Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake, Another Birthday & A Few Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake, Another Birthday & A Few Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

A few years back, when I turned 37, my mom sent me this in an email:

“37 years ago today an angel was born. She cried an awful lot but she was beautiful and she has grown up to be a wonderful daughter”

With another birthday behind me this email got me thinking about how truly lucky I am and how much I am loved. Looking back on my life and knowing all that I know now there are a few things I wish I could tell my younger self:

1. Life is NOT going to be easy. There are going to be lots of ups and downs. Some days you are going to need more chocolate than others to get by. Don’t be afraid on those days to indulge…it will help. You will make it through.

2. Oil is for cooking…not for lathering on your skin and baking in the sun. So skip the oil and use sunscreen instead. Someday you will wish you did.

3. Hug the people you love everyday…your time with them is precious. Enjoy them while you can and never ever go to sleep mad.

4. Stop smoking now. The damage is reversible.

5. Your body was made to move…you might not be athletic or even coordinated but you can still exercise. Be kind to your body and it will do things you never expected it could do.

6. Make wise choices. What you decide today will follow you through the rest of your life. And whatever you decide don’t have any regrets. Just know that at one time it was exactly what you wanted and move on.

7. Don’t let fear ever hold you back. Do it all and do it now. You don’t want to be 42 and rock climbing for the first time….(trust me on this one)

8. Stop worrying about your weight and your age. You are so much more than a number. Neither of these numbers matter to anyone that really matters to you.

9. Stop dieting. Instead make an effort to eat healthier. Eat less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables now and you will see changes…guaranteed.

10. Eat cake...lots of it. And it doesn't always have to be chocolate.  I know it's hard to believe but you will one day love this Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake.

Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake
(recipe adapted from Heather @FarmgirlGourmet)

1 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
7 large egg whites, room temperature
1 whole egg, room temperature
3 vanilla beans
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups cake flour, sifted twice
2 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature cut into pieces
6 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line two 9" cake pans with parchment and butter parchment. Set aside.

In a 2 cup glass measure, add the milk and heavy cream. In a medium bowl combine the egg whites, whole egg, 1/2 cup of milk mixture, vanilla beans and almond extract. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add all of the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt). Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.

Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk/cream mixture and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 90 seconds.

Scrape down the sides and add the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out to cool completely.

Butter Cream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and whip for 6 minutes.

Cherry Filling
1 pound bag frozen pitted cherries, or pound fresh pitted cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp lemon juice
Place frozen cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pan. Heat on medium until cherries begin to release their liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until cherry mixture has thickened. Allow to cool.


  1. aw what a sweet email:) thanks for sharing! and that cake look bomb!!! yum!

  2. Loved this! All so true! Happy Birthday!

  3. Really love this post. Number 2 hit home because we used to slather ourselves with oil and bake for hours as teens. Stopped that for good at 19. Hope I stopped early enough! Happy belated Birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday friend. I love each and ever one of your advice bullets. It's all so true. Life really is just a flash in the pan and everyday should be a celebration of life and love. I'm so glad you loved the cake. It's very scrumptious looking! I'm glad you jumped out of your comfort zone.


  5. Happy belated birthday! Great advice and great cake!