Cake With a Splash of Nostalgia | Teen Ink

Cake With a Splash of Nostalgia

January 19, 2022
By jackpilot GOLD, New York City, New York
jackpilot GOLD, New York City, New York
14 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” — Mary Shelley

Nostalgia comes in many forms. It could be a place, a photograph, a song, or a work of art. While those things do resonate with me, it is the smell and taste of my mother’s beach cake that always has the most significant nostalgic effect in the retrospection of my memories of sentimental times in my life. 

This is no ordinary cake. It is a sweet concoction of vanilla pudding, Duncan Hines cake mix, cinnamon, vanilla extract, eggs sour cream, and my favorite semi-sweet chocolate chips. In my view, it would be impossible for anyone to try and not become absolutely obsessed with it. My mother’s mouth-watering beach cake has been part of our family tradition for as long as I can remember.

When my mom cracks open the oven door to retrieve her delectable and extraordinary cake, the freshly baked smell triggers so many memories of moments in my life. The intoxicating scent travels its way throughout the house and we all wait with bated breath for the cake to cool down, ready to devour it. Oh, the first bite, delicious and never disappoints. Rapid-fire memories start sailing through my mind; as the crumbs fall down my shirt, I begin to reminisce. I recall the warm, sun-filled day my family took the cake to the beach. The waves were rough and we were not allowed to go into the ocean so we snuck into mom‘s packed basket of food and took the entire beach cake up onto the lifeguard’s very tall chair. We felt like champions. Like the seagulls that flew above us hungry for food, we quickly dug into the cake with our forks and when the forkful was no longer big enough, we resorted to using our hands.

I recall when my grandpa very suddenly passed away, after his emotional funeral, we ate beach cake and raised our forks to our “Grumpy.” That was his nickname, but in fact, he didn’t have a grumpy bone in his body. Since his passing, whenever I bite into the beach cake, I recall Grumpy’s affectionate smile and his tenacious manner that made everyone in the room feel loved; he built everyone up. I remember his voice as he always complimented my mom’s hard work on the cake. He would say, “beach cake is pure happiness in a cake.” My grandpa appreciated the little things in life such as a good book, a swim on a sunny day, and especially a slice of beach cake. I will always think of him and the smile on his face as he put the fork to his mouth and enjoyed the cake more than anything in the world.

Each cake represents time shared with the special people in my life, my family, and our close friends. We always celebrate birthdays and special occasions with a beach cake. I remember snow days when I assisted in making the cake. There is an art to making it as only half the batter goes in the pan and then you apply the chocolate chips and cinnamon followed by gingerly placing another layer on top and then adding more chips and cinnamon. That creates a middle layer of chips and cinnamon which is for me the secret weapon. I will always feel such sentimentality for the special moments with my mother. The conversations we had while baking were always so meaningful, it was our special time to bond. I would tell her all my secrets in those solemn and peaceful moments. Baking for me is very cathartic and perhaps as my mother wisely knew baking together acted as somewhat of a truth serum. 

I didn’t really understand nostalgia until I started experiencing the feelings through scent and taste. The cake, in essence, has become my memory keeper; my eyes into the past. Thus, the symbolism of the beach cake is far deeper than just great taste and smell. It is comforting to know that the family cake can bring back memories of the innocent times of my youth. I am 16 now and I have begun to compile a journal of my beach cake stories so that someday I can share them with my children.



Beach cake recipe:

One box of Duncan Hines cake mix

One box instant vanilla pudding

One small container of sour cream

Four eggs

1/4 cup of Crisco

One bag of Nestlé semi-sweet morsels

With a Splash of Nostalgia

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