This was Monday’s cake, baked to celebrate my mom and sister’s birthdays, but after a batch of cookies and another of muffins I thought you might not want to see another sweet for at least a few days. And as I’ve just jetted off to Vancouver for a little over 24 hours -I’ll keep you posted on twitter– I thought I’d leave you with something tasty.
A money cake, of course.
Although this particular cake – and variations of it – has been a tradition in our family for decades, old-fashioned cakes have gone and got all trendy. We thought bundts were going to make a comeback, but they got hip-checked by old-school spice, lemon and vanilla layer cakes of the sort our moms and grandmas used to make on birthdays. So there you go – if you are the type to follow food trends, this is one of them.
A new addition this year: browned butter frosting. If you love browned butter, you’ll love what it does to icing sugar.
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
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. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it. It may look separated – it’s OK.
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 icing 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; the foam will turn golden, too. Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the butter.
Put the brown sugar into the same saucepan along with the cream, 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 icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth; add a little extra sugar or cream if it needs it to achieve a spreadable consistency.