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I pawned tree decorating on Leilah for years. Then she married and had her own tree to decorate. For a short time Olivia would start it for me, but having two sets of grandparent houses to go to and with her own tree to decorate the assistance she used to give me was dwindling. Jimre was never a decorator, if something doesn’t need building or fixing he is out. Clearly I needed a less laborious Christmas tree.

I secretly desired a Tesla but I also toyed with the idea of getting a Charlie Brown.
In the end I settled for a tiny fake tree from Michaels.

It looks remarkably like a real tree. I hate those fake paper leaves – don’t you? I will decorate it in fifteen and after Christmas I will put it away for next year and next year and next year. I think I am brilliant. It cost me all of fifteen bucks. The pot was ten.
What’s with decorating for Christmas anyway? My girl’s house looks like Father Christmas threw up all over it. There is a lighted village on every table. Each generation wants something different. Well… I never put out the doilies our mothers made for us either. I do give in to nostalgia though, I will put out the small Costco nativity set I bought second hand a couple of years ago. Outside there is a single strip of lights on the house, we don’t want to alienate the neighbours… even though they more than make up for our lack of decorating fervour. There are lights on every surface, giant Mr and Mrs Claus magically inflate in the dark and deflate come morning, and there are reindeers and whatnot all around us. Really, why decorate? I would be a minimalist if I wasn’t so bloody practical. For minimalism to function you have to have nothing or dole out the money. I never had a lot of money so I under-decorate… and… bake. I baked a Snickerdoodle Cake. Happy Birthday my Love! The recipe was adapted from Foodie with Family.
Snickerdoodle Cake:
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups whole milk
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 cups soft butter
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Preheat oven to 325F.
• Line two 9-inch spring form cake pans with parchment paper.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
• Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.
• Beat the eggs in one at a time, fully incorporating each egg and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
• Beat in the vanilla.
• Add about 1/3 of the milk, beat to incorporate, then 1/3 of the flour, again beating to incorporate.
• Repeat this process, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until all of the milk and flour are added and mixed in evenly.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake in preheated oven. The recipe called for 35 minutes, it took me 10 to 15 minutes longer, I lost count, but make sure to increase the baking time by only 3 to 5 minutes at the time and watch it or use the timer.
• Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out onto the racks to finish cooling.
• Meanwhile prepare the brown sugar cinnamon buttercream.
• Place the whipping cream and the brown sugar in a small pot and heat it on low setting until the brown sugar melts. Set aside to cool completely.
• Beat the butter for 2 minutes.
• Lower the speed and began to add gradually the icing sugar and the cooled down brown sugar mixture.
• Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
• Add the cinnamon and the vanilla.
• Continue beating for 5-7 minutes until very fluffy.
• After the cake cooled down completely, decorate with the buttercream.
• Cut each cake into two even layers. Be forewarned. Once cut into two layers, this is not a stable cake. Handle the layers with extreme care. My best advice for the novice baker is to partially freeze the cake before cutting and handling.
• Place one layer on a cake plate then add a layer of buttercream, spreading to the edges and evening out as you go. Repeat with the remaining layers.
• Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream.
• Place in the fridge for half an hour and then finish frosting the top and the sides.
• Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
• Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator.



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I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has over 900 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. My recipes are organized into a cookbook format. On top of the page click on the cookbook to get access to all my recipes. If I ever figure out how to add a printer friendly gadget I will add it. In the meantime feel free to cut and paste. Happy cooking!

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