Two cakes.

That is what I remember most about my birthdays growing up.

Right around this  time of year, my father used to tell me the story of how I was born. It was September 24th, 1982, a lovely Fall day and his own parents were visiting.  My mom was crazy amounts of pregnant with me and apparently my Grandpa Fabian, an obstetrician, took one look at her and told my grandma, “she is going to pop tonight, no doubt.”

Sure enough, as soon as they left, I started raising all kinds of hell in her womb and managed to send them straight to the hospital. This next part of the story is what I doubt really happened, but I always loved hearing my dad tell it. You see, he would claim that as my mom was lying in her hospital bed he insisted that she “stop labor and wait just a few more hours,” so that his daughter could have her own special day.

You see, September 24th is my dad’s birthday.

Apparently, if anybody heard him, it was me, because I showed face at about 1:50am the very next day…on my very own birthday.

For as long as I can remember, my dad and I shared our birthdays at the end of each September. My parents both insisted that we truly make each day special, which meant I would have to painfully sit through his birthday, while bursting at the seams with excitement over my own pending day. The one thing that kept me patient as a youngster was the amazing concept of two cakes.

When growing up, we each got to choose our own cake and for two days in a row, we would get to eat delicious desserts in celebration of our own individual births. Chocolate, vanilla, marble, ice cream, homemade, bakery-made… every time it was something different and unique.

As I got older and moved off to college and grown-up life, two cakes stopped happening and instead turned into just a phone call… that is, a phone call two days in a row. Still something special.  Last year, we celebrated Dad’s 60th birthday by flying home to Minnesota and taking him out with the family. It was the first time he had seen me since my wedding and he put his arm around me and wished me a happy birthday. He looked at me differently, with pride and admiration almost. He joked with me about “giving him a grandkid already” and we spent the entire night drinking wine, eating wonderful food and feasting on desserts.

If I had known that would be the last birthday spent with him, I would have insisted that there be two cakes.

So, in a fit of nostalgia and longing, I decided to rekindle such memories and bake not one, but two birthday cakes. I racked my brain for what cake I wanted to make for my dad and finally settled on a cupcake created for what I remember to be his favorite dessert: Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.

For my own birthday cake, I made a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Icing, something the younger version of me would have made vomiting sounds over. Now, I love it.

Two cakes. This might have to become my new tradition: two cakes that I share with the people in my life now. It can be a way that we keep Steve in our memory forever.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

1 (18.25 oz.) package Devil’s Food cake mix
1 (3.9 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup warm water

2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

24 Oreo Cookies, save the tops for frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper baking cups.

Twist off each Oreo cookie top, separating the frosted bottoms from the cookie tops. Put one frosted bottom into each baking cup.

In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes. Mix in sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, and water until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared cupcake pans.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cook in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a cooking rack to cool completely.

Mrs. Leeds Kim, sporting one of my own birthday presents while being my special helper!

Cookies and Cream Buttercream

2 Sticks of Butter, softened

4-5 cups confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla

24 Oreo bottoms (leftover from cupcake recipe), crushed.

1/2 cup milk

Combine butter, milk, vanilla and 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and beat well. Once combined, slowly add remaining sugar. Once smooth, stir in Oreo crumbs.

Finished product. Dad woud have loved this.

Oreo Bottoms!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. (I used a circular pie pan)

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Make Honey Frosting

Honey Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft

1 bar (8 ounces) regular (or reduced-fat) cream cheese, very soft

1/4 cup honey

Combine together and spread on cake