The sun is setting over the crystal waters of Meech Lake and I’m shivering under my towel, toes buried in the sand. I can see my friends still in the water, heads bobbing on the horizon. I peek over my shoulder at the picnic table.
“Hey, mister!” Caught! My head whips forward and my dad laughs. “It’s almost ready, just a few more minutes. Be patient!” I sigh and pull the towel tighter around me.
Finally, my mom calls us over. The pattering of watery footsteps thunders as my friends cheer and rush to the table. My mom places the small warm cake on the picnic bench. I plop down and my dad lights the candles. My toothy grin glows as I screw my eyes shut and blow them out.
Biting into the cake brings all the birthdays flooding back, the good, the bad, mine and my family’s. My great grandmother made the recipe - egg free, dairy free, practically everything free but still delicious. However, after seeing the store bought, pristine vanilla-and-strawberry-topped ice cream cakes at other kid’s birthday parties, I started to resent the boring old one I got every year.
One year, I surprised my family by asking for a different cake. My parents agreed, after a lot of pleading, and got my neighbour to make a towering peanut butter chocolate monstrosity, which they lugged to the table haphazardly.
My friends sat around me and the candles were lit like every year but this time, something felt different. Something about not having a hand in making it, not watching my siblings tut over the decorations, made it seem foreign to me.
Making this cake has been a part of my life for so long that I can’t imagine birthdays without it. It might not be the most fancy, but there’s no other cake that feels more like home.
My little brother Jack enjoying a delicious bite of birthday cake
My first birthday at my Grandma's cabin in Salmon Arm, BC
Grandma's Famous Chocolate Cake (makes an 8x8 inch pan)
1 1/2 cups of flour 1/2 tsp of salt 1 tsp of vanilla
3 tbsp of cocoa 5 tbsp vegetable oil 1 cup of cold water
1 tsp of baking soda 1 tbsp vinegar
1. Mix (or sift) dry ingredients together in a big baking bowl. Then make three seperate rectangular grooves in the mixture.
2. Put the vegetable oil in one groove, vinegar in the other and vanilla in the last. Don't worry if a little spills over into the other grooves!
3. Pour the cup of cold water over everything and stir until combined.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!
(From left to right) My sister Sophie and pretty decked out cake for her 9th birthday, another picture from my Grandma's cabin and my brother Owen on his 12th birthday!