I made my mother a birthday cake on Friday night while Gerrit and I were keeping an eye on the news about the Paris attacks. I wish I had more to say about all of that, but I can’t seem to find my thoughts on it. I’m not sure why I can’t: sometimes I think it’s because my mind is a jumble of so many things these days, sometimes I think it’s because I feel like I’ve lost a lot of hope about the world, sometimes I think it’s because everyone else has said everything else. So I’ll just say this: baking a cake seemed like a perfectly appropriate thing to do while saying silent prayers for the people of Paris.
We don’t have a lot of family recipes in my family, and most of those that we do have are recipes that my mom has made through the years. We don’t have a classic cookie recipe that is just our family’s or a tomato sauce that has been made for generations. But we do have this cake.
The first time I had this cake was at my grandmother’s funeral. My great-aunt, who I had no recollection of meeting up to that point, brought it and eating that cake is really the only food I remember from that whole time. It was a masterpiece, a cake she had perfected over years, and, if I’m not mistaken, won awards for.
My mom asked her for the recipe a few years later when we saw her, and she wrote it down for us from memory. However, the instructions weren’t exactly clear. “Make thin layers” was the only instruction it had on baking the cake. My mom tried it once, but it didn’t turn out how it should have. So I thought it would be a fun challenge to try to tackle the recipe, one of the only family recipes from my mom’s side of the family, for my mom’s birthday.
I’m so happy with how it turned out; and to be honest it was a lot of fun to make, partially because I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing and had to figure it out.
I hope my mom liked it (I think she did). I felt a little unsure about making a cake for her birthday that we often associate with her mother’s funeral. But I guess it seemed like an appropriate cake to make at the same time–because I want my mom to know that I think about our family and our traditions and our memories all the time.