I often say that my first born daughter made me realize I was destined to be a mother — but my second born son made me delight in the role. Â As with most women, I suppose, I had a hard time adjusting to motherhood. Â You know the drill — the nursing, the lack of sleep, the caring, the balancing with working, the cleaning. Â But also, the solitary confinement. Â The worry. Â The feeling of being solely responsible for so much. Â The desire to go and do — but the struggle to actually go and do whatever it is you used to go and do. Â The anger and resentment toward my husband who went and did.
When they say that becoming a mother is like having your heart walk around outside of your body, they do not lie. Â I felt that way about my daughter from the minute she showed up in my world. Â My love for her was like nothing I ever knew. Â But for the first few years, I was stressed in my new role as a mother. Â It was difficult and I was not prepared for anything other than unicorns and rainbows.
Things eased up a bit when I was thankfully able to quit my job (my baby girl was 3). Â Being able to focus solely on her was a huge blessing and a major relief. Â It made me feel like I was actually able to be a good mother. And please don’t go all “mommy wars” on me here — this is only my experience and there are many tremendous working mothers. Â But for me, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Â When I was working, I felt like I couldn’t do anything well because my attention was so divided. Â When I became a full time mom, I finally felt like I could be good at something again — and my personality thrives on feeling proud of the job that I am doing, regardless of what it is.
And I think this confidence made me feel like I could have a second baby. Â When I became pregnant, I felt like I was prepared for it all. Â I knew the drill. Â And in some ways, I did. Â But, I was wholly unprepared for how my second baby would make me feel as a mother. Â He made my feel like we had a complete family. Â My baby boy made me delight in my role as a mother. Â It felt natural. Â And rather than stressing about how much work it all was, I found a way to enjoy the little moments — by now knowing how fleeting they all were.
So, last week my baby boy turned three. Â Maxy, my Star Wars loving, chocolate eating-dare devil, you have made our family complete and we love you so much. Â Thank you for making me a better mother. Â I hope you liked your chocolate birthday cake.
Here’s the recipe. It’s whole grain, light on sugar, and even the ganache is relatively healthy — not that you should really care about these things on a birthday.
Whole Grain Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache
Makes a two layer cake and enough ganache to glaze the cake (with some leftover for ice cream)
5 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar (can use up to 2 cups if you want)
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1 cup boiling water
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%, but use whatever you like — even cream if you want)
4 T butter
Pinch of salt
1/8 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
1. Â Preheat oven to 375 F. Â Butter two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Â Line with parchment cut to fit the bottom of the cake pans. Â Butter the parchment paper.
2. Â Melt the 5 oz. of chopped chocolate and allow to cool slightly.
3. Â In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Â In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Â Add brown sugar and cream for 1-2 minutes.
5. Â Add the eggs, one at a time and mix for 1-2 minutes more. Â Mix in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract.
6. Â Mix in one third of the flour mixture, followed by one third of the sour cream. Â Repeat with additional flour and sour cream (adding in one thirds). Â Do not overmix at this point.
7. Â Stir in boiling water and mix until smooth. Â Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 24-26 minutes until a tester comes out just barely done. Â Do not overbake. Â Let cool for 10-15 minutes on a rack and then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on rack.
8. Â For ganache: Â In a large sauce pan over low heat, melt together the 18 oz. chocolate, milk, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Â When completely smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Â Let cool until almost room temperature and slightly thickened, but still pourable. Â Pour over cake layers when cake is completely cool, allowing it to fall over edge to glaze sides. Â Let ganache cool and harden before serving.