A Marriage Cake

Eight years ago, I married my best friend.

What I remember most about that day, the thing that sticks most resiliently in my mind, is how adamantly I wanted to be married.  I was done with the pomp and circumstance of the wedding before the wedding had even begun.  And it wasn’t like we had a big wedding – it was very intimate, a day shared with our closest friends and family.  A rainy, October day on a beach in St. Augustine with a very casual reception afterward.  But as I stood in the bridal suite, having my corset laced and my picture taken, all I could think about was getting on with the marriage part of the deal.  The wedding was nice, but I wasn’t nearly as excited about that as I was about spending the rest of my life married to my best friend.  Maybe I’m weird.

And marriage hasn’t disappointed.  I mean, sure we’ve had our ups and downs.  It’s not perfect, but I never expected it to be.  I knew it would be work – in a Tim Gunn, “make it work” kind of way.  There are good days and there are bad days, but they are our days.  Our days to take on together, as a team.  The successes and the failures, the happy and the sad – we meet them all head on, a united front.

This year, our anniversary fell on a rainy, gray Tuesday.  He had to work, and I was home with our youngest all day.  We’d been out to a restaurant the Saturday prior – a kind of pre-Anniversary celebration since we had overnight child-care in the form of my husband’s parents (yay for in-town grandparents!).  But I wanted to do something, however small, to celebrate the actual day.

I had commented as we drove back from dinner on Saturday, discussing where we should stop in for dessert, that I wished we could find an 8-year-old wedding cake top tier.  Not that I think there should be a bakery that specializes in moldy old cake – that’s just gross.  But there is something nostalgic and fun in sitting down together to share that top tier of your wedding cake on your first anniversary.  In subsequent years, you just don’t have anything quite that special.

As I stood in the kitchen yesterday, laughing quietly to myself at the thought of a bakery with lighted glass display shelves lined with stale, moldy cake (the mind does tend to wonder), it came to me.  I’d bake a marriage cake.  A small, intimate 6-inch cake.  Nothing elaborate, just a simple everyday cake to celebrate our every day, all day, lifelong marriage.

To get the ratios for a single, six-inch layer, I turned to Dessert for Two, a blog dedicated to reducing dessert recipes to a quantity fit for two people to consume in one sitting.  I went with the cake recipe for her Better Than Sex Cake, subbing whole-wheat flour and honey granules for their more refined counterparts.  I didn’t have any pineapple, and my husband doesn’t care for shredded coconut, so I improvised on the topping.

I glazed the tiny cake with a mixture of buttermilk (1/2 cup), sucanat (1/4 cup) and rum (teaspoon) that I cooked together until the sucanat dissolved.  I then stirred in a tablespoon of cold butter to thicken and enrich the glaze.   Once the cake had cooled, I poked holes in the top and drizzled the glaze over top.

I frosted it with a cream-cheese based frosting: 4 oz. cream cheese, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 2 tablespoons honey granules, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, 1 teaspoon rum.

In a lot of ways, this was the perfect cake to eat on an 8th wedding anniversary.  It’s not terribly refined, it’s a little rough around the edges, and it’s got a little bit of a sour edge to it from the buttermilk and the cream cheese.  There is a bit of sweetness, though, and the sweetness has some depth to it, from the darker sucanat in the glaze and the honey granules in the frosting.  And there’s just a hint of something fun and flirty peeking through from the addition of the rum.

Despite its unrefined appearance, I served it up on some of our fine china.  And we shared it, just as we did that top tier seven years ago.

I think I’ll make this a tradition – baking a single tier for us to share on our anniversary.  I’m sure the cake will change, just as our marriage will change (for the better, I hope), but I love the idea of taking the time to share something sweet together and to reflect on the reasons we fell in love in the first place.

