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!

When life brings you moles

Have you ever seen a picture of a mole? Not the ones that show up on our body and are watched by dermatologists. I am talking about the ugly little suckers that bore holes in your yard. They look like rats, but with larger front paws, and they have poor eyesight. Can you believe they can be as little as 3 inches long, and weigh 3+ ounces? Those little suckers can make a major mess for being so little.

photo 2 (30)They are also annoying little suckers. Chris and I are in the process of overhauling our backyard, a little bit each weekend, and while it is nowhere near completion, we have been joined by a mole or moles (we are not sure yet).  It started at the perimeter of our yard and only in mulched areas where we could smash the dirt back down and then cover back up with mulch, but over the past week it started in our grass. First one then another hole. Chris filled the large holes with water, and added the pellets that are supposed to make them itch, but then it was obvious that they came right back up the same holes and then created another one each day last week, so now we have 6 new mole holes (see photo below).

From our research it sounds like we are not the only ones that are stumped and there seems to be a zillion options for handling a mole (see this list of ideas, some seem a bit far-fetched). photo 3 (19)

I am about to start my own version of “Whack a Mole” in my backyard. We are fed up. If I knew where they would be, (sorry mole lovers) I’d get a pitchfork and shovel and have some fun. Alas. Mister Catch-a-Mole Man is coming to visit us today. I hope it is his only visit and he catches this mole. When life brings you moles, you fight back.