Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Christmas Tree Birthday Cakes

Digging through a kitchen cupboard the other night I came across two cake tins that symbolize the celebration of birthdays out in the country. They're pretty worn but then they were used for every birthday when we were growing up. They're not very deep but they're not supposed to be. Both are shaped like Christmas trees and when stacked on top of each other-with icing in between-they make the perfect sized cake especially when you are young and it is your day on which the Christmas tree cake is made just for you.

It didn't matter in what month a birthday fell. The cake was always the Christmas tree cake. On the morning of a birthday my mother would get the tins ready, coating them with butter and then covering the butter with a layer of flour. It seemed to me the making of the cake was an all-day procedure but I now realize my mother certainly did much more leading up to the celebration after dinner than just bake a cake. But I only cared about the cake-making going on and the licking of the beaters.

My mother would take the same big, yellow bowl out of the cupboard as she always did. There was no box mix. The cake was made from scratch as was the frosting. It was always the same-a white cake with white frosting. Real eggs and real butter and real flour were used. It always smelled the same cooking; always tasted the same when devouring. There were no fancy decorations on top. Just plain, little candles that went out when the birthday kid blew them out. I don't recall any pieces leftover.

By today's standards the Christmas tree cake was pretty simple. There were no licensed characters with multi-colored frosting and fancy script declaring whose birthday it was overpowering the moment baked by someone somewhere other than home. Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes simple tastes better.

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