Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy Birthday To My Hubby!

Bobby's birthday was this past weekend, the big 3-2. This is the cake that I made him... I hope you appreciate the Instagram filter and disregard the beaten up paint in the background. We're in the midst of a bit of a kitchen overhaul (check out those new butcher block countertops!) and we haven't started putting up the backsplash tile yet. But, we got the call that they're in, so hopefully that phase will start soon. But, I digress... back to my "old" husband and his recent birthday.

Bobby's favorite cake is carrot cake (it's also my favorite, further proof that we're a match made in heaven), therefore, I baked him a carrot cake for his birthday. At the moment we're currently working hard at becoming supreme physical specimens (we're doing CrossFit and training for a 10-mile run that's in May) I knew he wouldn't want a giant birthday cake like I've made him in the past since we're trying to eat healthy (key word is trying). But, I wanted to make something for him for his birthday. Since it was just going to be the two of us I decided that a small 6-inch cake would be perfect. And, with the rest of the batter I knew I would have, I would just make cupcakes and take them to work, or give them away so they wouldn't go to waste.

The carrot cake recipe I always use is one that I received from my mom, who got it from a former co-worker of hers. It's the best recipe I've found to date and I always use it when I make carrot cake. I also always use cream cheese frosting for carrot cake because in my opinion that's the only kind of frosting one should use when making carrot cake. The recipe I use for cream cheese frosting is from Paula Dean. Yes, that Paula Dean. I first discovered it when using her recipe to make red velvet cupcakes and I've been using it ever since.

The carrot cake is very simple to make (I'll include the recipe below). I just throw all the ingredients in my stand mixer and then let it work for about two minutes blending everything together. I used 3 cups of batter for the 6-inch cake. I baked it at 350 for about 50 minutes. I have found with this recipe that the cake doesn't rise very much, which is nice because I often don't have to do much cutting to get a flat surface when I'm ready to frost the cake. With the extra batter I made cupcakes, I think I got roughly twenty. I baked those at 350 for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through the total baking time.

Going into making this cake I really didn't have an idea of what I wanted to do. In the past I've made Bobby some fancier cakes, but they were quite large. Since I knew I wanted to make a small cake, I felt pretty limited as to what I could do with it, but I wanted to make it special in some way without having to do too much work.

Finally I came up with the idea that's pictured above. I knew I had everything that I needed on hand and the birthday banner probably took me 10 minutes max to put together. I used pieces of card stock from my scrap pack that I have on hand. I highly recommend the scrap pack. It's great, you'd be amazed at how many things scraps of various colors and sizes of card stock can be good for. I think I bought mine at Michaels, but I'm sure you can find one at any craft store.

I grabbed five different colors from the scrap pack and started cutting out little triangles. I did it all freehand because it didn't need to be perfect. Once I had the number of triangles that I needed I arranged them in the color order that I wanted and wrote out a letter on each one with a thin Sharpie. I cut two lengths of red string that I also had on hand and attached the triangles to the string with small pieces of scotch tape. I had some wooden skewers on hand so I decided to use those as my posts since I couldn't think of anything better. Straws would probably work as well, but I didn't have any. The skewers were a little longer than I needed so I just cut them with scissors to make them a little shorter. The hardest part of the whole process was tying the strings to the skewers so they would stay in place and be the appropriate length. It was a trial and error process, but it only took a couple of attempts before I got it right. I've always wanted to try something like this with a cake, and I think it turned out to be a success. I was really happy with how it looked, especially for throwing it all together in just a few minutes. Most importantly, the birthday boy said he liked it and the cake was delicious!

Carrot Cake

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. salad oil
2 c. grated carrots
1 c. well drained crushed pineapple
5 eggs
1 1/2 chopped nuts
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda

Put all ingredients in a large bowl, except nuts, and beat 2 minutes by hand (I don't use nuts because I don't like them, and I also beat everything with a stand mixer, but you could probably use a hand mixer as well).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in 9x13 pan.

If you want to you can vary your pan size, you'll just need to adjust your baking time. These are just the instructions I got with the recipe. I have made this recipe with 6-inch and 8-inch cake pans. I've also made cupcakes with this recipe. I just alter the baking time, however I always bake at 350 degrees.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 lb cream cheese
1 c. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 c. confectioner's sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to high, mix until light and fluffy.