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Friday, April 20, 2012

My baby girl turned One!

Yes it was two months ago... and I'm just now getting around to sharing a few of the details.  I know, life has been a little crazy around here as we prepare for baby number 2... can't believe she'll be here in another 6 weeks or so, and try to finish up all the remodeling projects - the new nursery and master bathroom being at the top of the list.  But even in those two months, I still can't believe my baby girl is over a year old, walking, jabbering constantly and really developing quite the personality.

For Aubrey's party - we did a little bit of a circus/carnival theme - I'll admit largely due to the fact that I was slightly obsessed with the pennant flag banners that are popping up all over the place right now.  I just love them and thought they would make adorable party decor.  My sister Nikki, of Doodle Dog Advertising, made some adorable invitations for the party featuring a cute little elephant that I decided to use for the cookies too.

Photo by DoodleDog Advertising

I combined the elephants with some friendly little lions inspired by cookies that I had bookmarked quite a while ago from Bridget at Bake at 350.  I love the way they turned out, but a word of warning, don't ever try to layer your cookies with wax paper when you run out of parchment paper at 10 pm, the wax paper stuck to the frosting in several places and I had to do some minor cookie reconstructive surgery the day of the party.  My go to sugar cookie recipe can be found here.

For the cakes, I knew I wanted to make Aubrey a simple smash cake and I tied the main cake back to our circus theme with a mini-pennant banner strung from plastic carnival stripe straws.

I used a basic white cake recipe (also seen here) from Magnolia Bakery for both to keep things simple and filled and frosted them with a simple buttercream.  Sprinkles and a fun corkscrew candle were all the decoration the smash cake needed and a simple dot pattern adorned the main cake.

Finally I made a 3rd cake (2nd smash cake) for a photo shoot with Dede Holman Photography the following week so we could have some adorable pictures to document the occasion.

Photo by Dede Holman Photography

For other food at the party I stuck with some simple spins on carnival food - spicy whiskey BBQ sliders (slightly modified from Pioneer Woman - I used ground turkey instead of beef and cut out the majority of the butter and served them on Hawaiian roles), kettle corn, fruit skewers on a stick and animal crackers with a vanilla honey yogurt dip (a simple combination of vanilla yogurt, a little honey for sweetness and some lime zest), nachos with cheese dip and guacamole, mini corndogs muffins (recipe found on Iowa Girl Eats) and veggies and dip.

Traditional White Birthday Cake
Recipe slightly adapted from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8" baking pans baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.

Cream the butter on medium high speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Add flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk, beating well after each addition, beginning and ending with flour. Set batter aside.

Add egg whites to a clean mixing bowl and begin beating on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high as egg whites thicken. Beat until the egg whites make soft peaks. Gently fold into cake batter, 1/3 at a time.

Bake 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 5 minutes, loosen the edges with a knife if necessary, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: this recipe will make 2 2-layer 6" smash cakes or 1 3 layer 8" cake, so double the recipe if you want to make the 2-tier cake and a smash cake.  In the pictures above, the smash cakes are each built with 2 6" cakes cut in half horizontally to make 4 total thin layers and then torted with buttercream.  The 2-tier cake is done the same way with a 6" cake over an 8" cake.  I did use small wooden dowels for stability when stacking the tiers.

Buttercream Icing

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb powdered sugar

Beat butter in a large mixing bowl for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy, add in vanilla and cream and mix on low speed until incorporated.  Add powdered sugar in a several additions to prevent it from making a giant cloud of sugar all over your kitchen.  Mix on low speed until incorporated and increase speed gradually to medium high and whip an additional 1-2 minutes.  Icing should be thick but easily spreadable. 

Note: this will make enough icing to torte and ice at least one smash cake but you will need more to do all of the cakes above.


  1. Your little one is so adorable. Beautiful pictures and her cookies are so cute. Best wishes on the arrival of her new little sister!

  2. Those little lion cookies are to die for!!! Super cute. Happy Birthday baby girl! :)


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