Quarantine Birthday Cake

You get to pick your cake at our house.

My daughter turned six last month.  It is hard to believe she has is six.  Many times I have said to friends that when it comes to kids the days are long but the years are short.  During our time at home while the world is facing COVID-19  the sentiment holds true.   Schools have been closed for about two months…two months!  I honestly cannot believe we have been in this current scenario for two months and yet each day often drags.  
To give you an idea of our home life right now I thought I would share a sample of our daily routine.  My husband and I wake up early each day, before the kids.  He tries to get a workout in a couple days a week, while I hope for a shower before the baby and older kids wakes up.  They typically awake around 6:30AM naturally.  My husband starts his workday at 6AM.  I take morning kid duty which includes breakfast, getting ready, a long morning walk if it is nice out, and morning home school activities.   I also tackle work calls and manage my in-box during this time.  We then both fix lunch for ourselves and the kids and then switch roles.  I get a few hours to actually sit at my computer to get some work done while my husband finishes home school activities and plays with the kids.  I try to wrap up my work activities around 5 – 5:30 and then I make dinner.  After dinner we usually have a little play time.  Then my husband cleans up and plays with our older two kids while I put the baby to bed.  At 8PM when the kids are in bed, my husband and I return to finish cleaning up any leftover messes from the day and then get back on our computers to finish work.  We both squeeze work in throughout the weekend to make up any time we missed during the week.  Weekends are not scheduled, but include a lot of chores.  Did I mention I am also still nursing the baby?  I am not trying to portray myself as a martyr; I know that we have it easier than so many other people.  I thought it would be nice to share my day to give myself a little record of it, but also to give some visibility to other parents on how I am managing.   Despite how hard each day is and how tired we are when we rest our heads, I am grateful for our health and this precious extra time I get with my kids and husband.  I know for a fact I will miss this when the kids are back at school and I am back at work.
If you are still reading, this post was supposed to be about a birthday!  We had planned for my daughter to take a couple of her friends to get their nails done and go out to lunch.  Needless to say, that we were not able to go through with those plans.  Instead we had a spa day at home, had takeout for dinner, and I made my sweetie a cake of her design.  This cake included two layers of chocolate cake and two layers of strawberry cake.  I spread chocolate and strawberry buttercream between the lawyers and then frosted the outside with strawberry.  My daughter loved the cake and dso did the rest of the family!
Party Perfect Strawberry Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Cake recipe modified from Preppy Kitchen
Chocolate Cake recipe modified from Tasty
Strawberry Cake
1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda 
¼ tsp kosher salt 
¾ cup butter, unsalted, room temperature 
¼ cup whole milk 
¼ cup pureed strawberries
½ cup sour cream 
1 tbsp vanilla extract 
1 tbsp strawberry extract
3 egg whites large
½ cup crushed freeze dried strawberries
red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans. 
Sift dry ingredients (including sugar). Whisk to combine. In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry mixtures. Whisk until combined. Add a few drops of red food coloring until you reach a desired consistency. Fold in freeze dried strawberries. Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30 – 38 minutes or until the centers are set and springy to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean.
Leave the layers to cool in the pans for about 4 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks.
Chocolate Cake

1 ½ cups flour
1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
4 oz chocolate chips

Grease and line three 6-inch (20 cm) cake tins with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325˚F (160˚C).
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally to ensure all the ingredients are being evenly creamed together.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Add the mayonnaise and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Alternate adding the prepared dry and wet ingredients (coffee and vanilla) to the batter. Starting with about ⅓ of the dry ingredients, beat until incorporated. Then add ⅓ of the liquid ingredients, mixing until the batter comes together. Continue until all the wet and dry ingredients have been incorporated.
Using a rubber scraper, fold the dark chocolate chunks into the batter. Distribute the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake tins.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place the cakes on a cooling rack and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes, until the outside of the pan is cool enough to touch. Once the cakes have cooled, loosen the edges using a butter knife. Then place a large plate over the tin and invert to release the cake from the pan. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and slide the cake back onto the cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat for the remaining two layers.
Notes:  If you bake both full recipes you will have enough for two cakes, which I did (see picture below).  I alternated strawberry and chocolate layers with strawberry and chocolate buttercream.
Chocolate Buttercream
recipe from Baked Perfection
1 cup butter, softened
6 cups confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup  cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk)
generous pinch of salt
Cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture, add salt and vanilla.  Slowly add the cocoa powder.  Add the confectioner’s sugar alternating with the cream until the sugar and butter are blended and you reach the desired consistency.  Adjust the amount of cream as needed.
Strawberry Buttercream
recipe from Baked Perfection
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup pureed strawberries (strawberry jam or preserves can be substituted)
pinch of salt
6 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Mix in strawberries and salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

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