Birthday Wishes

by Laura on May 14, 2013

in A Year in Our Kitchen 2013


Today is my birthday, and I baked my own cake.

I know, that’s not really the way things should go on your birthday, but this year I just felt I had to do it.

Let me give you a bit of background on how I decided to bake my own birthday cake:

When my grandfather passed away in 1969, my grandma came to live with us, until she died twenty-some years later. She was an awesome from-scratch baker, whipping up biscuits, pies, rolls or cakes several times a week.  Wanting to learn how to do it myself (and, to eat the scraps of pie crust or lick the beaters when she was done), I would sit at the kitchen table watching her create anything from mincemeat pie and date bars, to cream biscuits and peanut butter cookies.

Fast forward 40+ years and those same recipes are still being made for my family. The date bars are one of the kids’ favorites. I save scraps of pie crust for the kids to chomp on.  My children sit at the table, watching and waiting for the beaters to be released and licked. And, I frequently send my Dad one of his favorites that his Mom would make him — peanut butter cookies.

Many of Grandma’s recipes can be found in my recipe folder – many of the originals with her own handwriting. I use them frequently . . .  except for one: Strawberry Cake.

Through the years, I’ve come across this recipe hundreds of times. And, each time I say to myself, “I have to make that recipe some day.” But I never do. That’s because this recipe isn’t one of those recipes that Grandma created from scratch while I looked on. Instead it is a recipe that was sent to her by her sister, using a boxed cake mix, some Jell-o and frozen strawberries.  And I just don’t do boxed cake mix or Jell-o. I’m a from scratch baker just like Grandma.

Despite all this, I’ve been compelled to try this recipe. Not because it sounds like a ‘must make’ recipe. But because of the typed note from one of my grandmother’s sisters that accompanies the recipe. (from 1965)

Dear Agatha,

Received your letter and glad to hear everything is O.K. I can’t wait to hear about the Blessed Event. Wouldn’t it be nice if it selected the 10th. We have three Aprils in our family now. I hope Joyce is in the best of health and spirits.

Margaret got a nice recipe for a Strawberry cake. You may like to make it for a gala occasion.

Love from all



That “blessed Event” my Great Aunt refers to is my birth, and for that  reason I feel a connection to this recipe.  Honestly, it isn’t a recipe that I really remembered my Grandmother making  . . .  that is, until I made it myself this morning. Tasting the batter brought back a flood of memories for this cake. It’s sweet strawberry flavor reminded me of Grandma’s way of making every day a little more special with her baking.


Grandma (far right) with her sisters and Mother.

Grandma (far right) with her sisters and Mother.

Thanks Grandma Gorman, for making my birthday special.

The original note

The original note






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