every year, I bake a red velvet cake for my birthday. I use a recipe my mom used for years and then passed on to me. I wear a lovely old apron that once belonged to my favorite great aunt. I love that apron.
I love the part where I get to lick the batter.
I love that the recipe card is torn and taped back together, yellowed and stained with cake batter from my ten years of using it. the cookbook that the cake recipe came from, the one my mom used (and continues to use) has been coverless for at least twenty years and is in even worse shape than my recipe card. I love that. and I love that old cookbook.
I love the gorgeous shade of the batter, that it takes two whole bottles of red food coloring to get that bright red color. I'm pretty sure that much red food coloring can't be good for you. actually, you don't really need two whole bottles of red food coloring. you could get away with just one but I only make this cake once a year and I am not messing around.
I love that ava now participates in this yearly ritual with me and will one day bake the cake for herself. or her family. or me.
I love that my birthday cake looks like it's on fire. I earned every last one of those candles, yes I did.
it took me ten years to get this cake right. the first one I made was ridiculously flat, the frosting sad and lumpy. I ate it anyway. ward did too. but I kept on baking it year after year, no matter how flat it turned out or how strange it tasted. now it's a little bit of heaven. every december 11th. I love that.
(the entire red velvet cake-baking process is here and more red self portraits are here)