A tradition in many Christian homes is to make a birthday cake for Jesus to eat as dessert on Christmas day. I think this is such a great tradition– especially in homes with young children. What kid doesn’t understand the excitement of a birthday? The presence of a birthday cake makes it super tangible, accompany it with the birthday song and it’s sure to help your little ones understand that it really is Jesus’ birthday.
In my opinion, this cake can’t be like any other birthday cake… this is God’s birthday cake. One of my dear friends and former roommates is a phenomenal baker. I never hesitate to eat some (or a lot) of whatever goodies she’s baked; “her cakes are always worth the calories” has become a phrase that frequently exists my mouth. I’ll stop in the middle of a road trip to buy a cupcake from the restaurant that sells her goodies. It’s always worth the stop. She also made our wedding cake and figured out the logistics of transporting it 8 hours by car. Truly, I could sing this woman’s praises all day long.
I was not surprised to learn that she makes Jesus a birthday cake for Christmas every year. While she is still brain-storming what sort of cake she’ll be making to celebrate the Incarnation for this year, she has graciously provided me with the recipe she used for our wedding cake. This year it will serve as our birthday cake for Jesus. You can find the recipe below, thanks to the wonderful and generous woman who is truly my belly’s best friend.
Do you make a birthday cake to celebrate Christmas? What traditions do you use to help your little ones understand the feast?
- Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 4 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, and grease again. (Or two rounds of two).
- Combine the molasses, sugar, and oil in the bowl of a standing mixer, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Roughly chop the ginger, then process very finely with a food processor or chopper. Add ginger to the molasses mixture and combine well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. In two additions, alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the molasses mixture.
- Divide evenly among the cake pans (about 740 grams each). Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs (not batter!).
- Allow the cakes to cool in the 5 for 5 minutes before running a knife along the edges to separate them from the pans. Allow to cool for 10 more minutes in the pans before gently transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.
- Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, letting it incorporate fully. Whip on high until completely smooth and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, incorporating fully and beating on high beating each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, level them by cutting an even layer off the top. Place one cake layer on your cake plate. Cover with a scant 1/4 of the frosting. Carefully place the next cake layer on top and cover with frosting. Repeat until all layers are assembled and frost with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- Granulated sugar, for rolling
- Set out a wire cookie cooling rack over a piece of wax paper (to catch any spills) and set beside your stove.
- In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine sugar and water, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved (do not let mixture come to a boil, it should just be warm enough to dissolve the sugar).
- Add the cranberries and stir well until completely coated.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove cranberries from the water and lay out on the wire rack (it’s best if the cranberries are not touching each other).
- Allow to sit at least an hour (they will become very sticky).
- Fill a small bowl with granulated sugar and toss the cranberries in the sugar until well-coated.
- Return to wire rack and allow to sit at least 1 hour.