Monday, September 03, 2012

A New Cake on an Old Tradition

In past years, I relied on the Chef Mother to bake me a birthday cake -- her classic carrot cake, studded with walnuts (no raisins, thank you very much) and cloaked in a sweet cream cheese frosting.  Even in a year when she was recovering from a major illness, the cake tradition was carried on by My Fabulous Aunt.

But with the passing of the Chef Mother earlier this summer, I knew it was time to make a change to the tradition.

When, after my mother's death, my dear friend the Southern Belle offered to do whatever I needed to help, I mentioned the tradition to her.  She immediately offered to bake the cake, but I stopped her and told her what I really wanted: to have My Adorable Nephews help me make it.

See, my eldest "nephew," Beaker, has his birthday about a month before mine, and he loves the carrot cake almost as much as I do.  The middle boy, Scooter, celebrates a birthday in March and isn't quite so crazy about the cake (he much prefers my applesauce cake), but he enjoys cooking with me.  And the youngest, Mr. Chatty, was born less than two weeks before my birthday, and though he's three years old, where big brothers lead, he has to follow.

So we took advantage of the Labor Day holiday -- a day off school for them -- to get together and bake.

It started off well enough.  The boys wanted to help shred the carrots and mix the cake, and I was more than happy to let them do most of the work.

But the cake layers decided to stay mostly in the pans when I went to flip them out.  (Don't ever believe in "non-stick" for something like this!)  I managed to scrape out most of it, but I ended up with two pretty scrappy looking layers.  Then the cream cheese frosting turned out softer than usual (probably because I didn't use enough powdered sugar).  And since we wanted to eat the cake after lunch, I ended up frosting a warm, crumbly cake -- and that's just asking for trouble.

Still, we had cake.  And Beaker decided to decorate the top with a "carrot" made from carrot shreds and strips of basil leaves, and I added a circle of walnuts.

It wasn't as smooth looking as the Chef Mother's cakes, but it tasted just as wonderful.  The boys were happy, the Southern Belle and I were happy (we savored extra cake and conversation after the boys ran off to play), and they got to enjoy the leftovers.

And the tradition lives on...


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