Birthdays are for Cake

Birthdays are for Cake

Chefs & Experts

Birthdays are for Cake


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Nothing says George Washington indulged in cherries when he celebrated a birthday—but nothing says he didn’t either! I like to think he chopped down the cherry tree as part of a birthday wish!


A lot of birthdays around our house happen in the Spring. We have our own family rituals, mostly built around doing whatever the birthday person wants to do. The decisions as to where to eat (home is usually an option, depending on Mom’s work schedule), what to eat, and how many people to invite all fall into the birthday person’s jurisdiction. It’s all part of granting their birthday wishes.

One of the key decisions, of course, is the cake. What kind of cake do you want? What kind of frosting? What kind of ice cream? And, after a certain age, how many candles shall we use?

For me, and, perhaps because of my example, for my kids, the answer has usually been chocolate cake, with a really wonderful cooked icing that my own mother made especially for birthdays. Around our house, we call it “the birthday frosting,” and it always brings smiles.cherry cake

Growing up with yummy chocolate cake, rich, decadent birthday frosting, and my choice of ice cream (chocolate mint, thank you very much) means I was astounded to learn my husband’s favorite birthday cake was – hold on – a plain cake with a layer of cherry pie filling. Served with vanilla ice cream.

My first thought was, that’s not a birthday cake. A birthday day is a layer cake. A birthday cake is creamy. And a birthday cake is, above all, chocolate! Or at the very least, a white cake with buttercream frosting.

During the early years of our marriage, I gladly let his mother continue to make his cherry cake for his birthday whenever possible. It took me years after her death to be ready to try it myself.

And, when I was ready, I couldn’t find the recipe. I knew I had it somewhere, but the accumulated recipes of years had made it like finding a cherry in a pit. So, I reached out to my sisters-in-law, who each had the recipe—even on an original recipe card in Mom’s handwriting!

So, this year I made the cherry cake, and it just seems appropriate to bring it out while we’re talking about cherry blossoms and cherry festivals, and share it with you.

Even if it’s not a “real” birthday cake.

After all, everyone gets to celebrate in his or her own way. So if that’s chocolate, cherry, or something completely different, who cares? After all, it’s cake, right?

And birthdays are for cake.

Try our Cooked Icing recipe, or my husband’s favorite Cherry Filled Cake recipe.


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