Another Year Of Pink, Pretty, Play.

Today is a very special day! Today Hot Polka Dot turns two and yours truly turns twenty-six. To mark the occasion I have precisely twenty-six grey hairs sprouting from my right temple. I also had two pieces of this impressive specimen of pink sweetness.

I thought long and hard about what sort of cake to make to celebrate Hot Polka Dot's second birthday. I wanted it to be a symbol. I wanted it to be the embodiment of everything Hot Polka Dot stands for.

It's cute and pink, but also classy and understated. It's fashionable, sporting a trendy ombre outfit and bunting accessories. It's speckled with vanilla bean, sweetened with strawberry and enrobed in luscious white chocolate. She's a little messy, a little out there, but she's able to pull it together for the big day, not unlike myself.

I feel like this day is made extra special by you. You might be new to my blog, but many of you have stuck by me from the beginning and I'm very thankful for that. You've seen how my little corner of the internet and I have grown up and matured into something I'm not ashamed to say I'm very proud of. I've experienced so much and learned so much more. It really is a joy to share it with all of you. Thank you for your patience, your kindness and your friendship.

Here's to another year of pink, pretty and, most importantly, playing with your food!

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ombre Cake

Source: My imagination.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 vanilla bean 1 3/4 cup flour 1/2 tbsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup milk (and/or 1/2 cup strawberry puree**) 2 tbsp vegetable oil

16 ounces white chocolate, chopped 1 1/2 cup heavy cream 4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 cup strawberry jam

Note: This recipe is for one cake layer. I left it this way so you could make as many as you like and be sure to get the measurement of the strawberry puree right for more ombre fun. Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9 inch cake pan then line it with a round of parchment paper and set it aside.

In a large bowl an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated. Split open the vanilla bean then scrape out all the seeds and add them to the bowl.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt then add it in thirds alternating between the milk, strawberry puree and oil.

**Since we're trying to achieve an ombre effect, each cake layer needs to have a different amount of strawberry puree. To do this you need to replace some of the milk with the strawberry puree to get that nice pink colour. From whitest to pinkest: layer one is 1/2 cup milk, layer two is 1/3 cup milk and 3 tbsp strawberry puree, layer three is 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup strawberry puree, layer four is 1/2 cup strawberry puree. You can add a few drops of red food colouring to boost the colour as well.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan then bake it for 25 – 30 minutes until it's golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer it to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before frosting.

To make the Whipped White Chocolate Ganache Frosting put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it aside. Combine the cream and butter in a small sauce pan and heat it on medium heat until the butter melts and the cream just reaches a boil. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit covered for a few minutes before stirring it until it's smooth.

Let the ganache cool before whipping it with an electric mixer until it lightens in colour and becomes light and fluffy. Fill a small pastry bag fitted with a round tip with about a cup of the frosting.

To assemble the cake place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Pipe a circle of frosting around the inside edge of the cake to act as a dam to keep the strawberry jam in. Fill that ring with a generous helping of jam and place the other cake layer on top. Repeat these steps for all but the top layer. Liberally frost the cake with the rest of the Whipped Chocolate Ganache and enjoy!

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