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A birthday cake is a personal gift (1965)

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Birthday cake is a personal gift

by Elizabeth Sparks

Happy Birthday!

Nothing says “Happy birthday” like a birthday cake. A birthday cake is a very personal present. No gift has as much meaning, especially if the cake is home-baked by tender, loving hands.

Magazines, newspapers and books are filled with suggestions for raising children. I have read that a child should have a pet, but have never read of the importance of a child’s having a birthday cake of his own every birthday. Surely a birthday cake is a prime way to make a child feel secure since one’s birthday is one’s very own day.

Growing up without birthday cakes must certainly damage the psyche, whatever that is. Recently, I heard a man say that the first thing he asked of his new wife was to have a big, tall birthday cake. As a child, he had few birthday cakes, and the ones he had had been “scrawny, flat ones.”

Let’s start a national movement to have a birthday cake for everybody’s birthday. I would like to think they will be made from “scratch.” If not, then use a mix or buy a cake. You can make a cake for less than $1. That would not buy much of a gift.

On the subject of birthdays, I would call your attention to an essay. It is “The Art of Renewal” from The New Book of the Art of Living by Wilfred Peterson. (It is published by Simon and Schuster.)

The essay starts with this statement: “Your birthday is the beginning of your own personal new year.”

It also points out: “It is a time to dust off your dreams and shine up your ideals.”

In testing recipes for this offering on birthday cakes, tried one for old-fashioned spice cake. I know this is a favorite of many. It may have been the recipe or faulty mixing or neither that produced a cake with holes in it. The texture was also a little dry, so I will not recommend the recipe to you.

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I do highly recommend the frosting I put on the cake. One of the tasters thought it was mocha-flavored.

Put it on your favorite spice cake or on a spice cake made from one of the better spice cake mixes. One tablespoon cinnamon is the correct amount.

Cinnamon frosting

1 pound powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 egg white
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons milk, approximate

Sift sugar and cinnamon together. Add to butter, egg white and salt and beat. Add sufficient milk to make frosting of proper spreading consistency, enough to frost tops and sides of two 8-or 9-inch cake layers.

A favorite is a pound cake. A sour cream pound cake has a certain twang to it. This recipe makes a big cake. In testing the recipe, I think I under-baked it by about 5 to 10 minutes. The resulting cake was slightly clammy. Bake this and all cakes until they test done, as ovens vary.

Sour cream pound cake

1 cup sour cream
1 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon extract

Cream sour cream and shortening. Add sugar gradually. Add eggs alternately with flour and soda which have been sifted together. Add flavorings.

Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until done.

My testing of chocolate cake recipes in the past few months has been most successful. The most recent success is for a chocolate buttermilk cake. I doubled the recipe, and the batter amply filled three 9-inch layer pans, I neglected to smooth out the batter with the back of a spoon to leave a lower portion in the center of the pan to prevent humping. I had such big humps that it took quite a bit of frosting to fill in the crevices between the layers. Here is the recipe.

Chocolate buttermilk cake

1-3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 squares melted chocolate
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

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Sift together cake flour , sugar and soda. Add shortening and 3/4 cup buttermilk and beat 2 minutes with electric beater on medium speed. Add melted chocolate, eggs, 1/3 cup buttermilk and vanilla. Beat 2 more minutes. Bake in greased and floured 8-inch square pan in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

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