I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring… - David Bowie
When our friends reached out to make a little cake for their daughter’s 2nd birthday, there was no hesitation whatsoever--but when we found out the party was David Bowie themed, we thought perhaps, we can be heroes, just for one day.
Parents Amanda Pullen and Chase Fox were collectively cool about giving us creative freedom, so right away, we jumped at the chance to go all out. No premade mixes or jars of store bought frosting here. We’re layin’ the real thing on you with our recreation of Stella Parks’ Vanilla Butter Cake!
That Friday, we rallied together in Caitlin’s kitchen for a Wake & Bake night session. Full disclosure--I’d never made Swiss meringue buttercream frosting before so this adorable toddler’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to dive right in. We began with the velvety, dense cake batter. You could use any combination of tins you like, but we decided to stick to the recipe and divide the batter into three, 8 inch pans in order to get those pretty layers. Once the cakes began to cool, it was time to open another bottle of wine. That wine part isn’t an integral part of the recipe, but you know how we do things around here ;)
Let me just say that I had NO idea making buttercream was so involved. You start by heating the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, whisking and whisking until it’s the right temperature. Then you slowly whip it together in the mixer, gently adding ALL the butter...also at a very specific temperature. It’s not the easiest thing to master, in my opinion, but oooh boy is it worth it. The silky mouthfeel of this frosting is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
Once the cakes and buttercream are ready to go, toss back another glass of wine because you’ve earned it, dammit! Also, I just really love the assembly and presentation part of our projects, because it gets us one step closer to my all time favorite part: eating it. While we layered and frosted, courtney marie made a stencil of Ziggy Stardust’s iconic lightning bolt for us to put atop the cake. We discussed a myriad of ways we could color in this design, but Caitlin (via Stella) had the brilliant idea of using crushed up, freeze dried strawberries and blueberries. The blueberries ended up being more of a purple color instead of that electric blue we were hoping for. But as fate would have it, she just so happened to have bright blue sprinkles hiding in her cabinet. Together with the strawberries, they were the perfect combo to bring Ziggy’s symbol to life!
The party was a total blast, complete with Ziggy Stardust decorations, local pizza, and the most far out, custom cookies we’d ever seen, made by Danielle at Endora’s Bakehouse. Nestled up next to our Bowie cake, watching all the kids run around as Bowie records reverberated in the background, I never felt more certain we were right in the sweet spot of these golden years.