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Entries in birthday cake (7)

Wednesday
Aug202014

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake With Brown Sugar Frosting

Last week, even though it was a bit early for my August 26th birthday, I made a cake.

You see, I was in New Jersey for a few days with my parents, and I would be leaving before the big day, so I decided we should all have a little party. Any excuse for more cake, right?

I was writing a post for Craftsy about brown sugar buttercream, and I decided to make a cake to go with it (although, for the record, I have nothing against eating it by the spoonful). I hit up my mom's old cookbook collection and found an old treasure: silver white cake, AKA my birthday cake growing up. Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar I doctored it up a bit, making it richer by including the entire eggs and by adding a swirl of brown sugar. The "swirl" came out more like little lumps of brown sugar here and there...but DELICIOUS lumps. Oh, and I also doubled the salt. Because if I've learned anything in my baking years, it is that brown sugar loves salt.

This cake came out tremendously, if I do say so myself. Everyone took seconds, which is always a good sign. Maybe it can add some joy to your non-birthday day, too!

Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

For the cake

Makes one 2 layer 8-inch cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Set to the side.
  2. Beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, milk, and vanilla in a stand mixer on low speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, and increase the speed to high, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 more minutes, or until the mixture is pretty much smooth and lump free. 
  4. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and melted butter. It should be pretty thick yet smooth. Fold into the cake mixture, trying to incorporate little bits of the mixture throughout the batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden on top and a cake tester comes out mostly clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the pans to loosen the cakes. After a few minutes, invert them on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes cool, make the frosting. When ready to assemble, start by generously frosting the top of one of the cakes; layer the second on top of that, and then frost the whole thing all over. I found this cake did not require a crumb coat.

Brown sugar buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4-6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of half and half, plus more if needed

Note: This recipe yields a perfect amount of buttercream to ice a two-layer 9-inch cake or a 9x13-inch oblong cake. This recipe can be doubled.

  1. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon; beat until it has become smooth in texture yet whipped.
  2. Add three cups of the confectioners' sugar, and mix on low speed so that you don't have a snowstorm. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and cream. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners sugar to your taste. If it becomes too stiff, add a bit more cream. Store unused portions of the buttercream in the refrigerator for up to a week.

What kind of cake will you have for your birthday this year?

Monday
Aug292011

Sweet Leftovers: Birthday Cake Bread Pudding Recipe for Serious Eats

When you have over 30 birthday cakes, you've got to do something with the leftovers. And you can only eat so much Birthday Cake French Toast.

Having found myself in such a situation following my recent 30th birthday party, I decided to get creative with the leftovers. Naturally, on the list was employing a trusted bread pudding recipe, but swapping leftover birthday cake for the called-for carbohydrate.

This makes for a deliciously buttery, buttercream-studded variety of bread pudding, soft and sweet in the middle, and punctuated by sweet, crunchy bits of frosting on top, which reached a semi-caramelized state during the baking process. Happy post-birthday, indeed.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Thursday
Sep022010

Totally Stuffed: Cupcake-Filled Croissants Recipe

The list of foods that are made more awesome by being stuffed in croissants is pretty immense and far-reaching, from the sweet (chocolate, almonds, cream cheese) to the savory (ham, cheese, hot dogs).

So I was pretty sure that a buttery blanket of croissant dough would have the same awesomeness-enhancing effect on leftover birthday cake (or, in this case, a leftover birthday season cupcake, from the delectable Jubilee Cupcakes).

And guess what? It turned out pretty good. While the frosting can melt out a bit and get messy, it does lends an extra-buttery richness (and a nice color contrast, as mine had pink frosting), and the cake crumbs give it an extra-carbohydratey boost, perfect for carbo-loading if you're about to run a marathon (or, you know, just a tasty snack if you're not).

Want to give it a try? Here's how I did it.

