Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My 31st Birthday & Carrot and Pineapple Cake
Some time last year, before I was turning 30, I decided that I would take an honest look at my life and get real about the business of making change. I saw the dawn of a new decade as the perfect opportunity to do the things necessary to move forward. To move...at all. Hitherto my life had been plagued, ravaged, imprisoned, 13 years of it, by all the things I never faced. In the year ahead, when I was turning 31, I wanted to look back on the year prior and be able to say that I had indeed achieved my pursuit of happiness and true freedom. The kind of happiness that is in spite of everything else and the kind of freedom that has wings.
"To fly as fast as thought," he said, "to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing you have already arrived." -- "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"
In my My Mother's Day Post I included a picture of my Mum holding me on my very first birthday. I think every first birthday is a celebration of the life that could be and a hope for the best from all the people who love you. But no one ever knows if or how long that will take to happen. It's taken me 30 years to learn that it's only the 'if' and not the 'how long' that matters.
Yesterday, I arrived at my 31st birthday and I was greeted by the best gift anyone could receive: I am alive! I am alive and from there the possibilities are endless.
"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."--Joseph Campbell
I had a fantastic birthday. All of the wishes from friends and family meant the world to me. My grandmother surprised me with a new Cuisinart ice cream maker to replace the one I over-filled and also a soft serve ice cream maker.
And she gave me these really cool sunglasses.
My fiancé, Daph got me a ticket to Cirque Du Soleil's: "Ovo" and surprised me with the. best. news. ever. He's planning to come back to Boston in two months!!!
I was really tempted to make the Chocolate-Walnut Cake I made a few months back as it was the best chocolate cake I've ever had, but instead I went with something else from Ina, and wow, I'm glad I did!
Carrot and Pineapple Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe courtesy and Adapted from The Goddess Herself, Ina Garten
Ingredients (for the cake):
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins (I omitted the raisins)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/3 cup crushed pineapple (The original recipe DID NOT call for this, and it's optional whether or not you use it. I added it in with the wet ingredients.)
Ingredients (for the frosting):
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 & 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
Half of 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped (Optional)
For the decoration:
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple and/or 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans (this will act as the "glue" for the parchment). Line the bottom and sides of each pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour each pan.
Directions (for the cake):
In large bowl, mix sugar, oil, and eggs on medium speed until completely blended. Add in vanilla. In a separate large bowl, sift 2 and 1/2 cups flour, plus cinnamon, baking soda and salt together. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients until completely blended. In small bowl, mix raisins and walnuts in 1 tablespoon of flour. Add carrots and pineapple and fold into batter. Add nuts and mix until incorporated.
Split the batter equally among two pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until inserted cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean. Cool cakes completely in pan on wire rack.
Directions (for the frosting):
In bowl of electric mixer or large bowl, blend together cream cheese, butter and vanilla just until combined. Add vanilla bean pearls and mix. Carefully add in sifted confectioners' sugar and mix until incorporated.
On large flat plate or cake pedestal, turn 1 of the cakes flat-side up. Using knife or offset spatula, frost the flat-side of the bottom layer of cake. Place the second layer on top of the frosted first layer, this time, rounded (or dome) side up, and evenly spread frosting over top and around sides of cake.
The 92 degree temperature didn't help my first attempt at rosette making, but I was happy with them.
Decorate: Use remaining half cup of diced pineapple to decorate cake. For the nuts, I placed the prepared cake on wire rack and used my hand to apply nuts around sides of the cake.
♪Happy Birthday to you, I mean me, but you too if it's your birthday. ♫