For most of my married life, my birthday has been lost in the shuffle of Memorial Day weekend. Time and again it got overlooked because we were out of town or busy with other activities. So my birthday has become basically a non-event. Not that we didn’t acknowledge it, it’s just that it was never much of a celebration.
About this time last year, I was with my sister reminiscing about the simple two-layer cakes our mother used to make for us eight siblings on our birthdays. “It has been so many years since I’ve had a ‘real’ birthday cake,” I told her. I couldn’t even remember the last time.
As we chatted, I got excited. I got bold. I decided I was done ignoring my birthday. I determined that I wanted to have an old fashioned two-layer birthday cake once again.
My heart’s desire was to celebrate with my siblings but we live 4 1/2 hours apart and that didn’t work. So, after my birthday, one sister emailed asking whether or not I got my cake wish. I wrote back:
Yes, I got my two-layer cake. I made it myself. I used a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix. Not quite as homemade as I’d originally envisioned, but both layers baked fine.
For the filling, I chose Smucker’s Seedless Raspberry Jam and Orange Marmalade. I planned to put one flavor on each layer and then put the two together. Then frost the whole cake with orange whipped cream, and beautifully display my masterpiece on Mom’s vintage cake stand.
As I worked, trying to get the right flavor mixture for the whipped cream topping, I pinched a bit of the cake out of the center of one layer to taste with the frosting and fillings. I did that three or four times while trying to get the orange flavor just perfect.
I placed the bottom layer on the cake stand and applied the Raspberry Jam. Then I picked up the top half on which I’d spread the marmalade, but it stuck to the waxed paper I’d set it on. With fingers spread wide, I attempted to balance the whole layer with one hand while peeling the paper off with the other. However, because it was weak in the center from my taste tests, it broke in two. One half plopped on the counter. The other was still in my hand, stuck to the waxed paper.
“Well, no problem,” I thought. “I’ll just put the two pieces up there and cover it with whipped cream; the break won’t even show.” I picked up one half and positioned it on top of the bottom layer.
Now, as you know, a nice two layer cake is mounded highest in the center. And mine happened to be a nice cake. So before I could get the second half off the wax paper and on the top, the first half started moving. The jam and marmalade fillings made perfect conditions for an avalanche. With great glee, that first half started down the slope and was picking up speed. I ran to the cupboard for toothpicks.
I finally got them to stay put. But even impaled with all that wood, those two pieces would not stay together. There was definitely a Grand Canyon divide down the center. Jam and marmalade oozed out the sides and down the cake, puddling around the edges of the cake stand.
I got out my specially-formulated Orange Whipped Cream and tried to camouflage the whole mess with the creamy topping. Have you ever tried putting whipped cream on a porcupine?
My original idea was for a nostalgic “like-Mom-made-when-we-were-kids” birthday cake – the kind with a simple buttercream frosting. The whole problem occurred when I decided to embellish. I have learned my lesson. No more fancy, schmancy two-layer cakes for me. ”
Love, Your Older Sis
Well, here it is, a year later, and Memorial Day Weekend to boot. Wouldn’t you know, we’ll be traveling. Again. On my birthday. Which is the 28th.
I still want an old-fashioned two-layer birthday cake like mom used to make. Still looks like I’m going to have to make it for myself, too. Wish me luck.
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