I promised this for Jenn some time ago after mentioning it on my blog; finally, I've gotten my lazy butt up to bring the cookbook to the computer and post the recipe. This is the cake I've made for CJ's past two birthdays, and may make again for Tom for his birthday this weekend. This recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from 2000--Mom gave it to me as a Christmas gift that year. It's my go-to book for ideas; I frequently tweak the recipes to our tastes, but I get the basic structures here. I'll also post the recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting, which is what I use for this cake. I make a basic 13x9 cake and leave it in the pan.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c buttermilk*
Grease a 13x9 baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven for 350 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla, beat until well combined (should have a light, creamy, but somewhat crumbly texture). Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, and beat at low speed after each addition just till combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes till done (or wooden toothpick comes out clean). Cool and frost; makes 12 servings.
*If you don't have buttermilk, pour 1 1/4 T of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, then enough regular milk (preferably whole, but 2% will work) to make 1 1/4 cups of liquid and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes to sour, then use. General rule of thumb is 1T of lemon juice or vinegar for each 1c of buttermilk needed. I usually take this approach since I rarely remember to buy buttermilk, and never use a whole quart of it before it expires.
Cream Cheese Frosting*
6 oz. cream cheese, softened.
1/2 c butter
2 t vanilla
2-4 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Once mixture is combined, gradually beat in another 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups of powdered sugar to reach desired spreading consistency. Makes enough for top and sides of two 8 or 9 inch layers.
*Personal note--I rarely use more than 2 1/2 c of powdered sugar total for this recipe, and have plenty to frost the top of a 13x9 cake. Using less sugar makes the frosting more tangy, which we personally like. Another personal note--the cream cheese and butter MUST be softened if you're using a hand mixer, or else it will just cling to the beaters and getting any powdered sugar into will be a challenge. If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer with some power, you can throw in the butter and cream cheese straight from the fridge and you're good to go.
And for those who may have a problem with butter, you can substitute margarine in the same amounts. There is no substitute for the shortening. Personally, I prefer butter over margarine in general and especially in baking--I can never get a consistent result with margarine in cakes and frostings tend to break and run at room temperature.