Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Granny!

Today we celebrated my granny's 96th birthday!  There really are no words to express how incredibly amazing this woman is.  She still lives by herself, cleans her house (weekly), takes care of her dog, never complains, has a great memory, and generally loves life.  She is such an inspiration and I can only hope I've inherited a few of her genes!

Ninety-six years young but she already has her eyes on the prize - the big 1-0-0!  On that milestone birthday she has set in her mind (that's one thing she is very good at doing) that she and Wes are going to Vegas.  There are a some comical things about that though - 1) She has never flown before and never likes when we fly, much less if she was on the plane.  2)  She doesn't believe in gambling and yet pulling a lever on the slot machine is her primary reason for choosing Vegas.  I should note that she only wants to pull it one time.  I'm pretty sure she'd be content to turn right around and fly home after that.  3)  It wasn't until just recently that she jokingly told me that if I behaved that I could go with Wes and her.

As you can tell, she's a card.  She loves her men (Billy Ray Cyrus still holds a special place in her heart because of his luscious locks!) but she'd also do anything for her family.  She's lived a hard life and worked harder than I can even imagine.  I'm sure both of those things have contributed not only to the woman she is today but her longevity as well.  She's one special lady and I feel blessed that I've gotten to enjoy her company for so many years!  Here's to the next 4!

Her cake of choice was her tried and true, yellow cake with caramel icing.  As long as I can remember, that is the only cake she's ever had for her birthday.  Despite my mom's best efforts, nothing would replace her love of this old standard.

I used Cook's Illustrated Yellow Cake and it was great.  I love the light, airy texture of the cake.  The crumb to this cake was perfect in my little cake mind.  Now I could just find a white cake equivalent.  And the icing is to.die.for.  Seriously it's that good!

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake (by way of Made by Melissa)

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour , plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk , room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks , room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites , room temperature
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.
In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.
Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Caramel Frosting (by way of The Cheddar Box Cafe in Louisville, KY)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 T. whipping cream
3 cups confectioners' sugar
8oz cream cheese (1/3 reduced fat)
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes then add whipping cream.  Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 additional minute.  Remove from heat and put in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in confectioners' sugar, followed by cream cheese and vanilla.  Add more sugar for desired taste.  Let cool to room temperature before applying to cake.  


  1. Happy Birthday to your sweet Granny! I hope she enjoyed her cake, it looks fantastic. We had such a good time last night at Corbett's, hope you all did, too!

  2. Wow, 96! Go Granny! I think it is so cute she wants to go to Vegas for her 100th :) How sweet of you to bake her cake!

  3. Awww!!! That's wonderful!! Happy Birthday to her!! That cake looks delicious too! Thanks for the great recipe! :)

  4. Caramel frosting?? YUM! Happy happy bday to Granny!

  5. Your Granny sounds like an amazing woman--and how awesome that she's made it this far! That cake looks SO delicious...she must have had a very special day!