When I asked Charlie what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he was characteristically elaborate and imaginative.
"The cake should have little bits of whipped cream all around the sides, and strawberries in the whipped cream, and ice cream in a mountain in the middle."
After further questioning, I ascertained that the cake and the ice cream should be vanilla. Also that there should be frosting--vanilla, of course--but only around the edge. Underneath the little bits of whipped cream.
I feel sure someone with some kind of cake decorating skill could have made something lovely from those instructions. But this is me we're talking about here, so this is what he got.
Thankfully, the strawberries rescue it from a completely monochromatic and nuptial color scheme.
I'm not a proponent of non-chocolate cake and have never made a vanilla cake, so I had to find a recipe. I used this one from Smitten Kitchen--only a half recipe, which made plenty for us--mostly because it had buttermilk in it. I like buttermilk in baked goods. The cake reminded me in texture of pound cake, which is a good thing for me. Also, it was easy enough to make with all three boys "helping" me, which was another of Charlie's stipulations for his cake.
Strawberry season is over here, so I had to use the frozen strawberries I buy in big bags from the store for fruit shakes. Definitely not as good as fresh, but they did serve their decorative purpose. I fully intended to buy whipped cream in a can--something I actually have never purchased--to save myself the extra step of whipping cream to finish off the cake, but I couldn't find any at the gas station/dairy store I stopped at, so I bought the real cream and had A. whip it for me. Probably for the best in the end.
Of course, it turned out that Charlie mostly ate the ice cream, whipped cream, and strawberries, because he doesn't really like cake all that much, but he seemed happy with my attempts to make his vision come to life.
Plus, he blew out all his candles on the first try. Success.