Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birthday Spice Cake

I have been baking (or assisting with) various spice cakes for my Dad's birthday for many years, all the way back to when I thought it was acceptable to make something out of a box - impossible to imagine, I know.  Many have been good, but it's always fun to try a new recipe.  This one from Gourmet caught my eye because of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. 

Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
original recipe from Gourmet

For cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

For frosting

  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 or 9 inch square cake pan. You will see below that I did not use a square cake pan,  because apparently I don't have one.  This is surprising considering my baking pans are stacked so high in a cabinet that getting one out involves a lot of pans falling on me.  In any case, I used a 9 inch round cake pan, and buttered and floured it.  

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Here is another picture of my blue bowl with a whisk in it.  I should really start using different bowls.

Beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  

Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then beat in the applesauce.  I found it necessary to scrape down the sides of a bowl with a spatula.  There's me reflected in the mixer bowl!

At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.  

Spread batter in pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  While the cake is baking you should really try some of the batter off the beater just to be sure you aren't going to poison the party-goers.  It's an important responsibility of the cook.

Cool in pan 15 minutes then invert onto a plate.  Flip cake back over onto a rack to fully cool.  Try really hard not to break your cake during these steps, otherwise you'll be doing some creative frosting to glue it back together.  

For the frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.  Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon into cream cheese mixture and beat well.  Spread frosting over cooled cake.  If you get too excited and try to put on the frosting before the cake has cooled, bits of cake can come off in your frosting, or it can melt and make a mess.  Be patient.  

Garnish with candles, eat off festive paper plates, and be prepared to accept many compliments.


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