The farmstead birthday party…what a simple and kid friendly idea! I wish I could claim credit for coming up with it but it was the brainchild of my partner in this collaboration, Brittany Taylor Photography. This celebration was for two of her children with October birthdays and it could not have been more charming, rustic or simple! (This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure at bottom of page)
The Farmstead in Gaviota CA is a working organic farm and a quaint venue for parties. There were plenty of activities to keep the kids busy: tractor rides, farm animals, and wide open spaces for running and playing. The Farmstead also had an indoor farmer’s market with fresh organic produce from the farm, homemade ketchup, jams and bread! Now that’s my kind of party. Do a little google search in your area for farmsteads that host parties, or approach a local visiting farm and ask!
For complete details on the party, the decor, activities and the photography please visit Brittany Taylor’s Blog. BUT for the details on the food, stay right here because that was my contribution to the festivities!
The Party Menu: Simplicity is the name of the game!
Because birthday parties can be stressful for mom and dad, Brittany and I chose a menu that was super simple and in season:
Savory Pumpkin and Creamy Butternut Squash Soup: Serving soup at a party is a great idea, you can make it at your leisure, even weeks in advance, and freeze it. Then pull out of the freezer two days before the party and reheat on a portable butane burner. I love mine by the way! And the best part? People serve themselves! (For more soup ideas click here)
Pear and Blackberry Salad: The dressing for this simple salad can be made a day or two in advance and besides slicing the pears at the last minute there is no work, just assembly. An easy no stress salad. Hosts and hostesses should be able to relax enjoy the party too.
The simplicity continues: We placed berry baskets, grapes, fresh bread and almond butter and jelly sandwiches (cut with pumpkin shaped cookie cutters) on the table! Truly, so simple and all of it was delicious and except for dishing up the hot soup, even the kids could help themselves!
We went with two cakes: my Apple Spice Cake made a day in advance…
…and for the chocolate lover, The Triple Layer Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake! Feast your eyes…
This is one of those cakes you think about for days after eating it. Layers of dark chocolate cake divided by homemade salted caramel and topped with a gooey ganache! Truly, it is just perfection. You can find my cake stands at Anthropologie.
The Recipe: Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake
Tips and must haves: This cake is not hard to make, but it does have several steps: the cake, the caramel, and the ganache. I break it down in the most time saving way but you may make the cake a day ahead, and then the make caramel and ganache the day you serve if desired. Must haves: three 8″ round cake pans, espresso powder, sea salt (I buy the tub to save money), parchment paper and a mixer. And be sure to Watch this video! It will be very helpful for making caramel. To see this cake decorated two different ways click here.
This cake is not hard to make, but it does have several steps: the cake, the caramel, and the ganache. I break it down in the most time saving way but you may make the cake a day ahead, and then the make caramel and ganache the day you serve if desired.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips I use Ghiradelli 63% cacao
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 rounded teaspoon espresso powder
- 3/4 boiling water
- ¾ cup full fat sour cream
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 stick butter 1/2 cup room temp
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup organic granulated unbleached sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- half stick butter 1/4 cup
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate I use Ghiradelli 63% cacoa
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 pinch course sea salt
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar sifted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center position. Use a paper towel to butter sides of three 8" cake pans (if you use 9" pans it's not gonna work...just saying') and dust with cocoa powder (or flour, but cocoa powder will disappear). Use the bottom of cake pan to trace a circle on parchment paper, cut three 8" circles. Place parchment in bottom of pans and coat with butter and cocoa powder as well. Do not skip this step or you will have a really hard time getting cakes out of pans.
Place flour, salt and baking soda in bowl and whisk, set aside. Crack and separate eggs into a bowl and set aside. Place chocolate chips, cocoa powder and espresso powder in a medium sized bowl. Bring one cup water to boil. Measure ¾ cup boiling water and carefully pour over chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Let sit for a minute then whisk. Add plain sour cream and whisk more, set aside. Place butter, coconut oil and sugars in mixer and begin mixing on low speed. Add chocolate mixture to mixer with butter and sugars. Mix until well combined. Add vanilla paste and then eggs, one at a time, then add flour mixture. Once batter is combined, scrape sides of mixer, turn mixer to medium and mix for one more minute. Pour as evenly as possible into prepared cake pans and bake for 24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. As soon as pan is cool enough to handle, use a knife to separate cake from edges of pan and CAREFULLY remove cakes and set on rack to cool domed side down. This will help flatten the cakes as they cool making them easier to stack. While cakes cool, make caramel.
Watch video linked above. Making caramel is very hot business! Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go and keep children away from area. Do not use a rubber spatula. It will melt.
Place sugar in a heavy bottomed fairly deep pan on med/high heat.
Use a wooden spoon or silicon spatula to push sugar around.
As sugar melts it will first start to clump, then crystallize and finally become liquid. This takes about five minutes.
When sugar is completely melted and the color of caramel, carefully add butter (watch video for tips).
The butter will bubble up…hence the fairly deep pan. Stir till butter is melted.
When butter is completely melted, turn off heat.
Carefully add cream in a slow and consistent drizzle while stirring. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool 30-40 minutes or until caramel is pourable but thick. If you allow it to cool too long and it becomes too thick to pour you can always reheat a touch.
While caramel cools make ganache.
Place dark chocolate (chips or chopped bar) and a pinch of sea salt into a glass bowl.
Heat cream in saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.
Do not stir. Allow to steep untouched for 10 minutes, then whisk by hand till smooth.
Allow to sit on counter for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes add powdered sugar and briskly whisk by hand for three minutes or use mixer for two minutes.
Peel parchment from the bottom of cooled cake and place first cake on a plate, flattest side down. Pour half the thickened caramel over cake. Take two pinches of course sea salt and sprinkle over caramel. Add second cake layer flat side down (be sure to remove paper!) and pour the remaining caramel on top, then add two pinches of sea salt. Add third layer (roundest side up) and pour ganache over cake, allowing it to drip over sides. You may not use all the ganache. Allow to sit till ganache firms. Cut and serve.
This cake makes any birthday more special! Please enjoy, pin and share!~ Linda Spiker
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