Random Recipe: Birthday Spice Cake

Monday was Chris’ birthday and I decided to make him a birthday cake. While I should have selected a cake that he would have loved, my food cravings are minimal these days and so when I saw a spice cake recipe, and it actually sounded good, I decided to make it.

I have to say though – the frosting is what makes this cake. The cake itself was a little dry. Some cake recipes get “moister” with age. This one does not.

I have a different cake base recipe that is moist (I know, I hate that word too) and would make a stellar cake if I make the cake with that recipe and used the below frosting recipe. I might just have to try doing that in a few weeks.

If you look at the photo, my 4-H days would tell you that I over stirred (or in this case, used of my mixer) as you can see there are quite a few holes or what 4-H judges might call craters in the slice. A big no-no for making cakes.

Birthday Spice Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg and/or allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk (we used almond milk)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cakes are golden and their tops are springy to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup half & half
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more if you need it

In a small saucepan, melt half of the butter. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns brown and smells nutty. Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the butter.

Put the brown sugar into the same saucepan along with the half & half, put it over the heat and stir until it starts to bubble and the sugar has melted. Scrape it into the bowl with the butter, add half the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth; add a little extra sugar or half & half if it needs it to achieve a spreadable consistency. Oooh this frosting is good!

He keeps my world going

I recently saw a post on Facebook sharing a husband’s absolute adoration of his wife. They had just had a baby and were basically living in the NICU. His wife was in school and at the times their baby was sleeping she was writing papers for her classes, and he was in awe of what she was able to handle. I myself was in awe of her. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your little baby need to be in the hospital for a long period of time, and basically living there with them while also trying to stay focused in school (or work if that is what you need to do).

Reading this on Facebook and reading a book on gratitude made me think about Chris and how hard it would be to do all this pregnant business without his daily help. There are some days that I come home from work and am extremely tired. I guess that is a given for being 34 weeks pregnant. When we come home from work the first thing I need is help taking my shoes and pants off (by the end of the day I cannot wait to take my clothes off). The second thing I usually need is food. Yesterday for example I was starving, and immediately he helped me get into comfy clothes and then made me toast — my go-to snack these days.

Then there is the most recent shift in my body. I can feel my pelvis shifting, an odd sensation, but what is more alarming is that when I get up literally every hour to pee, my body feels unmovable in bed. I have to wake him up and have him help me sit up, stand, and walk me to the bathroom. Without his assistance, I cannot get out of bed, and there have been numerous occasions recently where when I have stood up I start to collapse because of the pelvic pain. Ah, the wonders of pregnancy.

Now you might be reading this and say yes this is part of pregnancy — and you would be right. I am not complaining. I am acknowledging his patience and sharing my gratitude for an amazing husband who 99% of the time never complains. Yes, lately he says how tired he is because he has gotten up so many times in the middle of the night, and I say: “Save it. This is what I have been doing since last April.” Regardless, he has been my crutch, my shoulder, my lotion-to-belly applier, the one who dresses me, and even the one that lifts me out of the car when I get stuck, and most importantly my cheerleader.

While I will not lie, women are amazing. I do not know a man who could make it through 10 months of pregnancy. Yet, we sometimes forget that there are men that rub our backs, our feet, and tell us what troopers we are. Sure we are doing the heavy lifting, but it sure helps to have someone who keeps the rest of your world going. Thank you, Chris.

Random Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

I know fall is almost over and I need to get on board with the fact that winter is on its way. The leaves are mostly off of our trees, and it is getting colder every day. Even as fall leaves us and we move into winter, I still want all things pumpkin. I even joined the silly controversy and the rest of the world in getting a Starbucks red cup for a Pumpkin Spice Latte. It was worth it.

I also love me some yummy coffee cake. Of course I am addicted to my mom’s version (thank you Betty Crocker) so thought it would be fun to try a pumpkin version – why not right? It was okay. It has this ribbon-like swirl of pumpkin in the middle that is a bit strange for someone like me with food texture issues. If you like a strong pumpkin flavor then this is your kind of treat.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

Ingredients
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of canola oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Beat the sugar and oil together in a large mixing bowl. Then beat in the eggs. Beat in the flour and baking powder. Beat in just two of the tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Spread half of the batter across base of prepared baking dish. Open the can of pumpkin and stir in the remaining tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Spread the pumpkin over the batter. Spread the other half of the batter on top of the pumpkin. Gently swirl the three layers together with a knife.

Bake for about 40 minutes and enjoy!

Random Recipe: Chocolate Chess Pie #2

My mom used to make a Chocolate Chess Pie when I was a kid and it was so easy. It had 4-5 ingredients and I absolutely loved it. As you can see from a Random Recipe post earlier this year, I have continued to try to recreate her recipe – with not the best of luck. Nothing seems to taste like I remember. I think Chris is bored with my trying, however, since I am not one to quit — I am not giving up. This is my most recent attempt of trying another Chocolate Chess Pie recipe.

Chris still is not super excited about the result — he felt it was too much work for the taste, but I think this is the recipe that gets closest to the taste of what I remember. A few caveats:

The crust ingredients listed below made too much and we had to throw a bunch of it away. To me, a Chocolate Chess Pie should always be served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Oh – ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:

  • 15 graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FILLING:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grind the graham crackers in a food processor until they are a fine crumb. Place in a bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter with a fork. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ or 10″ pie dish. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes.
  2. Make the filling: Melt the butter with chocolate in a medium sized bowl in the microwave, heating on high in 30 second increments and stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk in the flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk in eggs and egg white until the mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until the top is puffed and filling is set in the center, 35-40 minutes. Let cool, serve at room temperature. Top with ice cream.

Random Recipe: Baked Pumpkin Spice Balls

I am on a roll with pumpkin everything. Whether it is fall or I am just nesting I do not think I have tried so many different pumpkin recipes in a season. The leaves are falling (we have crazy amounts that continue to come down). The temperature has changed, and somehow I still cannot believe summer is over and we are heading into November! In any case, these little baked bundles of pumpkin with cinnamon + sugar are yummy, easy to make, and even easier to pop into your mouth!

Baked Pumpkin Spice Balls

Note: Use the topping at your own risk. We also made a batch that had chocolate chips in it.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup low-fat milk

For Topping
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven 350°F. Spray each cup in a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices (through cloves). In a separate, large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Remove muffins from oven and cool for a few minutes. Dip each muffin in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat.