It’s birthday week here on the JMD blog, which gives me ample opportunity for totally self-indulgent strolls down memory lane on my favorite birthday memories.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big cake eater and that when I do partake of cake, it has to be butter cream topping and a white or yellow cake. In most cases, cupcakes will do. However, there was a time, way back when, that a particular whipped cream cake was my favorite.
Mom had an Italian bakery she patronized regularly for a variety of tasty dessert items (crème puffs, éclairs, napoleons, fruit pastries, etc.). When it came to my birthday, though, she would bake me a cake each year. Initially she made me a different cake each time, but after having her strawberry shortcake one birthday, I kept asking for that cake over and over until it became the “official” birthday cake for me.
For most of the early years, Mom would make the cake from scratch (I don’t think she grew the strawberries herself, but she did whip the cream). In later years, she used more pre-prepared ingredients but still did all the cooking herself. She always managed to find these huge strawberries to put on top of the cake and had a wonderfully thick filling (with more strawberries). It was a hit with whichever kids were also at the party with me.
Small digression: Strawberries are probably my second favorite fruit, next to cherries. The versatility of strawberries allows me to eat them in so many ways: fruit, preserves, cheesecake, chocolate covered, ice cream, pop tarts, shortcake (but not pie). The best thing about strawberries is how long they are available on the market. Blueberries (3rd favorite) come and go in a whoosh, cherries (#1) even quicker. Plus, strawbs are pretty portable because of their size and no pits to worry about! End digression.
For about a ten-year period, strawberry shortcake was my birthday cake of choice (as made by Mom and I will tell you that you absolutely CAN taste love). As college and beyond set up a different birthday dynamic, the frequency and types of cakes changed. In fact, I have never had another strawberry shortcake since my youth, not even at a restaurant. Somehow I just knew it wouldn’t taste or feel the same as those Mom-baked cakes of old.
In a month that always includes Mother’s Day and my birthday, I have many opportunities to think about Mom. I’m never short of happy memories when remembering Mom’s shortcakes.