Birthday Cake-Filled Croissants

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover cupcake (or, 1 leftover slice birthday cake)
  • 1 package ready-to-bake croissants (you know, the kind in a roll)
  • Extra butter, to brush on top (if you're into that)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to the temperature directed on the croissant package.
  2. Unroll the croissants. In the center of each, place a chunk of birthday cake, crumbled up (with frosting!). Roll them up, or (as I did with some of them) form the dough into little dumplings around the cake.
  3. Place on a sheet. If desired, brush tops with melted butter (why not?).
  4. Bake for the time specified on your croissant package. When you open the oven, you may discover that the frosting has oozed a bit out of the sides, but don't worry--plenty was probably able to melt into the croissant dough. Plus, once it cools just a bit, you can kind of scrape off the oozed bits and eat them (if, like me, you have no manners, that is).

 

Monday
Aug302010

Joyeux Anniversaire: Birthday Cake French Toast Recipe for Serious Eats

Say hello to your new best friend, Birthday Cake French Toast. This recipe breathes new life into birthday cake that is past its prime, making use of the dry texture to absorb a rich, eggy mixture, which is then pan-fried (frosting and all) to yield a new breed of French toast that's beyond decadent. In the tradition of over-the-top morning foods such as Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict, this makes for a sugar bomb of a plate, tasting far better than it has any right to, in a so-bad-it's-good sort of way.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug242010

Sweet Birthday Wishes: Discussing the Tradition and Definition of Birthday Cake

It's August 26th, and you know what that means: it's like, the biggest cake eating day of the year. That is to say...it's CakeSpy founder and Head Spy Jessie's (hi, that's me) birthday. But of course, while you're celebrating by eating slice after slice of sweet, buttercreamy, blissful birthday cake, one question might just come to your mind:

What is birthday cake, exactly?

In my head, it's easy enough to conjure: it is a three tier white cake with pink buttercream frosting and roses and frosting piped in a scalloped pattern on the side. This is the birthday cake (pictured left) I got for many of my formative years growing up in New Jersey--yep, I was a lucky kid, all right.

While people will likely have their own vision of the ideal birthday cake, the vision of what a birthday cake actually is seems universal: cake with lots of frosting, hopefully sprinkles or some sort of topping decoration, and candles.

To prove this point, I asked Twitter followers today (I know, I know) to submit a drawing of a birthday cake--just to see if people did have a classic vision of what a birthday cake looks like. Here were some of the submissions: 

Image by ChubbyCraft 

Image by CupcakeBreath

Image by Edenpest

Image by Baker's Cakes

Don't know about you, but I feel like I noticed two definite themes: festivity and frosting. So regardless of whether you might prefer to eat a rich tiramisu or chocolate torte or even pie (who are you?) for your birthday, there is no denying that the birthday cake is an icon.

But why?

To understand, we're going to have to go way back in time, to ponder the roots of this sweet tradition.

Where do Birthday Cakes come from? 

Per Food Timeline, 

Cakes were eaten to celebrate birthdays long before they were called "birthday cakes." Food historians confirm ancient bakers made cakes (and specially shaped breads) to mark births, weddings, funerals, harvest celebrations, religious observances, and other significant events. Recipes varied according to era, culture, and cuisine. Cakes were usually saved for special occasions because they were made with finest, most expensive ingredients available to the cook. The wealthier one was, the more likely one might consume cake on a more frequent basis.

True to that point, as I discovered on What's Cooking America, there is evidence in several cultures of earlier versions of this celebration cake, ranging from honey cakes made in Ancient Greece to celebrate major occasions (the 50th birthday, for instance, was marked with a cake made from honey, flour, cheese, and olive oil) to cakes that date back to medieval times in England wherein hidden objects were said to give good luck to the finder (a tradition which still exists with the King Cake and Galette des rois) to a tradition dating back to medieval times in Germany wherein a sweetened bread dough was molded into the shape of Jesus in swaddling clothes to commemorate birthdays.

But what holds true in all of these cases is that serving cake for special occasions is something that dates way back--a tradition which has changed and evolved based on ingredient availability and flavor preferences.

