I think it was a birthday party. I think it was mine. And it was before I had a little sister so I didn't have to share it.
I think I smashed the cake all over my face.
My mother probably baked it herself.
My mother worked in the bakery at one of the major grocery chains when I was a kid. More importantly our galley kitchen was her private bakery. Our holidays were full of cakes, cookies, breads, cobblers, pies, tortes, chocolate, and more yummy than you can imagine. My grandmother told me that Mom did all the baking as a teenager, too. She attended vocational courses in high school to manage her own kitchen and then went to work for the grocery store. I saw the pictures in her old year book. She looked great in an apron at seventeen.
Mom cooked for us every night. On Sunday she would cook a baked good. I loved Sundays. But her habit of only cooking Sunday dessert gave me a bad "greedy" habit. Meaning that because I had a little sister, we would try to eat as much of the dessert before the other as quickly as we could. This has proven to be a difficult habit to break even though now I am only competing with myself.
When I went to college I actually lost weight. Cafeteria food did not compare to my mother's cooking. I rarely ate the desserts offered on campus. I did eat the vegetables. I grew up on fresh baked goods, I would rather wait for holiday breaks and eat Mom's goods. I could wait it out and I did for years.
After I graduated college and found a job two hours from home, I knew that I would either have to start baking for myself or find an alternative.
I remember my friends touting the freshness and tastiness of Entenmann and Hostess bakeries. I disagreed but I would visit the bakery or outlet shops (never buying from a grocer) to find the freshest cakes. It was never as good as my mother's foods. Despite this, the items would hold me over until my vacation days from work.Even the baked goods from the bakery sections of the grocery stores would not interest me. I knew my mother's would be better and if she hadn't cooked I could trot over to my aunt's home and eat her baked items.
I started my collection of cupcake tins, cake pans, pie pans, and casserole dishes. I started collecting cookbooks. I knew that I would have to learn to bake for myself. During visits home, I would watch my mother in the kitchen while she baked her dozens and dozens of holiday cookies and cakes. From her I learned many secrets. For example, most brown sugar is just sugar with molasses mixed into it. Buying brown sugar separately is just silly. She said that every kitchen should have molasses, real vanilla, a metal mixing bowl, and cornmeal in it. She warned to always bake with the freshest eggs.
I also started observing my aunt's bakery skills. She had been holding out on me. She makes the meanest cheesecakes I have ever gobbled down. I picked up a knack for making Amish Friendship Bread from my aunt. Her red velvet cake has amazing moisture. She taught me that one should only bake with Dominos sugar.It is the only sugar where "Sugar Cane" is listed as the ingredient. I still don't know why that is true. She explained the difference between lard, butter and margarine in recipes. Vital information for a baker.
I love Friendship Bread, I still bake it for the winter holidays. I receive requests each Christmas. My aunt promises to teach me to make a perfect red velvet cake. I am excited.
Mom bakes cakes for the grandkids birthdays, she continues to make dozens of cookies for Christmas, and she still has not been able to duplicate her grandmother's sweet potato pie recipe. We finally convinced her to start shipping cookies for Christmas to us since she now lives in the South.
Mom always baked for us with ingredients from scratch. She taught my sister to make her favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie when she was still in high school. That was cool. She learned the recipe while I was studying in college baking cream cheese brownies for my friends. When they were very young, Mom learned that my sister used pre-packaged cookie dough with her children. She went on a rampage. She said pre-packaged dough was lazy. I guess when you are the daughter of a woman who bakes for a living, you are expected to always bake from scratch for your children. Funny.
Mom retired from the grocery store years ago. She has started her own bakery selling to her friends and neighbors. I am jealous. As the daughter of a baker, I don't want to share my mother's cooking.
I want that special feeling I had when I sat at the yellow and green table and smashed cake into my hair.
Thanks Mom for everything. Especially for carrying me during most of the Summer.