Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Donuts

I rarely bake for anyone other than myself or the blog. It just ends up happening that way. So when I have the opportunity to bake specifically for someone, it's always an enjoyable change. You get to think about them and what flavors they like or what their favorite treats are. It's like a specially curated birthday present, but better because it's made from butter and sugar and we get to eat it.

Today we're talking birthday treats, which are the best kind of treats in my opinion. Each year I ask G what kind of treat he would like me to bake for his birthday. Two years ago I made him these Funfetti Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches and last year he requested this Blueberry and Custard Sheet Cake. This year, it was lemon and blueberry donuts with a cream cheese frosting. Sounds delicious, right? 

Lemon Blueberry Donuts

Makes 

For Donuts:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare donut pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin by mixing lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and working the two together with a spoon (or fingers) until mixture is clumpy and fragrant. In a large bowl, mix together flours, lemon sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands) cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is sand-like with bits of butter throughout.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in yogurt and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Before completely combined, add the lemon juice and continue to fold together until mixture is smooth. Lastly, add blueberries and fold them in.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag with a tip large enough for the blueberries to pass through (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe the batter evenly among the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make your frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese. Slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla extract until all is combined. If your frosting needs to be softer, add in milk one tablespoon at a time until you have your desired consistency. Using an off-set spatula, frost your donuts and top with rainbow sprinkles.

I find that because of the moisture level in the donuts, it’s best to eat these within 24 hours, or stack on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap. Keeping the donuts in an airtight container may cause them to sweat and the glaze to soften. Enjoy!

Recipe: Birthday Cake Bars

Today is my birthday! 

I've taken off from work and am having a relaxing day buying myself brunch, going to some of my favorite shops, and having a cocktail or two. Over the weekend I celebrated by hosting a brunch party for a handful of friends, surrounded by some of my favorite people and the 50+ balloons I had blown up, and eating great food. We chatted and hung out in the house, played some group games and then had a lull around dinner time before a few of us rented a private karaoke room. We sang until I was on the brink of loosing my voice. I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate. I'm feeling really positive going into 28. 

Let's talk about these bars for a moment, shall we? These Birthday Cake Bars are A LOT. They're a lot of uncooked butter and sugar and vanilla but sometimes that's all you need. These definitely won't be for everybody, but if you have a cookie dough lover in the house then these are a sure bet. If you wanted to feed more of a crowded with these, I would recommend cutting them in half before doubling the recipe. That way, everyone gets a one or two bite treat! 

Birthday Cake Bars

Yields 12 bars

Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk

To make the bars: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color (about 4-5 minutes). Add in sour cream and vanilla extract and mix. Add in flour & salt, then milk, mixing until everything is combined into one dough. Fold in sprinkles with a rubber spatula. 

Line a 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish with plastic wrap (enough so that it is hanging over the sides on all sides). Press your dough into the dish until it is evenly distributed. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour, if not overnight. 

To make the buttercream: In an electric mixer, whip butter until it is soft and fluffy. Gradually add in confectioner's sugar, then vanilla extract and milk. Whip for 3-4 minutes until the buttercream is fluffy. If your frosting is too thick, gradually add in more milk one tablespoon at a time. You'll have a thick frosting that's pipeable.

Assemble: Remove your bars from the refrigerator and lift out of the baking pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 even pieces. Fill your pastry bag fitted with a star tip with buttercream and begin piping small swirls until the each bar is covered. If you don't have a piping bag or don't feel like digging it out, you can always spread the frosting on with an offset spatula. 

Store these bars in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. They longer they stay out of the fridge, the softer they will get, but because this is an eggless cookie dough they are fine to eat at room temperature. 

Recipe: Blueberry and Custard Sheet Cake

So, yesterday was G's birthday! πŸŽ‰

If you don't know, I'm really into birthdays and celebrating them. It's important to take some time, do the things you like to do, eat good food, and celebrate a little bit. G and I both had off on Monday so we spent a quiet morning at home while I baked this cake, made a trip to Reading Terminal Market to get Beiler's Donuts and eat lunch, cleaned up around the house and watched some TV together, opened gifts, and then went to the movies. A simple day, but the weather was lovely and it was just nice to relax.

For the past 3 weeks or so, G and I have been avidly watching The Great British Baking Show (starting with the first season) and it's safe to say I'm definitely obsessed with it. So after a few days of me pestering G about what he wanted his birthday cake to be, he finally said "I want whatever that is on the tv!" and this cake idea was born. It's a standard vanilla sheet cake, topped with a creamy custard, fresh blueberries, and whipped cream. Simple, but different, and very tasty.

