Remember me? It's Jenny. You know, Jenny?
Ugh. Yeah, I know. I'm a terrible friend. Has it seriously been three months since my last post? Shit. I promise I have good reason for my absence. And oodles of thanks to those of you sending emails, asking where I've been. PS - I totally love you for that.
We bought a house.
With a pool.
And a hot tub.
Summer called and I answered with a sprinkled covered doughnut pool floatie decorating my thick waist and a snorkel set that's probably geared to kids more than adults. I left the flippers in the box because I'm already enough of a klutz without anything helping my cause.
More importantly, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE, YOU GUYS.
It was only a couple posts back I was talking about the prospects (and far off dreams) of moving to our desired location and here I am almost eight weeks into our new digs....on said street! What? The process was lightning fast and I still find myself shaking my head, thinking, "Did that happen? Did we actually buy, sell and move to a new home all in six weeks?"
I told you I had a good reason.
I've never lived in a home that had a pool, so it's a pretty big deal for me and the novelty is far from worn off. We still have boxes all over the house that need to be unpacked, but summer is far too short and I'm taking full advantage of my backyard oasis; laundry, cleaning toilets, and yes, boxes - it all can wait.
My kids have treated our new digs like a community pool, inviting the neighbourhood kids over daily. I say that, but I honestly don't mind. When I was a kid, I had several friends with a pool and I would have loved constant invites over to swim. Unfortunately, they were far and few, so we were left running through a mediocre sprinkler or snuck off to the forbidden swimming hole where we heard "grown up" language at a young age from the local teenagers as they smoked cigarettes they probably had stolen from their Dad's sock drawer. However, if I'm honest with myself, I now see why swim invites weren't issued willy nilly. Kids declaring life-threatening hunger pains after only fifteen minutes in the pool, keeping an endless supply of sustenance on hand (being mindful of those with food sensitivities or allergies), puddles of water in my kitchen as well as hundreds of horse flies that have found their way into the house. Let's not forget to mention the heaping piles of laundry - sopping wet beach towels, swimsuits, and coverups littering my banister, fence, and outdoor lounge area. It would make any parent spew steam from their ears.
Long and short of it, everything was put on temporary hold while my family (and neighbourhood) are enjoying our new surroundings.
While I took the time to pack up nine years worth of beautiful memories from our last house and unpack a lifetime of new ones to be made in this one, I made you a cake and wanted to let you know I'm sorry I haven't been the best sort of friend and hopefully this will soothe any offence I may have caused.
Cake makes everything better and it's usually a constant in my life. Even adults need soothing methods from change. I chose a strawberry flavour because nothing says summer like strawberries - well, for me anyway. This recipe has been tweaked from a recipe my dearly departed Grandma's church friend used to make. She used strawberry jello in her cake, but since a couple of friends that will be enjoying this cake are halal, I omitted it and substituted fresh strawberry puree.
Again, there will be cake. And a pool. And a hot tub.
Just don't forget your sunscreen and towel. I love you, but I'm not doing anymore laundry than needed.
STRAWBERRY LAYER CAKE
3¼ cups cake and pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup strawberry puree, strained
1-2 drops red food colouring
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8 or 9-inch round baking pans by greasing the entire pan with butter and lining the bottom of pans with parchment paper cut to fit. Grease parchment paper once fitted.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time until all have been fully incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Add in vanilla extract, strawberry puree, and food colouring. Mix well.
Slowly pour in flour mixture and alternate with milk until both ingredients are well blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Evenly pour cake batter into prepared pans. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a couple moist crumbs.
Cool in pan for several minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Remove parchment paper. Once cakes are completely cooled, you may apply frosting.
To make frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together. Slowly add in confectioner's sugar. Add in vanilla. This frosting should not need any liquid (i.e milk or cream) but if you wish to yield a runnier consistency, add one tablespoon of milk or cream at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Place one section of cake on serving dish. Generously apply frosting to the top. Layer with second cake. Repeat process until all layers have been placed. Apply remaining frosting over entire cake. Decorate with sprigs of mint and fresh strawberries.
Cake will keep three to four days covered at room temperature.