Strawberry Lemonade Cake and Body Positivity

Here is how I make a layer cake in pictures:

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I made two layers, then I used a long serrated bread knife to cut each layer in half.

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Using a pastry bag fitted with a large circular tip, I pipe a border around each cake layer. Then I fill with lemon curd or whatever filling I’m using.

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Then I thinly layer the cake in frosting creating my crumb coat. I bought a lazy susan at a thrift store and I use it as my rotating cake table. One tool that really helps to get a smooth and even coat on the outside of the cake is a flat bench scraper like this one here. I always wondered how people go their cakes so smooth and it definitely helps to have the right tools.

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There are a ton of tutorials on the internet on how to frost a smooth cake but I thought I’d show you my methods.

I’ve also been wanting to write a post for a while that explains how I view body positivity. Since I label myself a body positivity blog this is especially important. In my own head I break down body positivity into a structural level and an individual level. On a structural level body positivity is equal and fair treatment of all bodies – of different weights, sizes, shapes, skin colors, gender and sexual identities, regardless of ability. And therefore the body positivity movement is an intersectional movement linked to other fights for justice like reproductive justice and Black Lives Matter. And within our society certain bodies are intersectionally marginalized meaning that they may be fat and of color and a sexual minority and therefore face more challenges than others.

I remember distinctly telling my therapist that when I was 25 pounds thinner I felt better about my body and that was holding me back from recovering and embracing my body as it is now. And she responded with “of course you did, but how was the rest of your life?” The rest of my life sucked, the only thing I had going was my body size which I only felt good about because we live in a society in which we are not only told that skinnier is better but in a world where skinnier people are actually treated better, paid better, receive more opportunities, etc. Social science research proves this. And this is where we get thin privilege. Even 25-30 pounds heavier, I still benefit from thin privilege because of my body type and stature.

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Now on an individual level, in my every day life, it is easier to begin by defining body positivity by what is is not — it is not always loving your body or always feeling good about yourself. But rather the ability to live in our bodies and appreciate how they carry us through life – but also not having to think about our bodies all the time. It’s taking the emotional work out of loving ourselves and just being. Taking pressure away from having to take action towards our bodies. My friend Laura, taught me the term to more or less describe what I am talking about – body neutrality.

In my journey towards healing and embracing my version of body positivity I can now form meaningful relationships. I can let go of control surrounding food and my body and enjoy the company of others. I made this cake for a friend and her family. They really remind me of how good and kind people can be. And how opening myself up to friendships and relationships is a powerful way of letting go of an eating disorder.

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Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Lemon cake — adapted from Saveur

2 sticks soft butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

zest from 2 lemons

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

Beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment till light and fluffy.

Add 1 egg at a time until each is fully incorporated.

Add all dry ingredients. Mix for 5 seconds.

Add lemon juice and milk. Mix till just combined.

Pour batter into cake pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Lemon curd — adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 stick butter or 4 tablespoons

zest and juice from 2 large lemons

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in large heat proof bowl.

Over a pot of simmering water, whisk curd until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool.

Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream — adapted from Martha Stewart

5 egg whites

1 1/4 cups sugar

2/3 cup water

pinch of cream of tartar

4 sticks or 1 pound of cold butter

1 pound strawberries + 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat combine sugar and water. Heat until syrup reaches 238 degrees or softball stage.

While the syrup is heating up, place egg whites in a stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Begin to whisk until egg whites are foamy then add cream of tartar.

Continue to whisk egg whites until they are stiff but not dry.

When sugar syrup has reached 238 degrees. Remove from heat.

Slowly slowly pour syrup in a thin stream between whisk and side of bowl as you continue to beat the egg whites. Keep beating till egg whites cool down a bit.

Add butter one piece at a time. Keep whisking even if mixture looks curdled until buttercream is smooth and silky.

In already used sauce pan, combine trimmed and halved strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar. Cook until strawberries break down and turn from soupy to jammy. Remove from heat and cool.

When strawberry jam has cooled, whisk into the buttercream.

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