Friday, June 22, 2012

On Birthday Cake

LUCY BURDETTE: The birthday season is coming up in my household, so I've got cake on the brain. One of the traditions we had in my family growing up was that the birthday person got to choose their cake. I went with angel food cake with whipped cream frosting, tinted pink with food coloring.

But with the family I married into,  the choice is always chocolate. The recipe that I use for feathery fudge cake with chocolate sour cream frosting comes from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

My birthday falls in early January--not only are there no other bakers in my family, most of the good bakeries in the area are closed, exhausted from the holidays. So every once in while I splurge and bake the cake I would choose: yellow cake spread with whipped cream and crammed with strawberries. I found this on a Softasilk cake flour box years ago--it's a winner.


1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 C butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 1/4 C Softasilk cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
whipped cream

To make the cake: grease and flour 2 round pans, heat oven to 350. Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. beat in vanilla, eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. mix flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in alternately with the milk, beating after each addition just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. pour into pans. Bake 25 min or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. cool 10 min, remove from pans. cool completely.

Frost with fresh whipped cream sweetened with a tbsp of sugar and a dash of vanilla. I put chopped strawberries in the middle layer and decorate the top with halved strawberries, maybe a few blueberries too.

 What cake do you crave on your birthday? And as I saw my friend Steve Ulfelder ask on facebook the other day, would you serve it with ice cream? (I'm a purist--I think ice cream makes it soggy...)


  1. They both look fascinating but I prefer the chocolate one. Well done, I'll definitely try the recipe!

  2. I'm not much of a cake fan, especially the frosted stuff. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, or German chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling are both favorites, but I LOVE a good, rich, dense, buttery pound cake. I've had it with a lemon glaze, but I like it best plain. If I had my choice, my birthday dessert would be peanut butter pie.

    Sadly, I'm a bit burned out on cake for birthdays because until I was about 25, my mom considered a store-bought ice cream cake roll, dried out and soggy at the same time, to be the height of birthday cake luxury.

  3. Ooooh - I love cake! Cake is my first dessert of choice - always. Chocolate is good. But, I have to say, Lucy, this yellow with the whipped cream frosting and strawberries on top sounds delish, so I'll have a slice of each, pretty please. I love ice cream, but not with my cake, I'd prefer a big tall glass of ice cold milk.

  4. White cake with white frosting and blue flowers from Hy-Vee (that's our main grocery store chain here in Iowa). That's been my choice ever since I could remember. (It was also my graduation cake and our wedding cake...picky? Me? What?)

    My mom's choice is always a Lazy-Daisy cake, which has waaaaaay more coconut than I like to think about. Blegh.

    Our little guy turns 2 on Sunday. Until he decides otherwise, his cake will be white (Betty Crocker) with white frosting (homemade - which should discourage me from ever eating frosting again...but never does!). It will be decorated like a tractor, though, so that's something...

  5. Oh Sandi, sorry about all those soggy birthday cakes!

    Keye, yes a glass of milk is perfect! (we're a little out of style, but who cares?)

    Lazy Daisy? will have to check that one out Paula...

  6. Tractor cakes! What a cool mom you are, Paula.

    We always got to choose our cake, too, as well as what we wanted Mother to cook for our birthday dinner. I always wanted something chocolate, and fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peas.

    My own children also got to choose, and we endured all sorts of dreadful storebought mixes (a pox on whoever invented those darn confetti cakes) until my youngest daughter caught the cooking bug. Then she and I made chocolate cakes from scratch, with the most amazing chocolate icing (more like a fudge). Our twist was to crush peppermints into it, and add peppermint flavoring instead of vanilla. It's still a family fave, along with the peppermint ice cream I always made in the summertime.

    Ice cream is optional for me, de rigeur for the rest of the family.

  7. My oldest turns 15 today and she wants a chocolate cake with a cream cheese/whipped cream/Kahlua filling that I discovered in a Godiva cookbook years ago. She likes it all topped with vanilla frosting--the kind in a can from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. Ick on the frosting, but the rest is yum! No ice cream for me.

    Karen--you make peppermint ice cream? I bow to your superior motherness and homemakerness.

  8.'re so've got me thinking about cake at 9:30 in the morning...during swimsuit season.
    I went to a birthday party on Wednesday and didn't even look at the cake. They were always sort of anti-climatic to me. White. Boring. Maybe I've been going to the wrong parties.

    OTOH..a big ole slice of chocolate seven layer cake or carrot cake...I'm in. Especially if I've made it myself.

  9. Chocolate, always. The munchkin and her friends have been making a lot of Cake in a Mug. It tastes like a warm chocolate pudding. Oddly, the recipe came from Hank's station a couple of years ago.

  10. To my great sorrow my oldest daughter's favorite is storebought birthday/wedding cake with that nasty lard icing.

    I blame her father.

  11. Chocolate with vanilla frosting (I like the contrast) and vanilla-bean ice cream for me, please. Though I love a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and the yellow with strawberries and whipped cream sounds yummy, too.

