When we were very small, at Scott Base, and quite young, at Paxton Illinois I remember Ada Ruth making rainbow cakes. There would be yellow, pink and blue layers which she put togeter with filling and then covered the whole cake with fluffy white frosting.* In Paxton we had a drafty old house with a coal furnace. One year the furnace blew up and coal dust sprinkled all over the colored layers cooling on the counter top. We were too poor to make another cake so mom vacuumed the coal dust off and covered it with a thick layer of frosting, No one at the party noticed.
Before Mom started making the Devils food cake, she made a rich chocolate cake which started with creaming the butter and sugar until fluffy. It may have been made with melted cooking chocolate rather than cocoa. I have a tactile memory of creaming the butter and sugar between my fingers squishing away until it was light and fluffy. When mom scraped the gritty mixture off my fingers with a spatula it wasn't such a nice feeling.
Mom got the recipe for devils food cake from her mom, Edna Taylor, in the mid fifties. Grandma Taylor learned to decorate elaborate cakes in California. One cake that I remember is that the cake was baked in a bowl and then turned over and a small doll was inserted to make a skirt and layers of ruffles were piped on. The devils food cake is sturdy and flexible enough for many variations. One birthday variation I remember is that the caked, baked in a sheet, was covered with a layer of marshmellow and a layer of fudge over that. For about a year many of us asked for that one before it seemed too disgustingly sweet.
At Camp Tadmor, where my parents met. and where the family lived after WW II and Jessie was born, later on we learned another recipe from Hulda Thorpe. Cherry Delight, a gooey sweetness made with cans of cherries. Does anyone have this recipe? that was a favourite birthday treat.
Sometimes we asked for marble cake, or angel cake, or golden layer cake. As a teenager, I always wanted lemon meringue pie. (Editor's Note: See the Lemon Meringe Pie post for the recipe!)
Everyone out there, why don't you post your favourite birthday cake?