Cake and grief

Yesterday was my son’s birthday.  He would have turned 21 yesterday, but he died when he was 10.  It wasn’t one of my better days, no matter how I tried to kick start my mood, and my mind often drifted off to the days we’d shared and the things we’d done.  Maybe no more than usual, but it was still pretty intense.

To bake a cake yesterday, it would have just…felt wrong.  Somehow as though I was clinging to him in an unhealthy way.  But…today, it felt like a good day to make a cake.

There’s something about cooking and grief.  We carry food to bereaved friends and relatives.  Sometimes we make cakes and desserts, sometimes its casseroles and salads.  It’s always something that’s easy to eat though, for the grieving families seem to have little energy for the act of eating a meal.

Today, though, I’m trying to celebrate life and love, and that’s when cake always reigns as the queen.  Wedding cakes, with their dense textures and elegant tiers are always a celebration of life.  Birthdays, a mark of the progression of another year, is another occasion for which cake is the standard bearer.  Today was a day for cake.

Now obviously, I would be a bit off if I embarked upon making a wedding cake.  What would I do with all of that cake?  I’m also no cake decorator!  But the familiar buttery vanilla flavor, along with dense texture, sounded just right for those berries languishing in my refrigerator, waiting to be cut up, sprinkled with a bit of sugar to bring out their juices…and then ensconced upon a sturdy bed of dense vanilla cake.  I needed an itty bitty version of that wedding cake!

There’s one advantage to being an avid cook and recipe collector.  I have just the recipe for that!  It’s also a favorite of mine, dependably producing a wedding cake like texture while being simple to make and small enough for us!  While the recipe calls for a 9×9″ pan, I normally bake it in a “brownie” or “biscuit” pan which works great.

This recipe is not expensive to make, doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, and mixes easily–if you remember to beat it thoroughly!  I think it’s just as easy to make as a boxed mix, and the flavor screams “I cared enough to make it for you from scratch.”  If we have leftover bits that get stale…I don’t even feel guilty using them for “dog cookies” because it contains just basic ingredients.  This recipe is just one of those recipes that I turn to over and over, and KNOW I can count on it to deliver a fantastic dense cake, not quite pound cake, not quite fluffy cake, but something delicious.

So, make someone special smile, with this recipe from my kitchen to yours. Top it with fresh berries, a scoop of ice cream or even just plain with tea or coffee (our favorite way, it seems.)  I never bother frosting it–it stands well on its own.  Enjoy!

Basic White Cake (Wedding Cake type)

  • 1 c.white sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat these until very fluffy, and do NOT skimp on the beating!  Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then stir in the vanilla. Sift flour and baking powder together, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

About giascott

Writer, blogger, cook, grandmother, mother, wife, radio personality, outdoor enthusiast, dog enthusiast, crafter, artist, and part-time nut~~I've earned a lot of t-shirts in my day! I'm one of those crazy independent women who can cut down a tree, build you a shed, sew you a dress, cook your dinner, make some soap, pitch a tent, build a fire, catch some fish, dig in the garden, chase a kid or two, write you a poem, paint you a picture, and a dozen other things...just don't ask me to sing! I'm also embarking on a relatively new portion of my life, one of being disabled. I'm learning some lessons along the way about a lot of things too.
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4 Responses to Cake and grief

  1. run4joy59 says:

    Sounds like a great recipe…I’ll definitely give it a try when strawberries are in season.

    I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss..hugs to you.

    • giascott says:

      Thank you for your kind words.
      I do hope you try this cake with fresh berries. It’s a very dense, moist cake and perfect for pairing with juicy fresh berries. I’m looking forward to mulberry season myself–the Louisiana strawberries are already coming in on the Gulf Coast.

  2. boyonabudget says:

    My son loves wedding cake and I will try this. I made a simple chocolate cake for dinner that turned out really well. Good thing since my home made shrimp creole turned out NASTY. If you have a recipe to share for shrimp creole I’d appreciate that. The one from my cafeteria memories of years past was a deep red color. Mine turned out pink – yuck.

    Here’s the chocolate cake recipe:
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. soda
    3/4 tsp. salt
    3 Tbsp. cocoa
    5 Tbsp. melted butter or margerine
    1 Tbsp. vinegar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 C water
    Mix it all togehter and pour into a greased and floured 8 or 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

    I was surprised that there were no eggs in this – but it tastes great!

    • giascott says:

      Oh that’s a Depression cake! I love that cake recipe, and it was the very first cake I ever made…as a reward for turning in homework for a whole week when I was in 3rd grade! (I had this thing about not bothering to turn it in, even though I didn’t mind DOING it.) It’s usually called a whacky cake or crazy cake, and it was one of those eggless, milkless cakes that were concocted in the Depression years. (You can mix it right in the pan you are going to bake it in too.) The “original” was about double that, and was baked in a 9×13″ pan.

      Growing up, it was one of those never fail recipes that we used for church suppers, school occasions, sack lunches etc. It’s sturdy enough to survive a morning in a lunch pail and still be edible at noon for dessert. We usually just would sprinkle the top with some chocolate chips when it came out of the oven, let them melt, and then spread them into a thin layer on top. When the cake was cool, but before the chocolate hardened, we’d cut it into squares. The “frosting” then didn’t stick to plastic wrap!

      Now, as to the shrimp creole, the recipes are as varied as gumbo recipes are. What kind of flavor do you remember? Was it tomato-y? Spicy? The deep red color you remember from the recipe you liked probably came from paprika/cayenne and/or tomatoes. What other ingredients did it have? Onion? Bell pepper? Celery? Parsley? Garlic?

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