Describe your perfect birthday cake.

Throughout the month of January, WordPress is sending participating bloggers a writing prompt each day. It’s a way to find some creative inspiration and perhaps make connections with other bloggers. My entries in this blogging challenge will appear here under the tag #bloganuary.

The first recollection I have of being asked what sort of cake I wanted for my birthday comes from when I was eight or nine years old. There were plenty of cakes in my mother’s repertoire from which I could choose. One of my favorites was her Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which was made with pineapple slices (from a can–I’m sure I didn’t see an actual fresh pineapple until I was in my 20s), over which a mixture of melted butter, sugar, and maybe some powdered cinnamon were poured, followed by the cake batter itself. After baking the pan was inverted over a plate, and the cake came out, with the pineapples on the top, and the buttery glaze dripping down the sides. Mmmmm. Another favorite cake was her Peach Custard Cake, which was made in a similar way–canned peaches were placed in the bottom of the cake pan, then a rich, thick custard mixture was poured over the peaches, followed by the cake batter itself. If it all turned out right–and it usually did–the result was a nice spongy cake topped with custard and peaches.

But the first time I was asked to choose my birthday cake, the answer was very easy: I wanted my mom to make me her Chocolate Pound Cake.

The chocolate pound cake is so named because it contains a pound of butter, which, as I believe we can all agree, is one of the ways to make almost any edible thing more delicious (probably some inedible things, too). I knew this cake well, because it was a family favorite. It was rich (for obvious reasons), somewhat dense, compared with other cakes she regularly made, and she made it in what I believe was an angel-food cake pan, which made cakes with a tapered hole in the middle. I believe the recipe may have suggested that the pound cake be made in a bundt pan, but my mother didn’t have a bundt pan when I was young, so a lot of cakes were made in that angel-food cake pan. In spite of being more dense that her other cakes, it was still a moist cake, but the thing that made this cake my very favorite was the chocolate glaze she made to pour over it after it had mostly cooled. It wasn’t really an icing–it never fully dried–and it was drizzled over the flat top of the cake and allowed to drip down the sides. Some of the glaze always collected in the bottom of the hole in the middle of the cake, and once a few slices were removed, that little pool of chocolate was quickly dug out by the fingers of one of us kids when we thought nobody was looking.

I always put in a request for a large piece of this cake, but the truth is that a half-inch slice of this heavy, rich dessert was always plenty, so it didn’t disappear as quickly as regular cake usually did. And once it was fully cooled, the pound cake could be enjoyed without the need of a plate and a fork–it was firm enough to be nibbled on while held in your hand, without dropping a single crumb.

Thanks for all the cakes, Mom.


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