Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I think I might be allergic to spending money on myself. Every time I want to buy myself something, whether it’s a chai latte, a book, or a new pair of shoes, I have to go through hours of overly dramatic rationalizing about why I should be allowed to have this thing in exchange for paper money. I work really hard at my job, so why don’t I think I deserve nice things every now and then just like everyone else? Could have something to do with my crap wage. There’s no telling. 

It’s probably just because I’m just a neurotic freak who’s too cheap to pay for therapy. Either way, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for more than ten years, and I’m still riding this bus with people who may or may not have had a shower in the past week.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

When I do finally decide to splash out, I can’t quite bring myself to by real vanilla beans, but I did pick up some vanilla bean paste, which is still pretty gorgeous. This Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is a superstar. It’s tender and moist, and the vanilla really shines through. 

This cake comes together easily, and the glaze can be made in one bowl with a whisk. Make your glaze just barely drippy. It will boost the sweetness and cover up any bits that might have stuck to your pan. Beautiful in so many ways.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you want something simple and sweet and a little bit splashy, make this Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake for your friends. It’ll be awesome.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
Serves 12
Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is tender, moist, and extra special.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
For the cake
  1. 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 9 ounces (255 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1-3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
For the glaze
  1. 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  2. 2-4 tablespoons milk
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and butter and flour your favorite bundt pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about five minutes.
  4. Turn your mixer down to low and beat in the vanilla bean paste, then add the eggs one at a time, combining completely before adding the next egg. Scrape the side of your mixing bowl, and give it another quick mix.
  5. With your mixer on its lowest speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, a second third of the dry stuff, the rest of the buttermilk, and finally what's left of the dry ingredients, combining well before each addition. Scrape your bowl and mix for a few more seconds to get everything well mixed.
  6. Pour your cake batter carefully into your waiting bundt pan. Make sure there are no bubbles and and try to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for an hour, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely before glazing.
For the glaze
  1. Whisk together vanilla bean paste and two tablespoons of milk in a measuring cup.
  2. Put your powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk in your vanilla and milk mixture. Add some extra milk a splash at a time until you reach the desired consistency. I recommend keeping it on the thicker side.
  3. Coax your glaze from it's bowl and pour it evenly around the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice generously and serve to happy friends.
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Adapted from Sweetapolita
http://awesomeon20.com/
Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lucky me, this winter is forecast to be the worst Scotland has seen in a very long time. I need sweaters, people. Lots and lots of cozy sweaters. And endless supplies of hot chocolate.

I drink possibly too much hot chocolate made from a mix, though I haven’t yet found one here that’s as good as Swiss Miss, but when I’m feeling fancy or god forbid I can’t get my hands on hot chocolate mix, it’s ridiculously easy to make my own hot chocolate in under three minutes. 

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The beauty of making hot chocolate from scratch is that you can create your own fancy flavors. Just peruse your pantry and try something different every time. Or go plain. That’s great, too. I especially like to fortify my evening hot chocolate with something boozy. Baileys, Kahlua, or Frangelico are my favorite choices, but again, the possibilities are endless.

I pumped this hot chocolate up with a splash of vanilla extract. I also stirred in a bit of cream since I had some in my fridge. I usually only keep skim milk in the house, so putting back a bit of the fat makes it a bit more luxurious.

One last note, you can make this right in the mug if you want to save yourself from washing more dishes, but I like to give myself plenty of space to stir, so I make it in a microwave safe measuring cup and then transfer it to a mug after it’s heated. Do what you want. It’s your life and you gotta love it.

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m sorry I just said so many words about hot chocolate. I’m passionate. What can I say? 

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One
Serves 1
Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One can be made with stuff you have hanging around your kitchen in under 3 minutes.
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
2 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
2 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
  2. 2 heaping teaspoons sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 2 teaspoons cream (or milk if you don't have cream in your fridge)
  5. Milk to top up to six ounces
Instructions
  1. In a mug or microwave safe measuring cup, stir together cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and cream to form a paste. Add milk in slowly, stirring as you go, until your mug is full or you're up to six ounces in your measuring cup. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat this in the microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes depending on how hot you like it. Give the hot chocolate another stir and transfer to a mug if it's not already in there.
  3. Add booze and/or whipped cream and/or marshmallows to our hearts content.
Adapted from Hershey's
Adapted from Hershey's
http://awesomeon20.com/
DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

DIY Wedding Cake

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

It’s already June, which I’m okay with since July means Emily is with us at last. They say June is wedding season, and I have to believe them since I’m so uncool I never get invited to any weddings. I did have a wedding a little over a year ago, though, and I definitely have some strong thoughts about the situation.

