Happy Birthday Cakes

| October/November 1998

Birthday celebrations demand cake. ­Because this is a birthday celebration for a magazine about herbs, here’s an array of luscious cakes that use lots of them.

Leave it to peppermint to jazz up a decadent chocolate cake layered in buttercream. The flavor of delicate lemon herbs caresses a light and virtually fat-free angel food cake, and thyme contributes its flavor to a spice cake as well as to its soft cream cheese icing. An easy, home-style apple skillet cake is laced with sage and sweetened with brown sugar. Oranges, dried cherries, and toasted pecans speckle a rich orange cake that carries a subtle hint of orange mint. Whether the occasion is a simple Sunday supper or a formal dinner, these cakes are something to celebrate.

Cakes take many shapes. A layer cake stacked with buttercream can be the elegant culmination of a birthday dinner, but the same batter may be baked in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan (add 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time) to make a sheet cake that’s just as tasty, travels well, and is easily cut into squares to serve a crowd. The Spice Cake with Lemon Thyme and Cream Cheese Icing is a sheet cake, but it could also be baked in two layers or in a bundt pan. The Lemon Verbena Angel Food Cake stands tall in its traditional tube pan, but the batter can also be baked in two loaf pans. The Sage and Apple Upside-Down Cake needs to be baked in an iron skillet to achieve a deep golden brown crust. Whatever the shape, whatever the flavor, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a homemade cake.

Buttermilk ­Chocolate Cake with Peppermint
Chocolate Mint Buttercream
Lemon Verbena Angel Food Cake  
Spice Cake with Lemon Thyme and Cream Cheese Icing  
Sage and Apple Upside-Down Cake
Orange Cake with Pecans and Orange Mint Buttercream  
Orange Mint Buttercream

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