    I always made them when the kids were home,even my daughter's fave, New York cheesecake. Now that it's just Ben and me, we go out to dinner somewhere that has good desserts and have one piece of cake. That way there's no extra cake sitting around the house beckoning to us with open arms.

  12. Not big on cake. My dad loved German chocolate so my mom always made it for his birthdays. I do like the strawberry cupcakes made by a local cafe, and can be tempted by a really moist piece of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

    I, sad to say, and I'm sure much to my poor daughter's disappointment, have never made a decent cake in my life.

  13. I let the kids choose what kind of birthday cake they'd like me to make; my son always goes for chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate ganache, while my daughter is more open to suggestions. I'm a fan of the Cake Mix Doctor and do take her advice on making the frosting from scratch even if the box is from a mix.

    Myself, I'd rather have pie---blackberry or cherry crumb.

  14. Am having some Kindle problems today. Punctuation is not working properly,so forgive me if my language ends up sounding stilted.
    For ME, birthday cakes must always be chocolate layer cake wth chocolate frosting. I have no idea why anyone would even ask! If ice cream is available,it must be chocolate. Of course.

    I do like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and strawberry shortcake,and especially love my dad's creamcheese cake...but not for a birthday celebration. (Dad's recipe apparently went to the grave with him. If I had it,I would share it. It was scrumptious! I know that he used zwieback crumbs for the crust but as for the rest,I will need to continue searching family records.)

  15. I'm not a fan of icing, so my choice of cake is angel food with whipped topping and strawberries. My grandmother made a mean coconut cake for my grandfather's birthday.

    For my son's birthdays, I bake a gluten free cake because one of his best friends can't eat regular cake.

  16. I could definiinitely live without cake and am much more interested in a fruit crisp or crumble.

    But with all this fruit, this one sounds interesting.

    In terms of birthday cake, I must have ice cream on mine and for some reason, I feel the ice cream tastes that much better when eaten with the cake fork.

  17. When we were children, we chose our cake, too. And, since we are twins, there were always two cakes as my mom believed we should each have our very own choice for our birthday cake. My children always picked their favorite dinner but never the cake because birthday cake was meant to be a splendiferous surprise . . . . It could be a cake that looked like a carousel, complete with horses on the side and fancy gum paste fretwork swirls at the top of the carousel . . . or an ice skate [this when the girls were skating in competitions] . . . or . . . . The surprise tradition remains steadfast in our family --- the latest cakes were a castle cake for the princess, an airplane cake for her brother.

    Your cakes sound wonderful [and the Softasilk box always had the best recipes] . . . . For myself? Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, please . . . . ice cream is a yes, but only if it is chocolate and only if it is in a separate bowl --- no ice cream sogging up my cake!

  18. Cake baking has become a competitive happening for kids today. Tractors, cars, transformers, moms are working very hard these days. All of your desserts sound wonderful. My favorite is Black Forest Cake-chocolate with cherries, a few nuts. Very rich, and totally forbidden to me :)

  19. I did look up Paula's mom's Lazy Daisy cake--the caramel topping is very appealing! I suppose you could replace the coconut with nuts if you preferred...

    Karen, chocolate and fried chicken and mashed potatoes--yes!

    And now I've got strawberry shortcake on the brain too--just bought a lovely carton of berries at the farmer's market...

    and Joan, your mother was so clever to give you each a cake. And your surprise tradition sounds like so much fun:). We get in a rut because we love these two cakes so much, it's hard to get anyone to branch out.

    Thanks to one and all for sharing--and sorry if you've all got cake on the brain...

  20. Lucy:
    I love creating "fancy" cakes [so far we've never "repeated" a cake] . . . no one ever asked me for one or expected me to do it . . . but the birthday person is always delighted with their special cake. And so we hang on to the tradition . . . it's a true labor of love . . . .

    Truthfully, I cannot remember what kinds [flavor] of cakes my sister and I chose when my mom made our birthday cakes. But I do remember my mom sometimes coloring the cake batter and frosting . . . I have vivid recollections of a green cake one year!

  21. Definitely chocolate - and definitely butter cream icing. I have one kid who likes whipped icing, and I don't know where she came from!

    Three Brothers Bakery in Houston makes a chocolate cake w/fudge/icing in the's very rich and yummy! And of course, I select chocolate [butter cream] icing!

  22. Whoever mentioned strawberry shortcake is in synch with the season. Maine strawberries came in this week. We are having them (unadulterated by anything else) for dessert tonight.

    On cake I am a chocolate fan but my heart truly is devoted to summer fruit pie, which does not get not sogged out by ice cream.

    Strawberry, raspberry (or the ideal,and worth the wait) Maine blueberry pie with a bit of good vanilla bean ice cream on top is dessert (birthday or otherwise) for the goddeses!

    Brenda B.

  23. Another reason to want to live in Maine :)

  24. I was saddened to read of the death of Hallie's sister, Nora. My deepest sympathies to the friends and family of this wonderfully creative woman.

    Marilyn Johnston
    (A Seascape alumna)

  25. So sad to hear of Nora Ephron's passing. My sympathy to Hallie and the family. She was a very talented culturally important woman.