Debbie Matthews: Birthday Bundt for Bud
Can you call a 45-year-old man who’s over 6 feet tall and has 85 pounds on you a “little brother”?
Bud is all of those things and he’s also my little brother until the end of time.
My birthday is 12 days before his, and for years he would give me a $20 bill in a card, and less than two weeks later, I would turn around and give it right back (in a new card).
Each year this seemed sillier and sillier to me.
So one year, I got out my Monopoly game, and took out a $100 bill. I wrote on the back, “Happy Birthday Bud, Love Debbie”, and his birth date and the year. My mom didn’t like it at first (she is the queen of elaborate gift-giving; she just adores present giving occasions). On my birthday, Bud writes a greeting on the back of the hundred, and gives it back to me.
It is our favorite sibling tradition. After almost 10 years, we’re now signing the third, rumpled, slightly tattered bill, stapled together with the first two.
This way we spend our time picking out very funny and appropriate cards for each other. And, I have to admit, since my birthday is before his, I love that I only have to hold onto the faux cash for 12 days. My little bro has to keep up with it for the rest of the year. (Which is really good because I have lots of trouble with that kind of thing. One year I accidentally threw it away, and rescued it right before the trash truck showed up.)
I used to bake weekly desserts for Petey to take to work. After a while, I ran out of ideas. I then began a study of all the different things that a cake mix could make. I have a small collection of cake mix cookbooks.
One of the cakes I made was an orange Bundt cake. The recipe called for a glaze from orange, as well.
Both Petey and The Kid adore those orange dreamsicle things. So instead of the citrus glaze, I tried finishing it with the vanilla-fudge frosting that top these amazing sugar cookies from Chef Chrissie’s mom.
It was a big hit for them. Not being a dreamsicle fan, it was just one more cake for me.
I took it to my mom’s one time, and Bud had a slice. He was a goner. It's become his favorite cake.
Tomorrow we’re going up to my folks’ house to celebrate my little brother’s 45th. And I’m taking him his birthday dreamsicle Bundt cake.
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup fresh orange juice + zest of two oranges
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 cup Bundt pan.
Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend just until mixed. Scrape down bowl with a spatula and mix for two minutes.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-47 minutes, until the cake just starts coming away from the side of the pan, and a toothpick inserted comes out slightly moist, but with no cake batter clinging to it.
Remove from oven and let rest in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.
Turn the cake out of pan onto the cooling rack and let cool completely before covering in icing.
Vanilla Fudge Icing
½ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup whole milk
1 ¾-2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 vanilla bean scraped
Put butter, granulated sugar and milk in a saucepan, and cook until it comes to a rolling boil.
Let cool, and if using vanilla bean, add to cooled mixture now.
Whisking continuously, slowly add powdered sugar to cooled liquid until it is about the consistency of thick cake batter. If using vanilla extract, whisk it in at the end.
Place cake on platter or cardboard cake round and cover with icing using a ladle or large spoon. It will cover most of the cake, but let it drip down artfully, leaving a bit of bare cake showing.
To make the cake extra birthday special for Bud, I’m filling the hole in the middle of the cake with Bud’s favorite candy from childhood—sugared jelly orange slices. To make it pretty, you could put a small nosegay of pansies in there.
I love to see my bro’s face when he digs into the first slice of this cake.
And when he gets to acting all little brothery, and starts tap dancing on my last nerve, I can remind him of the cake I made him.
Then I ask him if he wants one for next year.
Thanks for your time.
Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.