Today is my little sister’s 23rd birthday (which makes me feel super old since I’m five and a half years older than she is and I can remember the day she was born). She and my mom are coming over tomorrow to celebrate, and I’ve put myself in charge of dinner. Of course, this includes a cake. A vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, her favorite.
I love baking birthday cakes. I often bake my own. I used to have to compromise with my family by allowing them to decorate it because I was so adamant about baking it. (The result is that I cannot decorate a cake to save my life, but I can bake them pretty well.)
Now, for this particular cake, I could have gone and bought one of those box mixes (I remember my sister enjoying the “Funfetti” cakes as a child), but I’ve turned up my nose at pretty much all box mixes since my brief time in culinary school (don’t ask). I could have googled a recipe. There are probably many food and baking blogs with excellent recipes.
I couldn’t bring myself to do that, though. To me, birthday cakes are classics, and classic dishes require classic recipes. Therefore, I turned to one of the classic cookbooks of my grandmother and mother’s generations: Joy of Cooking.
Again, I know there are newer cookbooks. There are even newer versions of Joy of Cooking than the one I own, but I just can’t get over this 1975 version I found at a library book sale. It’s either the same edition as my mother’s or slightly newer, so it brings back memories of flipping through it as a teenager (not to mention the “fancy” Turkey Divine I asked Mom to make for my 16th birthday, which caught on fire and filled the house with smoke, something we laugh about now). I just love it, and I can’t see myself ever getting rid of it.
So this is what I used tonight. I can’t say whether the cake has turned out any good. I won’t know until tomorrow. I do know that I am very proud of this birthday cake (even if I ruin it by tomorrow evening), and I was much more confident using Joy of Cooking‘s recipe than I would have been using something else. Sometimes it’s okay to hang on to the classics–especially if they work for you.