While we were living on Indiana Court, Mother became very interested in cake baking and decorating. Many times my sister and I would return from school to find a delicious looking cake cooling in the kitchen.
Don’t touch anything. I’m making a birthday cake for Connie.
Mother would yell from the living room. She made and then frosted doll-shaped cakes which she made with the help of a special pan. She inserted a doll into the top of the cake and then proceeded to frost the skirt of the doll with her delectable cream frosting. My sister and I were never allowed to have one of these dolls—not even when it was our own birthday!
Somehow, Mother had acquired a number of other specialty pans for making all different types of cake. The recipe for her frosting was a closely-guarded secret, though we always suspected there were actually two frosting recipes: one for the children, and one for her (with alcohol, no doubt).
That was how most of our mother’s recipes went: one version for the kids, and an “adult” version for her to enjoy. Of course, while preparing any recipe, Mother also had to sample the liquor that was to be added to the grown-up version. Her always-present drinking glass at her side, these were among the few times we saw Mother in a happy state.
Of course, once the magical effects of the alcohol wore off, she would crash and burn in a shocking way. My sister and I had, by this point in our lives, become used to the cycle Mother went on while in the kitchen.
She made many different and very unique cakes during her “cake phase.” One time she made a train cake consisting of three cars all decorated appropriately for a friend’s son who was having a birthday. She put each “train car” on a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil and again told us not to touch. The child and parent were enchanted with her gift, and for her, that was the point.
She loved doing things for strangers and people she barely knew because their reaction was so strong. Doing for her own family never brought the same accolades.