It is my 20th birthday today. Crazy, I know. What is arguably even crazier is that it is my sister’s birthday too. On the same day. Now that IS crazy. She is turning 13 today, so as I wave goodbye to my teenage years, she is welcoming hers. I used to think sharing a birthday was much less great than it sounds- it just means less attention and arguments over what sort of cake to have and where to go for dinner. (She ‘only likes’ chocolate cake, while I am far more keen on the vanilla-y sort.) But now I think its wonderful. July 6 in our house is sort of like Christmas. Also we look weirdly similar- twins, but seven years apart.
Last weekend she had a huge campout birthday to celebrate- Phoebe Fest. Tents were erected around our garden, bunting was hung, the BBQ blazed and marshmallows toasted.
And the theme of the night was definitely strawberries. In America, my mum always used to make delicious chocolate cakes with whipped cream and berries on top, so I followed in that tradition. I made a rich dense Devil’s Food Cake, and piled it high with strawberries, blueberries and plenty of cream. There were also pink cupcakes topped with more strawberries. And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another mouthful of strawberry, one of the guests arrived with another huge strawberry chocolate sugary delight.
There was Pimm’s, of course, but not for the 13 year olds!
Devil’s Food Cake (recipe adapted from Nigella and can be found here)
50 grams cocoa powder
100 grams brown muscavado sugar
250 ml boiling water
125 grams butter
150 grams caster sugar
225 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Put the cocoa powder and muscavado sugar into a bowl and pour in the boiling water., Mix to combine, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until pale fluffy. Then add the vanilla and mix well. Once this is finished, mix the flour, baking powder and soda together in a separate bowl and set aside.
Mixing all the time, drop in one egg, a scoopful of the flour mixture, and then the second egg. Keep mixing constantly, and add the remaining flour.
Finally, fold in the cocoa mixture.
Spoon into a cake tin and bake for 30 minutes in a 180 degree oven.
For the topping:
Whisk a pot of double cream until it forms into firm, stiff peaks. Sift in a few spoons of icing sugar (to taste- you don’t want it too too sweet!) Spoon this onto the top of the cake and cover with strawberries and blueberries.
For the pink cupcakes:
170 grams butter
170 grams caster sugar
170 grams self raising flour
100 ml milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
a few drops of pink food colouring (or even fewer drops of red!)
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well.
Sift in the self raising flour, ensuring that it is all mixed in.
Add the milk, vanilla and food colouring, making sure that each ingredient is thoroughly combined.
Spoon into baking trays and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
For the icing:
140 grams butter
280 grams icing sugar
a few teaspoons of milk
Mix the butter and icing sugar together, then add milk to soften the mixture and bring it to a soft and usable consistency.
Spread a dollop of icing onto each cupcake and top with half a strawberry. This can be messy! We are definitely going for the rustic look here!