Nov 4, 2012

Traditions and Grandma's Birthday Cake

What kind of traditions did your family have growing up? Since making my own little family, I've been thinking a lot about this. What I want my children to remember, to carry with them through life. I hope their holidays are defined by more than just gifts - by the lights on the Christmas tree, waking up too early, baking and decorating sugar cookies, a church service with beautiful singing, and family - always family.


I liked it when we told one another what we were thankful for around the Thanksgiving table, decorating sugar cookies at Christmas before our big Christmas Eve family dinner, Santa visiting church and the oranges he gave out, baking an Easter bunny cake with my older sister and wearing Easter hats, pinning my Grandmother's roses to our dresses on Mother's Day, and those Sunday lunches at Grandma and Papa's house, always with something sweet at the end.

Grandma baked lots of cakes, different kinds, and often for no reason at all. But the one that stands out to me as "her cake" is a simple yellow butter cake with Betty Crocker's Quick Fudge Icing topping it - probably because it's always been my favorite. For the birthdays we'll celebrate in our home, it's the cake I'll make year after year.


Back to the Sunday lunches - when we, the five grandkids, were lucky, Grandma would make her cake in cupcake form. AND THEN let us have a contest to see who could eat the most. The second youngest of five, I never won - it was always my oldest cousin or older sister. I think their record was 16?! As an adult, I can't imagine letting my kids do this - but to a child? Best thing ever... which is what these traditions are about, really. Doing something outside the norm, and making memories that will last forever.

So, the cake. Ellis and I made it this week to celebrate Jim's birthday, and though we thought it would sit around for days going uneaten... it's almost gone. The two of us sang happy birthday and lit candles, and told our favorite man to make a wish. We have big things ahead this year!



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Grandma's Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Classic Butter Golden Cake Mix*
1/2 cup water
3 large eggs
7 tbsp softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus 1/2 cup more to thicken as needed

Cake
1. Mix and bake cake using first four ingredients as directed on box.
Icing
2. Mix together sugar and cocoa in heavy-bottomed pan.
3. Add butter, milk and corn syrup to mixture. Stir to combine. Slowly bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
4. Boil 3 minutes, stirring often.
5. Place pan in a sink filled with 3 inches of cool water to cool icing. When cool enough to hold your hand on the bottom, stir in sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. 
6. If too thick, stir in more milk, If too thin, stir in extra powdered sugar to thicken.

*I'm almost embarrassed to admit that the cake is from a box (THE SHAME, I know...), but until I find a cake recipe this light and buttery, I'll continue using this mix. It's really the icing that counts, anyways. Try it. You'll see what I mean.

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