HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA - I BAKED YOU A CAKE
(this darling cake really looked like a church-goin hat)
(craziness on the inside!)
(sweet little Tess stickin' her nose in my slice)
I sincerely felt that this 4th of July deserved a little something special -- I dabbled with the thought of blueberries, cherries and raspberries, in the end deciding these seasonal fruits were indeed so tasty, but too common on this particular holiday. I wanted to make a cake. Happy Birthday, America -- I baked you a cake.
Cake is my hands-down absolute most favorite form of dessert -- be it chocolate, vanilla, pound, lemon, poppy seed or the classic yellow -- I love them all. The crumb, frosting, glory of slicing, garnishing, decorating . . . It's a showboat thing I guess. I like the proud, unabashed statement a ridiculous cake makes. I think this infatuation started with my preschool teacher, June, creating any cake we wanted for our birthday celebrations. Every year, I chose the glorious princess cake, in which a bunt cake had a barbie stuck into the center, and the confection was frosted to be a 50s prom dress princess. It was madness. And little girl glory -- perhaps where my love of fashion and sweets began? It certainly was a thrill to blow candles out on top of the princess dress, careful to not catch her plastic hair on fire.
Maybe a princess cake is next on deck . . .
In the mean time, this is a great all-purpose white cake recipe, with cream cheese frosting.
(makes 1 large cake)
1 3/4 c sugar
1 c butter
4 tsp vanilla
3 c cake flour (it's worth it for the smooth crumb, much nicer than all-purpose in this instance)
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your baking pans (I used two 9" cake pans and one 7" for the top layer). Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, set aside. Cream butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time to the butter mixture, then add vanilla and milk, mix until fully integrated. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just combined. Quit before overmixed. Pour batter into separate pans, or whatever you are using and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on pan. Test for doneness with sharp knife or toothpick, it's ready when it comes out clean. Let cakes fully cool (I usually make the day ahead and wrap in saran wrap).
makes enough for 1 cake, with some leftover (throw the extra into the freeze for later summer cakes)
16 oz. (2 packages) cream cheese
8 c powdered sugar
12 tbsp ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
Cream the butter, vanilla, salt and cream cheese together. Slowly add all the powdered sugar until frosting is uniform in texture. Frost to your heart's content!