You’re Never Too Old for Birthday Cake

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Within the past few years I’ve noticed the sad truth:  as you get older, the chances of getting cake for your birthday get pretty slim.  Even if you don’t really like cake, isn’t there something in us that never grows up, that is always excited about birthday dessert?  So this year as the choir season at church began, I decided to surprise my choir members with cupcakes at the rehearsal closest to their birthday.  It’s always fun to see their faces as they’re presented with a plate of cupcakes glowing with candles and the birthday song.  They sometimes act a bit embarrassed, but if you look closely, you can see that child-like smile and delight in their eyes that says, It’s my birthday, and I got cake!”  I love that!

Each birthday is celebrated with a different flavor (unless we’re celebrating two birthdays at once, which has happened).  Last month was peanut butter chocolate chip with chocolate peanut butter frosting; next month is most likely going to be grasshopper (for my husband’s birthday–he put me up to the flavor challenge).  This month I wanted to do something non-chocolate, so I made a spice cake with an adapted cream cheese frosting.  It was supposed to be caramel cream cheese frosting, an adaptation of the classic caramel cream cheese dip for apples that I’ve made before by simply adding brown sugar to the cream cheese.  But there was a bit of a technical difficulty–the brown sugar didn’t completely dissolve in the frosting, so it’s crunchy.  I’m not sure exactly what happened.  It tastes absolutely delicious, but crunchy frosting was not going to be a go on the cupcakes.  I now have a big bowl of super-rich, just-a-bit-crunchy apple dip in my fridge.

Baking is fun, and baking for someone is even better.  So, if you ever happen to be celebrating a birthday and coincidentally happen to be in my area, smile!  There might just happen to be a little birthday cake just for you.

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Picnic Spice Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs 

Sift dry ingredients into bowl.  Add shortening, milk, and vanilla.  Mix with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes and scrape sides and bottom of bowl.  Add eggs and continue beating 2 more minutes.  Pour in greased and floured 9×13 pan or in 24 lined muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes for 9×13 pan or 25-30 minutes for cupcakes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  When cool, frost with Easy Caramel Frosting or Cream Cheese Frosting, if desired.  Refrigerate leftovers, if using Cream Cheese Frosting.

 Easy Caramel Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup top milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 Mix sugar, milk, and butter together in saucepan.  Bring to a boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla.  Cool to lukewarm.  Beat until creamy and thick enough to spread.  Add a little cream if necessary for easier spreading.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk

Beat butter and sugar together until well mixed and fluffy; about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla.  Beat in cream cheese, adding one cube at a time; beat till smooth.  Add milk one Tbsp. at a time to thin, if necessary, or add more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time to thicken, until frosting is smooth and spreadable.

(I tried adding 1/2 – 2/3 cup brown sugar with the powdered sugar to this to make it caramel-y.  Attempt at your own risk.)

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