wanted to wish for, as I always take a minute to make a wish when the opportunity presents. The day had been so lovely, so amazing that I couldn’t think of anything for which to wish. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I want, some material, other decidedly not. But there was nothing else to ask for that day, as perfection cannot be improved upon, except maybe for the day to never end.
The dessert I made was Dolley Madison Cake. I made it once before right before I started the blog and couldn’t wait to share it with you. I’m sorry it’s taken so long, because you totally need this cake in your life. It’s an unconventional layer cake, fitting for this unconventional girl’s birthday, and it simpler to make than your average layer cake.
The cake is light, white and fluffy, leavened entirely with egg whites. Cakes leavened with only egg whites are delicate and have a fine crumb, however, the butter and milk in this cake leave it with a bit of density too, a wonderful compromise in texture. It has a mild vanilla flavor that really allows the icing to shine. The cake is covered in a scrumptious caramel icing or glaze. It soaks into and runs all over the cake, infusing every bite with rich, complex caramel flavor. I didn’t want my piece of cake to end, with the cake mixing with the icing, a perfect balance of sweetness between the two. Luckily there’s more in the freezer to celebrate another day.
I want to keep the celebration going, so I have a giveaway! Vanilla is an important ingredient in this cake, as well as most of the baked goods I make. I only use Nielsen Massey vanilla, as they are the gold standard. They were kind enough to provide one 2 ounce bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and one vial of 2 Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans for one lucky reader. Good luck!
Here are the details: To enter to win the vanilla and vanilla beans, answer the question: What is your favorite spice?
To earn additional entries:
Follow @piesandplots on Twitter. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.
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Important: In order for each of your entries to count, you must leave entirely separate comments. Meaning it is possible for the first six comments to all have been left by one person. If you leave all of this information in one comment, you will only be entered in the giveaway one time.
The giveaway ends Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST.
The winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: Nielsen Massey provided this giveaway, but all opinions, as always, are my own.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
- 8 large egg whites
- ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup milk (I used almond)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans.
- Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a large bowl. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would also work. Stir in the vanilla. Slowly add milk, mixing until combined. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and cornstarch, then add to the sugar mixture. Stir until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites in two or three batches until just mixed in. Do this gently to avoid deflating the egg whites. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake springs back and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in pans.
- Make the icing. Whisk together sugar, cream, and butter in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. I use a glass bowl, but some people prefer stainless steel. Use what you feel comfortable with. Cook, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes, until the sugar and butter are dissolved and the mixture is homogeneous. It may be slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool completely.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the cakes in half so you have four cake layers. Put one layer on a plate or cake stand cut side up and spread about ½ cup icing evenly over the layer. Repeat with next 2 layers. Place the final layer on top, cut side down and cover cake with enough frosting so the top of the cake is covered and the sides are nearly covered. Do not use all the frosting or it will all pool around the cake. Save leftovers for serving.
- Serve at room temperature with extra caramel icing if desired. May be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, but bring back to room temperature before serving. Maybe be frozen for up to three months, either whole or in pieces, wrapped in plastic and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature at least 1 hour; the bigger the portion, the longer it will take to thaw.