Florentine Birthday

Yesterday marked the beginning of my last year of my twenties.  Yikes!  Luckily, I had some pretty great people to celebrate with.  Our friend Eva, who happened to be in town from Belgium, and our Italian friends Tatiana and Francesco joined Bobby and me for dinner at Piazza del Vino here in Firenze.  It was our first time at this (really!) lovely restaurant and we had a great time gorging ourselves on extremely large portion sizes of Italian food and good wine.  This was just the finale of my birthday, however.  Earlier in the day, Bobby treated me to peanut M&Ms (my absolute favorite) for breakfast, I drank my yearly Coca-cola, and we watched the first Formula 1 race of the year.  Bobby also gifted me two new cookbooks, tickets to the Romeo and Juliet musical, and a Kopykake (a projector to create some pretty awesome desserts that I’ve been lusting after), which should come in the mail any day now.  All in all, it was a pretty amazing day, which makes it a little easier to come to grips with the fact that I’m only a year away from being 30.  Double yikes!

Look how cool this restaurant is!  They have a ginormous wine list and tasting machines if you wish to try out some of their labels.  We’re already planning our return visit.

Piazza del Vino, Firenze

Piazza del Vino, Firenze

Group shot

Group shot – Franci, Tati, Eva, Bobby and me

The cotoletta alla milanese, which is like schnitzel, was larger than life.  I think I took birthday splurging to the next level.

Cotoletta alla Milanese because why not? It's my birthday!

Cotoletta alla Milanese because why not? It’s my birthday!

cotoletta alla milanese

Close up of the cotoletta alla milanese

Bobby and his 2 plates

Bobby, too, was baffled by the size of his (two!) plates

I also received some Belgian chocolate and a lovely framed photo from Eva as well as a Tuscan cooking book (that was deemed to be authentic Tuscan food, not one of those “touristy” Italian cookbooks) from Tati and Franci.  I really am fortunate to have such a great husband and good friends!

Dining with the girls

Dining with the girls

My love

My love

After dinner, we returned to our place for birthday cake.  Alright, I’ll admit it. I did in fact make my own cake because who knows better what I’m craving than me, right?  I must say that although this was a new recipe and I was worried about how it would turn out, it was pretty great.  I’m including the recipe for you all, that like me, can’t go very long with satisfying your sweet tooth.

Limoncello cake with Mascarpone Icing

Ingredients:

  • Limoncello Cake –
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup limoncello (lemon-flavored) liqueur
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Optional: white chocolate shavings
  • Mascarpone Frosting –
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups lemon curd (see ingredients and preparation below)
  • 2 cups chilled whipping or heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • Lemon curd –
  • juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • extra lemon juice, if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (1/4 pound) cold butter, cut into pieces

Preparation:

Lemon curd –

Measure freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add any additional lemon juice, if necessary, to make 1/3 cup. In a medium mixing bowl that will fit over saucepan (or top of double boiler), whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch. Whisk in sugar, lemon zest and egg yolks. Bring to simmer 2 inches of water in saucepan or bottom of double boiler. Place bowl on top. For 10 to 20 minutes, whisk egg mixture until thick enough to coat back of spoon. Whisk in butter a few pieces at a time. Whisk until each piece is completely melted. Scrape lemon curd into a non-metallic bowl. Cover top of curd with plastic wrap. Lightly pressing until wrap completely covers surface. Place in refrigerator for cooling.

Cake –
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Grease and flour parchment. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour alternately with buttermilk and limoncello mixed with lemon juice.

Bake cakes for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pans. Once cool, remove from pans. Place one layer on serving plate. Frost top with 1/3 frosting. Place second layer on top. Frost with one half of frosting. Use remaining frosting to frost sides of cake. Decorate top with optional white chocolate shavings.

Frosting –
Cream together mascarpone cheese and lemon curd. Whip cream. Slowly add powdered sugar until all added. Fold cheese mixture into whipped cream. Mix until completely combined.