This year for lent I gave up something that was probably the hardest thing for me to give up ever.
And no, I know what you're thinking, it wasn't hot chocolate.
I gave up negativity. Specifically, I wasn't allowed to say anything negative about myself.
I couldn't comment on pillow arms, or bald spots or huge calves. I wasn't allowed to say "I'm not good at this" every time I made something or took a picture for my blog or instagram. I wasn't allowed to re-hash life's decisions and say "what if." I wasn't allowed to say I fail at everything and I suck. I had to be 100% positive about everything and anything about me. And holy hell, it was HARD.
I'd get up in the morning and instead of groaning that I looked like a troll with dark circles and nest hair I'd say, (no joke!) "Good morning Robyn! It's early! You're tired! But you did an incredible job tending to a small human last night. You did an incredible job making sure he was comfortable and fed and safe. You're a great mom. You deserve to put on some clothes, wash that face and curl your hair."
I literally had a pep-talk-happy conversation in my head with myself EVERY goshdangmorning instead of my usual insults.
And you know what? I actually felt happier all day.
Did I look better? Probably not.
Did I go most days naked-faced donning spandex? You bet!
Am I still bald?
But talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend made all the difference. In fact I think it changed things so much for me I actually felt inspired and kept coming up with some pretty good ideas... AND when my sister saw me last she said I looked like I'd lost weight. Which made me LOL and feel awesome because the only thing I've been doing differently lately besides thinking more highly of myself is take longer walks and eat more frequently.... and eat more chocolate.
I loved this challenge so much that I am going to continue it for the entire year.
By the way, this whole "let's not be negative thing" was inspired by Kate from Wood and Spoon. She posted on instagram that she was giving up negativity for lent and it resonated with me. Religiously speaking, I technically don't celebrate lent. I mean, I'm not catholic, or any other religion that celebrates it, but I love it so much that I do it every year anyway. So. The rest is history.
Now I'm really hoping John will surprise me this Easter with some confetti filled eggs so we can have another confetti fight like last year. It's tradition.
I hope you have a happy Easter and my friends. Know that somebunny, LOL THIS BUNNY, loves you for being here.
OH! And this cake!!! I almost forgot! I stinking LOVE this cake and I've been dying to share it with you. It's the perfect amount of sweetness and tart. The buttermilk cake is buttery and marries perfectly with the buttercream and lemon curd. They're all besties. This probably goes without saying, but I will never post a recipe I don't adore - especially a good frosting / cake / lemon curd recipe... but I have to say this buttercream is particularly amaze to the Easter egg balls. xo
buttermilk cake with lemon curd and vanilla bean butter cream
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
cake: makes one 8" or 9" 2 layered cake (4 layers if you cut the layers like I did) serving 10-12
buttercream: makes about 5 cups, or enough to frost one 8" or 9" cake and have enough to decorate
I'm so sorry I don't instruct you on how to make the little marzipan bunnies I made for this cake. You probably totally have time to make them like I did, huh? (EYE ROLL) Truth is they took me longer than I'd like, lol and someday I'll come around with a bunny tutorial but for now try to search for a similar method on pinterest if you're crazy like me. ;)
*bakers note: The cakes, frosting and lemon curd can all be made a day or two ahead of time and then assembled the day of or the day before. If you make the buttercream frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge, break it up into pieces and using an electric mixer, beat it with the paddle attachment until it becomes room temperature and light and fluffy again. It's scary cause it seems like it's not going to come back together but it will! Sometimes if it's a particularly cold day, I'll run hot water around (not in) my bowl for a few seconds to get things movin.' xo
for the buttermilk cake:
¾ cup / 170g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pans
2 cups / 280g cake flour, plus more for the pan (I just used regular flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ cup / 200g buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups / 300g sugar
2 large eggs + 2 large yolks at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325° F/ 162° C.
Prepare two 8" OR two 9" cake pans, lining them with parchment paper first, then greasing them with butter and flour. Please note: I used 8" cake pans for this cake, and I baked a higher altitude thus my cakes required a slightly longer baking time.
Sift together all dry ingredients in a big bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-8 minutes.
Add one egg at a time to the butter + sugar mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each egg is incorporated. Beat for 15 seconds.
Add your yolks one at a time. Batter should be smooth.
Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and fold in the the dry ingredients with a spatula in 4 additions, alternating with the vanilla buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Spoon batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 35mins to slightly over 1 hour. I know, the range of time is ridiculous. See my bakers note above, but don't be discouraged. The cake should be golden brown, and a cake tester should come out clean with a few crumbs stuck to it when inserted into the cake. Wait for the cake to cool completely before cutting into layers.
Cut each layer in half with a long serrated knife, creating 4 layers total and sandwiched each layer with a generous helping of lemon curd. I pipped my lemon curd layers in but you can easily spoon it on. Perfection is not our end game here, only deliciousness, so don't stress if the filling isn't perfectly even. I sure didn't.
Put a "crumb coat" of buttercream frosting on the cake, let that chill in the fridge to set for 20 minutes and then frost with the rest of the butter cream frosting.
Crumb coat = thin layer of frosting that brings all the crumbs to the party so you can frost it again without bringing the crumbs to the party.
for vanilla bean butter cream:
bakers note: Okay, real quick. This time, I had better luck with this recipe when I used more egg whites. I know they say baking is an exact science but to me 90% of it is initiative. Use your gut. The original recipe calls for only 4 egg whites but after trial and error, adding more egg whites worked better for me. It's dry here in Utah, and I'm at a high altitude, I'm guessing that had something to do with it. Don't stress too much about it. You want your egg whites + sugar mixture to be a wet and snotty (sorry). If it seems like its too thick with sugar (aka not a snot consistency), add more egg white.
2 vanilla beans, split half lengthwise or 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
4-6 large egg whites (I used 6 because my egg whites seemed a little on the small side)
1 cup / 200g sugar, preferably superfine only because it dissolves quicker
2 cups / 454g unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla beans, only use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pods and set aside. tip! Stick the scraped pods in your sugar container to make vanilla sugar!
Fill a medium sized saucepan with a little bit of water (about 2-3 inches). The saucepan needs to be big enough to place a glass bowl on top, but make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water.
Put egg whites and sugar in the glass bowl that will fit over your medium sized saucepan.
Bring the water in the medium sized saucepan to a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan and whisk gently for about 8-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes 160°F / 71°C. You'll know it's ready because the mixture should be too hot to hold your finger in the mixture for a long time, but not too hot to touch.
Remove egg white mixture from the heat and pour into your electric mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment whisk heated egg whites and sugar until it looks like a stiff cloud or shaving cream. The mixture should cool as it whips, and the outside of the bowl should feel room temperature.
On a medium speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated, scraping the bowl about halfway.
Add vanilla bean seeds, extract and salt and whip for 30 seconds.
Use buttercream immediately, or store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3-5 days. Take care that buttercream can absorb any flavor it's around, so it's important that it's sealed well. See *bakers note above if you'd like to store it chilled for a few days.