It’s hot, I know. You don’t want to bake a cake, I’m with you. Just humor me and put this one in your back pocket for the fall because it’s what I’ve got today. You see, we had a birthday celebration this weekend for Jake and Scooter who both turned two years old in the last week (today is Scooter’s actual birthday, he’s super excited). For those of you who aren’t in the know and rolling your eyes right now, Jake is my niece, Alicia, and her fiance, Sean’s chocolate lab, and Scooter is our yellow lab and we (I) shamelessly used their birthdays as an excuse to eat cake this weekend. Chocolate cake for Jake and spice cake for Scooter. The fact that they couldn’t actually eat the cake was beside the point. We had a houseful and we all thoroughly enjoyed it – probably more than we should have. It’s all gone now.
This was titled “Rowena’s Spice Cake” in my mom’s recipe box. Rowena – not a name you hear much anymore. Maybe you never did. To me, she was Aunt Renie, my mom’s middle sister, and she always had cake or something sweet for us when we’d visit. She also wore bright red lipstick and smoked cigarettes so, for the longest time, I thought the red part of candy cigarettes (remember those?) that was supposed to be the flame, was actually the lipstick part. Fascinating, I know. Anyway, this recipe is almost the same as my Mom’s Chocolate Cake but with spices instead of cocoa. I think its best in sheet cake form, baked in a 9×11 pyrex pan. It’s just so simple and not fancy and sometimes that tastes better than anything. I didn’t actually have a recipe for the maple frosting they used to use but I think I figured it out. Ella, who normally shuns any non-chocolate dessert, was very surprised to discover she actually preferred the spice cake to the chocolate. Aunt Renie would be so pleased…
Jake in his party hat. He kept it on long enough for pictures.
There was no keeping a party hat on Scooter. To call him a spaz would be grossly understating his issues.
Big brother Sage was so comfortable in his party hat he fell asleep in it. Such a good boy!
Rowena’s Spice Cake
(about 12 servings)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temp
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar added to 2% or whole milk to make 1 cup.)
Maple Fudge Frosting
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp, divided
1 tsp pure maple extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x11in Pyrex pan or two 8in round pans with cooking spray/oil/butter and a little flour (tap out excess).
Cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed with electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla extract, mixing well after each addition.
Sift all the dry ingredients (from the flour down to the salt) in a separate bowl.
Gradually, on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mix until combined. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk, mix until combined. Repeat until you’ve added all the dry ingredients and buttermilk, ending with the dry ingredients. Beat at medium speed until well combined.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
Bake on the center rack of a preheated 350-degree oven until the cake springs back a bit when pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting.
Combine brown sugar, milk, 2 tablespoons of the butter, maple extract and salt in a small saucepan.
On medium heat, stir the mixture occasionally until butter has melted and the ingredients are fully combined.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil for 3 minutes without stirring, keeping a close eye on it and turning down the heat, if necessary, to maintain an even, rolling boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least a couple minutes.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow the mixture to cool completely before proceeding.
Once cooled, add 2 cups of the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat on medium-high with wire attachment or electric beaters. Be sure to start at low speed so you don’t get covered in powdered sugar.
Add remaining cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons butter.
Beat on high speed until fluffy and spreadable.
Frost cooled cake.
Go ahead and find any excuse you can to celebrate!
Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend! We will be celebrating with good friends. Maybe I’ll get to watch the fireworks this year instead of staying inside with a frightened child. We’ll see…
Sing it, Woody!
“This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.”