vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, and a marzipan succulent

oof! nobody told me that the first week back to work after a wedding/chrismukkah double feature is about as fun as peeing in a public bathroom. *flips hair/rolls eyes* ok, i'm being extremely dramatic, but still, i was a grumpy gabby more times this week than i'm willing to admit (maybe i've got a case of the januaries???), so i'm just going to weed all of those out and tell you about some of the finer moments from these past few days:

eggboy and i made butter!!! we were discussing the origins of fairy bread and how we could elevate it to best fit our grownup married life and i suggested using homemade butter, to which he responded what? no. that's wizardry. you can't make butter. and then i showed him, the old heavy cream in a jar way, and it blew his mind. he tried to drink the whey because he thought it would make him buff. 

the destruction, or rather transplanting, of my gingerbread farm. i was ready to burn it to the ground because it's taking up precious dining room space and getting coconut everywhere, but eggdad refused to see that happen, so i think he's actually "renting out space in our basement" to store it while he researches the best shellac method for gingerbread buildings. 

my first hotdish. ok, for how many failed recipes i made this week, i deserved to nail this one on the first try. i nailed it like a nail gun going into plywood. nay, styrofoam. it smelled so good, it tasted great, and it's even healthy. as soon as i figure out how to make it look not like the grossest barf in all the land, i'm going to show it to you!

a whole bunch of "cold day" pictures and texts from my parents, in chicago, depicting "cold day" marathon bread baking sessions and "cold day" crafts. they were cute, but from what i can understand, a "cold day" is like a snow day without a whole lot of snow, just a lot of cold. and based on my weather app, that cold was a balmy one degree. did you know that in the st. paul school system the temperature requirement for a cold day is negative 40????? chicago, you are a bunch of penises*.

*ugh, you're right, i shouldn't judge, i don't ever leave the house during the winter and when i do i look like a michelin man. 

my brunch club began to plan the baby shower for our first brunch club baby!!!!! i've never planned a baby shower before but i am soooo excited. it's not for three and a half months and i already have the menu planned. teeny weeny sandwiches, teeny weeny scones, teeny weeny cocktail weenies. 

and for what is sure to be the finest moment of this week: egg mama's birthday tomorrow!!!! seven cheers for egg mama. egg mama is an o.g. farm wife, a master at many things (my favorite of which is chicken and dumpling soup), and the best mother-in-law an egg girl could ever ask for!!

this little cake is for her and it's a great great grand baby of magnolia's chocolate cupcakesi've made that chocolate cupcake recipe countless times and each time people tell me that it's the best cake they've ever had. even "people who don't normally like cake" like this cake. it's so rich and unbelievably m-word (ok, moist). i've had difficulty finding a vanilla cake that i love just as much as those chocolate cupcakes, almost to the point of obsession, but i think i've found it. this vanilla cake retains the fierce moisture that makes those chocolate cupcakes so good, yet it's just the slightest bit denser, making it easier to handle in layer cake form. the one pictured here is a half batch, which i've simply baked in an 8" pan, frozen over night, and then cut into three 3 1/4-inch rounds and frosted. you can choose to frost it all naked (like the one in the picture) or double the frosting recipe and slather it up because it is january 8th and your diet should be over by now. 

vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a marzipan succulent

makes one 2-layer 8-inch cake



1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c flavorless oil, like canola

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 c boiling water


1 c unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 c powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of kosher salt

**this will make enough frosting for a naked cake (like the cake in the picture). if you'd like to slather on a thick layer of frosting all over the cake, double this recipe.


a nice handful of marzipan

green food coloring

flower cookie cutters in three sizes (or you could free-hand it!)





preheat oven to 350.

grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

in a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. in a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the boiling water. it will be a very thin batter. pour into cake pans and bake until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes.

let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn onto a cooling rack.


use an electric mixer to beat all ingredients together until smooth. taste and add more sugar, if desired. 

to assemble:

level your cakes and slap a hefty dose of frosting in between them and on top. smooth a thin layer of frosting all over the edges and use a bench scraper to scrape down the sides until they're smooth.


knead a small amount of food coloring into your marzipan. roll it out on a surface dusted with powdered sugar and cut out three flower shapes in three different sizes. stack them up with the biggest on the bottom and press down in the center so that they stick. you could also place a small dollop of frosting between them to help them stick. crimp up the flower petals to give it some dimension. place it on your cake!


happy birthday, egg mama!!