News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 28, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: The most special birthday cake of all

Liz Ciancone
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Our family birthdays are well staggered throughout the year, so we try to make them special.

Mom always had a way to make my special day truly special. I got to pick the evening menu for my birthday supper. I was in something of a rut when it came to choices. I always wanted creamed chicken on a biscuit. However, for my seventh birthday I put in a special request. I wanted a birthday cake like the one pictured, in full color, on the only page of color pictures in Mom’s cookbook.

I suppose it was a white layer cake. I couldn’t tell and I didn’t care. It was the spectacular frosting which caught my eye. It featured coconut died green, and nestled in that lovely green “grass” were a half-dozen bunnies. These were created from marshmellows with eyes and whiskers sketched on with chocolate. The ears were cut from paper and lined with pink. I volunteered the use of my pink crayon.

I thought it was beautiful and I wanted that cake.

I didn’t stop with a simple request. I took to leaving the cookbook on the kitchen counter, open at the page with that cake featured. I’d always mention how pretty it was and how appropriate it would be because my birthday was close to Easter and bunnies would be a dual celebration.

My birthday fell on a school day. When I came home, the house smelled like cake. Of course, I was not allowed to actually see my cake until supper was consumed, and the cake brought in on my great grandmother’s cake plate. I could hardly finish my chicken and biscuit I was so looking forward to that cake.

Finally! Mom cleared the table. There was a pause while she lit the seven candles and brought it to the table. There were my bunnies, only they were nestled in chocolate frosting. No green grass!

“Your father won’t eat coconut,” Mom explained, “so I had to let the bunnies sit in the mud.”

I still think about bunnies in green coconut grass. I could make it myself, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Her personal column has appeared on this page for more than 20 years. Send email to