My Birthday Weekend In Pictures

On Friday I turned 33.

I’m pleased to say that my (usual) birthday anxiety this year was fairly minimal, so I was able to enjoy it mostly stress free.

I took the day off work and enjoyed a (well earned) long weekend.  It was three days filled with amazing food, good people, and fun outings.

Since everyone else was at work on Friday, I enjoyed a leisurely day about town on my own.  It started with a morning run (of course) and then I headed to one of my favorite breakfast spots, the AND Cafe, for an absolutely delicious vegan, gluten free waffle covered with mushroom-dill gravy and savory tofu.  I scored a deeply discounted frock at J. Crew and returned home in time to rest up before heading back out with Mr. Move Eat Create and a good friend to catch The Pet Shop Boys in concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.Friday Collage

When I returned home, the night was finished off with birthday cake!  If you’re ever in Portland, by the way, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Back to Eden Bakery.  This 100% plant-based, gluten free bakery is amazingly delicious and my toasted hazelnut cake with vanilla bean frosting was so good I can’t even do it justice.

Outside - edited

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day for my weekly long run (15 miles this week).  Coffee and my favorite oatmeal from Harlow re-fueled me afterwards.  Enjoyed along with a good book to read over breakfast, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day.

Oatmeal and book - edited

Saturday evening was my official birthday dinner at Portobello, my favorite place in town for an upscale, yet relaxed meal.  My delectable (vegan, gluten free) feast included an appetizer of pommes frites, a couple of whiskey drinks, the first pizza I’ve had in months, and a salted caramel hot fudge sundae.  In my excitement to eat it, I forgot to take a picture of the sundae!  You’ll have to take my word for it that it was beautiful and amazingly tasty.

What a meal!

Oh, and of course there was presents!  Here are a few of them.  Can you tell I’m a reader?

A few of my gifts.  Can you tell I'm a reader?

I wish I could do it all over again.  Here’s to another year!

Recipe: Hummingbird (Banana-Pineapple) Cake with Pineapple Frosting

Earlier in the week, I mentioned a birthday cake.  As the week has gone by I have been eager to come back to that topic.  This birthday cake, you see, has been on my mind.

It has lingered in my consciousness because it was (I think) a big success!  I still get nervous about baking cakes, in a way I do not about baking other items.  I don’t feel apprehensive about baking cookies, muffins, brownies, scones, or even cupcakes; but there is something special about creating a quality cake, particularly if that cake is to be presented and shared with someone as a celebratory gift.

I had inquired with the birthday man in question about what kind of cake he would like and he expressed a desire for a banana-pineapple cake.

Whoa.

I’m not sure why that seemed so intimidating to me – but it was.  After doing some research, I discovered that banana-pineapple cakes were actually, like, a thing.  They had a proper name and all.  Hummingbird cake.  It’s a lovely name, isn’t it?  It sounds like a delicate and beautiful baked treat.

Finding several recipes for hummingbird cake, I settled upon one that looked like the best bet to me, made a couple of adaptations, and set to work.

The process? = Much easier than I had anticipated

The result? = A deliciously moist cake, rich with flavors from the fruits, cinnamon, and vanilla

Hooray for cake success!

This cake was quite fitting for the season, too.  It felt like a farewell to summer, served on the first day of fall.  With the pineapple providing a last hurrah for warm weather days and the warmth of the banana and cinnamon welcoming autumn, it was a great cake for transitioning the seasons.

The recipe for the pineapple cream cheese frosting which finished the cake is also included below.   I hope you enjoy it all as much as we did!

Hummingbird Cake

Adapted from myrecipes.com

Makes 1 8-9 inch square or 8-9 inch round cake

Ingredients:

1 cup Whole-Wheat Cake Flour

½ cup White Whole Wheat Flour (or AP Flour)

½ tspn baking soda

¼ tspn kosher salt

3/4 cup raw cane sugar

½ tspn ground cinnamon

1 tblspn egg replacer + 3 tblspns water (or 1 large egg)

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

1.5 tblspns coconut oil, melted (15-30 seconds in a microwave should do it)

1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)

1 tspn vanilla extract

4 oz crushed pineapple, with juice

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the square or round cake pan of your choice with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the egg replacer and water mixture, applesauce, melted coconut oil, mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and crushed pineapple.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.  Stir well with a spoon until the mixture is combined and all the flour is incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in pan for approximately 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow cake to continue cooling on a wire rack.  Once completely cooled, top with pineapple cream cheese frosting (or frosting of your choice).  A smattering of chopped nuts on top of the frosting is purely optional, but makes a lovely presentation.

Pineapple Cream-Cheese Frosting

Makes more than enough to frost one 8-9 inch cake

Ingredients:

4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese/Neufchatel (standard or vegan)

½ tblspn butter or Earth Balance

2-3 cups powdered sugar

½ tblspn vanilla extract

2-3 tblspns crushed pineapple, with juices

Preparation:

  1. Combine cream cheese, butter/Earth Balance, and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high speed with a mixer until combined and somewhat creamy.  (It will be fairly stiff at this point.)
  2. Add the powdered sugar in batches, until you have reached your desired level of sweetness (I used about 2.5 cups), continuing to beat mixture after each batch is added.
  3. Add in pineapple, a tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition.  Check for flavor and consistency.  If you want a thicker frosting, you may need to add additional sugar, but for a thinner frosting (more similar to a glaze), add more of the pineapple liquid to the mixture.

*** The frosting will continue to thicken up after it sits for a while.  I made my batch a bit thinner than a traditional cream-cheese frosting, so that it almost seeped over the edge of the cake when I frosted it.  I thought it was delicious this way and it did firm up further as the cake sat for a couple of hours.