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Olivia’s 13th Birthday and The Pink Cake from Vintage Cakes’s Julie Richardson

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Olivia and the Pink Cake
Left to right: Uncle Monte, Olivia and Uncle Andrew 

Our god-daughter Olivia just turned 13 this month.  That’s a milestone in any girl’s life.  It’s also a pretty big one in ours too.  Andrew and I went to see her the day she was born and she’s been a big part of our lives ever since.  She’s grown into someone we are so proud to call our own.  She’s lovely, poised, and talented.  She has manners that would make any parent proud.  And she’s a sheer delight to be around.  So it’s only natural that Uncle Andrew would go all out for this year’s festivities.  He baked two kinds of Whoopie Pies for her all-girl Birthday party and we’ll get to those in a future post. But  today I wanted to share the every-girl’s-dream-cake that he made. You see, Olivia gets a festival of birthdays.  There’s one for her friends. There’s one with her family.  And there’s one we call “The Uncle’s Birthday” which is where Andrew and I join forces with Olivia’s other uncles, Shawn and Terry, and celebrate.  And that’s where the Pink Cake appeared.  But before we get to the cake, a few words about pink.

         Now, Olivia is a pink girl and has been for a long time.  That’s not to say that, fashionista that she’s become, she wears nothing but pink.  Far from it.  But if a color ever summons up sweet, pink is it.  But “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” is a surprisingly recent idea. 
Maria Feoderova and her son, Niki,
the future Tsar Nicholai II

        Until the turn of the century, baby clothes for boys and girls were interchangeable and most often white.  In fact, telling infant sexes apart was  a challenge.  Ruffles and lace adorned baby clothes and the higher the social standing, the more elaborate these became. These pictures show the Russian Royal infants.  Can you tell which is a boy and which a girl?  Well, neither of them are girls.  The photo on the right is of Tsarevich Alexei. The one next to it, shows his father and his grandmother.  And Russians were hardly alone in their devotion to dressing up little boys.  Below is a picture of our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1884, aged 2.  It wasn’t until the 20th century that baby clothes came in colors.  And when they did, things were a little topsy-turvy to today’s sensibilities. 

FDR in 1884, aged 2.
         In June 1918, Ladie’s Home Journal told its readers: “The generally accepted rule is pink is for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for a boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty is prettier for the girl.  Then in 1927, Time magazine published a chart of sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys. They based their findings on what leading US retailers had told them:  Filene’s in Boston, Best and Co. in New York, Halle’s in Cleveland and Marshall Field in Chicago all told parents to dress their boys in pink. It wasn’t until the 1940s that babies began wearing gender-specific clothing at all.  Boys were dressed like their fathers, girls like their mothers.  According to the Smithsonian Institute, the color selection could have gone either way but it did shift to making blue for boys and pink for girls. Now back to the Pink Cake.  
Julie Richardson
Inventive Baker of the Pink Cake

Uncle Shawn took one look at Andrew’s creation and said it looked ‘vintage’ to him.   He hit the nail on the head.  The recipe for the cake came from a book called “Vintage Cakes” (10 Speed Press, Berkeley).  Its author, Julie Richardson comes from that hotbed of great food, Portland, OR where she is the head baker at Baker & Spice. (6330 SW Capitol Highway, Portland OR 97239.  Tel: 503-244-7573).  Julie decided to create a cake cook book full of old favorites which she gathered by selecting treasures from old cookbooks and recipe cards.  But when it came time to bake the Pink Cake, it was a pure Baker and Spice Original.  There’s nothing girly about the flavors: the deep chocolate layer cake is moist and rich.  But the thing that really stands out is the buttercream frosting.  Not the result of one bit of dye, the buttercream gets both its color and its flavor from a raspberry puree!.  It’s a wonderfully light frosting. In fact, the whole cake is amazingly light yet full of fruit and chocolate flavor. And if two tastes were meant for each other, you have to go a long way to find a better pair than chocolate and raspberry.  Here’s the recipe:

2 thoughts on “Olivia’s 13th Birthday and The Pink Cake from Vintage Cakes’s Julie Richardson”

  • Happy happy teenager day dear Olivia! How exciting is it for you to have your birthday celebrated on the World wide web, I ask?! That's fabulous! C:
    As for the Pink cake, also fabulous – cannot wait to try the Raspberry buttercream, which will certainly make itself know on many treats I'm sure. C: Hurray for Olivia, and hurray for the gals who wear blue and the boys who were pink! C:

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