So how did we get to the fluffy, buttercream-frosted variety we commonly know in America today? As I discovered in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America: 2-Volume Set (led there by Foodtimeline.org)

Although fruitcakes and rich, yeasted cakes were the traditional English festive cakes, the modern form of birthday cake originated in American kitchens in the mid-nineteenth century. In contrast to their European counterparts, American women were active home bakers, largely because of the abundance of oven fuel in the New World and the sparsity of professional bakers. By the late 1800s, home bakers were spurred further by several innovations. The cast-iron kitchen stove, complete with its own quickly heated oven, became standard equipment in urban middle-class homes. Women in towns had more discretionary time, compared to farm-women, and they had an expanding social life that required formal and informal hospitality. Sugar, butter, spice, and flour costs were dropping. Improved chemical leavening agents, baking powder among them, enabled simpler and faster baking and produced a cake of entirely different flavor and texture. A cake constructed in layers, filled and frosted, became the image of the standard birthday cake. One observer of the early 1900s compared bubbly soap lather to "the fluffiness of a birthday cake" and snowy, frost covered hills to iced birthday cakes

And, as this fascinating passage goes on to share,

Writing on birthday cakes began with professional bakers and caterers, who were proliferating in growing cities. The cakes of the late 1800s were decorated with inscriptions like "Many Happy Returns of the Day" and the celebrant's name, a tradition that continues into the twenty-first century. Sometimes the cake was home-baked but then decorated by a specialist...The phrase "Happy Birthday" did not appear on birthday cake messages until the popularization of the now-ubiquitous song "Happy Birthday to You" (1910). Cookbook authors began to recommend decorating with birth dates and names and offered instruction on how to make colored frostings...By 1958, A.H. Vogel had begun to manufacture preformed cake decorations. Inexpensive letters, numbers, and pictorial images, such as flowers or bow, with matching candleholders were standard supermarket offerings."

Based on all of these small changes that have contributed to the current cake's look, I wonder...what might birthday cakes look like in several hundred years?

Candles

As for the candles on the cake? A couple of schools of thought. As  I discovered on What's Cooking America,

Birthday candles originally were placed on cakes to bring birthday wishes up to God. In ancient times, people prayed over the flames of an open fire. They believed that the smoke carried their thoughts up to the gods. Today, we believe, that if you blow out all your candles in one breath, your wish will come true.

Another source cites that Greeks used to light candles on the cake taken to Artemis to "make it glow like a moon"; and finally, another source speaks of the tradition's ties to German culture:

The tradition of lighting candles for birthdays continued in Europe, where candles were sometimes kept burning all day on a person's birthday, partly as celebration and partly to ward off evil spirits. 
In Germany, one big candle was placed in the middle of the cake. The birthday holiday was known as Kinderfest, a celebration of the holiday but also an occasion to keep careful watch over little ones who were supposedly more vulnerable to evil spirits on that day. The large candle frequently was marked from years one down to 12, and the candle was burned down only enough to mark that year's age.

Of course, no matter how much you want to wonder about the origins of this delicious treat, one thing is for sure: no matter how you slice it, it's a happy occasion to eat whatever kind of cake you want for your birthday. In fact, why not have a second slice?

Monday
Aug242009

Put a Lid On It: How To Ship Cupcakes in Mason Jars, from Beantownbaker.com

How-to: Cupcakes in Jars, a guest blog post from Beantown baker
Continuing our monthlong celebration of birthdays and all things sweet, Jen from the very sweet site Beantown Baker has dreamed up a thoughtful way to share birthday cake with friends who are far away: cupcakes baked in Mason Jars! Here she goes:

One of the things I love most about baking is sharing my baked goods with other people. Whether it's baking something for a friend who had surgery, got a promotion, or for no reason at all, I get real joy out of baking for other people. Since most of my family is 1000+ miles away, they don't usually get to experience my baked goods. Last fall when we were coming into what I call birthday season, 6 birthdays from Oct-Dec, I really wanted to bake for my family members with birthdays coming up.

