21 Birthday Cakes

Yesterday, my son turned 21. During the day, he messaged to ask, "Hey mom, what time was I born?" I was completely sure it was 10:00 in the morning. My husband thought it was after lunch. We checked his birth certificate, and found out I was wrong. Turns out he was born at 2:52 PM, and not even in the morning. How could I forget something so important?

It got me thinking about the birthday cakes/treats I'd made over the years. My son's birthday falls between my mother's birthday and father's day, and I almost always made something to celebrate. With great effort, I have been able to come up with only seven birthday treats that I've made over the years: a sea-themed sheet cake, a strawberry shortcake, a lemon trifle, a chocolate peanut butter cake, an ice cream cake, and two cookie pies. Seven out of twenty-one does not say much for my memory.

What has happened to all of the years I can't remember? I tried recalling the younger years, by using the birthday themes. This is how I came up with the sea-themed cake. You would think I would remember this cake because it was the only sheet cake I have ever made. Or because I went to a fancy candy store to buy gummy fish and candy rocks to decorate it. But, I really had to strain to think of it. Once I did remember it, all of the details of making it came back to me.

The first birthday cake is a special one and I can't even remember what it was! Back when my son was one, we did not take pictures of our cakes to post online, so I don't even have a photo to help jog my memory. I can say that I remember the first time he had chocolate. I gave him a Lindt Truffle, in the car. Chocolate was one of the food items we had to wait a year to introduce, and when I did, I did it in style. Since the truffle was his first time eating chocolate, I'd say it's a good bet, his one-year cake wasn't chocolate.

Of the cakes I do remember, the chocolate peanut butter cake is my favorite. It was a moist chocolate cake, with creamy peanut butter frosting, studded with pieces of peanut butter cups. If you haven't had them, Trader Joe's makes the best peanut butter cups (they're small) and coated in dark chocolate. I'd happily eat those candies on their own. Added to a chocolate cake, hold me back! Anyhow, they were definitely in the cake. The cake had a chocolate ganache on top of the frosting. For some reason, I couldn't get it to set, so I scraped it off and went without. I didn't miss it. I cheated on this one and looked at the recipe, which helped remind me of the particulars of making this cake.

It's funny that what sticks with me is the specifics of making the cake and not the cake itself. I wonder why that is? Maybe because I am a baker and the memories made around baking are the ones that leave an impression.

For the record, this year was a chocolate chip cookie pie. It has become a favorite and may be the birthday cake I make for my son for years to come. If that's the case, it will surely make it easier for me to remember.

How about you? Do you make a big deal about your kids' birthday cakes? Do they get something different or do they have a favorite? What's your favorite birthday treat?

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