The amount of money people will spend on a wedding makes me want to cry. The average cost of a wedding in America is $20,000. People spend what, for some of us, is half a year’s pay on one party for one day. I realize your wedding is a very special day that you definitely want to remember, and I’m sure you want all those people you truly love to be with you. You want to treat them to a nice dinner and make sure they have a wonderful time. I totally get that. But half of your salary? That’s just insane.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

We spent about $2000 on our wedding, and comical series of disasters not withstanding, it was absolutely beautiful. How did we save so much money? For one thing, we kept it small. Rather than inviting everyone we’ve ever met, we kept the list to under 50 people. You can’t really make a meaningful connection with more than that number at a party anyway. Too many people and your wedding becomes theatre for an audience, not an expression of love. 

We also did just about everything ourselves. I prepared a majority of the food. We made our own decorations. The bridal party made their own bouquets (more on that later). I even made my own wedding cake.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

The average wedding cake is over $400. Those multi-tiered, fondant-covered confections take hours of detailed work. They’re absolutely beautiful. There’s also no way I’d be able to afford one. Besides, it’s just a cake, and cake is something I want to eat even more than I want to take a picture of. Also, fondant is gross.

If you have even the slightest baking experience, you can make a beautiful and delicious cake that everybody will actually be excited to eat. A great recipe, an abundance of vanilla frosting, and a few fresh flowers is all it takes to make your own wedding cake. Even if you splurge on a vanilla bean for your wedding day, you can make your wedding cake for under $50. 

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

This recipe comes from cake genius, Sweetapolita. Bake the cake the night before, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it until you’re ready to decorate it in the morning. I used my offset spatula to create the swirls on top and the stripes up the side. Then I just bought some pretty carnations, rinsed them with cool water, and pressed them into the border. Use your favorite flowers. Just have fun and don’t take yourself to seriously. 

I just saved you $350. You’re welcome!

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

On my wedding day, I wanted to be able to relax, enjoy my friends and family, and be overwhelmed with love. I wanted to show my guests I cared by making them food I knew they’d want to eat. This cake? You wont’ be able to stop eating it.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Serves 12
The perfect white cake for a DIY wedding.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the cake
  1. 5 egg whites
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 2-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour, sifted
  6. 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
For the frosting
  1. 3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) butter, softened
  2. 3 cups (475 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter, line with bottom with parchment, and then flour two 9-inch round cake pans. You don't want to take any chances on this cake sticking.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk or use your stand mixer on stir to combine for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter bit by bit with the mixer running on low. Beat about 10 second after each piece. You'll have a crumbly texture like when you make biscuits. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and beat for five minutes on low.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then begin to mix in the egg mixture on low. Add it in three stages and mix thoroughly between each. Scrape and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is completely mixed.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between your two prepared pans. You can even weigh them to make sure they're even. Smooth out the batter with an offset spatula to help avoid a domed top.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out with a few small crumbs. Be careful not to overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then cool, tops up on a rack until cooled completely. If you're working ahead, wrap your cake layers completely in plastic wrap and store in the fridge over night.
For the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 8 minutes. This will make it very light and fluffy.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, then turn the speed back up to medium and beat for another 6 minutes. It will be fluffy and dreamy and beautiful.
To assemble
  1. Place the bottom layer of your cake onto a pretty board so you can transport it easily. You can fill your cake with your favorite flavor. I like raspberry jam or lemon curd. You could also just go with the frosting. That's awesome, too.
  2. Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer with the bottom of the cake up to ensure a flat surface. Scoop a good amount of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly. Frost the side of your cake carefully. You're better off having too much frosting so you can take some away.
  3. To make the swirls on the top slowly rotate your cake while applying slight pressure with your small offset spatula or a butter knife, slowly bring the spatula toward the center of the cake in spiral. To make the stripes up the side, simply pull your offset spatula straight up all the way around. If you have a rotating cake stand or a lazy susan, this will be a lot easier.
  4. Cut the buds off of your favorite small flowers and press them into your still soft frosting all the way around the border of the cake. You can add a few flowers to the top as well. Just make sure they're clean.
  5. Pop everything into the fridge for a bit to set. Then go get married and have a beautiful day!
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Adapted from Sweetapolita
http://awesomeon20.com/
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