It’s New years eve and people are getting themselves ready to ring in the new year, celebrating with friends and loved ones. Some people are running around worrying about canapes and whether they have enough drink for their parties, others are quietly enjoying a night in with their families at home, choosing outfits, applying make up and thinking of all the wonderful things that happened in yet another year. I am at home alone (well with my gorgeous son, who is fast asleep). I spent the night doing laundry and tidying toys. All of this, I don’t mind, in fact I love it! I spent two hours watching my son sleep in darkness, listening to his tiny snores and at the same time, holding my daughters memory box and silently crying to myself. And as it turns into yet another new year, I grow a year further away from my daughter. I lay the tiny white urn containing her ashes on the pillow beside me, turn out the light and wish her a happy birthday.
Elena turns two tomorrow. The first day of the new year. She should be with us, but sadly she is not and took her place in the stars two years ago. It seems harder this year, now that I can see exactly what I am missing. Her little brother changes every day and gives me glimpses as to what Elena would have been like and what she would have done. I wrote her a letter the day of her funeral and I re-read it tonight. It’s filled with love for her and reminds her of how lucky I was to have had her and how she changed me forever.
How lucky am I to be Elena’s mummy!!!! I just adore her more and more every day.
Each year I make her a cake. It seems the only thing I can really do to mark her day. For Elena’s second birthday, this morning I made a vanilla and raspberry layer cake. And I attempted my first fancy piping work (not very successfully but It doesn’t look too bad, just don’t look too closely). Who knew that icing goes runny when you’ve been holding the piping bag too long? It never occurred to me, until I had rosettes dripping down off the side of the cake. Well I finished it and feel quite proud of it.
VANILLA AND RASPBERRY LAYER CAKE FOR ELENA
- 350 g unsalted butter, softened
- 350 g caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- 350 g self rasing flour
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 6 tbsp milk
- 250 g fresh raspberries
- icing (recipe below)
Start by lining four 9 inch loose bottomed cake tins and heat the oven to 170 C fan oven. If you don’t have four tins (why would anyone have 4 tins?, don’t worry I borrowed 2), I find the best thing to do is half the recipe and make two tins/layers at a time and while the first batch is in the oven get the second batch ready.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs in one by one, beating really well in-between each egg addition. If you find the mix is beginning to curdle slightly, add 1 tbsp of the flour to help bind it.
Add the vanilla in and beat well again. Next sieve the flour into the bowl and fold in with a spatula.
Add the milk in 2 tbsp at a time, until you get a nice smooth dropping consistency.
Divide the mixture between the tins (remember: 2 tins = half the recipe ingredients, 4 tins = full ingredients) and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
Take out of the oven and cool for a few mins in the tins and then remove the tins and cool fully on a wire rack. Meanwhile make the icing.
for the icing:
- 250 g butter, softened
- 450 g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla bean extract
- 3-4 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 milk tbsp by tbsp. 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 pipe a ring of icing on the top of each layer around the outer edge and then ring of raspberries inside that and then another ring of icing and so forth until you reach the centre. Lay the next sponge layer on top and repeat. Once the top layer has been added, press down gently to get rid of empty air pockets between the iced layers.
Then take a small amount of icing and using a palate knife, roughly cover the sides. I forgot to take a photo of me doing this, but the photo below is the same process but with pink icing, from a past cake.
Pop into the fridge for 15 minutes and then take out and continue to frost the cake.