If you want something done right, do it yourself? Not true! Not if you what you want done right is your birthday cake and not if you are lucky enough to have a friend like Kirstin.
My girlfriend Kirstin is a wonderful baker. Where I am slapdash, she is precise, where I am devil-may-care, she is spot on. The results? Well for my birthday it was a Lumberjack Cake. I finally realize why, historically, so many men have been drawn to this line of work! One of the perks is unlimited access to this particular confection! I can’t say it gave me log-splitting energy but it did suffuse me with grateful joy. To paraphrase E. B. White, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good baker, Kirstin is both.”
But a couple hours, well minutes maybe, before I had my birthday cake, my sweet daughters served me breakfast in bed! One of them made pancakes while the other one cuddled me – that’s full service! Short of breakfast served to me by Ryan Gosling – oops, I mean by my husband – that’s about as delightful as greeting the day can be.
Thank you Kirstin, and my girls, for making my birthday delicious. It is such an act of tender affection to make a birthday cake for someone. The chocolate bundt cake I requested from my mother every year on my special day was made with such love, it could not have been better if it was three tiered and jelly-bean-encrusted. Actually wait, if she loved me so much why didn’t she make it THREE TIERS HIGH COVERED WITH JELLY BEANS? I am going to call her right now!
Because too much cake is apparently never enough around here (plus I was feeling one cake behind after not making my birthday cake) I baked one for my daughter’s piano recital. I found this pink, flouncy little number in Ladies Home Journal and I wanted to try it for the retro value. It is my firm belief that everyone, in their secret heart of hearts, desires pink cake. Big tough guys with meaty necks? They want it. Supreme Court Justices? They want it. Lolo Jones? She wants it. The Incredible Hulk? Jillian Michaels? VOLDEMORT?!? They all want pink cake. So I give the people what they want. I can tell you the kids at the recital want it (way more than they want to practice the piano, CLEARLY).
Maraschino cherries, in all their luridly dyed glory, augur pleasant memories of the Shirley Temples I savored as a girl on the very occasional dinner out. I felt terribly sophisticated (“Can a lady get a candy cigarette in this joint?”) when I sipped one. and I still think of the Shirley Temple as my first cocktail. A couple years ago I made my own grenadine and fashioned a Shirley T. with cherry cream soda. I can’t recommend this because you have to be prepared to feel, first, awash in goodwill toward all humanity and then second, hard on the heels of your love surge, a sugar plummet that is really quite something. In short, you must brace yourself to experience what my younger daughter went through at last night’s cookie decorating party. Needless to say, it’s worth it.
I recommend this cake, which I now refer to as The Shirley Temple. If it calls up a blushing pink moment from your past, feel free to rename it for your own sweetest memory.