Your blueberry stained hands pressed firmly into the oven door. Your curious eyes, my expanding heart, our baking cake rested sweetly in time. It was neither too fast, or too slow, it was just honest. You learned a new word that you passionately repeated until you had me giggling, in awe, in wonder, in love…
Cake!! My little lady; today I baked you a cake! No birthday, no party, no reason. Sometimes special things don’t feel as special on traditionally special days. So, today on a Wednesday, I celebrated you in a way I have always longed to.
From the moment I knew you were in my belly, I dreamed of baking you a cake as I labored and welcomed you into this world. To say your birth did not go as planned would be an understatement. I didn’t get the chance to labor with you on my own and at home. I didn’t get the chance to bake your cake between contractions while your Dad captured those special moments. I had daydreams of moments that never happened. I had daydreams of the liberating story I would tell you year after year on your Birthday. I had daydreams of this special cake that would start with your labor and continue through your adult life. As silly as it sounds, I mourned not getting the chance to bake you a cake. I tried again when you were days old, only failing miserably from exhaustion and an unscrewed jar of sprinkles. As your first Birthday grew closer, I searched the perfect recipe for months. I was finally going to bake you that Birthday cake. I learned the hard way that sugar and flour are in cakes for a reason. My ambition for a “healthy,” cake got the best of me. I even tried twice. I cried unnecessary tears as if the fate of your birthday cake symbolized the course of your life.
Today your Birthday cake mishaps were redeemed. With no expectations, no pressure and no reason, I baked you a cake. Not a Birthday cake, just a cake. A cake that says, I am so madly in love with you, I think my heart is going to explode. A cake that erases all the past disappointments because it was all worth that moment when your blueberry stained hands, five dimples and repetitive kisses left me to fall in love with you all over again. We waited and watched your cake bake. All 45 minutes, we sat and watched and read books before the oven. You have learned to wait patiently in front of our oven because you know what comes next.
Today I learned that cake just tastes better when you eat it for no reason at all. Baking the cake becomes the special occasion, and through that, reasons to celebrate soon follow. Today I baked a cake and I celebrated you. On the 24th of April you had your very first Unbirthday, Birthday cake. A lemon basil cake with cream cheese frosting, because I adore lemons and I love basil but most of all I love and adore you. I now realize, it really can be this simple.
Lemon Basil Cake
Slightly adapted from Ally’s Kitchen
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 sticks + 1 tbsp. salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 cup basil leaves
Zest from 1 lemon
4 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add lemon juice, zest and extracts and beat for a few more minutes. Add flour and baking powder and beat until combined. Lastly add in yogurt with chopped basil leaves and fold together. In 2 well oiled, 4 inch cast iron pans evenly pour batter between the two. (You can also use a 9 inch pan if you don’t want a layer cake. Or, make cupcakes! You will just have to adjust the baking time.) Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Beat together cream cheese, and butter, adding in powdered sugar and vanilla last. Store in fridge while cakes cool. Frost, garnish, eat and love!