For a good 5 minutes I thought to myself, “I don’t need to make myself a birthday cake this year.” We’ve been eating all our favorite foods this week because Reuben’s parents are in town visiting. Which also means that I’ve been testing a lot of sweet recipes this week because the savory recipes would have gone to waste without the option of us eating them for dinner. So we’ve had abundant dessert options - ice cream sandwiches (for Reuben’s birthday!), coconut sago, plum buns (those were sort of a fail), no churn red bean ice cream (first time making ice cream! It was okay…), and then there were the kitkats that somehow made their way into our apartment. The point is, we’ve had a very indulgent and sugary few days. A part of me was like, maybe I should start my 28th year on a healthy note… but then I remembered who I was and quickly brainstormed what flavor I wanted to consume on my birthday.
Every birthday I get really mushy and sentimental about my life. I look back on what I was able to accomplish, what I didn’t and will try to do next year, who has come into my life and who has left, and a whole bunch of other things that make me feel sappy.
To help organize my thoughts on turning turning a year older I wrote a listicle! 2 listicles!
5 Ways That I’ve Changed in My 27th year.
I became a person that makes my bed in the morning. This is mainly because I work from home now and I like seeing the bed made when I walk by the bedroom. Makes me feel organized and like a woman who has her eggs in a row!
I left the comfort and security of my full time job to work on this here blog and cook my heart out everyday. I still can’t really believe this is my life now. A part of me wishes that I made this leap a few years ago, but I also think that everything is meant to happen when it happens. So no regrets! Working for yourself honestly isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I mean, it’s a little stressful finding work each month, but also at the same time things have a way of working out and projects find their way to you at just the right time.
Public speaking is fun now??? I’ve never been afraid of public speaking…. just not a huge fan of it. But ever since I started teaching dumpling workshops, all those jittery fears of talking intelligently in front of strangers has sort of gone away. I just agreed to give a presentation in front of a room full of architects in 2 months… wish me luck! I’m going to try to make them all giggle at least once!
Radishes are one of my favorite foods now. Proof that our tastes buds are always changing. Maybe I’ll actually grow to like olives and cilantro by the time I’m 30?!
Sort of related to #2, but now that I’m my own boss I trust my own judgements a lot more. When I was working in an office and in a team, I felt like I was always looking for approval of validation that I was doing something right. Now that the only coworkers that I have are our herbs in the kitchen, I’m learning to trust myself and not care what people think of me. Every so often I’ll ask Reuben if a photo looks bad or if this new project is worth me taking on, but otherwise it’s just me!
5 Ways That I HAVEN’T Changed in My 27th year.
Dumplings and Chinese food are still my favorite foods in a whole wide world.
I’m still obsessed with teen drama shows. Riverdale. Sabrina. It’s sort of embarrassing because those shows are absolutely ridiculous and I question why the parents of the teen characters aren’t watching their children more, but I’m still into them. I’ll probably still be obsessed with them when I’m 50 years old and begging my teenage daughter if I can watch them with her.
I’m still very much obsessed with the color orange and any other hue within the orange and yellow range. If anything, I think my love for these warm tones has only gotten stronger this past year.
Cooking food for people is still such a big joy of mine. I was a little afraid now that cooking is my job that I would not enjoy it as much, but so far I still love it! I don’t love the additional dishes I have to do each day, but that’s just a sacrifice I have to pay for sending good food out there into the world! One of the best things I’ve realized from my dumpling workshops is that it’s actually a really fun way to make new friends and meet people! That wasn’t a side effect I ever thought about, but after about 15 minutes of showing everyone how to fold a dumpling everyone seems to have gotten the hang of it and just end up chatting with new friends while folding dumpling togethers! I just take a moment and watch like the proud dumpling mom that I am.
I’m still happy : ) probably happier now than I’ve ever been.
I have a good feeling that year 28 is going to be a good one! For my birthday this year I’m going to spend it eating dim sum (Reuben surprised me with Good Luck Dim Sum this morning!), writing, cleaning the apartment, not cooking, going to Mister Jui’s for dinner, and eating this Coconut Mango Cake! If you’ve been following Eat Cho Food for a while then this recipe might sound familiar. Yes, I made a cupcake version of this cake last year. But it’s my birthday and I’m allowed to recycle a recipe if I want to! I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the time to test a new cake recipe, so I figured I’d go with something I knew would taste good.
Every time I decorate a cake, I think about how I’m never going to make a cake again. Maybe it’s because I always pick the hottest kitchen days to decorate a cake and it makes working with buttercream an absolute nightmare. But yet, I find myself whipping out my cake stand every few weeks. This cake is going to be so worth it though! The coconut cake is so light and fluffy with the best coconutty flavor. The mango buttercream might be the star of the show! It’s fresh and perfectly sweet from ripe mangos. You can either bake these into cupcakes, like I did last year, or bake them into cake layers for something more formal. The decoration on this guy is a little bit of a hot mess. I had a vision in my head that didn’t quite work out as planned… but look at those mango roses though! They sort of saved the whole design. It’s pretty fitting that my birthday cake this year is comprised of my favorite flavor power couple of all time and decorated in over the top orange. I’m still me! Just another year old : ) Happy Birthday to all of my other Leo friends out there!
Coconut Cake with Mango Buttercream
makes 1 three tiered 6” cake
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1/3 cup toasted coconut shreds
mango buttercream materials:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 mango - you need about 3/4 cup of puree
pinch of salt
orange + yellow food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together coconut milk, vanilla, canola oil, and egg yolks in a separate medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in shredded coconut and set aside.
Add egg whites into the bowl of your standmixer with the the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add in 2 tbsp sugar and whisk for another 3-4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the egg whites into the batter until incorporated.
Line spray 3 6” cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pans and cake for 30-32 minutes. Check for doneness. For cakes should barely be golden brown.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.
While the cakes cool, make your buttercream. Score and scoop out the flesh of one mango. Puree in a food processor or immersion blender until smooth. Place softened butter in the bowl of your standmixer with the paddle attachment on. Mix butter on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the mango puree and salt. Mix on low speed while also gradually adding in powdered sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter cream is light and smooth. If it looks like it's curdled, it's okay! Just keep mixing! After mixing for 4-5 minutes it should be smooth. If not, add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Add in food color and mix again until color is evenly incorporated.
Assemble the cake with buttercream between each layer and decorate as you wish.