A Spice Cake to Remember

August is my favorite month.  It is a month of late summer where lounging on my patio and sipping a Corona becomes high art.  August is the month of my birthday and our wedding anniversary.  And harvesting fresh produce out of the garden.  I relish my birthday the way five year olds do, which may change when I turn forty next year, but I hope not.

Two days before my birthday I decided to bake myself a cake.  Not just any cake, but the Faulknerian Family Spice Cake,with Caramel Icing, which I found on Food52.com which is a fabulous foodie online haven.  When I was five, my Mom baked me a spice cake with a Barbie doll in the center with the Bundt cake frosted as her ball gown.  I loved that cake and how my Mom made me chicken noodle soup with her homemade egg noodles on an afternoon that reached over 100 degrees.  Our guests cooled themselves in the wading pool and my Mom never again made me whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner.  To this day, soup is my favorite food.  But, I wanted spice cake.  And this recipe that I found was decadent.  It called for too much butter, eggs, and Crisco and topped with caramel icing, so I had to make it. 

I pulled out my favorite spatula and started baking.  I enjoyed the fragrance of fresh ground nutmeg and all the other spices.  I took pictures of the batter as it mixed. 

And in the pan.  I deliberately dropped the pan on the counter to pop an air bubbles in the batter, which I won’t do next time to see if the cake rises higher.

And it baked into a nice dense loaf.  After the cake had cooled, I started melting the butter for the caramel frosting.  I reached up to grab the powdered sugar from the highest shelf and I accidentally bumped the 16 ounce bottle of red food dye and it flew down and exploded in front of me on the kitchen floor.  

I looked like a gunshot victim and the kitchen was spattered in red droplets all the way up to the ceiling.  My Pirate rushed into the kitchen and paused in shock.  And I laughed until I cried as I cleaned up the kitchen with his help.  And he just glowered and silently shook his head at me.  At one point he said, “You’re talking to me?  You better not be talking to me.”  Which only made me laugh harder.

The red dye easily wiped off the cabinets, but the ceiling is permanently stained.  And I’m still finding red spatters.  The grout will need to be repeatedly bleached.  And I have learned a valuable lesson.  Store the messiest ingredients close to floor not up in the corner on the highest shelf.  And when you buy a huge bottle of red food dye for the red velvet cake testing, wrap it in multiple Ziploc bags or better yet, put it in the garage. 

Once the kitchen was scrubbed and reeked of bleach, I iced the spice cake and gave My Pirate a slice with a glass of milk.  And he forgave me on the spot; which means that this is one magical spice cake.  It’s everything that a spice cake should be it’s aromatic, spicy, complex, rich and dense and the caramel icing makes it decadently sweet.  And it slices nicely into thin slices.  My cake was spattered with red food dye but that only made us laugh and cringe.  And it only took a couple of days for the red dye to wash off the soles of our feet.     

Faulknerian Family Spice Cake, with Caramel Icing

This recipe serves 10-12
1/2 pound butter, softened
            1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening)
            3 cups sugar
            5 eggs
            3 cups flour
            2 teaspoons cinnamon
            1/2 teaspoon mace (don't leave this out)
            1/2 teaspoon allspice
            1/4 teaspoon nutmeg—fresh ground
            1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1/2 teaspoon baking powder
            1 cup plus 2 TB milk
            1 teaspoon vanilla

            In your electric mixer cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until it's fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  
           Whisk together the dry ingredients then add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Bake at 325 for approximately 1 hour and fifteen minutes in a greased floured tube pan.  Top with caramel icing.

           Caramel icing
            Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan then stir in 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1/3 cup cream. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Return to heat and bring to boil for 1 minute. Let it cool for a moment. Then beat in 2 cups confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.