Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blogging for Babies Event-Little Wonders- Mini 3 Layer Strawberry Cakes with Sweetened Whipped Cream and White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

When I saw Holly's announcement for the 2nd Blogging for Babies Event, I decided it was time for me to participate. This Little Wonders event is all about paying tribute to babies and their families. Last year Holly was raising money for the March of Dimes Walk, through her own family (you can read about her experience with her son, Cole-HERE), but this year, it is going to the Spohrs, who recently lost their sweet little daughter, Maddie. Holly encouraged us to share our own stories and so here goes.

In the spring of May 2003, my older sister found out that she was expecting triplets. What a happy day! My sister and I married brothers, so it made the news even more exciting.
My son was about 15 months old at that time and my sister had not had an easy time getting pregnant. We were soo excited. Things progressed well for quite a few months. We found out she was carrying a girl and identical twin boys. Clothes were bought, the nursery was decorated and no one ever suspected that something might go wrong.
But then, I got a phone call that broke my heart. My sister's water broke and they were afraid that they might lose the triplets. She was in the hospital and we waited to see what would happen. Lots of prayers were said and it appeared a miracle had happened. They were able to stop labor and put her on bedrest. Our fears were put aside and I planned a 10-day trip to go and visit her, to help her while she was on bedrest.
2 weeks later, thing took a turn for the worse. Labor began again and this time she would have to deliver the babies. She had made it to 20 weeks, but this time there was nothing they could do. My sweet niece- Julia Faith and my nephews-Scott Beckstrand and Jeremiah Harrison, were all born within a couple of hours of each other, on Sept. 18, 2003.
Nothing can prepare you for that sort of loss and it was a very hard road for my sister and her family. Premature birth has become an issue that we have dealt with and so the March of Dimes and other causes that support research and raise money in this area are important to us.
Since that time she has miraculously been able to have 2 beautiful boys who we adore and love. We talk about the triplets often and remember them because they are our cousins.
In honor of Julia, Scott and Jeremiah, I made 3 mini 3-layer cakes for this event.
I saw this recipe for Strawberry Layer Cake in the May issue of Cooking Light and decided it was the perfect thing to make into mini's for this event.
I baked the cake layers and then cut out little mini cakes with a biscuit cutter. I decided to dip some strawberries in white chocolate and used sweetened whipped cream instead of the frosting that was called for in the recipe. I also left out the red food coloring and added 1/2 tsp of strawberry extract instead. This is a very dense cake and the strawberry flavor is not over powering. Everyone who ate the cake loved it though. Kind of like a take on strawberry shortcake. If you feel like you can donate to help the cause of premature births and other things associated with it, please check out the links above to this event, the March of Dimes or go to Holly's blog for more information. I feel it is a great cause to support.

Strawberry Layer Cake adapted from Cooking Light (Note- the reviews of this recipe on myrecipes.com are very mixed. Lots of people thought the cake tasted like flour. We didn't. It wasn't as sweet as some other cakes I have made, but we all really enjoyed it with the whipped cream. So, if you try it and don't like it, sorry!)
You can use fresh orange juice instead of Grand Marnier in the cream cheese frosting.
1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries
10 ounce all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (I omitted this and added 1/2 tsp strawberry extract)
Cooking spray
Frosting: (I frosted mine with sweetened whipped cream)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
3 cups powdered sugar
12 whole strawberries (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, place sliced strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add pureed strawberries and food coloring; beat just until blended.
4. Divide batter between 2 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
5. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 1/3 cup butter, and liqueur in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat just until blended.
6. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Cut 1 whole strawberry into thin slices, cutting to, but not through, the stem end. Fan strawberry on top of cake just before serving, if desired. Cut remaining 11 strawberries in half. Garnish cake with strawberry halves, if desired.

Up Next- Spring Rolls with Peanut Curry Sauce


Marie Rayner said...

It's so sad when someone loses a baby, but to lose three at once, that must have been incredibly devastating. Your cakes look lovely!

Barbara Bakes said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I can only imagine your sister's pain. I volunteered at the recent March for Babies and there was a good turnout despite the weather. I love the idea of cutting out minis from a larger cake.

The Food Librarian said...

What a wonderful way to support and honor the memory of your nieces and nephews.

Meghan said...

This story is heartbreaking. I can't imagine having to go through that. It's so nice of you to support a cause that means so much to you and your family. The picture of your children by their cousins' grave is so sad but precious at the same time.

Your little cakes are so pretty! I love the colors and I'm sure they taste delicious.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Mary Ann, this is a beautiful post from beginning to end. Thanks for sharing your (and your sister's) story - so sad and yet your family's love, support, and care shine through. You chose some sweet little cakes to commemorate the babes.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am moved by your post. My sister just delivered premature twins and we were so blessed they were only faced with a few uphill battles. The stress and concern that comes with complicated childbirth has taught my family a lot about being thankful and patient. I think your 3 cakes was a fantastic tribute. Well done.

Kasha said...

I am so sorry! You're post was very sweet in every way. That recipe looks delicious. It looks like you are an incredible Aunt to those sweet ones even in Heaven.

Jennifer said...

Oh, gosh, that's so sad. I can't even imagine dealing with such a loss. Your poor sister.
It's wonderful that your family has taken such a worthy cause to heart, hopefully that helps with the pain.

Pamela said...

I don't think that there could be anything worse than losing a baby. My sympathies to your sister and your family. I'm happy to see that she has been blessed by 2 precious boys, though!

I saw that strawberry cake in CL and was thinking about them. Thanks for the note about the reviews, too!

Anonymous said...

What a great cause and wonderful way to share. It's so heartbreaking to lose a child. I can imagine nothing else that compares.

I feel bad commenting on your cakes after reading you and your sister's story. Your mini cakes look fabulous.

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm so sorry for your sister's loss.

PheMom said...

Thank you again and again and again so much for participating. It really means so much! Your post made me cry (no surprise) and I my heart goes out to your family. This is exactly why the March of Dimes is so important to me. I know how lucky we were and am so grateful.

Those beautiful little cakes are a lovely tribute. I know that sharing that story was difficult, but I hope that it also helps in the healing process for your family as well.

Sweet as Coco said...

Sorry ot hear about your sister her loss. My sister went through something similar...it was devastating. Thanks for sharing the story...and the cakes are beautiful!

Cathy said...

Mare, your post made me cry. Such a tragedy for your family. What sweet little cakes for such a beautiful tribute to your niece and nephews. Thank you for bringing attention to the March of Dimes.

Kerstin said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. It's wonderful that you're supporting such an important cause.

On a lighter note, your cakes look lovely and so perfect for the season.

Unknown said...

My heart beaks for every person that has to go through any loss or heartache with pregnancy, birth etc. It just doesn't seem fair, but I do believe that there is a blessing in all things even if it is just to become stronger, a closer couple etc. I love that you honored them with those little cakes. I hope that your sister is well.

J.L. Danger said...

I am so sorry. I can't even imagine.

Kayte said...

These are gorgeous cakes, and next time you write like this, SEND KLEENEX! A very touching memory...the little cakes are the perfect way to express your love.

Karen said...

What a nice tribute to your niece and nephews. I'm sure your sister appreciates this.

MoDLin said...

I'm sorry to hear about your niece and nephews. Stories like that are so very sad. Hopefully, some day the research funded by the March of Dimes will find answers to the causes of premature birth. Wouldn't it be great to have all babies born fullterm and healthy?

Your cakes look yummy!

The Flynn's said...

Great post Mary Ann! I remember being your neighbor when that happened and crying for your sister. That's a really neat thing that you did for her!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mother, but this story made me very sad.