I’m not a baker. I’m not a cooker. I’m not really a kitchen-type person. Right now it’s bottle washing central in there. However, it was my dad’s birthday last week and due to my parents traveling all over to visit their kids and grandkids, he didn’t really get a homemade birthday cake. And he was a wee bit sad – otherwise known as pouting. My little mama and I conspired to have the cake on Sunday, when my parents would be in Chicago with us. So I prepared to bake on Saturday night. WHO THE HELL DO THINK I AM?
In my family we have what’s called RED CAKE. Now this is no ordinary red velvet cake. There is no cream cheese frosting. In fact, the frosting is my dad’s favorite part, and has become a big deal as my mom screwed with it a couple times by trying to make it “light”. HOW DARE SHE. Butter, MOM. BUTTER BUTTER BUTTER. She’ll never live that down.
You cook part of this frosting. I read and re-read every step of this recipe so worried was I of a royal screw up, but YES, you cook the frosting.
This cake has been handed down generations. I’ve never been more nervous or exhausted by anything in my life. Including childbirth. But it was for my dad, so I took the leap. I used my big mixer that has been used maybe 10 times in about 15 years.
Here it is – complete with my mom’s exact wording of directions:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 oz. food coloring plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 whole eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. vinegar
Cream butter and sugar to consistency of whipping cream. Add eggs and blend; mix coloring with cocoa. Add to mixture. Add buttermilk alternately with salt and flour. Add vanilla. Mix vinegar with soda. Add to cake batter and beat. Bake in sheet cake pan, sprayed with Pam. Bake in 350 degree oven 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Don’t overbake!
GUESS WHO OVERBAKED?
3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Cook flour and milk until thick (med. heat, stirring). Cool. Cream sugar and butter and vanilla with electric beater; cream a long time. Blend in cooled milk and flour mixture and beat about 6 minutes to consistency of whipped cream.
I did bake it a little too long. Now I know.
Perspective is a funny bird. I have no objectivity about this cake. It’s been everybody’s choice birthday cake for so long, I’ve forgotten if it’s really good or not.
I feel like I’ve joined some sort of club. I admire good cooks and bakers. I won’t say I’m one of them, but I can see some birthday cakes happening in my future for two little munchkins who just MAY request a red cake (they had a taste!) or anything else their sweet little hearts desire. I will inevitably kill myself to make whatever they want (or go buy it). I don’t recognize myself these days. I mean, I am somebody’s mom and I am somebody’s daughter and I am suiting up and showing up and doing things like a normal person. This is somehow comforting to me, that I can do these normal activities that a mom does. That a daughter does for her father. I am grateful I am sober and have the opportunity.
You know, I’m not always sure I’m up to this mom thing, and yet, things like this tell me I am. I can be. It’s silly that baking a cake was such a profound experience for me, but it really was. My husband said he was impressed with me. I mean, COME ON. That right there is worth its weight in gold.
It’s not fancy to look at. It may not even be that good. But it’s nostalgia. And that’s more important than anything else sometimes.
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