Yesterday I Baked a Cake

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Yesterday I baked a cake. It’s my birthday on Sunday and yesterday I baked a birthday cake for myself. Later this morning I will spread a raspberry filling between the layers, I will make an almond-flavoured frosting and I will ice it generously. I’ll sprinkle the cake with almond shreds and I’ll carefully load the cake in to the car and take it down the road to share with a group of Catholic nuns and fellow spiritual direction students.

Over the years—the nearly 47 years, I’ve had many marvelous cakes lovingly prepared for me. When I was a little girl my mom made wonderfully creative cakes. She had a green plastic box small filing box filled with cards that each contained colourful and fanciful cake ideas. Mom turned out train cakes and clown cakes and heart shaped cakes. But the cake I remember the most fondly was the one that became my favourite, the one I’d ask for each year, it was her homemade angel food cake. She’d wrap coins in plastic wrap and push them deep into the light and luscious cake. She smothered the cake in a lavish layer of Quick Fluffy Frosting (because I loved it, but also because it was made from granulated sugar and good powdered sugar was impossible to find in our back corner of Pakistan).

My first birthday in India my friend Dianne made a delicious cake. She had heard stories of my childhood favourite and she went out of her way to replicate that nostalgic cake memory including the plastic covered rupee coins placed strategically in the cake. Ellen once made me this unbelievable lemon log rolled cake filled with a decadent lemon curd. The thought of that cake still make my mouth water.  Several years ago, Susanne, made me an almond layered cake drenched in almond liqueur. It was delicious! Other dear friends have made other dear cakes. There have been cakes at team meetings, cakes after our International Fellowship church service, cakes with friends at birthday tea parties or birthday lunches.

When I turned 40 my friend Yvonne made and decorated my birthday cake for the party that Lowell had organized and planned. It was perfect. Onto the sheet cake she designed a flag that incorporated the Canadian flag, the Pakistani flag, the Indian flag and the American flag. It captured my strange story so wonderfully and the memory of it brings tears to my eyes. I’ll never forget that cake!

Some of the most special cakes I’ve received have been ones that my daughter Adelaide has made and decorated. She’s mastered cake making and beautifying. It’s the perfect mix of math, science and creativity for her. She’s good at it! She made me a cake shaped like a tea cup once. A couple of years ago she made one that I especially loved with a bird cage piped on to it.

Yesterday I baked my own cake.

There are many years where making my own birthday cake would have made me very sad. I would have spread the cake with loneliness and sprinkled it with tears. Memories of other cakes from other years made by others who love me would have choked me as I creamed butter and sugar and eggs. The cake would be heavy and dry and tasteless.  But not this year. This year, as I baked, I was filled with gratitude and joy.  Lowell and I have taken a fast from sugar and carbohydrates. The anticipation of cake contributed to my happiness, I’m sure. But I also realized how much I am thankful for. I stirred that gratitude into the batter——for a warm house, sweet memories of cake and dear friends, for my children—all three passionate leaders true to their convictions, for my parents who are actively engaged in our lives, for my kind hearted mother in law, for Catholic sisters, my morning coffee, a refrigerator and pantry well stocked, bills paid, my one true Lowell.

I experienced wonder at the diverse and precious group of friends I’ve been given. I have close friends that keep my secrets. Each of the chapters in my story have included deep friendships—many of those friends I’m still connected to, they still very much matter to me, I miss them keenly.

There was worship blended into the cake dough too. I’ve been given so much. Jesus has been faithful. He’s been leading me, he’s been deepening my experience of the freedom he’s given me. I’ve learned so much these last years and months about the ways that I’m wired, the ways that I bear his image to the world, about my emotions, my personality, his emotions and his personality. I’ve discovered things about my identity—who I truly am—that intensify my connection with Christ himself.

Birthdays are a grace. I’m alive and I am loved. Cake is a luxury. I can afford sugar and flour and flavouring. Icing is mercy undeserved. I’ve been given so much I don’t deserve. There is so much to say thank you for. Yesterday I baked a cake and today I get to eat it. On Sunday Lowell and I plan to have dinner out with other beloved friends. By Monday this cake will be added to the list of treasured treats I’ve been bounteously blessed with.

Yesterday I baked a cake. Thanks be to God!

8 thoughts on “Yesterday I Baked a Cake

  1. Happiest of birthdays, dear Robynn! All your cake memories stirred up some of mine. I always let each of our kids choose what kind of cake I would bake for their birthdays. One year Ed decided to look through my Betty Crocker cookbook to find his. His birthday came in mid-March so we celebrated just before they went back to boarding at MCS. That year he found the picture of a baked Alaska and chose that! I so clearly remember all of us standing around the oven when I took it out. We couldn’t quite believe the ice cream wouldn’t melt all over the oven. It didn’t, it was delicious and it became a tradition.
    Do be wonderfully blessed on your special day, and may this coming year of your life be the best ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post, Robynn. It reminds me of the delightful cakes I have had over the years. (My mom was a master at cake-baking, too!) When I was a little girl, the youngest of six, my mom would always bake each of us the kind of cake we requested. (One of my sisters always asked for yellow cake with sliced strawberries in the filling–good thing her birthday was in August! *grin*) One of my favorites for a number of childhood birthdays was checkerboard cake, a three-layer cake made with special separators, alternating chocolate batter, and then yellow batter, so the cake was in a checkerboard pattern, With chocolatey frosting! (My mouth is watering, just thinking of it.)

    One of the most memorable birthday cakes? My birthday’s earlier in February, too. I remember 15 years ago, when my mom was very ill. (We were discussing putting her in hospice.) In and out, between hospital and extended care center, for several months. I was in my kitchen, stirring the batter for a lemon-y birthday cake (lemon zest stirred in the batter, and lemon juice in the filling). I vividly remember the call, before five o’clock. The extended care center called to inform me my mom had just gone to the hospital. Again.

    Since my children were smaller at that time, I needed to wait for my husband to get home before I left for the hospital. In all the flurry and upset, I did manage to put the cake in the oven, tell my husband when to take out the two layers, and run to the hospital. My mom died a week later, complications from her condition. That cake? First time I ever had a serious “flop.” The cake didn’t turn out quite right. I can still taste it, too. Sad, bittersweet memory. Sad, bittersweet taste in my mouth, too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I did….what a goofball! He knew exactly who we were having dinner with–he just wanted to get me in trouble ;) That guy!
        (gotta love him!)

        Like

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