“That afternoon the finished black cashmere was carefully pressed, and then Ma made a big, white cake. Laura helped her by beating the egg whites on a platter with a fork, until Ma said they were stiff enough.
“My arm is stiffer,” Laura ruefully laughed, rubbing her aching right arm.
“This cake must be just right,” Ma insisted. “If you can’t have a wedding party, at least you shall have a wedding dinner at home, and a wedding cake.”
Another birthday and another project down.
With eight of us under one roof, it feels like I’m always planning the next birthday celebration. And that’s a good thing.
Our most recent celebration was for our precious Hoolie. Like her Momma and her sisters, she is a major fangirl of Laura Ingalls Wilder and so, she wanted to celebrate her birthday in true Little House on the Prairie fashion.
What kind of cake does one make for a Laura Ingalls themed birthday party?
Well, in Juliette’s opinion, she had two choices. “Vanity Cakes” or Laura’s wedding cake. She didn’t love the description of what a Vanity Cake looked like so we opted instead to spend the afternoon, in costume, with no modern equipment (aside from our range) making Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Wedding Cake.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Wedding Cake
- 1 Cup Butter (plus 1 teaspoon for pans)
- 2 Cups Granulated sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Almond extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon extract
- 1 & 1/3 Cups Homogenized Milk ((we just used 2% milk))
- 10 Egg Whites
- a pinch Salt
- 4 Cups White Flour ((unbleached all-purpose))
- 1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 2 8-inch cake pans
Prepare everything. At least one hour before starting, set out all the ingredients to warm to room temperature. Butter your pans with the extra 1 tsp of butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a larger bowl, cream butter with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Using the back of the spoon, blend in sugar until mixture is no longer grainy. (This will be hard work. Tip: Do it at arm’s length or in the lap)
Add baking soda, almond and lemon extracts to the milk and beat them into the butter-sugar blend.
Place egg whites on the platter, add salt, and beat them by tracing circles in the air that catch the whites at the bottom. Beat until they are too stiff to slip when you tilt the platter. (This will take about ten minutes)
In a smaller bowl sift together flour and cream of tartar. Sift a second time. Fold flour into the sugar-butter mixture a large spoonful at a time, alternating with spoonfuls of egg whites. Continue until ingredients are blended.
Divide the batter between the buttered cake pans and bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until the cakes begin to pull away from the pan edges.
Cool cake layers in pans 10 minutes before turning them over on clean cloths to cool further. (Cooling both sides keeps the cake from getting soggy!)
It was dreamy. And my heart is full of the memories of this sweet time in the kitchen with my daughters… rustling skirts… eggs being beaten (ruefully) with a fork… and little raspy-voiced girl doing her best to follow the directions.
My only regret is we didn’t pause to really get good photographs. I had my camera set wrong and they are all pretty blurry. But you know, you’re trying to be mom, hostess, photographer… and still be present with the people you love. I find it tough. We grabbed some cuties of the guests with our cell phones but I wanted some legit old-timey pics and I think we might not be able to resist donning our costumes again for some really good ones.
Don’t get me started on how much I loved our costumes. (You can find them here.)
Nonetheless, my cup runneth over. Juliette Élisabeth (named after Laura Elizabeth) is the sweetest little thing. And now she’s nine and I think I shall cry. And you can watch the Everyday Château episode here:
In the middle of that constant cycle of birthday celebrations is the constant cycle of projects as we remodel, or as I say, deconstruct this crazy house. Part of our envelope style home includes three, rather ugly windows that separate the outer house or envelope from the interior house. They resemble a double set of miniature sliding glass doors and the sport a horrible, sharp, plastic grate that allows the air to flow thru.
We recently had a EUREKA moment when we realized that the air flow would just go around them if we boxed them out. But I wanted to take it a step further and remove the interior window. Thus, creating a dreamy-British-cottage-inspired-super-deep-windowsill.
This first window is another step in the right direction. Redoing this room is a HUGE project that began with removing two stories of “velcro wall”. Rough-hewn cedar that grabbed every hair and dust bunny and gave you a giant splinter if you looked at it wrong.
In November we began the huge project of removing it and then cutting all the planks for wonderful and clean shiplap. We cut them in the cold garage and installed with a precision I don’t think we’ve ever displayed. We are super proud to be sure. We’ve never done a project quite like this.
But we’re alllllllmost finished with this room and it feels GREAT! We’ll be adding some fab, faux beams (and we’ll show you how), we’re removing the horrible deck railing that’s in our hallway and making really high bookcases complete with ladder. (queue the Beauty and the Beast music…)
Tomorrow I’m going to order some last few seeds because after all this I desperately need to play in the dirt and we’ve gotta get all these fun projects finished before the gardening season is upon us.