Saturday, April 16, 2016

It's A Wonderful Life

It was a sunny afternoon on April 15th eight years ago that Stone and I said our vows.  A precious man by the name of Mr. Harry L. Whittington performed our ceremony, and told us of his love for his late wife Edna of 60 years.  Several weeks following our nuptials we received a letter from Mr. Whittington, thanking Stone and I for allowing him to share our special moment.  He was an adorable man with a big heart.  
Immediately following our commemoration, driving by the Hot Now sign, we stopped at Krispy Kreme and shared donuts and a diet coke.  Go ahead and say it, I know you want to, how romantic!  
We made what most people consider to be an unhappy day, Tax Day, into a very happy one.  And by getting married on tax day, we were guaranteed not to ever forget our anniversary.  Well, maybe once someone did.  I'm not mentioning any names.  

Happy Anniversary To Us

Abingdon, VA  a quant little town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is where we spent our anniversary this year. 

 As we have on numerous occasions, we stayed at The Martha Washington Inn & Spa.  Legend has it that the Martha Washington has been home to ghost since the Civil War, where it served as a hospital. 

Abingdon VA

Abingdon VA

Abingdon VA
The Martha Washington Inn &  Spa was built in 1832.

 Virginia Is For Lovers

Abingdon VA
Ducks on the lawn of the Martha Washington Inn & Spa.

Abingdon VA

Abingdon VA

Abingdon VA

 Enjoying our wine in the library prior to going to dinner.

Abingdon, VA


Abingdon VA
The Barter Theatre,where we attended the musical Big Fish, is honored as the State Theatre of Virginia.

Abingdon VA
 And of course as always, we had dinner at The Tavern.  Built in 1779, it was originally used as a tavern and overnight inn for stagecoach traveler's.  Today The Tavern is a place where you can relax and enjoy fine food.

Abingdon VA

 Brie Cheese
Our favorite appetizer when we eat at The Tavern.  It's baked with honey, brown sugar and toasted almonds. And then it is served in a toasted bread bowl.


 We couldn't leave Abingdon without walking some of the Virginia Creeper Trail.  The last time we were here, my daughter Abby Gail was with us.  We biked the trail and it was covered with snow.  How do you bike on a trail with snow you ask?  Very slowly!
 This trail passes through the scenic backcountry of Western Virginia.  It stretches 35 miles from Abingdon to the North Carolina State Line.

Abingdon VA

Of course it being our anniversary, I just had to bake a cake.  This year I chose a citrusy treat with orange cream filling and a vanilla bean frosting.  And yes, we took some with us on our road trip!

Happy Anniversary
Orange Creamsicle Cake
Ingredients for the Orange Creamsicle Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
zest of one orange
4 egg yolks
Directions for the Orange Creamsicle Cake:
Preheat oven to 350'.  
Prepare three 6" cake pans with baking spray and parchment paper.  Set aside.  
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream, milk, and vanilla.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the sugar and zest.  Mix on medium for about 3-5 minutes until fluffy and pale in color.  Turn the mixer to medium-low and add in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Stop mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  
With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture.  Add in the sour cream mixture and mix until combined.  Stop mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Turn mixer back to low and add in the remaining flour mixture.  Mix on medium-low for no more than 20-30 seconds once the last traces of flour combine.
Evenly distribute between the three prepared pans.  Bake for about 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.   Let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
Ingredients for the Orange Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Directions for the orange Simple Syrup:
Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool before use.
Ingredients for the Orange Cream Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
6 Tablespoons cream cheese
zest of 1/2 large orange
fresh orange juice to thin out to desired consistency (about 1-2 Tablespoons)
Directions for the Orange Cream Filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth.  With the mixer on lox, gradually add in the confectioner's sugar until combined.  Add in the cream cheese, orange zest and orange juice and mix on medium-low until smooth.  Be sure not to over-mix the filling once the cream cheese has been added.
Ingredients for the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
3 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean-seeds scraped out
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions for the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Whisk together.  Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and heat over medium-high.  Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.  Heat the egg white mixture until it registers 155' on a candy thermometer.
Once hot, carefully transfer the mixing bowl back to the stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high until the outside of the mixing bowl returns to too temperature-about 10 minutes-and you have medium-stiff glossy peaks.  With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, vanilla bean, and butter-a few Tablespoons at a time.  Turn mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.  Recipe adapted from:
For the Assemble:
Generously brush each layer of cake with the simple syrup.  Fill the cake layers with the orange cream filling and frost with the buttercream.
For the drip, mix desired amount of powdered sugar with orange juice to make a runny, but not too runny glaze.  Add food coloring.