Tag: birthday

Birthday Blues and Why I’m Not Making a List

I am a perpetual sufferer of the ‘birthday blues’. In just under two weeks, I will be another year older. Every year, as September rolls on, I feel the same sadness consume me. Apparently birthday sadness is quite a common thing. I don’t call it depression (as others do) because I feel depression is a much more serious thing compared to just feeling a bit down because I’m turning a year older.

I haven’t quite pinpointed what it is about my birthday that makes me feel so down. (more…)


My good friend Candice offered to get me a picture of my choice printed for my flat as a birthday present.  Please note that my birthday was in September, and it took me until NOW to decide what picture I wanted.  I really struggled to decide – I knew I wanted a landscape of some sort – possibly the Joburg skyline, but I didn’t have any great pictures myself.

Until I remembered that I took a kickass panoramic picture on our recent travels to Cape Town, and I just had to use it.

landscapeWhat do you think?  Chloe-cat clearly approves.  You would have been very entertained watching Ross and I put this up last night – our mathematical skills need some work.

German Buttercream Cake

My dad is German, and always goes on about how his mother used to make him a delicious buttercream cake.  With this in mind, we decided to make him a German Buttercream Cake for his birthday.

photo 1

You need to make a basic vanilla sponge cake – you could even just make a box sponge cake if you were feeling really lazy.  The most important thing here is the Buttercream icing, the recipe for which I found here:


450 grams (16 ounces) whole milk

2 vanilla bean pods, split and scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract

280 grams (10 ounces) sugar

40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) cornstarch

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

450-900 grams (16 to 32 ounces) of unsalted butter, at room temperature – Yes, it’s a lot of butter but this icing is like pure buttery goodness in your face.

1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste


1. If using the vanilla beans: bring the milk to a simmer along with the vanilla bean pods in a medium pot.  Turn off the heat and set aside to steep for at least one hour, or as long as time allows.  After steeping, remove the vanilla bean pods and use a rubber spatula to extract the thick vanilla goo from inside each pod.

2.  If not using the beans, continue to step 3.

3.  Bring the milk to a simmer (or return to a simmer if you’ve been steeping the vanilla pod).  Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar reserved vanilla bean scrapings, cornstarch, eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.

4.  Whisk about a half cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture – it will be thick at first but will loosen as the milk incorporates.  Continue whisking in hot milk until the egg mixture is fluid and warm.

5.  Now, return the tempered egg/milk mixture back into the pot of hot milk, whisking all the while.  Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble sluggishly.  (This took ages, and Ross was recruited for this part when my arm felt like it was going to fall off.)  From that point, continue whisking and cooking for a full minute more; use a timer or you run the risk of not fully cooking out the cornstarch – it’ll be THICK and a bit of a workout stirring the custard, just make sure to keep it moving so you don’t end up with cooked egg pieces in your custard.  When the minute is up, pour the custard into a large mixing bowl.

6.  The custard may be cooled quickly by mixing it continuously in a stand mixer.  If time isn’t an issue, you can press a layer of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate until cool.  You can keep this mixture in the fridge overnight or up to a few days.

7.  Once the cooled custard has been whipped until creamy, begin adding in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the salt and continue to whip until the mixture is creamy and homogenous.

8.  If you’d like to flavor the buttercream with any extracts, melted chocolate or other flavorings, now is the time.

9.  Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. When ready to use, whip until creamy before proceeding.

photo 2Ice the sponge once it has cooled completely.  This is a very rich, and creamy icing – plus it’s delectably sinful – definitely not for you if you’re on a diet!