January 5th marks a very important occasion for me because it is the 1st anniversary since beginning this journey of starting a blog. It has been a fun journey for me and challenging at times. I have made new friends, pushed myself to reach goals and finally feel like I am feeling comfortable in my writing skin. While I feel I have come a long way from my very first post there is still a lot of room for improvement and I look forward to improving on my photography and writing.
Do you remember frosted animal cookies? Grandma always has bags of cookies in the cupboard for a special treat and the rare frosted animal cookie sighting was always a thrill as a child. Brightly frosted and covered in sprinkles they always brought a smile to my face. This cake perfectly captures the fun of days long ago with a modern twist. Layers of double vanilla cake are filled with a crunchy cookie filling and then draped in silky Swiss meringue buttercream. Oh, and of course it is topped with lots of sprinkles and frosted animal cracker cookies. You can never have too many sprinkles when it comes to cake.
When I began thinking of what I wanted to do for this celebratory post I set high expectations for myself. I knew exactly how I wanted to bake, fill and frost the cake and how the photos would be set up. During the process of making this cake I became frustrated. Frustrated that my cake was not turning out how I wanted it. I was frustrated with the unevenly cut and filled layers. I was frustrated that the lighting was not right for the shots I wanted to get. The bloggers I admire always have gorgeous photographs and inspired recipes and I strive to do the same. I was frustrated that I could not make these things happen for such an important post.
For two weeks I mulled over the idea of throwing in the towel on this post all together but then it hit me – I began this journey because I love being in the kitchen. I love creating. I love reminiscing of days in the kitchen with my grandmother while I make one of her recipes. I did not start this journey to have the perfect shot, award winning recipes or to meet the expectations of others. I do this because I love challenging myself, creating and sharing with others. From blueberry biscuits to gas station salads I have reached the goals I set for myself and desire to be even better to meet my own expectations.
That is something worth celebrating and definitely calls for cake!
Retro Frosted Animal Cookie Cake
Notes: I found it helpful to crush the cookies the same day I baked the cake layers. On the second day I made the frosting and assembled everything. When making the cake all ingredients should be at room temperature. I used two 6 inch cake pans and cut each layer in half. You may use any size cake pan you would like but may need to adjust baking times accordingly.
14 oz bag frosted animal cookies
1 batch of Vanilla Cake (recipe follows)
1 batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream – I cannot even come close to the step by step detail Rosie from Sweetapolita uses, so give it a read if you have never made it before.
Instructions for cookie filling & cake assembly:
- Set aside a few whole animal cookies to use as decoration.
- Place remaining cookies in a zip top bag and crush (or pulse in a food processor).
- Combine crushed cookies with 1 cup of buttercream. Add more buttercream a little at a time until mixtures in stiff but still spreadable.
- Place one cake layer on serving plate and spread a third of the mixture onto it.
- Repeat with remaining layers.
- Frost cake with a thin crumb coat and let harden in fridge for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the crumb coat is hard finish frosting cake.
- Apply sprinkles and frosted animal cookies.
Ingredients for the vanilla cake (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita):
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
2 egg whites (65 g)
1 whole egg, at room temperature
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 3 tablespoons (142 g) cake flour, sifted twice
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1-1/4 tsp (8 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (4 g) salt
6 Tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter
Instructions for the vanilla cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 6 inch baking pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a bowl stir the egg whites, egg, 2 tablespoons of the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar until thoroughly combined.
- Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.
- Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes clean when inserted into the center. Be careful not to over bake as it will become dry very quickly.
- Let cool for 10 minutes then remove from pans to finish cooling on a rack.
- Wait until cakes are completely cool before attempting to frost (at least 2 hours) and assemble cake.