1 | 52 - Perfect Crusting Buttercream

nora birthday bagel

I am, of course, starting this series a week late, because I can't seem to wrap my head around how to kick it off. It's big, for me, to commit to writing like this again. It's emotional, the love I have for my kid and the love I have for her love of food. I have a lot of pride and self-identity wrapped up in Nora As An Eater Of All The Foods. But if I let myself slip down the rabbit hole of finding the perfect language to capture what a big deal her meals are to me, we'll spend the rest of our lives waiting for me to get ready to start writing this series. So, we are just going to have to settle for imperfect language, inadequately prepared to capture the magic that is my kid when she is shoveling fresh berries into her mouth with two hands, or slapping her high chair impatiently, demanding more rice or chicken or sauteed mushrooms. Away we go.

The idea is to cook real food for my kid, to talk you guys through what that looks like in my kitchen, at my table, on her plate. What was the big recipe the first week of her second year of life? 

Well. Honestly? Frosting. I'll just...er... give you a moment, Internet, to light up your torches and sharpen those pitchforks. 

frosting rainbow in piping bags

Yes, I made Nora a smash cake. And yes, I used box cake mix. No shame in my game. The only thing I committed to for a first birthday party was not letting anything stress me out. The guests got cupcakes, and Nora got a miniature three-tiered cake all to herself. Box cake mix, you are my BFF. But, oh, canned frosting... we do not see eye to eye. 

 I made the checkerboard interior by cutting out different colored circular rings and then putting them back together. This is where I got my inspiration. 

I made the checkerboard interior by cutting out different colored circular rings and then putting them back together. This is where I got my inspiration. 

Canned frosting is wonderful, of course, if you have an emotional emergency and need to eat a couple big spoonfuls of your feelings. I absolutely recommend keeping canned frosting in the house for those days so trying that wine alone can't get the job done. But for birthday cakes, canned frosting won't cut it, and I'll tell you why: it doesn't crust up. There's nothing sadder than a birthday cake that can't fend off a little tough love from things bumping against it, be they tiny fingers attached to enthusiastic little partygoers or the crudites platter that the cake is forced to share a refrigerator shelf with until unveiling time. When it comes to birthday cake, you can't beat i am baker's perfect crusting buttercream recipe. And that's why I made ~5lbs of it for four dozen cupcakes and a 3-inch smash cake. Again... no shame in my game. 

DIY rainbow smash cake

Mostly, she fed it to the lawn and the dogs, but she did manage to get a couple fistfuls of frosting into her mouth before J decided enough was enough, and an over-tired, over-sunned, over-sugared baby wasn't something any of us needed, and whisked it away from her before too much of it made its way into her system. 

The only thing Nora loves more than sweets is making a mess, so I felt pretty fantastic about my baking chops as well as my motherhood skills when I saw how destroyed the cake was in the end. A handful of guests commented that the cake was too pretty to eat. These guests, I must assume, do not understand the fervor with which the ladies of this family approach dessert. Nothing delicious is ever "too anything" to eat. 

smash cake smashed

If you're looking for a how-to on making your own checkerboard-style smash cake for your little, I recommend this tutorial. It's easier than it looks, I promise. Honestly, guys, I didn't even click through to the article; I just looked at the Pin and sorted it out for myself. (Nothing about this birthday party was hard.)

And before you do crucify me for the amount of sugar she had, I'd just also like to state, for the record, that Nora ate: a birthday bagel from NYC for breakfast, a bunch of roast turkey, pasta salad, fruit salad, watermelon (approximately her entire body weight in it, as a matter of fact), crudites and hummus, and she also drank a ton of water. A ton. I'm not exaggerating. (I know it was a ton because I am the one who changes her diapers.)

So there we have it. Week 1 in the bag. I'm hoping to have Week 2 squared away by tomorrow evening, so that we'll be back on schedule. But, as always, that's all contingent on naptime happening in an orderly fashion. *Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaasob.*

-MMV