Today is my birthday. I turned 39 today. Rather than feel maudlin about my age, I decided to really rejoice in the life I've lived thus far and think about the future and how bright and full it is. After all, it's another year until I'm 40 and perhaps then, I shall feel depressed. But right now, I'm still in my 30's and I wanted to celebrate!
And celebrate I did. I have so many amazing friends and family who have showered me with words of affection and fantastic gifts. I got to eat at Tyler Florence's restaurant with two of my closest friends, and if Tyler had actually not been sick, I would have gotten his autograph in his new book Family Meal (birthday present!), fainted , woken up in his arms, and asked to bear some of his children. I love the guy THAT much. (I read his book cover to cover already.) I'm trying to go back this weekend and have a repeat meal and another go at the autograph. We'll see if I can get in.
Another friend brought my family and me lunch to eat at home - a full on Middle Eastern meal with falafel, hummus, pita and the works. It was so good, I almost didn't have room for dinner. Only I had to cook dinner for my family, and I did that too. I made something simple that we could all enjoy (Crazy Rice Noodle Stir Fry) and no birthday is complete without a cake. Another friend offered to bring me one for my birthday but I refused, because I wanted to make my own birthday cake. Why not! Why can't I make my own birthday cake on my own birthday? Many of my friends threw up their hands in exasperation, wondering why I was doing it, but I really wanted to. Mostly because in Tyler's book there was a cream cheese frosting I wanted to try out and I considered just making the frosting and spreading it on toast. But eventually, I thought of a cake that would go well with cream cheese frosting. Pumpkin sounded good and I had all the ingredients so pumpkin it was.
And my final birthday present came from Son, who managed to pee in the potty, not once but twice today. After the last round where I failed miserably in potty training him, today was a huge victory. And I'm satisfied. I'm complete. I love a day like today, filled with the warmth of friends and family, the laughter of children, pee-pee in the potty, and a great cake baked by me. I can even repeat it tomorrow! Maybe I will!
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese FrostingA really wonderful book - fantastic words, beautiful pictures, great recipes, and a hunk of burning man cooking love....all inside!
Makes one 9X13 cake
adapted from Bon Appetit | November 2008
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9X13 pan with parchment paper and spray with vegetable spray. Whisk first 9 ingredients in large bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil in another large bowl.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Pour batter into pan.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 33 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely. (or just leave it in the pan and frost it in the pan like I did.)
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (NEW)
adapted from Tyler Florence's book Family Meal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Using an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add milk and beat until smooth. Add scraped out seeds of vanilla bean and beat. Beat in the confectioners' sugar. Spread frosting evenly over completely cooled cake.
Where I get my vanilla beans