Spice Cake and Nanny’s 90th Birthday Party!

Yesterday my family and I had a big party to celebrate my grandma’s birthday! On February 27th she turned 90!  I still can’t quite fathom all of the things she’s seen over the years, The Great Depression, World War II, how much everything has changed.   Her stories of growing up with 10 siblings, living on a farm, raising (and butchering) their own chickens and cows, growing wheat for flour, churning butter, and so many more, all amaze me.  Not to mention all of the delicious food she’s made over the years, Christmas cookies, homemade bread, pancakes, vegetable soup and potato salad, macaroni with butter and milk, way too many things to list.  But those are stories for another blog post, I want to talk about her party.

Nanny at her party

My brother, Nanny, and I at the party

My brother, Nanny, and I at the party

After a month or so of planning everything came together for a great party.  We decorated everything with a few of her favorite things, the color red, Scrabble, flowers, and caramel cream filled candies.


scrabble board

tablefront party

nanny candy

nanny balloons

We put up a timeline with various photos from different stages of Nanny’s life.  I LOVE looking through old black and white photos of my family.  It’s crazy to see Nanny and her siblings through the years, it amazes me to see how they’ve changed but how they look the same at the same time.

Nanny guest book area

pictures 1

pictures 3

pictures 4

pictures 5

pictures 6

Nanny (bottom right) and her sisters

Nanny (bottom right) and her sisters

We even found her diploma and a commencement issue of the school newspaper, along with a series of class photos

nanny diploma

nanny yb

Nanny's first grade picture, she's in the middle row, second from the left

Nanny’s first grade picture, she’s in the middle row, second from the left

Nanny's graduating class, she's in the middle row, far left

Nanny’s graduating class, she’s in the middle row, far left

Nanny's 50th class reunion (far right, middle row, pink sweater)

Nanny’s 50th class reunion (far right, middle row, pink sweater)

A bunch of our family came (as you can imagine, with 10 siblings Nanny has a VERY large family), along with a few of Nanny’s friends.

Nanny's Arrival

Nanny's Party

There was a TON of food (very typical for all of our family events, everyone always says the White family knows how to feed people and loves to eat).

Nanny's party food

One of Nanny’s favorite TV shows is Jeopardy, so I made up some Jeopardy style trivia questions about Nanny’s life.  Her youngest sister (her everyone calls Mean Jean) won first place.  For some of the prizes we gave away packs of cards because playing cards is one of Nanny’s favorite pastimes.  Growing up they didn’t have much money but they always had a deck of cards.  The White family still gets together once a month to play 500 and Nanny plays solitaire all the time.

Nanny's Jeopardy

Last, but certainly not least Nanny blew out the candles on her birthday cake.

Nanny blowing out candles

We bought a big sheet cake for the occasion but I also made spice cake with caramel icing (Nanny’s favorite) and a spice cake with maple cream cheese icing.

caramel icing and spice cake

spice cake with maple cream cheese icing

For the spice cake you combine flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt.

Spice cake dry

Then you cream some butter, oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and eggs then alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk.

Spice cake batter

Bake it and then let it cool.

spice cake

For the caramel icing you combine brown sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, and evaporated milk and bring it to a boil.

caramel icing

First it will start to bubble around the sides.

caramel icing 2

Then it will become a full on rolling boil.

caramel icing 3

Whisk away, boiling for one minute.

caramel icing whisk

Then you remove it from the heat and beat it with a mixer.

caramel icing beater

Beat until it’s creamy.

caramel icing creamy

It will be a a creamy caramel color, with a thick but slightly runny consistency.


Immediately pour it on the cake and spread, it will harden quickly so work fast!

ci on cake

For the cream cheese frosting cream together the butter and cream cheese.

maple cream cheese

Add the maple and powdered sugar.  If you need to thin out the icing add milk a little at a time.  Finally spread it on the cake.  Yum!

mcc icing on spice cake

The caramel icing is SUPER easy to make, it does get a little difficult to spread over the cake as it hardens quickly, but it is delicious and well worth the effort.  As for the maple cream cheese icing, I love cream cheese icing and I thought maple would pair perfectly with the spice cake.  The spice cake itself is moist, full of flavor, and delicious, so enjoy!


Spice Cake with Never Fail Caramel Icing or Maple Cream Cheese Icing

1 – 13 x 9 cake



     3 cups flour

     2 teaspoons baking powder

     1 teaspoon baking powder

     2 teaspoons cinnamon

     1 teaspoon nutmeg

     1 teaspoon ginger

     1/2 teaspoon cloves

     1/2 teaspoon allspice

     1/4 teaspoon salt

     1 stick butter

     1/2 cup canola oil

     1 cup sugar

     1 cup brown sugar

     1 teaspoon vanilla

     5 eggs

     1 cup buttermilk

Never Fail Caramel Icing

     3 cups light brown sugar

     1/2 cup evaporated milk

     1 stick butter

     1/4 teaspoon salt

     1 teaspoon vanilla

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

     1/2 stick butter

     8 oz. cream cheese

     2 1/2 oz. maple syrup

     3 cups powdered sugar

     milk or heavy cream as needed

For the Cake

     – Preheat oven to 350°

     – Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl

     – Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar

     – Stir in the eggs and vanilla

     – Alternate adding dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the sugar mixture until combined

     – Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan

     – Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool

For the Caramel Icing

     – Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil

     – Boil for one minute, remove from the heat, and beat until creamy

     – Immediately pour onto cake and spread

For the Maple Cream Cheese Icing

     – Cream together the butter and cream cheese

      – Add the maple syrup and powdered sugar, mix

     – If icing is too thick add milk, a teaspoonful at a time

     – Spread onto cake

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