This is one of those blogs that has taken several attempts to write. I like to think this blog very much represents me and as you read it, you can hear my voice and imagine the person behind it. For the last year, kitchen feasts has been a public insight into my life. From writing about Cara the puppy, who has a wild side, certain family members salt free and citrus free diets right through to our journey through our pregnancy. Last week I mentioned that life has thrown us a few curveballs which would explain my absence from writing. Life has dealt us more than a curveball ! But in the hopes of moving forward, I want to also share this experience. Otherwise I think this blog wouldn’t be honest or real.
At new years, a few weeks from our due date, we were told that our darling daughter, whom we had so much loved, cherished and carefully nurtured for almost nine months, had given up her journey into this world. Her little heart had given out and before I could bring her into this world, she left us. On january the 1st 2015 at 21.39 our baby girl Elena Jane was born sleeping, never taking a breath and never getting the chance to say hello to us.
Our lives have been changed forever, our futures as a mummy and daddy have been snatched away from us and we have been left heartbroken. The world has turned into a very cruel place.
For anyone that has gone through this, my hearts go out to you. And since new years day we have learnt just how many people have suffered the same as we have. It has only been a few weeks, but we have been given so much love and support from our families, friends, work collegues and even those that we barely know, that this journey has been made much easier. And we still have each other, Damian and I have fought our way forward and have become much stronger and more in love and are working on our future! Our little girl is with us all the time in our hearts and our memories. She will forever be our daughter and we shall forever be her parents.
For the day of Elena’s funeral, we decided to throw a party. Partly selfish as we didn’t want to be alone, but also to celebrate and acknowledge Elena’s presence in our lives. This was her first birthday party and so naturally there had to be cake! I spent the day before the funeral, cleaning and baking. My mother gave us my grandmother’s finest silver tea pots, we had fancy china cups, little pink plates with butterflies for the sandwiches and cakes, yellow roses dotted around the house and of course, lots of good wine. The most popular cake was actually the cupcakes. Little pink dusted raspberry and vanilla cupcakes. It wouldn’t be a first birthday party without cupcakes! Later in the evening way after we had run out of cupcakes, I discovered that people loved them and some didn’t get one, while others had several, so the secret stash of cupcakes was unveiled and I think and hope that everyone got one in the end. Her first birthday party was indeed a wonderful event with just the right amount of sorrow and celebration.
So in honour of our little girl, I am going to share her raspberry and vanilla cupcakes.
RASPBERRY AND VANILLA CUPCAKES
When I was little, we used to bake cupcakes. Our recipe comes from the ‘Good Housekeeping step by step cookbook’. My mother has a copy of this book, that she stole from her mother. It has been used so much that it lives in a plastic bag because the book has fallen apart. My copy is in fact the copy my grandmother bought my mother in an effort to retrieve her copy. It didn’t work. So I ‘borrowed’ my mothers copy when I moved out. The pages are covered in cake batter and penciled in notes. One of the best books I can think to ever recommend.
- 100 g butter
- 100 g caster sugar
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g raspberries, I use 150 g of frozen berries for the cake mix and 100 g (12) fresh berries to decorate
- vanilla butter cream icing
- a tsp of freeze-dried raspberry powder to decorate (optional)
Pre heat the oven to 190 C/170 C fan oven.
Line a cup cake baking tray with cupcake cases. This recipe makes 12 cakes.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add one egg and beat until incorporated. Then add the second egg and beat again. Add your vanilla extract.
Sieve the flour into the same bowl and fold in with a spatula. Then fold in the frozen raspberries. Just mix gently to gain a roughly even distribution.
Spoon into the cupcake cases. I find that a soup spoon is the right size to gain 12 even cupcakes. If you have more than 12 berries for the decoration, you can always pop an extra berry on a few of the cupcakes before baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
They may be a bit uneven on the top after baking. This is usually due to the extra berries. But I do admit that my buns invariably always have risen a little higher in the center. Something I’ve never been able to avoid, no matter what I try.
For the icing:
- 125 g butter, softened
- 225 g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
Beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar a little at a time and beat. When all the icing sugar is added, add the vanilla and the 1 tbsp milk. Mix. If you need more milk to reach a soft smooth icing then add another 1 tbsp.
Put the buttercream icing into a piping bag and start to decorate.
I have a simple icing bag and have only ever used one type of nozzle. But you can decorate however you want , this is just a guideline. Start from the inside of the bun and work your way out. Add a fresh raspberry to the top and dust with powdered raspberry.
So every New year’s day we will make and eat these little delights in honour of our daughter Elena Jane. We will think of her every day forever, but on this day we will think of our little girl, whom we cannot hold, cannot comfort or cannot watch grow up.
For anyone who has gone through this or something similar, our thoughts are with you and we hope you can be strong and brave and live life to the fullest in honour of your child.