Alfie Turns Two + A Recipe For Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Cake

 

Little Alfie turned two this past Saturday, and like each of my baby’s birthdays, my emotions were running high and the day was oh so bittersweet. We kept things fairly simple and ended the day with some lit candles and really good cake. The recipe is below if you’d like a new one to try!

I’ll never forget the hubbub surrounding Stella’s first birthday where I tried really hard to do everything like I thought I was supposed to as a first time mom. It was French themed and too expensive and honestly way over the top. I remember thinking throughout the party, “What the heck did we get ourselves into? She’s ONE. It’s a big day for her and us, yes, but why the fuss? Why do people do this to themselves?” Andrew and I both decided after her party not make the mistake again of overdoing birthdays because others were doing it, and to celebrate simply instead. Now on some birthdays we do a little more, others a little less. I try not to make a huge deal of it all but rather aim for a good cake with a few gifts. If we can gather family, wonderful. If we can have a outdoor celebration, great. If a few friends can pop by, swell. And importantly: less presents and more presence.

When I was little (well that just aged me!) we would usually have a potluck at home and invite bunch of family members over. There would be cake, of course, and few presents. That was pretty much it. Maybe some balloons? The kids would run around barefoot outside and the parents would sit in lawn chairs drinking wine coolers. Today it feels like the parties we attend or see online are so much work and money and excess with no wine coolers. 😉 Do you feel that way? And it’s not that we don’t want to celebrate our kids or their special day, but I think setting the bar higher and higher each year could make things get out of hand pretty darn fast. I’d rather soak in the moments as they unfold throughout the party rather than wonder what other jobs I have to tend to in order to make sure the day looks perfect and everyone is satisfied. Anyway, that’s been on my mind.

Back to mister Alf and the day he turned two. Andrew had to work most of the day to prepare for a big test so the kids started our day at the farmer’s market and nearby park before they headed off to see Cars III with their nana and papa. The four of us spent the rest of the day in the backyard with Alfie’s new water table until dad got home. We went out for supper because I didn’t feel like making another kitchen mess after the cake, and the weather was perfect, like a mild 72 degrees. Afterwards we headed home for birthday cake! Alfie climbed up when he saw his two lit candles and blew them out well before we could finish singing, just like his brother and sister did when they turned two. It was a perfectly sweet way to end a really sweet day.

Here’s the recipe I used to make his cake. Don’t mind the haphazard layering and sloppy frosting job…my tiny cake decorators got a little carried away, but it sure tasted good! I decided on lemon poppyseed because those are some of our favorite muffins to have in the morning, and then a cream cheese frosting because I think it makes pretty much all desserts taste better. I had some dried and fresh blueberries on hand, so we added those too, along with some Queen Anne’s Lace the kids picked that morning to go on top! It was scrumptious!

 

Bless that little face…

 

Ingredients: *adapted from this original recipe 

For the Cake…

  • 4 farm eggs
  • 1 cup canola or sunflower seed oil
  • 1 2/3 cup coconut sugar (or cane if you have that)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups almond flour or all-purpose flour (I used almond flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • zest two large lemons
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseed
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting…

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 drops of lemon essential oil or zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of poppyseeds for outside layer
  • fresh flowers to top, bonus points if they’re edible!

To prepare, preheat the oven oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray three 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Next mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract in a big bowl until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, lemon zest, poppyseeds, and sea salt. Alternate pouring the flour mixture and buttermilk into the wet ingredients until well combined. When mixed, divide the cake batter evenly among your prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes or cooked in the center. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting or you’ll end up with a runny mess! To make the lemon frosting, mix the softened butter and cream cheese with a standing or handheld mixer. Slowly add in powdered sugar and milk and lemon oil or zest, and mix for about 30 seconds. If using essential oil for this, make sure the brand you are using is absolutely safe to ingest. If not, lemon zest works well too. If you have little ones at home let them help you frost and decorate the cake even if it turns out a little wonky, they’ll love it!

 

Alrighty so what’s your take on kiddo birthday’s? Do you think simple is better? Do you have wild party experiences that have made you scale way back and reshape how you now go about birthdays?

