This is a big day: it’s the very last SMiLes by Meg post.
I started this blog in 2013, fresh out of college and about to start a two year teaching job in New Jersey. I had no idea what I wanted my life to look like yet, and TFA was a way that I could push off that decision a little longer while doing something that felt important and meaningful. And because I was in a new place starting a new phase of my life, it felt like the right time to also get more serious about a new hobby: baking.
I think I posted my first recipe the night before my first day in the classroom. I’ve posted every Sunday since then.
This blog has meant different things to me at different times over the years. At first, it was a way to do something fun and new every week. Then I decided to go to law school and moved up to Massachusetts. There, it was a way for me to meet people and spend time with friends – I often brought new treats into class, and I’d invite classmates over to help me with recipes and have a night in drinking wine and making dessert for ourselves.
After law school, I started a job at a big law firm and moved across the river from Cambridge to Boston. When I was there, the blog morphed again. It became a way for me to make sure I was carving out time just for me from an otherwise all-consuming work schedule. I used it as a barometer of sorts – if I can just make sure I have time to bake every week, then I’m still doing OK. Did that mean occasional 3am recipes? Yes, but I never missed a week.
Recently, I moved down to DC. Even more recently, I started a new, a little less all-consuming, job. And even more recently than that, I turned 30.
While I still really love to bake, rather than carving out time from less-fun things to do a fun thing, the blog has started to become carving out time from more-fun things to do a fun thing. And because of that switch, I’ve started to realize that SMiLes by Meg has done for me what I needed it to do. It has given me a hobby that I love and a way to keep in touch with people I’ve met while living in 4 different apartments over the last 7+ years. It has been a constant source of joy but also source of stability and routine since I graduated from college.
Now, though, I think I’m ready to move on without it. I feel like I have other sources of stability to rely on, and so many other things in my life that bring me joy. Plus, I really would like to remake some of these recipes rather than moving on to something new every week.
So thank you for reading, and for giving me a platform to tell little anecdotes about my life while going on baking adventures, both successful and less so. And if you ever need to ask someone for a recipe for something, I’m still your girl.
In what felt like the most fitting last recipe for this blog, I made myself a birthday cake this week. I’ve never done that before – usually, my position is that I bake all the time, and my birthday is when I get to indulge in having someone else bake for me.
But this year, I was feeling a bit homesick for a bakery in Massachusetts. I realized I was not going to find the cake I wanted here in DC because the cake I wanted was at Veronica’s Sweetcakes in Marshfield, MA, and nothing I bought here was going to do. And, as much as my parents love me, I did not think that asking them to bring a Veronica’s cake down on the plane was the right solution. So I decided to make something I knew I would like on my own.
I wanted something bright and colorful, with a thick, rich, buttercream frosting.
This sprinkle cake is that cake, and I may or may not eat the last piece for breakfast tomorrow morning.
I started with the Magnolia’s Bakery traditional vanilla birthday cake recipe, but cut it in half so I could use my cute little 6-inch cake pans (my party was just 8 people, my family and a few very close friends), and made it Funfetti. I coated it in Magnolia’s vanilla buttercream frosting, and then covered that entirely in sprinkles. The end result is a rich, colorful cake that some may say is too sweet but which was just what I wanted.
To start, beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, and scraping down the sides as needed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla extract.
Add the flours to the batter in 4 additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla, and beating well after each addition.
Finally, beat in the sprinkles.
Divide the dough evenly between 3 6-inch round pans sprayed with Pam baking spray and lined on the bottom with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in pans before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Once the cakes are cool, make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 4 cups of confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Continue adding the sugar, one cup at a time, until the desired consistency. I apparently didn’t take any pictures of this step.
Next, spread the frosting over each layer, the sides, and top of the cake. This doesn’t have to look particularly good – sprinkles will hide a multitude of sins.
This was around the time I realized I had made the mistake of icing a cake in a too-warm kitchen. The frosting was melting off as I was trying to work with it and I was melting down because my cake wasn’t working. Fortunately, Erik had the presence of mind to suggest we pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. That solved everything, and once I took it out, I could spread sprinkles to my heart’s content.
Spreading sprinkles up the sides of a cake really doesn’t take any special magic. Make sure your cake platter is wider than your cake. Then just take handfuls and smush them into the sides. Really. That’s all it was. Then I wiped away all the excess that fell onto the cake stand so it looked like a (mostly) clean edge.
I am very proud of this cake, and very satisfied with it being the recipe I end on. My 30th birthday weekend was full of friends and family and love, and this cake captures the love and happiness that my friends and family surround me with.
I mean look at these people:
I have everything I need.
Thanks again for reading, and, as always:
Vanilla Funfetti Cake
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 6-8 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Lots of rainbow sprinkles
- First, make the cake. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about one minute on medium speed.
- Add the sugar slowly, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the self-rising and all-purpose flour. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla extract.
- Add the flours to the batter in 4 additions, alternating with the milk, and beating well after each addition.
- Beat in the sprinkles.
- Divide the dough evenly between 3 6-inch round cake pans sprayed with Pam baking spray and lined on the bottom with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 4 cups of confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
- Add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, until the frosting is the desired consistency.
- Frost each layer of the cake, the sides, and the top. No need to make this perfect.
- Using your hands, spread the rainbow sprinkles over the top and sides of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.