Marriage Cake
adapted from Dessert for Two’s Better than Sex Cake

  • 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey granules
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon rum
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cold

Frosting

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey granules
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease and flour a six-inch round cake pan
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, using a handheld mixer, cream together the coconut oil, butter and honey granules until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the rum and mix to combine.
  4. Add the egg and beat to incorporate
  5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt
  6. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, until just incorporated
  7. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  8. For the glaze, combine the buttermilk, sucanat and rum and cook over low heat until sucanat dissolves
  9. Off the heat, add the cold butter and whisk to incorporate – it should make the glaze a little thicker and shiny
  10. Once cake is done, allow to cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn it out and allow it to cool all the way before glazing
  11. Once cooled, poke holes in the cake and pour the glaze over top.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes
  12. For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, softened butter and honey granules.  Beat on high until light and fluffy and honey granules are dissolved.  Add the agave and the rum.
  13. Frost the cake.
  14. Enjoy!

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Categories: baking, dessert, real food

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21 Comments on “A Marriage Cake”

  1. 12 October 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    What a lovely cake to honor your anniversary. Best wishes for many more years together!

  2. 12 October 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    This is a lovely and eloquent way to celebrate your wonderful years of marriage. Love the size of the cake and your description makes me wish it was my marriage cake! Well done-enjoyed reading this.

  3. 12 October 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Oh my heavens! Such a beautiful post! I am so honored to be a part of y’all anniversary! Maybe I’m an emotional wreck lately, but people like you are moving me to tears!

    • 12 October 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      Thank YOU for providing such a wonderful resource. We were so lucky to have you and your recipes as part of our celebration.

  4. 12 October 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    What a lovely post and the pictures were wonderful. I love the idea of sharing an intimate cake on your anniversary as you are right nothing is like that first one with cake. :)

    • 12 October 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      Thank you, Susie. There really is something about sharing that cake, both at the wedding and again on the first anniversary. Why shouldn’t we keep it up year after year – right!?

      • 12 October 2011 at 11:55 pm #

        I loved this post so much I read it to my husband tonight and he shared my sentiments exactly. I find it sweet and touching and all the things that are real about marriage and love and the comparison of your relationship to the cake are perfect. :) It made me think of my wedding day and my relationship and I thank you for that, because I was having kinda a crappy day and so was my hubby but we shared a moment tonight thinking about our life and our wedding and it made us smile to reflect and bring us back to what’s important. :)

      • 14 October 2011 at 6:46 am #

        I love that you shared it with your husband – that means so much to me.

  5. 12 October 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Lovely post. Best wishes for many more years together!

  6. 12 October 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    I like your new tradition! Happy anniversary….wishing you many more happy years of marriage.

  7. 12 October 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Happy anniversary! I remember that day. Was it really 8 years ago?! Lovely post, and I definitely like the idea of an annual marriage cake!

    • 14 October 2011 at 6:48 am #

      I know – somehow it seems like it was just yesterday! What seems crazier is that you guys have been married almost 14 years (how is that even possible?).

  8. 14 October 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Happy Anniversary! This is proof that love works. And just like baking a cake (as good as this), before we can even have a taste the sweetness and have our tummies filled, we need to start working. We need to communicate, respond, interact, compromise, etc…These are the ingredients. And together we make a lovely mixture, the hardest part is — there is no recipe that will guide us as to how many cups of this or that, how long do we keep stirring…Everything is based on pure love and instinct…
    I have been married for 5 years… I still have a lot of mixing to do, I know. I hope someday we can celebrate with a cake as perfect as this! I will look forward for more cakes and sweet blogs!

  9. 15 October 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Such a pretty post – congratulations on your anniversary! This adorable cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate.

  10. 15 October 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    How wonderful that you were able to share this cake together, it sounds amazing! I can only hope that I have the privlidge someday of doing this with a significant other. I love that you have created a new tradition baking a small cake instead of eating the old stale one.

  11. 17 October 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    This is such a beautiful post, and a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary. I wish you two many more such anniversaries in the years to come!

  12. 20 October 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I want to be you when I grow up. Or some version of you that is allergic to half the stuff you cook. You inspire me.

    And, I kinda get the part about marrying your best friend, now.

    Love you.

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