Let Them Eat Birthday Cake (Part I)

I think I can speak for the entire Weisblat family when I say that we have had enough cake in the past week or so to last for several months.
My nephew Michael turned ten on Thursday. Naturally, a birthday cake was in order.
We ended up making a number of cakes—two identical cakes for his official party the previous weekend (he had invited quite a number of guests), a similar cake for the actual birthday, and cupcakes for his classmates at school.
None of them was hard to make individually—but en masse they pretty much exhausted us.
I do not want to talk about calories here. I will say that we have bought and used a HUGE amount of butter, eggs, flour, and sugar of late. Luckily, the birthday boy and his friends ate most of the cake(s)—and they were very happy indeed.
I’m starting with the cupcake recipe because, frankly, I’m not sure I can write with equanimity yet about the main event—a chocolate, marshmallow-filled cake in the shape of a Washington Capitals hockey puck!
The cupcakes were made with one of my very favorite cake recipes—a simple yellow cake that takes less work than a mix (well, almost). It’s the Platonic ideal of a yellow cake.
This old-fashioned combination is called “1-2-3-4” because it takes a cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and four eggs.
If you want only 24 cupcakes (or a 9-by-13 sheet or 2 8-inch rounds), you may reduce the recipe by a quarter to 2-1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 cup butter, and so forth. Be sure to adjust baking times if you change pan sizes. You can probably get 3 8-inch rounds with this version, if you want a high and lovely cake!
Since my family is into excess we piled sprinkles on top of the cupcakes—red and blue for the Washington Capitals, of course (we already had white icing).

The birthday boy took cupcake decoration seriously.

1-2-3-4 Birthday Cupcakes
3 cups flour
2-2/3 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/3 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 32 cupcake tins with liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, and beat again.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into your cupcake tins.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cakes pass the toothpick test. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool. Ice with snappy butter icing (see below). Makes 32 cupcakes.
Snappy Butter Icing for 1-2-3-4 Cupcakes
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks!) sweet butter at room temperature
confectioner’s sugar as needed (I think we used a little less than a pound)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream the butter and add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time until the icing is tasty and spreadable. Beat in the vanilla. Ice your cupcakes, and throw on some birthday sprinkles if you want to. Ices 32 cupcakes generously.

Grandmother Jan went to town with the sprinkles.

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8 Responses to “Let Them Eat Birthday Cake (Part I)”

  1. Flaneur says:

    First of all: belated but heartfelt birthday greetings and this household’s very best wishes to Michael. No doubt he will roll his eyes when we say so, but to us the fact that a whole decade has flown by seems impossible. Why Michael, only yesterday you were… but you’ve been hearing that a lot lately, haven’t you. So let’s concentrate on the heart of the matter – the food. Clearly under your direction your aunt was able to produce the appropriate response to your first decade – fabulous cake. And cupcakes. Frosting, too.

    Hmmm, Michael, perhaps you could mention to your aunt that when I signed up for regular email alerts to new postings on In Our Grandmothers Kitchens (great-grandmothers to you?) I assumed each new installment would arrive with a sample. I have yet to taste anything unless I make it myself, and where’s the beauty and joy in that? Perhaps those sprinkles (more likely the butter) have clogged my internet broadband arteries? But surely one of your classmates was absent this past week, and there’s still a cupcake to be had? If I give you my mailing address, perhaps the Postal Service could…? No? They’re all gone? You’re kidding, right?

    Your aunt insists the recipe is almost as simple as a cake mix, and it turns out that all the ingredients are already here in my kitchen. This of course means that either you need to alert me about any parcel heading my way by express same-day service, or a major baking operation will soon be underway. For the sake of expediency and to accommodate the need for near-instant gratification, I well may frost each bite as I eat. Sort of a dessert version of nachos and cheese dip, no? My only concern is that the motif you chose for your birthday cake, a hockey puck, could in my hands become literally a hockey puck as opposed to the moist, light and gentle texture of a well-iced yellow cake. It would have all been far, far easier were I ten years old and your classmate as well. Take heart, Michael: that birthday cake will appeal to you fifty years from now – you chose well.

    For me the frosting on the cake was when I left-clicked on the posting title and got an Adobe-format PDF file of the recipe, ready for my own recipe wish list. It had never dawned on me that recipes might be so simply saved. This little discovery has had the effect on me not unlike discovering that last remaining, butter-frosted cupcake. So, Michael, I nearly as pleased as if I’d been there myself to wish you a very happy birthday and a splendid year. And, uh, “Go Caps!”

  2. Kathleen says:

    What a handsome young man. Happy birthday, Michael.

    All I made this weekend was 3 Bean Salad and cornbread so cake sounds really, really good!

  3. E. Sheppard says:

    Free samples! What a great idea! But you may want to wait and have it be a perk for your TV show. Off to Twitter.

  4. Happy Birthday to Michael – and I’m glad you ate so much cake ….. now I don’t feel so guilty about all the cakes (and icecream) I ate on holiday!!

  5. Happy Birthday to Michael! I’ll definitely be trying the 1-2-3-4 cake. I’m always on the lookout for a good simple birthday cake.

  6. I had forgotten all about the 1-2-3-4 Cake, thank you so much for reminding me….it’s a great one! The birthday boy looks like a happy man! Good work!

  7. tinkyweisblat says:

    Thanks, all, for the sweet comments; I’m sure Michael appreciates all the good wishes. E., let’s hope that TV show comes along soon. And Flaneur, I’m afraid you may just have to get baking yourself. I’m sorry!

  8. LoveCupcakes says:

    I don’t know you personally Michael. But I would like to greet you as well Happy Birthday. Great Cakes you have here.

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