Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blogville Birthdays - Special Days

“Who throws a cupcake? …honestly!”
- young Dr. Evil, Austin Powers

I haven't made a cake in a while, usually asked to bring in my dark chocolate cupcakes with buttercream.

Cupcakes are fun

The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cooker by Amelia Simmons. They're more than a dressed up muffin. They're fun, they're easy to prepare and share, and if they turn out too dry and overdone they make dandy replacements for sporting clays (pull!).  For lunch OR launching in a trebuchet, they're dandy little things.

But when it's a special occassion - especially a birthday around here, a cake gets baked.

My husband usually requests  either my Guinness Chocolate cake,
the Guinness Gingerbread (notice a trend here?) 
Or the creamsickle cake for summer gatherings.

I love cake.

Cake for celebrations or for cheer is a tradition that dates back as far as the Romans, with the idea for the candle on top being attributed to both early Greeks and later, Germans. The origins notwithstanding, the cakes vary from region to region and even among families. Everyone has their own favorite cake for celebrations.

The first one I remember, was not a birthday cake, but an Easter one.  I can still recall that ranch house, the apple trees I was almost big enough to climb, Mom's rose garden that  she painstakingly kept up, that after her death, still bloomed without help or hindrance from any of us.  I can picture that moment as she brought out the cake like it was yesterday.  For at Easter every year, Mom would make a two layer cake, then cut it in half, adding a nose, ears and tail to make a bunny cake. Then she'd make a small cake into a baby bunny. It didn't look exactly like the one in the cookbook but it was close.
We'd eat it at the very end of the day, after church, after thanks, after dinner.  Here is an extremely faded photo  from the late sixties of one of them.
There were other cakes over the years, some plain, some fancy. Another family member  made me a cake one year that, well, was completely burned on the outside and raw in the middle (using that bachelor cooking time conversion  method of doubling the temperature and cutting the cook time in half).  We still laugh about that.

Birthday cakes come in all sizes and flavors. Everyone had a favorite, though mine has been, since the very first cake that I can remember, yellow with chocolate buttercream.

Birthday cakes range from  memories of "Oh, that's so sweet!" (and yes, that's a plumbers candle my husband added to his homemade cake).
to "Someone's in the doghouse!"
Then there are wedding cakes. Cakes at weddings are intense elaborate affairs that can cost hundreds of dollars or can be hand crafted.

What were once tradition white cakes and frosting with the bride and groom toppers are now  as individual as the couples involved.  We had a Doctor Who Wedding Cake.
Since we're fans and I have red hair like Amy and my husband looks like The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) especially as he's the only 32 year old I know that regularly wears bow ties, it was fitting.
But why all the talk of CAKE in Blogville today? - Abby seems to be asking me.

Because tomorrow is a very special birthday for

So stop in and join the fun tomorrow and wish him a wonderful day. Abby will be there with Frankie Furter and all your friends will be gathered around. We can't wait to see what treat his Mom makes up for him to celebrate.


  1. Hey Abby!
    Wow, those all look wonderful and we will be having some cake and other snackers tomorrow! Thanks for mentioning my party and I'm glad you'll be there. My Mom is drooling over the bunny cakes and my Dad wants a Guinness Gingerbread slice. BOL. Me, I'd take 'em all! BOL
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, Police Commish

    1. We can't wait for the celebrations!

  2. So now you have made all of us so very hungry, especially Mom - she is drooling over those cakes. That gingerbread one looks pawsitively delightful and delicious:)

    Woos - Ciara and Lightning

  3. Ummmmm we are like Ciara and Lightning... that Gingerbread cake has US DROOLING.
    BTW.... just so you know.... I had a BAFF today... Mom said I HAD to since I have a Date with a Lovely Lady.

    1. A BAFF? Just for me? AWWWW. Don't worry - I had one too, we can go find something to smell in after the last dance.

      Abby Lab

  4. Abby Lab here - Here's Mom's recipe - she made this recipe up (what can I say, she's a scientist and likes to experiment) and Dad really liked it. It's fairly rich and dense so it will feed many hungry peeps.

    Guinness Gingerbread

    Grease an 8 x 8 inch glass pan.

    Set aside in cereal bowl -

    All Purpose Flour - 2 cups

    In small saucepan on low, heat the following until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, then set aside to cool:

    Sugar - 1/2 cup plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
    Butter - 1/3 cup
    Molasses (extra dark full flavored) -1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons

    While molasses cools, mix together in cereal bowl and let set 5 minutes (it foams up so use a larger bowl)

    Guinness - 1 cup
    Baking Soda - 1 tsp (check your expiration date for maximum rise)

    Stir into cooling molasses mixture:

    Add to flour:
    Cinnamon - 1 tsp
    ginger - 1 tsp.
    salt - 1/4 tsp
    finely ground coffee - 2 generous teaspoons (regular coffee, just whirred a bit more in a blender)

    In a large bowl whisk:

    Egg - 1 Extra large (use an egg that's at room temperature)
    Vanilla - 1 tsp.

    In a very slow and small stream, stopping to whisk, pour molasses mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously so egg does not cook. Add in Guinness mixture and blend.

    Add flour mixture, a bit at the time, continuing to whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and just starting to look a bit shiny (3-5 minutes by hand)

    Bake at 350 F for 38-42 minutes (toothpick in center should come out clean).

    Cool 20 minutes and frost with the following:

    1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
    1 and 3/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
    1 and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while the bake bakes. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed until it just starts to thicken. Reduce speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar, whisking until soft peaks form. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form. (4-5 minutes with a chilled bowl)

    Add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form,

    Sprinkle on some espresso sugar or serve as is. Best fresh, but will keep refrigerated

  5. Exciting!
    Your wedding cake was so awesome!

  6. Hari OM
    Oh my word... there should be a warning with this blog - reading may cause weight gain!!! YAM xx

  7. That was an excellent treatise on cakes. We haven't had cake around here since I don't know when!


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab, who we adopted in 2014.

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