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A Hint of Fall & A Birthday Cake

You wouldn't know it from the warm weather we're having at the moment, but Fall is certainly here.  Everywhere I look there are warm browns, yellows, shades of orange and dark crimson tones.  Yes, autumn is here and if the weather behaves, the deciduous trees promise to give us a splendid show of color.

I took a few photographs this past afternoon so that you could see the hints of autumn we're experiencing in our area.  Although I did not do a long photo shoot, because I was on a lunch break, I did capture what I think are the best views around our home.

The photo of our group of beech trees was taken from the second floor of the center hall.  If the time is right and the weather has been kind to the trees, I literally gasp the first time I notice the splendor of that giant beech that is front and center.  So many leaves fall from this area that our driveway is completely covered for days.  Someone is going to be busy clearing them next week.

Walking up the driveway next to the walnuts and oaks, the tall, majestic trees have begun to go from green tones to pale yellows and bright shades of orange.  

On a side note, a small bank of stones that was put in along the driveway has really managed to keep the bottom of the hill, around our home, free of storm runoff.  I'm so glad that was done. 

Going up the driveway whether on foot or in the car is so extraordinary for the few days that it looks like this.  I live for these fleeting moments of autumn.

Standing on the front porch of the house, looking up the driveway, you can see what I mean about the area being covered in beech leaves.  

And now, for a bit of cake!

Over the weekend I made a tasty cake for a very dear friend of mine who was welcoming an au pair into her home.  Following two of Martha Stewart's recipes from her 'Cakes' book (Martha personalized my copy of this book!), I quickly iced the layer cake with a minimum of fuss.

I used her buttermilk cake recipe (page 259) for the tender yellow layers, and her flawless Swiss Meringue Buttercream (page 336).  However, I decided to add 1/4 cup of strong, brewed espresso to the finished buttercream in order to give it a fragrant, and very delicious coffee flavor.

This icing pipes beautifully!

The layers were thoroughly chilled before applying the crumb coat.  I simply put the layers in the freezer as I started making the buttercream.  Everything was perfect the moment I stopped the mixer.

This crumb coated cake was then chilled for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to help the icing set and harden.  After this chilling it was only a matter of applying the final coat of buttercream along the top and sides.  This was done with my rotating cake stand and a bench scraper.  Perfect!

For the top, I used a large St. Honoré piping tip to create that wonderful border.

A sprinkling of French dragées in both silver and gold, completed the cake.

Voilà!  I had so many requests from individuals wanting to know what type of icing this was.  Well, now you know.  Get Martha's Cakes book and you will never want for a better tasting cake.  If you don't own a St. Honoré piping tip, and you happen to love decorating layer cakes, buy yourself at least one of these and experiment with it.  

Have fun baking and decorating birthday cakes for the important people in your life!


  1. Oh, my dearest David - Another triumph you make look so, so easy!


    1. Awww, thanks Janet!! You're such a dear, love you lots hun! :)

  2. Not sure which is more wonderful - your cake or the beautiful pictures of the trees.

  3. I love it!
    You make it look so easy, the St. Honore treatment, but it looks so great!
    I do have Martha's cake book.
    I'm looking through my tips to see if I somehow have a St. Honore, if not I'm getting one and trying this.

    1. Amie, do look for a St. Honoré piping tip because you're going to love it!! Excellent, go through Martha's book!

      Happy Baking!


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