Happy Birthday Philip!

It was late Saturday afternoon when I started baking Philip’s birthday cake. I’d had a ton of things to do, was just finishing up a brief phone conversation with my mother in law, and mentioned that the next thing on my list was baking the cake. She laughed and said, “Don’t you just love being the mom!” And I said, emphatically, “YES!” I’m glad I’ve got a son to bake a cake for—he’s seventeen and a joy.

His is always a dark chocolate buttermilk sheet cake, one I’ve made over and over again, but this time, I messed up and didn’t cook the cocoa long enough in the butter before putting all the other ingredients in. It didn’t dissolve and I couldn’t beat it hard enough. I poured it in the pan, and realized most of the cocoa was congealed in the bottom. What to do?

The only possible fix was to pour it back in the mixing bowl, heat the whole thing up and beat it again. And wonder of wonders—it seemed to work! I poured it back in the pan, opened the over door, and spilled cake batter all over the inside of the oven window. That was a first too. The batter instantly began to cook on the hot glass. I scraped off what I could, put the cake inside the oven, and closed the door. In a few minutes the smell of burnt cake filled the kitchen. Hmmm….

But in twenty minutes I pulled the unburnt cake from the oven, knowing it was just the spilled batter that was burning. The cake looked allright, just a little thinner than normal.

Outside the freakish spring snowstorm was raging. I turned the oven on to the “clean” cycle, and thanked God for technology. I left the cake on top of the stove to cool. About 9:30 I decided to make the icing—it too is a cooked butter and cocoa icing. Everything went fine until I reached for the powdered sugar, and found an almost empty bag. I dumped it in, got out the beaters, and finally admitted what I had known–it wasn’t near enough. And I didn’t want to go to the store!

I looked out the window to make sure my neighbor Vickie’s lights were on, and called her. She checked and said she had only a wee bit of powdered sugar in her bag. I jumped in my car because of the storm, drove to her driveway, and she prayed, “Lord, multiply it,” as she handed it over.

It was the thinnest frosting I’d ever tried to spread on a cake, but I poured it on the middle and let it spread itself, and then I used the remainder to fill in the edges. This cake wasn’t going to win any blue ribbons for appearance, but with family, it’s the thought that counts.

Now here’s the kicker! After church, we went out to lunch—Philip’s pick—BBQ. Brian mentioned to the waiter that Philip was the birthday boy, and none of us gave it a second thought. We didn’t expect the entire staff to come out at the end of the meal singing and clapping and carrying a humongous bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream, which Philip plunged into, and everyone else did their part as well.

Afterwards, we went home, visited, opened presents, and the group soon disbursed. An hour after they’d left, I remembered I’d never served the cake! Oh brother! I’m still glad I’m the mom, and that I got to make my boy a cake. And so I had a piece. Despite all the tribulation that cake went through, it was still pretty good!