a birthday cake


Today is my first-born’s birthday. Suffice it to note that he is not a child or an adolescent, but an adult. To celebrate, the sons and their father went fishing; I remained at home.  After a long week at work filled with non-stop movement and interactions, I was thrilled to be alone for a respite. Quiet. No obligation.

So, I decided to bake a cake. A birthday cake. What could be more rewarding that to treat my son and family to an old-fashioned, homemade cake? A shiver of excitement and trepidation ran through my body as I pondered this. What cake? What recipe? Relying on my family history, I turn to my mother’s favorite, Crisco , and choose a yellow cake. Simple.  cookbook coverNot only do I default to a family recipe, but grab the mixer that resembles my mother’s – one that was a gift from my husband – and replaced my former, fancy-schmancy, KitchenAid. Armed with the directions and tools, I proceed to line up my ingredients – flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, baking powder, & salt.


Next, for the pans. It is at this point I deviate from my mother – I do not have 2-8″ round cake pans – any longer. This summer the spouse and I “weeded” our kitchen supplies – foodstuffs, pots & pans, dishes, & linens.  Of course, “since I never bake anymore” I gave away these needed items.  Scrounging around the cupboard, I pull out 1-13″x9″x2″ pan that we use for roasting potatoes. Despite the  warping, it is my only option. So, the mixing begins.batter mixing

All is going well. The mixture is creamy and sweet. The oven hot. The pan is greased and flour-coated.  Guiding the batter with my bright blue, rubber spatula, I  reminisce on past birthdays of my boys – cakes and cupcakes – chocolate or vanilla, sprinkles or cinnamon beads, icing in multitudinous colors  – anticipation of the evening with candles, singing, and gifts. This year holds the same anticipation. As I pull the cake out of the oven, I smell the subtle aroma and delight in seeing the golden brown edges.

baked cake

Cutting this in half and using a lemon filling between the layers, the birthday cake is complete.  No coconut white frosting an 1″ thick. While not perfect – due to the warping of the pan, the one layer is not even, so it was tricky getting it aligned – it is a labor of love, freely chosen on a beautiful Labor Day morning!


This recipe is from Crisco’s Favorite Family Foods Cookbook.  Cincinnati:OH: Procter & Gamble Co., 1973.


  • 2 1/2 cups of sifted cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Crisco (I used butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the 3/4 cup of milk and the Crisco.  Beat vigorously by hand or at medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes.  add eggs, the 1/2 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Beat 2 minutes more.  Pout batter into 2 greased and floured 9×1 1/2 inch round layer pans. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.  Or bake 35 to 40 minutes in two 8×1 1/2 inch pans or a 13x 9×2-inch pan.


One Response to “a birthday cake”

  1. Sally Says:

    Looks yummy! I can just about get a waft of its fragrance. Happy b-day, #1 son.


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