Since cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake, I decided to send them cupcakes. I had seen this idea online and decided to give it a shot. I sent cupcakes in a jar to family members across the country. They were all pretty shocked when the packages came. It was fun to get the phone calls from each of them thanking me for the creative way to share my baking with them. My Dad loved it so much, I've been told that he tells everyone about it. As a not-so-subtle hint, he also gave me a box of new jars for my birthday. I think he's expecting more cupcakes in a jar this year for his birthday!
Cupcakes in Jars: Guest Blog from Beantown BakerCupcakes in Jars: Guest Blog from Beantown Baker

How to Make and Ship Cupcakes in Mason Jars

 

You'll need: a batch of cupcakes (Jen's recipe for Funfetti cupcakes with chocolate frosting follows); one half-pint Mason jar per cupcake, plus ribbon for garnish.
  1. Bake cupcakes as directed and allow to cool completely. Remove cupcake liner and cut cupcake in half either vertically or horizontally. Place 1/2 of the cupcake into a sterilized 1/2 pint wide mouth jar. Add frosting to jar. At this point, add some fun extra, such as crushed Oreos or sprinkles. Place the other half the the cupcake in the jar (if you cut the cupcake vertically, it is easier to put both halves in the jar and pipe frosting between the two pieces). 
  2. Frost the cupcake as if it weren't in a jar. Add lid and ring to jar. Decorate with ribbon if you want. Be sure to tell your recipients to slide the lid off the jar as opposed to just pulling it up. Otherwise half of the frosting will stick to the lid.
  3. Mail immediately or place in freezer for a day or two then mail them. I like to freeze them and let the thaw as they are traveling to the unsuspecting recipients.

Cupcakes in Jars: Guest Blog from Beantown Baker
Yellow Funfetti Cupcakes
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and line with parchment paper two 8×2-inch pans (These cakes rose over the top of my 2-inch pans - you could very well have a mess on your hands if you try 1.5 inch pans). Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on MEDIUM-HIGH speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
  3. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer. Stir in sprinkles.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a knife or off-set spatula. Lift up the pan with the batter, and let it drop onto the counter top a couple of times to burst any air bubbles and allowing the batter to settle. Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Let cool completely in the pans before removing the cakes and frosting.

Chocolate frosting
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar - I used 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: 
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

 

 


Keep updated on all of Jen's sweet adventures on beantownbaker.com!

 

Thursday
Jul312008

A Very Special Cake Poll and Giveaway: It's Cakespy's Birthday!

It's giveaway time!
Do you remember the day you were born, Cakespy? After all, it was one year ago--on August 1----that we made our inaugural post. How the time has gone! In some ways we can't believe it's been a year, and yet at the same time, it seems inconceivable that it's only been a year. One sugar-filled, dentist's nightmare of a year.

While we could regale you with the story of Cakespy's birth, we thought it would be much funner to have a poll and give away some sweet stuff! In keeping with the birthday theme, our subject is birthday cake. And since it's a special day, there will be not one but four winners! 
  • Winner 1 will get the original painting shown at the top; 
  • Winner 2 will get a Cakespy T-Shirt (Unisex sizes XS-L, winner will be notified and asked for a size; no need to put it in your response); 
  • Winners 3 and 4 will receive a box of 10 assorted Cakespy Notecards!
The fine print: The poll will be closed at 12 noon PST on Wednesday, August 6th; responses may be posted in the comments section or emailed to jessieoleson@gmail.com. As usual, winners will be chosen at random, and will be assigned prizes in the order mentioned above (sorry, no swapping). Entries from the US and beyond are welcome. Your info will never be shared and these questions are solely motivated by our nosy spy tendencies.
Cake Poll: Birthday Cake!
  1. What kind of cake did you have for your birthday when you were little?
  2. What kind of cake do you want for your next birthday?
  3. Whipped cream frosting: yes or no? (Feel free to explain)
  4. Licking the frosting from the bottom of the candles: do you do it?
  5. Fruit filling: a sweet surprise, or disappointment in the middle?
  6. Ice cream cakes: awesome or awful?
  7. Is it wrong to have a birthday pie instead of a cake?
  8. What's the best thing about birthday cake?

Please note--the poll is CLOSED! 

 

 

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