The Best Birthday Cake

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Okay. I know my way around a cake. I LOVE cake. It’s one of the essential food groups, right up there with full fat ice cream and deep dark chocolate.

I don’t think I could even remotely remember the number of cakes I’ve baked in my life or the number of cakes – wedding cakes, anniversary cakes, engagement cakes, birthday cakes, whatever cakes – I’ve decorated. But there comes a time when one just wants to EAT a piece of cake. And good cake – like an exceptional wine or an honest politician – is not always easy to find. Until today, that is…

We were invited to Victor’s cousin Kristy’s today for her 40th birthday party. A fun-filled afternoon of family and food – with emphasis on the food. One never worries about going hungry at one of these family events. No matter how many people are there, there’s always enough food for twice again as many more. I just let the belt out another notch and dive in. After all… it’s family, right?!? Uncle Rudy’s chicken livers were the best, ever, and the table was bending under the weight of pastas, sausages, meatballs, baked ham, fried chicken, salads, breads and rolls. I ate some of everything. Okay. I ate a LOT of everything. But as I was eating, I was keeping my eye on the sideboard. There was one of the best-looking birthday cakes I’d ever seen calling my name.

The cake was the creation of Shannon (aged 9) and Kayla (aged 7) McDonald. Shannon and Kayla are the daughters of the aforementioned Birthday Girl.

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The truly impressive part is they made the cake themselves. And decorated it themselves. All of it. It was a visual masterpiece from two girls of such tender years. I looked at it in awe – recalling the first cake I ever made with my sister Judy when we were about their ages. THAT cake was a blue and green marble cake that had the look, feel (and weight!) of Carrera marble! Of course, our cake looked reasonably good, too, until we bent the knife trying to cut it…

Shannon and Kayla’s cake lived up to its looks – and more. It was a rich, yet light and delicate chocolate with a barely perceptible layer of raspberry filling. The raspberry offered the perfect compliment to the chocolate and the rich and creamy vanilla icing. Nothing overpowered. Every bite was a perfect balance of flavors. It was like biting into heaven.

As I was searching my memory for that cake we had made lo these many years ago, it dawned on me that Shannon and Kayla added an extra ingredient to their cake that Judy and I had not added when we made that cake for ourselves.

They added a heaping tablespoon of love.

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