The ingredients gather on the counter after a special trip to the store: flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, orange juice. I am going to bake a cake, a very special cake for my grandmother in honor of her 87th birthday. Her mother Ernestine always made an orange chiffon cake for her birthday, July 14th. These days, Grandma lays in a bed and sometimes isn't quite aware of who I am or in which decade we reside.
Separating the eggs, I add copious amounts of sugar to the whites, beating them mercilessly. The flour, mixed with the other ingredients then fold together with the eggs, wrapping each other as a soft blanket.
The cake is baked in a bundt; the most difficult part is releasing the baked cake from the pan. My heart beating as quickly as the egg whites had been, I overturn the steaming cake and as it cools, it pops from the pan.
It must be cooled entirely before it can be frosted.
The original recipe from Grandma, part of the Family Cookbook.
A few hours pass. Now that the kids and the sun are setting the project can be finished. I opt for some orange candy to decorate the frosting. This is different than Ernestine would have done. Whipping the cream, adding zest, powdered sugar, and a little orange juice and it becomes a faint sunset in a bowl.
The pink platter high in the cupboard is saved for this purpose. It fits the bundt perfectly. The whipped cream blankets the cake, orange sugar sparkles in the sun shining through the window.
Grandma doesn't always know who I am. It's easy to think this cake-making is in vain.
It isn't. She is standing next to me coaching the entire time.