Christmas Birthday Cake, for my Dad

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Some people are cursed with their birthday being on Christmas day.  My father is one of them.  Every year, rather than looking forward to his birthday, it's overshadowed by him trying to get presents for other people.  On his birthday, we all say "Happy Birthday, Dad!", but my grandmother(my mom's mom) is really the only person who gets him a birthday-specific present.  I think it's also kind of a depressing day for my dad, which always makes me sad.  Everyone should have a special day!

A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I should make a birthday cake for my dad as a surprise.  I sent around an email to my family explaining that after dinner I would bring out the cake and we would all sing happy birthday.  I expected my dad to be incredibly surprised considering this would probably be his third birthday cake in his entire life.

My dad didn't act surprised, though.  He chimed in, singing "Happy Birthday" to himself and non-nonchalantly blew out the candles.  I have to admit, I was let down a little by his reaction.  I really wanted it to make his day, but felt as though my act meant nothing.

Yesterday, the day after Christmas, my dad called me.  He explained that he was in shock when I brought out the cake, and sang along because he wasn't sure what to do.  He told me it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him and thanked me for loving him so much.  I could hear him getting teary-eyed over the phone, and I couldn't help but cry a little, too.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!  And happy birthday to everyone else with a Christmas birthday, too.

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Vanilla Icing
makes one 6" double layered cake

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + unsweetened almond milk to equal 1 cup, allow to sit for 5 minutes
3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Line two 6" cake pans with a circle of parchment paper and lightly grease.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together until the mixture is uniform in color.

In a large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients.  Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients together until completely combined.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly until a thick, smooth batter is reached.

Equally spoon batter into the cake pans.  Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and as soon as they have cooled off a bit, carefully transfer to a wire rack, remove parchment from the bottoms, and allow to cool completely.

Make Icing:

Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup Earth Balance, cold
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp almond milk
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, cream together Earth Balance, vanilla extract, and almond milk.  Add in the powdered sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time, until a very thick frosting is made.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  

Frost the cake:

Level the top of one of the cakes with a sharp knife so that the other cake cleanly sits on top.  Ice the top of the leveled cake, sit the other cake on top, and cover cake with one layer of frosting.  Place in freezer for about 20 minutes, so that the icing freezes.  Remove from freezer, and finish frosting the cake, adding piping if desired.  Enjoy!


  1. My daughter was also born on Christmas Day. We have always celebrated Christmas in the morning and her birthday for the rest of the day! She always chose the dinner menu ( we have had pizza, lentil soup, spaghetti) and a cake prepared in a Christmas tree pan. (this year chili and vegan chocolate!) We have managed to make it a double -special day. Next year this cake looks like the one I'll bake! Thank you!

    1. that sounds like a fantastic mix of holiday and birthday! thank you for sharing!

  2. Awww, I love that you made your dad's birthday special for him! G's birthday is close to Christmas so he never got more than 1 present each year as a kid--his pick, a birthday present or a Christmas present. So sad. Your gift of the cake seems just perfect to make up all those years for your awesome father!

    1. that is so sad, jes! sounds like something my dad had to go through as a child :/

  3. So sweet! That was really nice of you to make birthday cake for your dad and even better that he appreciated it so much. It would be hard to have a birthday on Christmas. I think I'd celebrate my half birthday instead to spread the joy/presents around a little. My dad's birthday is a few days before Christmas, and I always make sure to wrap his birthday present in birthday wrapping paper instead of Christmas paper, so that it doesn't just feel like an early Christmas gift.

    1. that's nice that you wrap his gifts in birthday wrapping paper. i don't think my dad ever thought to celebrate his half birthday, but one year my mom threw him a surprise "33 and a 1/3rd" party!

  4. This was so sweet! And the cake looks delicious. I will definitely give it a try. :)

  5. What a beautiful cake! And that's such a wonderful story.

  6. Awe, what a lovely story! :) It was so kind and thoughtful of you to make a cake for him. I bet he loved it! I mean, it looks delicious!!! And so nicely decorated too! What a wonderful daughter you are. *hugs*

  7. this is so sweet Caitlin. the cake looks fantastic! that is so sweet that he was genuinely shocked:) happy belated birthday to your dad. :)

  8. Caitlin, you are such a considerate and loving daughter! That cake would make anyone's birthday special.

  9. A lot of the people I know who have birthdays on/around Christmas celebrate on another day of the year (like 6 months after their actual birthday) so they still get to have a special day :) It was very sweet of you to make a cake for your dad!

    1. that is a nice idea, carie ;) thank you for sharing!

  10. Your dad is lucky to have such a great daughter like you, Caitlin! I loved this story. I love how food can communicate so much to people, and how it can ellicit strong emotional reactions from them. Beautiful job with the cake!

  11. I'm in love with 6" cakes. Dunno why, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that they're friggin' adorable?

    Happy belated birthday to your dad - such a sweet story :)

    1. agreed- 6" cakes are friggin' adorable.

  12. I just teared up while reading this! What a sweet thing to do for your father and I love that he was so touched and shocked that he didn't know what to do. I wished I lived close enough to bake birthday cakes for my dad. :-)



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