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Posted on Dec 15, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 13 comments

A Very Benny Birthday

Happy birthday, big brother!

Some things never change.

Yes, even though my family went out to celebrate Ben‘s birthday over the weekend, today is his actual birthday! Unlike last year, I will refrain from dedicating this entire post to my bro turning the big 2-8. I will, however, catch you on the rest of Saturday’s celebration.


Most of which took place in the kitchen as I baked a cake of epic proportions (the dogs acted as crumb-catchers, natch.)


I made a double-layer cake, with one layer of pumpkin cake and one layer of vanilla. Go big or go home, right?


Now, the cakes may have been boxed, but they were smothered in 100% made-from-scratch cream cheese frosting.


Plus frosting in-between the layers too, of course. I was super excited about icing the cake because it let me put to use my new frosting skillz that I picked up from that culinary school class I audited!


My sister Jenny served as the official decorator, and we covered the cake in blue sugar (because it definitely needed MORE sugar) and tiny candy letters that we randomly found in a drawer at my parents’. We’re nothing if not classy.



It turned out awesome! I didn’t do such a great job with leveling the cakes exactly, plus they were made from different mixes so they baked up in slightly different ways. So the layers weren’t exactly seamless, but considering the distinct lack of swiveling cake stands and offset spatulas, I’d say it’s not too shabby.


The one thing I kind of forgot, though, is that when your cake is double-layered, you get double the cake in every slice. Which isn’t a BAD thing, it’s just something to be mindful of when cutting.


My cream cheese icing recipe, just in case you are interested, was:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 8 oz. package of low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer (or with a hand mixer, but just be careful of the potential flyaway face-sugaring that might follow.) Then add in the confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time. Add in the vanilla extract at the end. Ta-da!

Just remember, this makes more than enough icing to frost TWO whole cakes, so adjust accordingly if you’re making a normal cake like a normal person.

If you got to pick any dessert, not just cake, to have for your birthday, what would it be? I actually would really like one year to get to have a birthday flan. It’s. Just. So. Good. (Also, can’t help but think of that episode of The Office where Creed asks for birthday cobbler, ahahahaha.)


  1. Happy birthday to your big bro! Ha- you all still seem so young to me (let me grab my walker). The pumpkin/vanilla layer cake combo is such a good idea (I need to hint at that to my little sister for my birthday!).
    Actually though- I am like Creed- I’d rather have a birthday cobbler (as long as we’re not combining office birthdays into one party ;)) or crisp or pie. I prefer those types of desserts over cake any day, but NOTHING trumps ice cream in dessert-land for me (preferably, on top of a berry crisp).

    • Mmmm, birthday crisp. So fancy. 😀

  2. The picture of the dogs while you are cooking is great. My dog does the same thing although I often think she is trying to trip me on purpose.

    • Haha, yes, my sister’s dog is literally ALWAYS underfoot! I guess he just likes to really be part of the action, whereas Harry and Daxter are usually nose-to-the-floor looking for dropped goodies!

  3. Birthday cannoli! I’m a sucker for the crispy shell and sweet, creamy filling with chocolate chips. Not the healthiest choice, but it’s for a special occasion, right? I’m making myself drool just thinking about cannoli … nomnomnom.

  4. Ummm how about for my birthday you make me that cake? Cool, thanks ;). That looks awesome. And really, who doesn’t love cake covered in cream cheese frosting…that’s probably why red velvet and spice/pumpkin cakes are my fave! I’m also a big fan of the chocolate/raspberry combo.

  5. Happy Birthday to your bro! 🙂 Great idea to do two different layers in the cake!

    Hmmm…homemade ice cream is always awesome!

  6. Mmmmm cake! That’s a really cool idea too….pumpkin and vanilla, mmmm. I’m in a baking mood. I’m going to bake a bazillion things this weekend. A bazillion! I hope they turn out as good as your cake looks!!

  7. Happy Birthday to Ben! And lucky him, that is one fantastic looking cake. Have a great day Gretchen!! (love the pic of the dogs ready to hoover crumbs!)

  8. Rice Pudding is the best. Also, bread pudding.

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