May 19, 2009

Birthday Cake - an Old Family Recipe

For Michael's birthday this year I made him decide which recipe he would like (like always). He narrowed it down to two: Italian Creme Cake or White Cake with Chocolate and White Chocolate Mousse. He left it to me to make the final choice... I decided Italian Creme Cake. The recipe comes from his Step Great Grandma Maxine, and I thought it would be special since his mom used to make it. The cake is very simple. A white cake base with buttermilk and coconut, finished with a cream cheese/walnut frosting. Funny thing, the recipe calls for Oleo. Every time I see this word I want to giggle. Such a funny name for margarine. I'm sure it was a little different back when his great grandma was making it, but it is the closest thing we have now. I don't usually bake with margarine so it made it a little interesting. I even used it in the Icing recipe because I thought I should be true to form (at least on my first attempt). I thought of cutting the recipe in half but decided that halving 5 separated eggs might ruin it.... so I baked it in my 6" cake pans - one tiny cake for now, and one for later. The cake turned out well. The texture from the crisco and margarine was interesting. I would like to try it with butter just to see the difference. It was also very sweet! 2 C sugar! The combination of sugary cake with sweet frosting definitely satisfies your sweet tooth. Next time I think I will cut about half of it. Maxine must have loved sweets. The other thing I did differently was ice the cake without the nuts. I decided to toast them and layer them on top. The presentation was lovely and provided a nice consistent frosting with a crunch on top. I'm really glad that I have this recipe. I know Dana gets nervous that once we master a recipe her children won't come home (but we will don't worry!). I think it is important to continue a family tradition whether it be baking or movie night - fortunately for me it's baking. The Townsend's have instilled a great appreciation for food in their children and I hope to do the same someday. Cooking together as a family provides a wonderful bonding opportunity to allows us to overcome the boundaries of age. It also develops skills that seem to be secondhand to eating out. 

Italian Creme Cake 
2C sugar 
1/2 cup shortening 
1 stick of Oleo
5 eggs, separated 
2 cups flour 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 t baking soda 
1 t vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut 

 Cream together the sugar, shortening, and butter. Add the 5 egg yolks one at a time. Add alternately the flour, buttermilk, and baking soda. Mix in the vanilla and coconut. Fold in 5 beaten egg whites. 
Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch cake pans, and bake 25-30 minutes at 325˚. (Alternatively you can bake the cake in 6" pans - about 1 C batter per pan - for 20-25 minutes). 

1 8 oz package Cream Cheese 
1 stick Oleo 
1 lb powdered sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 C chopped nuts. 
The recipe says that if you wanted to use a loaf pan, increase the baking time to 45-50 minutes. 

Happy Birthday Michael, I hope you enjoyed your cake!

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