It is with that mix of celebration and regret that I admit that my baby girl is 12 today. 12. Oh my. We all feel that weird mix of joy and sadness as parents, don’t we? I’m so sad those sweet baby, toddler, and “little girl” days are gone. Those were fun times for our family. But I’m so in love with who she is and is becoming. You can see it all in this picture, where she is feeling sassy and spicy after her new short haircut.
She’s just a blast. She’s got a very quick wit that makes her much funnier than a 12 year old should be. She’s startingly confident and balanced. She’s smart without being obnoxious. She’s gracious and grateful. She’s kind. And I mean really, actually kind in the most sincere way that makes you realize the rarity of sincere kindness. She’s the ultimate welcoming comittee for new kids. She’s just a joy to know.
So today it’s my true pleasure to be making her favorite cake today for her birthday. She used to swear she didn’t like cake, in fact. Before I took on my learn-to-make-a-proper-scratch-cake challenge, all birthday cakes came from either the store or a bakery. And even though there were some good cakes in there (shout out to Beaverton Bakery!), she didn’t really love them. Too sweet, too much frosting, too much of too much. But I firmly believe you should LOVE your birthday cake. You should dream of it when it’s still 6 months away. You should invite people just so they can taste your amazing cake while you simultaneously want to cancel the whole thing–presents and all!–just so you don’t have to share. It’s just sad to feel just ambivalent about your own birthday cake, don’t you think? So, I have made it my goal to find a cake for each person in my family and at least with Avery, I have fulfilled that goal: Sour cream chocolate cake with whipped cream cream cheese frosting.
And even as a not-such-a-big-chocolate-cake-fan, I totally get her passion for this cake. The sour cream chocolate cake is so tender and moist that it makes you want to cry a little. Even at a party. But it’s dense and has substance that almost brings it to the border of fudgy. Sort of like if Brownie and Chocolate Cake had a baby. But you can’t offer such perfection only to kill it with sicky-sweet frosting. See, that’s where we’ve lost her in the past.
Enter whipped cream cream cheese frosting. The richness of cream cheese, mitigated by the lightness of whipped cream. The “there’s no ‘there’ there” of whipped cream is balanced by the substance of cream cheese. Add just a wee bit of sugar, enough to clarify that it’s frosting but not so much that you regret it, a speck of salt for bass notes, and BOOM–you have a winna winna chicken dinna.
The layers are not even, the frosting is a bit out of control . . . it’s simple and messy and imperfect, all of which Avery is anticipating, which makes it perfect. Because thankfully, even at 12, Avery knows better than most of us that “imperfect” does not equal “without value”.