There was, however, no reason to bake another cake when there were already about six other cakes of different flavors, shapes and sizes crammed inside the over-sized refrigerator of the small peach-colored bungalow house of the De Leones. It was as if they owned a bakeshop, only none of the cakes were for sale.

In the pantry, Jill was busy preparing one teaspoon of vanilla, 100 grams of sugar, 100 grams of self-rising flour, a pinch of salt and three beaten eggs were the base ingredients Jill needed for a cake she wanted to bake for her mother’s birthday.

“She likes white chocolate, right, Papa?” she asked her father, calling from inside the pantry.

“Yes dear, it’s her favorite,” he replied, finally putting down the newspaper he was reading and deciding to make himself a cup of coffee. He went inside the pantry and enjoyed his caffeine-rich drink while watching his daughter work.

Jill sifted the flour and mixed all the dry ingredients together. She had been studying culinary arts for the past three years and it wasn’t long before she graduated with the best distinctions.

The heat of the stove during frying and sautéing was too much for her to handle and she didn’t like how the hot oil would hit her soft skin. But the tender puffiness of baked goods and pastries was too alluring to stop her from making them, even if it meant that hot metal from the oven would burn her hand at times. She didn’t really like sweets, but she was good at making them.

“Why bake another cake?” her father asked, taking a sip from his mug. “There are too many cakes in the house you can just pick one and make that your Mama’s birthday cake.”

“Well, I’d like to make this certain cake special,” she said, as a-matter-of-factly. “It’s not like I make one for her every year..” Jill smiled as she carefully folded the wet mixture with the dry.

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“All the cakes you bake are special,” her father opened the refrigerator and showed her that there was barely enough space to store anything inside the fridge. “What flavor are you making this time?”

“White Forest,” she said, as her eyes lit up. She said it as if it was the greatest invention man has ever created, but that was immediately replaced by a deep sigh as she knew she had to enlighten her puzzled Papa on the subject.

“It has white chocolate instead of the typical dark chocolate used in black forest recipes,” she said again, in a tone that suggested enthusiasm. Her Papa nodded.

Jill then took her cake batter and placed it in the cake ring. After which, she set it inside the oven for 30 minutes at 350-degrees Fahrenheit.

“Don’t tell me you’re putting that in the cake?” her Papa asked, aware that his daughter was not following the recipe. It surprised him that she didn’t even need a cookbook.

“I’m giving the recipe a touch of my own,” she smiled as she finally opened the can. “Instead of the usual cherry filling, I’m using blueberry.”

Her father pointed at the inside of his mouth, motioning disgust. “I hate blueberries,” he exclaimed as he made barfing sounds.

“This isn’t for you anyway,” she said as she opened the bottle of brandy and poured it into a mixing bowl with blueberries. She set it aside; it was to be used later for the filling and garnish.

“So that’s for?” he asked, thinking that his daughter was about to make some alcohol-blueberry concoction. “Yuck,” he said as his face once again showed utter disgust.

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“Stop saying that you don’t like it,” she said. “I’m not going to force you to eat it, it’s your loss though.” Jill chuckled as she started gathering the other ingredients to make the icing.

“This one, I like,” her father grabbed the whipping cream and the sugar. “Make sure you make lots of it and store some in the refrigerator.”

His favorite part of cakes was the icing. He’d often just leave the bread of the cake and grab the icing with a spoon and lick on it until he wanted more. When he was at home though, he’d just smother the cream with his finger.

The timer of the oven rang as they were having this petty argument about handing over the cream. It was time to take the cake out. A few more minutes in there and the bread would get overcooked.

Jill took it out as her father watched her. She took out the cake from the cake ring and placed it on top of a cooling rack. As she let it set for a few minutes, she started to work on the icing. Jill put in the sugar, the vanilla and the cream on the mixer and ramped it up until its consistency was just right.

“That looks delicious,” her father streaked his hand across the table onto the mixing bowl, trying to taste some of the icing.

“Papa, stop behaving so childishly,” she moved the bowl away from him as she waved her finger left to right. “You’ll contaminate it with your germs.” she giggled as she placed it inside the refrigerator to let it cool. Her hand pretended to sulk.

Her dad pouted and put the newspaper in front of his face, acting like a child—sulking.

“You’ll get some later, when I’m done.” she assured him and went to get the cake. It had enough time to cool and it was ready for the next process.

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She picked up the bread knife and pressed onto the baked piece of bread, flattening it, to make sure that when she would slice it, it would be even. After slicing it into two, she removed the top layer and started to brush the bottom layer with cherry brandy. She followed it with some icing and topped that with the blueberry mixture she had made earlier.

The top layer was put back on and she started to cover the whole thing with icing. She used a metal spatula to evenly spread out the cream, making a snow-colored sponge cake.

“That looks wonderful!” her father exclaimed as he saw the cake elegantly covered in white icing, until he saw Jill put some blueberries to decorate it.

“For the final touch,” Jill ceremoniously said, as she placed some plump blueberries and glued them onto the cake with icing.

“I take back what I said,” Papa grunted.

“Oh come on!” she said. “You could at least pretend to like it.” she stared at him directly with her brows creased.

“Okay, hooray!” he cheered, sarcastically. Jill ignored him. She finished off with the final garnish—the white chocolate shavings, and dusted her hands off. “There!” She moved away from the cake to marvel at its grace.

“You want us to bring it to her now?” Papa asked.

***

“Here we are,” her father said as he parked the car. Jill hopped off and slowly walked towards a well-maintained headstone. He followed her, but kept a few feet away. He knew his daughter needed time alone.

“Happy birthday, Mama,” she said as she lights her birthday candle. “It’s a shame you wouldn’t be eating this cake with us.”

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