Happy New Year! I trust your holiday break was a good one, and I hope you spent a lot of time in the company of friends and family, eating good food and taking good care of one another. We had the quietest Christmas on record, I think, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Admittedly, we’ve also had a sluggish start to the year, as my boys don’t go back to school until Monday so we’re still kind of in vacation mode. I celebrated a birthday on Wednesday (hello, 41!) and am now diverting my attention to the rest of the family members with birthdays this month.
I don’t know if your family is anything like ours, where birthdays tend to cluster together, but we truly have a month worth of birthdays to celebrate in January. It certainly helps to pass the time during the coldest and dreariest months of the year. For example, this year we have a party to attend on January 21, January 29, February 5, February 12, and February 19. If you happen to be looking at a calendar while you’re reading this you’ll notice that’s five weeks of birthday parties in a row. My sister’s birthday is on January 15th, so we’ll add her in there, too. Essentially, you can be sure there’ll be lots of cake and party pics to share this month to help brighten up your January. And sorry in advance to those of you who are dieting or having great success starting their “new year, new you” resolutions. I’ll try to balance the chocolate cake photos with healthy dinner recipes to help you out.
The birthday I’m most excited about this year is Rob's. He turns 50 on January 24th and is deserving of the biggest celebration possible. True to his introverted nature, he, of course, wants no celebration at all. So we’re keeping things simple this month, but have plans of jetting off in the spring for a no-kids-allowed mini vacation in lieu of a proper party.
(Ben and Jackson decorating my sister's birthday cake, circa 2004)
The one recipe I’m sure I’ll be turning to this month (a few of those other party dates listed above are also hosted by me as Jackson and Matthew both have a birthday in the coming weeks) is the make-ahead chocolate cake for a crowd I baked for Ben’s birthday last year. Our Sunday supper crowd is far too big now for a standard round cake, so this one suits us a little better.
Not only is the result everything you hope for in a chocolate cake, the real beauty of it is that you can make, bake and frost the cake in advance and then freeze it until you need it. Yes, you read that correctly. The entire cake can be prepped in advance and stored in the freezer for up to two weeks before you need it. How brilliant is that? I'll be baking it next weekend, and if you plan on making a cake for more than 15 people this year, you’ll definitely want to bookmark this recipe.
P.P.S. Can you believe I've been writing this blog for 7 years?