Saturday, July 13, 2013

Growing Up

Today was a special day in our family.  Today was my son's 16th birthday.
Making the birthday cake
It has been such a joy and a privilege to watch this child grow up (and up and up!).  I know it's cliche, but I can't for the life of me figure out where the time has gone to!  At one point I was rocking him, and the next moment I look, he's driving me around!

This year, in order to mark this special milestone, I asked him what he'd like to do, and he said, "Make a 7 layer chocolate cake with you, Mom."  Of course, how could I say no to something like that!  So that's exactly what we did yesterday.  It is a time commitment, 7 layers, but during that time, we got to talk, listen to cheesy '80s music, and create a masterpiece.



It starts with butter and sugar (of course)
 Over the two to three hours it took to get this cake made, we laughed, I sang (Son doesn't), and had a general good time.
How many eggs??!!?

 The time went a little more quickly than usual, thanks to Nana's generous legacy of her cake pans.  This was Nana's cake.  When she passed away this past year, I was so thankful to not only receive her cake pans, but also the sweet knowledge that she, herself, had shown me how to make this special cake.
Hard at work cutting out parchment paper for the cake pans!

Now that's not to say that Nana told me exactly how to make it the first time.  She held a little secret ingredient out.  I remember telling her one time that I was disappointed that my cake just didn't taste quite the same as hers.  After double checking that I was using the Lily White flour and no other, ("Yes, Nana.") she kind of smiled, and mentioned that she had perhaps forgotten to mention one little ol' ingredient that I might not have known about.

Now, she told me, but apparently it's Southern tradition to guard family recipes carefully, and never share them with others.  After all, if ya'll know how to make my special 7-layer chocolate cake, I diminish in my overall usefulness to the community at large.  So, I could tell you what this ingredient is, but then I'd have to kill you, so let's just not even go there, ok?
Just know there's lots of flour!

 Well, we got all the ingredients added, and all the cakes baked, and then it was time for the icing.
I never quite understood why it was called a 7-layer chocolate cake, when the batter obviously isn't chocolate, but there you have it.



Baked 3-at-a-time for efficiency!


Count 'em.  Seven!
 The icing is another slightly different combination of ingredients, but you can finally see why it's a chocolate cake!
Premixed, before it goes on the stove.

 It's a little tricky to work with.  It needs to be spread at just the right temperature.  Too hot, and the icing soaks into the cake and runs down the sides.  Too cool, and it isn't spreadable.  I tend to spread it slightly too hot, but oh well.
Freshly iced, and still glossy!

Well, we got to cut into that lovely cake today, and it was a hit all around.  I'm certain it's the best one I've ever made, and I think all that extra sweetness came because I made it with someone I love.



 Happy Birthday, Son.  I love you.  You have given me so much.  The gift of motherhood.  The practice of patience.  The delight of discovery.  You, your brother, and your sister are my delight, and I know I am blessed to have you all in my life.


De Leon Springs State Park, FL

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