Childhood birthdays are probably the most memorable of our lives.
Silly games like pin the tail on the donkey. Slumber parties with ten of your best friends. Twelve months of impossible anticipation waiting for the one day. Your day.
With only one child, making a memorable birthday is more than a desire. It’s a personal requirement. Every birthday needs to be special. Not bigger or better than last year. Just memorable.
As my son approached his third birthday, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Secretly, I had hoped that he might be swayed into a repeat of the previous year’s lemon cake.
A peach cake.
He wanted a peach cake. My fingers scoured the internet trying to find a bakery that just might make a peach cake. Because I was sure peaches were in season in January somewhere.
To my dismay, this was not the case.
Growing up, cakes in my house came exclusively from Duncan Hines so in desperation I searched for a box mix. No luck.
I had to face the fact that I was going to have to make this peach cake. The cake, the frosting, and the whole nine yards. I could do this. Even if peaches weren’t in season.
Butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar. I even bought Swan cake flour, for lighter, more delicate cakes. Two white cakes, approximately 8 inches in diameter, were baked to perfection. Not as perfect as Duncan Hines but still perfect for my baby boy.
Envisioning an elaborate layered cake, I placed toothpicks at the midpoint of the edge all the way around the circumference of each cake. I delicately sliced each cake in half to create two smaller layers. It was a fragile operation.
Between each layer, I spread a generous amount of peach preserves, imported directly from France. This was to be the peach cake to be talked about for years to come.
Then came time for the frosting. Only buttercream would do. Surprisingly, buttercream frosting was made simply with butter and powdered sugar. I kept beating it and beating it waiting for just the right amount of sweetness and fluffiness.
When all four layers were aligned, I frosted the cake with enough buttercream to just barely make the edges meet the top. Orange colored frosting spelled “Happy Birthday” while the rest was drizzled delicately with chocolate sauce.
I hope he’ll always remember that peach cake.
I’m back for more memoir writing for the RemembeRED meme. The assignment: “This week, we’ve asked you to share with us a special recipe. But, we’ve asked you to do more than just list out ingredients. We challenged you to take us back…to take us into your memory, in 500 words or less.” I kept it to 400 words and didn’t exactly share a recipe. But it was definitely a memory worth sharing.