Birthday Fun

On Zachary’s birthday we were blessed to be invited to the Hands on Children’s Museum in Olympia. If you remember we went with our MOPs group in February. For more see Zachary: 9 months This time we went with one of our friends, her son, nephew, and niece.  During lunch in the café the kids sang happy birthday to Zach. He seemed confused that everyone knew the song except him, but he enjoyed it.

Zach loved “snug harbor”: throwing balls and carrying stuffed animals around.

He saw the bigger kids climb the tree jungle gym and decided to do the same. Now, we don’t have stairs at our house, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Zach crawled up the landings and pulled himself to standing to look out the top. Then without hesitation he walked right over to the slide and sat down. Fortunately I was at the top of the gym. So down the slide he went, for the first time by himself.

At the bottom he was grinning widely, very pleased with himself. My friend Rebecca asked if he wanted to do it again. Immediately he stood up, reach for her hand, and with her help walked back over to the landing to do it all over again. It was a good day.

On Saturday we celebrated Zach’s first birthday with a Very Hungry Caterpillar front yard Picnic. It was beautiful, sunny, and we were excited for friends and family to eat, play and have fun!

We started with a picnic of: PBnJs or cold cut sandwiches, chips, goldfish crackers, and a few fruits and snacks featured in the storybook. The red gingham tables were decorated with clear plastic pails filled with rocks and pictures of food from the story sticking up out of the plastic grass.

After lunch it was play time!  Several large picnic quilts each had a basket full of activities: bubbles, bouncy balls, hungry caterpillar color pages and crayons, sidewalk chalk, and more.

Zach had also just been given a water/sand table. I filled it with plastic caterpillars and butterflies hidden among plastic Easter grass. The kids used plastic cups and bowls to hunt for the bugs. It was quite the hit.

After some outdoor fun it was time for cake.  Zach’s smash cake was so cute with a big hungry caterpillar colorful candy dots and of course a candle with the number 1. To go with, everyone else enjoyed matching cupcakes featuring dot sprinkles and white chocolate green leaves with a hole through them, just like in the book.

Zachary was hesitant but with encouragement from mom and dad he soon dug in. Not long after his highchair, body, and the balloons tied to the back of his highchair, were covered in cake.

Zach was definitely more interested in tissue paper then his presents. But more than that, of all of the celebration he enjoyed balloons most of all.

For weeks after his birthday he played with the mylar balloons -I’d say favorite toy of the month.

Thank you everyone for a great first birthday and party. Zach had a great day full of fun, family, and friends.

Cinnamon Roll Bunt B-day Cake

My husband’s b-day was this past Monday and I wanted to make him a cake. He’s not big on traditional b-day cake but loves cinnamon rolls. I thought: can I make cinnamon rolls into a cake? The answer is yes! I am not the first one to think up this idea the credit for the original idea/recipe goes to Bakers Royale. But I like to tweak and re-write recipes (yes a real recipe this time!)

So this is my version of the Cinnamon Roll Bunt Cake:

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Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 or more cup cultured buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

Icing:

  • 1/3 cup cream cheese softened
  • 2/3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

To make the dough:

  1. Place the cottage cheese, sugar, buttermilk, 4 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, with a hand held or bowl mixer: mix on a setting of 4-6 for a minute or so. It will be a little lumpy from the cottage cheese.
  2. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and mix until the dough starts to pull towards the center.
  3. Lightly flour a flat surface and scoop out the dough. It’ll be sticky so you may want to sprinkle flour on top of the dough before kneading. Knead gently, folding it over 5-8 times.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to make a rectangle (if still extra sticky add some flour). Mine was around 8 inch width and 20 inch length: you want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick or less.
  5. Brush the surface with the 3/4 tablespoons melted butter. I use the back end of a spoon to spread it, leave a 1/2-inch border around all the edges.

To make the filling:

  1. Place brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl and use a whisk to combine. Melt 1 and ½ tablespoons butter and sift into the mixture. Taste test it and adjust, you know what cinnamon roll filling should taste like!

Assembly:

  1. Sprinkle the filling over the dough and gently press it into the surface. (Again I used the backend of the same spoon I spread the butter with).
  2. Take the long edge of the dough and roll if away from you, making a jelly-roll. Leaving the ends open, roll the jellyroll over the seal. Make sure it is long 15 inches or more. If for some reason it is no,t you can roll it out  like a rolling pin on the floured surface and stretch a little-but not too thin.
  3. Grease the bunt pan with vegetable oil or butter.
  4. With a sharp knife, ( I would suggest a bread knife) cut the roll into small ½ inch pieces . Set the first layer of cut rolls flat on the bottom of the bundt pan. Set the second layer flat against the outside walls of the pan. For both layers thumb press the rolls together removing all cracks/space between them. Place the remaining slices in the pan on top of the bottom layer and again press in. The last layer can be your ends/non-pretty cuts or extra dough that falls off the rolls.
  5. Place the bundt pan in the oven and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes at 350, it should be golden brown and firm on the edges. The center should rise to be the same height as the sides.

Meanwhile to make the glaze:

  1. Place cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for half a minute if not already softened.
  2. Then add the confectioner/powdered sugar and mix.
  3. Last add the 2/3 tablespoons of milk. Add more milk or a little flour as needed based on the consistency you want for the icing. I prefer more cream cheesey over sugary but if you don’t like a strong cheese taste use less cream cheese and more milk.

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After 3o or so minutes:

  1. Remove the pan from the oven.
  2. When the pan has cooled turn it upside down onto a plate. If you are concerned about it sticking take the blunt end of a knife or a spoon and tap the pan all the way around before removing.
  3. Then spoon drizzle the glaze over the top. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes before serving or stick it in the fridge to let the icing harden.

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I chose to let some icing pool to center hole. Once the icing had set, I filled the hole with fresh raspberries. When the cake was served we spooned out some fresh berries and icing to place onto our slice. I suggest raspberries for spring or cranberries for winter because their tartness balances out the sweetness of the cake.

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It is not quick, easy, or healthy but it is so worth the time, effort, and calories.

Want a slice?