FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKES…cocoa apple. glazed meyer lemon. refrigerator cake.

joy of nesting

I turned 52 yesterday. One of the things I love about having a birthday mid-October is the weather is practically perfect here in Northern California. Today, for instance, it is in the mid-80’s with a light breeze. The sun is out. All my doors and windows are open and there is a quiet fan humming in an adjacent room.

On Saturday my family will gather in my garden for a birthday celebration.  It will be a joint effort. I know, you aren’t supposed to cook on your birthday but what if it’s what you want to do? I am preparing Jim’s jambalaya and bread pudding. He found the recipes many years ago and made them for special occasions.

My mom and Jim’s mom will be here, David’s daughter and her boyfriend, my brother, sister, and their spouses. My good friend Melanie and her husband Van will come too.  Melanie loved Jim’s jambalaya and had several opportunities to enjoy it over the years. 

Ruby will be here! She turned 2 last month and she left me a happy birthday song on my cell phone. Her singing voice is especially high and sweet. I wish my son Christian could come. He called me yesterday and has promised he will make the 7 hour drive for Thanksgiving in Yosemite.

So many cakes, so little time. I actually prefer pie and bread baking but will make exceptions for cakes done in tube pans and oblong baking dishes.  I also have a favorite traditional strawberry shortcake recipe from one of the Palo Alto Junior League cookbooks done from a basic sour cream biscuit recipe to which extra sugar is added. It is unlike the more common pound cake and angel’s food cake combinations used today.

Silver Palate’s Glazed Lemon Cake…Tested, phenomenal with Meyer lemons!!!
1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    plus extra for greasing the pan
2 C. sugar
3 eggs
3 C. unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 C. buttermilk
2 tightly packed T. grated lemon zest
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Lemon Icing (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Add the lemon zest and juice.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan. Set the pan on the center rack of the oven and bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 5 minutes. (note: my oven requires an additional 15 minutes)
5. Cool the cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and spread on the icing at once, while the cake is still hot.
   8 to 10 portions
Lemon Icing
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
8 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tightly packed T. grated lemon zest
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice
Cream the sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lemon zest and juice; spread on the warm cake.
   Enough icing for 1 to 2 cakes.

When Jim was a child, his mother, my mother in law Mary Etta would make something called Refrigerator Cake. The name didn’t sound very appealing but the cake is as unbelievably delicious as it was forty years ago.

It is made with the same dark chocolate wafers used in Grasshopper Pie and other recipes requiring a chocolate crust. There are few ingredients, just the wafers, heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. I have done this cake for Christian’s birthday since he was about six or seven. Since he is a July baby, I always serve it topped with strawberries and blueberries.

Refrigerator Cake…to die for!!!
1 box Nabisco chocolate wafers (narrow, yellow box)
Make sure to find a box that’s not too broken up.
heavy whipping cream
powdered sugar
See box for quantities
1. Whip the cream with the vanilla and powdered sugar.
2. In an 8 x 12 oblong baking dish, 8 wafers are lathered with whipped cream, placed together side by side in the pan, like a wheel.
3. Create five or so rows till most of the wafers have been used.
4. Crumble the extras and any broken ones on top of the cake.
5. Let set in the refrigerator for 6 hours till wafers have softened. Serve topped with fresh berries.

My mom used to make this moist, chocolate cake with lots of walnuts and cinnamon. The apples add the moistness and the cinnamon is unbelievable with all the chocolate! I don’t know where the recipe originated but our good friend Cheryl Ratzlaff passed it along to Mom all those years ago.

Cocoa-Apple Cinnamon Cake with Chocolate Chips
3 eggs
1/2 C. water
2 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1/2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 C. coarsely chopped walnuts
8 T. butter
2 C. sugar
2 1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. allspice
2 C. grated pippin apples
powdered sugar for dusting
1. Cream together butter, eggs, sugar, and water and set aside.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, cinnamon, and allspice.
3. Combine butter mixture and dry and ingredients and stir in nuts, chocolate chips, apples, and vanilla.
4. Spoon into a greased and floured tube pan.
5. Bake at 325 for 60 to 70 minutes until cake pulls away from sides of the pan.

Cool on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serves 8 to 10 portions.

Let them eat cake…have your cake and eat it too…piece of cake!
Images via http://www.saveur.com/ .

October 14, 2010

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FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKES…cocoa apple. glazed meyer lemon. refrigerator cake.

FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKES…cocoa apple. glazed meyer lemon. refrigerator cake.

FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKES…cocoa apple. glazed meyer lemon. refrigerator cake.