I was flattered when asked to bake a cake for my dear friend Mary’s 30th birthday back porch celebration. I asked for her top 5 ingredients, and she said, “lemon and raspberry would be on the list, possibly strawberry or coconut. Usually chocolate, but it’s so-oo hot that fruit is on the brain.” I found a hot pink raspberry cake recipe, then I was told about this lovely lemon yogurt cake recipe. Why not both? I added frozen raspberries to one of the layers of the undoubtedly light and fresh lemon cakes, and topped it with raspberry cream cheese frosting. The hot pink cake turned into mini-cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream. The evening was filled with deliciousness (her husband makes homemade breads! and they made those nuts I can’t stop eating). The birthday girl was aglow.
This weekend I helped celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday Cars style. For the kids’ cakes, my sister poured chocolate cake batter into donut pans, popped them in the oven, and out came cake tires! We each got one of our own and customized the sidewalls with frosting and candy; the kids were genius decorators! We all kept calling them donuts, but they were lighter than that. What a simple to handle and festive alternative to cupcakes. I couldn’t get enough of the toppings (surprise!) and have to say that the cake to frosting ratio here was perfect (which is hit or miss with regular cupcakes). Tirecakes taste nothing like burnt rubber.
My mom’s mom was born on July 3rd the same year as Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse. Because of her birthday, the 4th of July holiday is among my favorite family holidays, too. As long as I can remember, she invites relatives over to her house on Elizabeth Street for a cookout to celebrate. Some aunts and uncles just walk up the street to her front yard, while the rest of us drive in from different corners of the state or country. The configuration of people varies from year to year, but you can usually count on breakfast at Wimbledon, Lay’s potato chips, Uncle George at the charcoal grill and a coconut cake (Grandma’s favorite). I am thankful for both the verbal and silent support that comes from my family and for the sustained comfort that my grandma has instilled in all of us. These are the days when the familiar beats the new and fancy.