Blueberry and Custard Sheet Cake

Yields 15-20 pieces

Custard
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints of blueberries

Make the custard: In a large saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla extract, and milk until smooth. Cook and whisk over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Once thickened, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes longer, whisking the entire time. Before adding in the eggs, you'll need to temper them. Take 2-4 spoonfuls of the heat mixture and whisk it into the eggs, gradually raising the temperature of the eggs so they don't scramble. Repeat with 2-4 more spoonfuls before adding all the egg mixture into the pan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 4 minutes longer, whisking the whole time. Final mixture should be thick without lumps and a light yellow color. Pour into a large bowl, press plastic wrap across the top so it doesn't form a skin and let cool completely in the fridge for at least an hour. I left mine in overnight. When you remove the custard from the fridge, give it a good whisk before using it.

Make your cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and then butter on top.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add in eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to remove and clumps and combine ingredients. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter, then mix in half of the buttermilk and all of the vanilla extract until just combined. Repeat with another 1/3 of dry and the rest of the buttermilk, and then add in the final dry ingredients. Careful not to over mix. Pour mixture into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top if golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Make your whipped cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix whipping cream on high until sift peaks form. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until combined.

Assemble your cake: Once your cake has cooled, spoon the custard over the top of the cake using a rubber spatula to even out that layer. Press blueberries into the custard in a stripe pattern so they are evenly distributed on the cake. Top with a layer of whipped cake and enjoy! 

Because this cake is covered in whipped cream and custard, store any leftovers in the fridge and best served chilled. 

A Blueberry and Custard Sheet Cake for a Birthday! UnusuallyLovely.com

Recipe: Funfetti Sprinkle Cake

My birthday is this weekend and I'm pretty excited. Like, maybe stupidly excited.

I took a few days off from work to make the weekend longer and I have a handful of things planned (including some quality friend time dancing at the go-go bar!) and I'm excited to both relax and bop around the city. 25 was an age of figuring out how to live my life and who I want in my life. A ton of ups and downs. A lot of wondering what the hell is going on and a lot of trying to move onwards and upwards. I moved out of my comfort zone and into a house in the city. I built a new career for myself at my job. I paid off my car. I let myself be vulnerable and got a little hurt. I found people who I love spending my time with. I did what I wanted. I traveled alone and with some great friends. I tried to have a lot of fun. I think I set a high expectation and it maybe wasn't exactly what I expected. But no regrets. Just lessoned learned and moving forward. I'm hoping 26 has slightly more clarity, a lot of changes, and most of all, a lot of laughing. 

So here's a birthday cake I made for myself and covered in sprinkles. Because you deserve all the sprinkles on your birthday.

Yellow Funfetti Cake

Yields 8 slices

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep two 9 inch cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until fluffy and light yellow. Add in each egg until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in half the buttermilk. Add another third of dry ingredients, then the second half of the buttermilk and vanilla, and finally the last bit of dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl and fold in sprinkles with a plastic spatula until sprinkles are evenly distributed in the batter.

Split the batter evenly between the two 9 inch cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream

Yields enough for a two 9-inch cakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectionery sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A LOT of rainbow nonpareils sprinkles (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter for about 5 minutes on medium speed until fluffy and light. Add in 3 cups of confectionery sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Add in milk and vanilla, mix on low, and then add in the last cup of sugar. Raise speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes until frosting is fluffy. If you like a thicker frosting, add small amount of sugar until it reaches the desired texture.

To assemble the cake, place one cake on the platter which you plan to serve the cake. Using a rubber or offset spatula, spread about a 1/2 inch thickness of frosting on the top of the cake. Place a pile of frosting in the center of the cake, and spread outward. Place your second cake on top and repeat that process on the top of the cake. To do the sides, use an offset spatula to work your way around the cake, making sure all the cake is covered. Once the entire cake is covered in frosting, use your offset spatula to smooth out the sides and top.

A tiny tip: If you don't want to get frosting all over your cake stand, take strips of wax paper and slide them underneath the bottom cake so the cake stand is covered. Once you are done frosting, slide the wax paper out and throw it away, leaving a clean base to display the cake.

To cover the cake in sprinkles, simply pour nonpareils over the top of the cake and lightly press them into place with your hands. I found the easiest way to do the sides was filling a spoon with nonpareils and then working them off the spoon and onto the sides of the cake downwards. I will warn you that this takes a pretty good amount of time. 

Happy Weekend!

Just popping in to wish you all a happy weekend as it's a very special one for me: it's my birthday!

So far this weekend I've relaxed, watched some movies, ate pizza, went on the hunt for birthday shoes, and had a lovely night out with friends. Today the plan is to visit a fortune teller (!!!), eat donuts, and have a party with all the people I want to spend my day with. Feeling very thankful and giddy. :)