When it came to childhood birthdays, my mom always made homemade cakes and treats for my brothers and me. I always got raw apple cake that had sprinkles of brown sugar instead of the typical fancy frosting. My older brother was a fan of my mom’s chocolate pudding ice cream pie, and my little bro went for angel food cake that got kicked up a notch by being frosted with a lemon flavored whip cream.
Baking for birthdays is a tradition that I have upheld, due to these simple and fun recipes.
My Favorite Birthday Cake
The smell of raw apple cake baking in the oven is its own reward. It may not be the prettiest cake, but it is definitely one of the best. Fans of carrot cake and/or apple pie will enjoy this treat, as will every other apple loving human on the planet. My mom always baked this on my birthday and it is a recipe that feels like home to me.
- 1/4 cup Crisco Shortening
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 dash of nutmeg
- 2 dashes allspice (optional)
- 1 large apple, peel and sliced (Gala or Fuji would be my preference)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (for topping)
- 1/3 cup pecan pieces (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine Crisco, sugars, and egg into a mixing bowl. Add in milk and stir. Next, put in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well, then fold in peeled apples. Pour into a greased 8×11 inch pan. Sprinkle additional brown sugar and pecan pieces on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I Scream, You Scream, We ALL Scream for Ice Cream
My older brother’s birthday treat is just as fun to make as it is to eat. It is also ridiculously easy, which means I have used this recipe a lot for my kiddos’ annual mile markers in life. My mom always made the chocolate version detailed below, however I have had a great time experimenting with the flavors. The recipe combines pudding and ice cream, so the chef can go wild with variations. Recently I made my daughter a chocolate banana version of this ice cream pie. We used banana pudding (instead of chocolate) and chocolate ice cream (instead of vanilla). Our final topping was crushed peanuts instead of my mom’s staple Butterfinger candy bits. The other great part about this recipe is that children can provide actual help during the pie making process, especially the part that involves pounding the graham crackers into crust submission.
- 1 package/sleeve graham crackers crushed
- 1/4 cup butter (or margarine)
- 1 (3 oz. Box of instant chocolate pudding) **
- 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream**
- 1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
- 1 Butterfinger candy bar**
**Or whatever flavor combination a person prefers if they are going off script.
For crust: Prepare graham crackers by crushing in plastic bag with a rolling pin. (*My kiddos love doing this, and I usually have all three of my big kids helping with this part of the recipe.) Pour crushed graham crackers over very softened butter and mix together. Pat mixture into a pie plate. Set aside.
For Filling: Prepare instant pudding according to package. Stir in ice cream (may want ice cream to be softened a bit for easier stirring). When well stirred, pour onto graham cracker crust. (*There may be extra filling left-over, which tastes delicious and is a great reward for the chef and all of the helpers.) Place pie in freezer for about an hour, than remove and top with Cool Whip and Butterfinger candy bar shavings. Return to freezer. (*This pie is great to make the night before for overnight freezing, just be sure to set it out a few minutes before serving, so that cutting up the pie slices is less work.)
Additional variations on this recipe: My husband’s family all celebrate birthdays in March and my brother-in-law is born on St. Patty’s Day. Therefore making green desserts is a must! I have taken this ice cream pie recipe and altered it into a pistachio flavored dessert by using pistachio pudding with vanilla ice cream. My youngest daughter loves cheesecake, and she is wanting to try a strawberry cheesecake version of this recipe, which would mean swapping in cheesecake pudding and strawberry ice cream instead of using the typical chocolate and vanilla flavors.
A Frosting Favorite
My younger brother’s birthday always involved my mom making angel food cake with her delicious and light lemon whipped topping. Now that my mother has been upgraded to grandma status, she has graciously made this cake each time one of my children has turned the epic one-year-old. This cake makes for a great “smash cake” and fruit can easily be added to it. I would suggest raspberries, as they were (and still are) a favorite fruit for my oldest. When she was turning one, she took the time to pick off every raspberry before grabbing a fistful of cake. It was precious and entertaining!
- 1 (3.5 oz) box Jello Lemon Instant Pudding
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup cold milk
- 8 oz. Whip Cream
Combine pudding, powdered sugar, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat slowly with an electric mixer for about two minutes. Fold in the whip cream. Spread on the cake and refrigerate until it is time to eat the dessert. *My mom noted that a person can keep the prepared frosting in the fridge until ready to serve. Putting a good dollop on individual cake servings also works well.
It is not always easy and practical to go with homemade for big family celebrations, but for special birthday occasions I have enjoyed all of the recipes listed above, and hopefully so has my family. What recipes do you use for birthday celebrations?
*All three of these recipes can be found in Kelly’s family cookbook. For a chance to win this hard-covered cookbook, please share this post and enter your email to become a Family Footnote subscriber.
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