I can hardly believe that Eliza is now 9 years old! So of course we had to have a party with her friends, and then another party on her REAL birthday with our close family friends the Cochrans (since we live on the opposite side of the country as all of our extended family, our friends kindly step in as surrogates). Eliza's Friend Party was very small because of the planned horseback riding activity at a local stable (which was sadly postponed due to a sudden, nasty thunderstorm right before we were supposed to head out) but the girls still had a great time. And, in case you were wondering, that cake is supposed to be a horseshoe. With a plastic horse that is, apparently, plodding through one heck of a muddy field. :-)
Yes, Eliza is STILL madly in love with horses. Hence the plastic horse on cake #2 (this time plodding through knee-high drifts of snow/whipped cream). That's one heavy plastic horse!
This cake was a chocolate chip mint version, with peppermint extract in the cake batter and the whipping cream, plus a nice layer of chocolate frosting in the middle and chocolate chips peppered within the cake layers.
One of the Cochran boys had a birthday the very next day, so I took some of the cake that I had cut out of the giant circle baked for the horseshoe cake (Everybody confused now? In other words, I cut the horseshoe shape out of a giant circle cake, so I had some leftovers) and made him his own little cakeroo.
He got a kick out of it, despite the fact that it only had 1 candle...I guess it does sorta look like something that someone would give their baby for a 1-year birthday. Oops!
Anyway, as if we hadn't already overdosed on chocolate cake, I made cupcakes for Eliza's class at school yesterday. Chocolate, of course, per request. I'm officially tired of making chocolate cake, yes, but it was worth it to see her face light up at school when I came with a whole tray of you-know-what. And it didn't hurt my feelings at all when she reported at the end of the day that her friends declared my cupcakes to be the best they'd ever tasted. I'm sure they say that all the time, but still, it made me feel good!
Okay, do you remember this one? The carrot cake that I promised the recipe for and then kept forgetting to follow through? Well, guess what - I'm finally going to sit down and write this all down for you! It's very very yummy, I promise. The recipe was originally from my mother-in-law, and I've tweaked it a little bit through the years. Enjoy!
INCREDIBLE CARROT SPICE CAKE
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp EACH allspice, ground cloves, and ginger
MIX ABOVE DRY INGREDIENTS WELL: SET ASIDE.
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 tsps vanilla
MIX EGGS, OIL, BUTTERMILK, SUGAR, AND VANILLA WELL. ADD TO DRY INGREDIENTS AND STIR A FEW STROKES. DON'T OVERMIX!
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans (OPTIONAL) (I actually toast mine and sprinkle them on top rather than include them in the batter)
ADD THESE REMAINING INGREDIENTS, MIX JUST UNTIL INCORPORATED. POUR INTO 9" X 13" PAN OR 2, 8" ROUNDS.
TIP: For cake rounds, cut out parchment paper circles and put them in the bottom of pans which are greased with shortening. DO NOT grease the sides of the pans, just the bottom.
BAKE AT 350* AND START TESTING AT 40 MINUTES.
Baking time varies greatly with ovens and pan sizes. Cake is done when center bounces back when lightly touched and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don't overbake! It will make the cake dry.
Cool cake in circle pans for 10 minutes, then carefully run a butter knife around edges and invert cake pan so that cake falls into the palm of your hand. Carefully place cake, bottom side down, onto cooling rack to cool completely. This prevents cake from possibly cracking/breaking if cooled upside down on its domed top.
TIP: I always wrap my cake layers well with 2 layers of plastic wrap, then freeze them before icing them. To frost the cake, I slice off the domed top of my bottom cake layer, invert onto plate and frost the bottom of the cake layer. Then I stack the 2nd layer on, right side up, and frost sides first, then top. With white frosting, I do a thin "crumb-catching" layer of icing first, then go back and lay it on thicker.
The frozen cake layers will help solidify the frosting and the cake will be perfectly fine at room temperature for several hours, even with cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 block cream cheese, original kind (not low-fat)
1 cube butter, softened but not melted
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter well, add powdered sugar gradually until stiff. Add vanilla, beat for about 2 or 3 minutes. If too stiff, add a little bit of milk; if too runny, add more powdered sugar. Consistency should be fairly thick and should not droop significantly when pulled into a peak, otherwise it will ooze off the cake.
Okay, well, now I'm hungry, how about you? Too bad there aren't any birthday cake leftovers...or strawberry shortcake biscuit leftovers that I made for dessert tonight (sigh)... guess I better make another cake. Or not. My brain begs YES, my conscience cautions NO, your hips have had quite enough for one week, thank you very much. Shucks.