I consider myself lucky that I have an amazing mother. She is strong, smart, beautiful, intuitive, possesses far more talent in her pinky finger than I do in my entire body, and so full of love that she has shared so generously with everyone around us. My mother really is the best.
Most people are blessed with great mothers, but in our very close-knit circle of friends and extended family, we are exceptionally lucky in that we have a wonderful team of mothers. Best friends for most (if not all, actually) of our (the children’s) lives, they have raised us as a group, poured their love on us, shared wisdom wrought from their own lives, listened to our boy troubles, endured our rants, and basically have just been there.
Today one of them celebrates a birthday, and in true Team Mama fashion, they organised a long lunch this afternoon (midweek public holiday, yay!), pooled together for an extravagant present (this year, Portmeirion is all the rage among the group), and sat over good food, laughing, sharing stories and taking every opportunity to scandalise Nisa, Kaly, her hapless boyfriend, and myself with innuendo and downright disturbing comments.
Mama Zee, being one of my six mothers, obviously deserves to get a homemade birthday cake! No bakery cake for any of my mamas, no way. I may not be able to afford to buy a Portmeirion teacup (or even a saucer), but this I can definitely do.
After my friend, Amy’s hen night karaoke session last night (I know, you’re thinking… where is that blog post?), I hauled myself home, washed my face and found that I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was a cake for Mama Zee! I knew there was no way in hell I’d be able to wake up early enough to do it, and I had actually planned on just baking the cake layers ahead of time, then frosting in the morning… but when I finally did crawl back into bed, the clock read 5.30am.
It was well worth it though. I decided to tackle Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the first time (3am decisions, they make sense sometimes) considering The Mothers have always harangued me for my too-sweet buttercream. It was surprisingly easier than anticipated, and wowweee at that silky-smooth texture and lack of sickening sweetness! Can’t believe it took me this long to try it, and now that I have, I think I may have to stick with it…
I used my favourite white cake recipe, which I then divided into four bowls (roughly 1 1/2 cups per bowl) and coloured in increasing shades of pink (a teeeeeeeny tiny drop of Wilton Pink colouring gel in the first bowl, one drop in the second, 2 drops in the third, and 3 drops in the fourth). I baked the cakes in 6-inch round pans, all at once for 25-30 minutes, then popped them in the freezer (triple cling-wrapped) for half an hour.
With leftover blackberries from my Upside-down Blackberry Buttermilk cake, I whipped up a Blackberry Coulis for filling the layers. I’ve got some coulis leftovers now… watch this space to see what I do with it.
- 250g fresh blackberries
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup water
- In a saucepan, bring the blackberries, sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until the fruit is mushy then stir in the vanilla
- Remove from heat, allow it to cool then pour it all into a blender and whizz to a puree
- Strain the puree through a sieve, then slather your cake layers with the goop
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 180g butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Whisk the egg whites and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved in a heatproof bowl over a bain-marie
- Transfer to your mixing bowl, and with your whisk attachment, whisk the mixture at medium speed for about 4-5 minutes until soft peaks form (hello, meringue!). Add the vanilla.
- At this point, slowly add butter into the mixture, by tablespoon-fulls. Continue until all the butter is in, and just whip until the point where when you run a spatula through it… it comes up looking beautifully smooth
If you have a stand mixer, I suggest you step away during that last step of the swiss meringue process. It looks terrifying, and you’ll be tempted to “fix” it, as it seems as if the mixture is curdling. But don’t you worry, darlings, it’s meant to be that way. It will improve upon extended whipping. My tiny batch took roughly 5-8 minutes to finally arrive at a consistency I was happy with.
And what a beautiful taste the frosting produces! For the first time, my frosting has not overwhelmed the flavours of my cake, and as The Mothers enjoyed the cake quite a bit… I like to think I did it right this time. No complaints of “Nabiya! This is soooo sweet!” or “A moment on the lips…” and you know how it goes.
Anyway, happy birthday, Mama Zee, hope you enjoyed the lunch and love you loads!