28 Years Around the Sun

Hello! Today is my birthday and I’m OFFICIALLY “late twenties” which is wild and insane and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school and 6 since I graduated college and I’m currently in the midst of not knowing where I am in life or what exactly I want to do (besides make a positive impact through my talents) but it’s been a pretty great day filled with sunshine, a golden dress, and Mission BBQ for dinner.

I am STUFFED and I tried finishing off a slice of my birthday cake, but I cannot because I’m still digesting delicious pulled chicken BBQ.

This year, because the place I used to get my birthday cakes from closed down last spring, I made my own birthday cake and it’s, as my friend described it yesterday after I told her what it contained, A TROPICAL ROLLERCOASTER (that wasn’t prepared to go down LOL) and it turned out pretty deliciously.

I have no way of segueing into the description, so let’s deep dive:

The cake batter is a poppy seed coconut vanilla, ensyruped with fresh lemon juice and zest that’s been boiled with honey and a little water to create the syrup. There are fresh cherry halves inbetween the layers, and the frosting is a light whipped lemon cream cheese, topped with fresh mango puree, cherries, dragonfruit balls, and patted on the sides with sweetened coconut flakes.

It’s RICH but it’s tangy and delicious. Below, photos and recipe. Enjoy!

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram @lovelikeangels and @vivianapodinaphotography for more food, photos, and whatever else


For the batter:

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temp
1 cup milk
coconut extract to taste
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
a bag of cherries
sweetened coconut flakes

For the frosting:

16oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar

For the syrup:

1 cup lemon juice
lemon zest from 3 lemons
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water

For the mango puree:

1 mango
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup milk (or to taste)


For the batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease or spray pan(s) (I used 9 inch rounds). Beat together butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and coconut extract on medium-high speed until fluffy, roughly 3 minutes.
  2. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating until thickened. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. Mix in half the flour, then the milk. Add remaining flour and poppyseeds.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for ~36-42mins or until cake’s center runs a toothpick clear and free of batter.
  4. Let cool completely once they’re taken out.
  5. De-pit your cherries and cut them in half.

For the frosting:

  1. Using the whisk attachment (or not if you have a hand mixer), beat cream cheese on high for about a minute.
  2. Gently add in lemon juice and powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, and continue beating on high until everything is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Refrigerate while you wait for the cake to cool down.

For the syrup:

  1. In a small pan, bring the lemon juice, zest, water, and honey to small boil.
  2. Let boil for about a minute or so, then take off the heat and set aside.

For mango puree:

  1. In a blender, combine mango (take off the peel!), honey, and milk and blend until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble:

  1. Once cooled, if your cake layers have domed over, gently cut off the domed tops to ensure you have flat layers.
  2. Using a silicon brush or a table spoon, evenly distribute the lemon syrup on top of your cake layers.
  3. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting on the first layer, then evenly place your cherry halves on top. Use a little more frosting to cover them lightly, then place your second cake layer on top.
  4. Frost with remaining frosting.
  5. Garnish with mango puree, cherries, and pat coconut flakes on the sides of the cake.


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