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December 17, 2010 / Baker by Night

Swirly Cake (aka My Birthday Cake)

Have you ever seen one of those old black-and-white Western movies? You know, the ones with all the sand and the tumbleweeds blowing across the screen? The movies set in desolate, uninhabitable, once-thriving-now-ghost-town towns? I’m sure you have, it’s the type of movie where the bad guy swings open the doors to the saloon so that they crash on the adjacent wall, silence befalls the bar as the patrons put down their beers and slowly turn to face the stranger and figure out his business. Get the idea? Now imagine that same movie, but set in a kitchen, my kitchen. The scene was somber as I walked in, cobwebs draped the stand mixer, pieces of the food processor were strewn about the counter in a pattern that indicated it was trying to make a break for a bigger and better things. The kitchen was silent except for a slight creaking noise made as one of the drawers fell open, I’m pretty sure I saw a tumbleweed brush across the dusty tile floor. I only wish I had some of those swinging saloon doors to kick open as I stepped back into my kitchen for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately (well unfortunately for this post, but fortunately for the lay out of my house), my open floor plan doesn’t really allow for those types of doors. Anyway, I may be being a bit dramatic (me?? No…) but I’m trying to convey an image, an image of a poor neglected, lonely, forsaken kitchen. It wasn’t by choice, and it wasn’t because I was doing anything more fun or interesting. Instead of cooking and spending time with my beloved kitchen, I have been studying for finals. Ugh. Definitely not more fun than being in the kitchen. But there is good news! The semester (and my first year of PA school) is over – cheer!!

Due to finals week, we have been taking out way too much and eating out far too often, so I decided to make dinner at home instead of going out yet again. My birthday was during finals week and I hadn’t had a chance to celebrate with the hubby until last night, so I also decided that I needed a birthday cake. After looking through blogs and cookbooks, I settled on making myself a red velvet cake. And then I settled on white cake. And then I settled on anything with cream cheese frosting – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m pretty sure I would eat just about anything as long as it was covered in cream cheese frosting. Basically, I couldn’t make up my mind as to what would be the perfect birthday cake. I finally had an idea, I could put all of my choices into one cake! I remembered finding this cake and thought that with the right flavors, I could make one pretty awesome birthday cake. So while all of the rest of my classmates went home and took naps or lounged on the couch and watched tv (at least that’s the image I had in my head), I went straight to the kitchen and made myself this birthday cake.

Can you see the stripes?!? I think there’s about 4…

As you can see, this cake does not really look like the zebra cake. I figured I would need to call it something other than zebra cake. The hubby suggested “trauma cake” while I thought a more appropriate (and more appealing) name would be “swirly cake”. I’m pretty sure that only my classmates, and maybe not even them, would appreciate me naming a delicious cake after a terrible injury. So I think I will just stick with calling it swirly cake. This was the perfect birthday cake, all red velvety and moist and cream cheese icing-y. It made me happy, it made the hubby happy, and most importantly, it made my poor neglected kitchen happy. Oh, and it will make you happy when you make it too!

Get the recipe!



Leave a Comment
  1. Ana / Dec 17 2010 3:50 am

    Great story, Aliza. You’re such a good writer!

  2. Jerry Kaufman / Dec 24 2010 5:55 pm

    Love the story. In your spare time, you should write a story about a sheriff in an old west town who keeps the peace by feeding everybody her wonderful culinary creations.

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