Happy Birthday to You!

Separate 4-5 eggs. Beat egg whites until stiff and refrigerate.
Beat egg yolks with a scant cup of sugar and 2 T water until light and frothy.

The first time I made Kutsche Cake for my husband’s birthday, I made the mistake of beating the egg whites by hand with a whisk. I had never made a meringue and had no idea that that my efforts would result in an arm ache the next day. I also didn’t know when the egg whites were considered stiff; beating them was like taking a road trip with little kids…are we there yet? Are we there yet? A couple years later, I was baking with my friend, Betsy, and she taught me to look for the peak left behind when the whisk is pulled out of the egg whites–I’d know they were done when the little mountainous peaks held their form. Love looks like several years and a sore arm to get the egg whites just right.

Add: 1 cup sifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 1/2 T corn starch, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Even with rookie mistakes, I had fun making the cake for the first time; I enjoyed being part of a new-to-me family tradition. At my bridal shower, Kyle’s grandmother had gifted me a red tube pan and handwritten recipe for Sponge Cake with Caramel Frosting, a.k.a. Kutsche Cake. I’d already been introduced to Kutsche Cake at birthday celebrations while my husband and I were dating, and I found it to be…lacking. More specifically…it was gross. The men in my husband’s family have a penchant for this cake, but their spouses, on whom the task of making the cake tends to fall, have more discerning taste. We tend to eat the ice cream and leave the cake to the birthday boys. Love looks like making the gross cake because your partner loves it.

Fold in egg whites.

Put in greased tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

One year, I was in the middle of making my husband’s birthday cake when I realized I had no all-purpose flour and no vanilla extract in the pantry. Unable to run to the store because my daughter was napping, I subbed almond extract for vanilla and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. The cake was drier than usual and the almond-flavored cake did not pair well with its caramel frosting. My husband thanked me anyway and ate his normal share of the cake (the entire thing minus a small slice for our daughter, too young to know better). Love looks like being flexible. Love sounds like saying thank you anyway.

Turn upside down and cool.

In 2020, during the stressful season of COVID/homeschool/newborn life, my husband requested apple pie instead of Kutsche Cake for his birthday dessert. I knew that he loved apple pie, but I didn’t want him to eschew tradition for my sake. He insisted on pie, so I pulled out my apron, the Betty Crocker recipe for Dutch apple pie, and a pre-made Pillsbury crust. The pie was much easier to make than Kutsche Cake, and the whole family enjoyed it (even with the little bit of wax that melted into the crumb topping when I put blue and green candles into the too-hot pie). Love looks asking for apple pie to give your wife a break from cake-baking that year.

Caramel Frosting:
2 cups brown sugar
6 T milk
2 T butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Last year, I got another break from Kutsche Cake, even though we celebrated my husband’s birthday with two cakes. The first was a mug-cake-for-one made from a mix I bought at Target and sent in a care package to the Middle East, where my husband was in his fifth month of deployment. The second was a chocolate cake with Oreo frosting delivered to my doorstep by our local bakery, which I ate almost entirely by myself over about three days. Love looks like mug cakes and bakery deliveries in different time zones.

Mix ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil over a slow fire. Remove immediately. Beat until cool and quickly frost cake.

Love looks like a red tube pan.
Love looks like putting on your apron and making the cake, even though you won’t taste a bite of it.
Love feels like stirring (and stirring, and stirring, and stirring) icing over a slow fire.
Love looks like waiting for the cake to cool before you frost it.

Love sounds like singing over FaceTime.
Love smells like apple pie
and fancy bakery cake.
Love looks like carrying on traditions
and letting some traditions go.
Love tastes like caramel frosting
or maybe buttercream.
Love looks like closing your eyes to make a wish, just for fun.
Love sounds like a chorus of little voices singing, “Happy Birthday to you!”

Love looks like faces glowing in flickers of candlelight,
delighting in another birthday spent together.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Love Looks Like.”

Looking for more stories about motherhood, military life, and finding beauty in everyday moments? Subscribe to my newsletter, Late to the Party. Every couple of months, you’ll receive a short note from me, some personal recommendations, and a journal prompt.

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to You!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s