 

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  • Kathleen

    We’ve definitely done more involved, themed birthday parties in the past but I always found them pretty stressful (I know some people genuinely enjoy organizing and creating those kinds of parties but it’s not fun for me). So we’ve steered away from them in recent years and my kids don’t really seem to care at all. My oldest has had a couple sleepovers with a few friends and this year we invited kids to a climbing gym (we brought pizza and ice cream). My middle son is very introverted and has declined a party the past two years – he prefers family-only so we’ve done something special together to celebrate. For his 7th birthday, he and his older brother went to a fun ropes-course for kids for the afternoon. My youngest will be turning 4 this summer and we will do something simple with family and a few family friends. We like to cook lunch and hang out on our back porch and have ice cream sundaes for dessert (this has become our go-to birthday dessert over cake). I love a simple celebration.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Kathleen, I too have some friends that seem to effortlessly pull them off and it always inspires me to try! But I just don’t think it’s my cup of tea either. I love the idea of ice cream sundaes…YUM. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Luce

    happy birthday sweet boy !! I just thought the exact same thing at every birthdays since my boy turned one and every new year (he’s 3) was a little simpler than the year before. Although I still couldn’t help myself with choosing a party theme now that Léon can decide which one he likes better, this year it was construction trucks and it was the perfect excuse to make a perfectly imperfect cake 😉 That being said it’s always too much gifts, too much people even though they love our boy so much and too much everything ! I am willing to do more simple again next year and the fact that we’ll have another baby (due in less than 7 weeks) will certainly help with just being the four of us, celebrating our ever growing big boy (sigh…) Wanting to do that from the start with our second boy but how do you deal with the guilt of having done something big for your first born and not the same for your second ?? thanks for sharing and for reading my forever too long messages… Take care xxxReplyCancel

  • Ashley

    We are firm believers in “simple is better” over here. We love to host, but there have been times where we have put too much time & energy into planning and all that jazz that we just end up exhausted by the end of it. I also prefer things to be quiet instead of noisy, so a few family members gathered with few presents, minimal decor, and simple food options is perfect.

    Also, that cake sounds delicious and looks like it turned out just fine 🙂 For my daughter’s first birthday I made a single layer banana bread with chocolate frosting cake, and for her second birthday we made a blueberry pie with fresh blueberries we picked earlier that morning! Her third birthday is coming up at the end of July so we still have to do a bit of planning for that yet. But my guess is that it is going to be a relatively simple birthday since we now have a four month old to tend to as well 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I’m with you all the way on kids’ birthdays. I get stressed out just attending the shindigs of my friends’ kiddos, much less having to host one. Also, there’s nothing I hate more than having to open presents in front of a bunch of people, so I try not to subject those I love to the same torture. 😉 For Emmett’s first birthday we went to brunch at Timberline Lodge up on Mt. Hood, just with his grandparents and us. It was a beautiful day, we had delicious food, a few presents and a fun mini-road trip all together. Perfection. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Angel

    Love this post along with all your other posts! You actually inspired me to keep birthdays simple and I’m much happier for it. I can actually enjoy and embrace being in the moment instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. My husband and I were just talking about birthday parties these days and why they can’t be like the parties we had when we were younger, like you described in your post, kids running around barefoot outside and parents drinking their beverage of choice!ReplyCancel

  • Liv

    We have 3 boys and we’ve gone so simple for nearly every birthday- my baby turns 1 on the 4th of July so we lucked out for sure- can’t think of anything better than a big family barbecue, fireworks and this blueberry cake.ReplyCancel

  • Such sweet photos – and I totally agree, it’s all about being with your family and celebrating – not all the bells and whistles one can possibly find!!

    Rebecca
    xx
    http://www.peppermintdolly.comReplyCancel

  • AJ

    Do I EVER agree! We live in LA and kids’ birthday parties here are nuts – enough decor, gifts & desserts to rival a small wedding (and these are 3 year olds!). It always feels like it’s so much about the parents because the all the kids really want is to play and have some cake. (And I’m with you – where the heck is the wine?!). We try to keep ours small, simple, and always make sure to say “no gifts, please” on the invitations. And homemade cakes are where it’s at! Alfie’s celebration looks just perfect. Happy Birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Jean

    Aww! I loved this post! For my son’s first birthday we did a basic “blue” theme, nothing crazy, with a few decorations and a cake and family. But I just can’t believe some of the parties I see for such little kids’ birthdays! It stresses me out just looking at them!! I definitely get overwhelmed easily so I think we’ll be going the simpler route for birthdays in the future and leave it at that. Thanks for posting.! The cake looks delish! Happy Birthday A!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke

    This is so refreshing. I am three weeks away from my daughter’s first birthday and have been attending a few others recently. The last one spent several hundred dollars on catering. We plan on grilling/cupcakes and not having a specific theme as I was overwhelmed trying to come up with one.ReplyCancel

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