Birthdays are a bit of a hang up for me. Growing up birthdays were just another day. Let me say first that my birthday was in July and that makes it hard to have birthday parties. Friends were either on vacation or summer camp or maybe they just didn’t like me. My parents were not big birthday celebrators either. My Dad was all about Christmas. He went overboard on Christmas. But the other holidays and birthdays were not a big deal. We always got to go to dinner somewhere fancy. Like Steak n’ Ale, or the Sword and Kilt, or Bennigans. He did take great measures in telling our server secretly that we were celebrating a birthday. That way at the end of our meal they would come out and sing and promptly embarrass us. For those that know me, I LOVED that.
As I became an adult, I would wait for my phone to ring from my parents to wish me a happy birthday. Some years they remembered early on, some years later in the day, some years evening, and some years the next day. I do not know why it was and has always been such a big deal for me. My husband Tator is a fabulous man. He works hard and provides for our family. He is not a celebrate or remember a holiday or birthday kind of fella. It drives me crazy. Marriage is all about the give and take, right?
When I had children, I made sure to make their birthdays a big deal. I have always made their cakes. No store bought cakes would do. They always get to choose what kind of cake they would like to have. They get to choose whether we go out to eat or I cook their favorite meal.
Some of you may have guessed by now that I like the spotlight and enjoy being the center of attention. The experts say that opposites attract and they could not be any more spot on. Tator is a very private and likes no type of spotlights on him at all. I did pull a fast one on him sixteen years ago. I managed to pull off a surprise 39th birthday party. I knew he would suspect me throwing a surprise 40th but not a 39th. With help from his brother Matt and my best friend Brooke, we nailed it!
But I digress, back to Tators birthday in 2017. I like to make cakes from scratch. I am always looking for new recipes to try. The batter of a from scratch cake and a box cake is totally different. The box mix is very loose compared to from scratch batter. I knew Mark would want a yellow cake. So I started googling recipes. I ended up on a pound cake search. I found 2 recipes that I liked so I decided to tweak the 2 into 1. Plus I would need to modify the baking time. The recipes called for baking the cake in a bundt pan and I would be using a 9 X 13.
The 2 recipes were from Better Homes and Garden and my girl Paula Deen. Here is the recipe I finalized.
- 1 cup of butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 1/4 cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract
- 1 teaspoon of orange extract
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Combine butter and cream cheese until blended together.
- Add sugar into butter and cream cheese mixture 2 Tablespoons at a time. (this really makes a difference)
- Add in both extracts
- Add eggs 1 at a time, making sure it mixes well into the batter
- Add flour, baking powder, and salt in and mix until combined.
- For a bundt pan bake 75 minutes. For a 9x 13 I baked it 55 minutes. Start check at 45 for doneness.
Now let’s talk frosting. The frosting is Tator’s favorite part of a cake. He is a bit like Goldilocks where frosting is concerned. He doesn’t want it overly sweet and he doesn’t want it under sweet, he wants it just enough sweetness. So I always struggle with nailing the frosting. I am to keep him happy. I made an almond buttercream and a chocolate frosting for Tator’s cake. I knew how I was going to decorate it. So I needed white and black/brown. So below are the two recipes I used. The almond buttercream was perfect. Tator actually said he thought it was the best frosting I have ever made. That saying something too.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 8 cups of Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 2 Teaspoons of Almond Extract
- pinch of salt
- Add butter to stand mixer and milk.
- Mix together. Add in extract and salt
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar until incorporated.
- I had to add more milk to mine to get it to the right consistency. So don’t let it alarm you if you have to add a little more. Add it 1 Tablespoon at a time.
Hershey’s Chocolate Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Melt the butter and add the cocoa to the bowl.
- Alternate adding the Powdered Sugar and Milk
- Mix until comes together and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Here is Tator’s cake. He turned 55 this year and my friend Melissa said, “oh like the speed limit”. That gave me the idea for what his cake would look like. Yes, I forgot the candles. So he totally faked blowing them out. Izzy sang happy birthday to him.
I had left-over frosting from Tator’s cake. What’s the Queen of the Ponderosa to do when there is left-over frosting??? Well, I could sit on the sofa and eat it with a spoon. That would not be very beneficial to my waistline. So I decided to make cupcakes. I took the same recipe for the Almond Pound Cake and made cupcakes. It made 36 cupcakes. I had just enough frosting to frost them all. So to tweak the cooking time. I baked them for 20 minutes on 325.
To wrap up birthdays, 5 years ago when I turned 45 I told Tator that when I turned 50 I wanted to have a party. That he better figure out how to throw one or he better build a nice dog house in the backyard. Fifty is fast approaching, July will be here before you know it. I know that Tator will probably forget so I’ll start working on the plans for that dog house for our backyard.
From the Ponderosa Kitchen to you,
Love ~ Elizabeth Queen of the Ponderosa
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