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Half Birthday Cake

Half Birthday Cake

Before I start this post, you know how people have that conversation about their last meal? Or their desert island food? I think mine would be toast with butter. Bonus points for homemade bread, but a sliced white supermarket loaf from Ireland would do just as well. Good salted butter. It’s kind of the perfect food. We’re having a classic mud season day up here in Vermont, rain and mud and more rain. But I think tea and toast makes everything better.

Birthday CakeAnyway, do you remember when I made this frivolous cake a few weeks ago? I want to talk about it a little more, because my real intention that day was to make a half cake. (I am so much happier with my slice photo than my half cake photo, so I’m putting it over here again.) Do you know when your half birthday is? (I was the Mad Hatter in a musical version of Alice in Wonderland when I was in 6th grade, and my solo song was The Unbirthday Song – “There are 364 UN-Birthdays….” – I have no idea why that one line from that song has remained cemented into my brain all these years.) Anyway, I’m not taking about un-birthdays, I’m taking about a half-birthday. Mine is April 6th.

My mother used to make us half cakes for our half birthdays. How cool is that? This is one of those very vivid childhood memories for me. One that I recount often enough that I’m not really sure how often it happened. I like to imagine that we did this every year, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. I can distinctly remember one time (and I’m not even sure if it was my half-birthday or my sister’s) being in the kitchen of an apartment we lived in briefly in Milwaukee and being so charmed by the sight of that half cake. It seemed almost magical, like there was real witchcraft needed in order to make only a half of a cake. (It has just occurred to me, given that my sister’s half birthday would be in June, that this most certainly was my half birthday.)

I remember that it was a chocolate cake. I like chocolate cake just fine, it wouldn’t be my first choice cake, but I have never complained about a chocolate cake. I’ve always loved carrot cake. Or things with berries. Or lemon. Or, if you know me, I’m obsessed with caramel cakes, but that is an adult obsession, not one leftover from childhood. The cake I made a few weeks ago was a Funfetti Cake. (I’m now calling it Birthday Party Cake. But, feel free to have it for whatever kind of party you want.) It’s ridiculous and we never had anything like it in our house growing up. It just looks so darn fun. And when you are in charge of all the ingredients (instead of using a box cake mix and over-sugary canned frosting) it is possible to have frivolous cake that actually tastes good! (Hubby even liked this one and he really has no patience for overly sweet treats.)

Anyway, whatever the flavor, I think half cakes are a little magic. I think half birthdays are really just an excuse to have birthday cake twice a year, and I think that is a fine goal. I was raised in a household where cake was for special occasions. (Owning a restaurant for 13 years meant that there was cake in the house pretty much every day, which is both delicious and dangerous.) But I think I want to make a mission out of half birthdays. Go on, calculate it for all your family and loved ones. Let’s make them cakes.

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