Danny has this thing about him. People love him wherever he goes. Like he moves to Seattle and wins all of my friends and family over in a second. I think they might like him more than me? It's fine.
When I look back and think about Danny at age 31, this is what I want to remember: That he's a bit undone. How he calls me Monkey and Little One and Minx. How our Sundays are mostly spent thinking about what takeout we're going to get while we watch episode after episode of Seinfeld, and how 9 times out of 10 we'll choose pho. That he yells at pedestrians from the car and I get endlessly embarrassed and he knows it. How when he's drunk he goes air surfing. Like air guitar, but on a surfboard. How, when neither of us can sleep, we each put half of the headphone in and listen to podcasts. That when I have a new craft I want to make and I need something ridiculous like a branch or a stick, he'll go branch hunting with me.
And then there's things that he'll never ever lose, at any age: his perpetual happiness, his giant ears, his openness to new people, his obsession with his big orange kite, even in adulthood. His undying love for birthdays.
One thing we disagree on is cake. His preference is fruity: lemon is his favorite, while I would choose peanut butter or chocolate every time. So I made him chocolate cake for his birthday! Just kidding. He got lemon, and it was so good that I nearly ate the whole thing.
The cake was adapted from this recipe by Shugary Sweets. It's light and lemony, with incredibly fluffy frosting, and a crumb that goes on top or in between layers if you want to get crazy (I did).
Danny's Lemon Cake
Adapted from Shugary Sweets
5 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 lemons, zested
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. + 4 tbs. lemon curd
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter, cold
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper (cut circles to fit). Set aside.
2. In small bowl, mix egg whites, 1/4 cup buttermilk and lemon zest. Set aside.
3. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Slowly add in egg white mixture. Beat in remaining buttermilk.
4. Pour evenly into cake pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-28 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool in cake pans 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
1. Beat butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and 4 Tbsp lemon curd in a mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes, until fluffy. Set aside. (Save 1/2 c. lemon curd for later).
1. Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. It's easiest to use your hands and just crumble the butter with flour and sugar until pea size. Set aside.
To assemble: Lay first layer of cake on a cake stand. Top with lemon curd. Add 1/2 cup dry cake topping. Frost middle layer with frosting. Top with second layer of cake. Frost entire cake, then sprinkle crumb topping on top. Refrigerate at least two hours. Serve and enjoy!
Adorable photo of Danny by Angela & Evan