Birthday cakes are so much fun to make, especially when they are for someone special to you. This week my mother hit an undisclosed milestone and my family (including her younger brother who shares her birthday) gathered to celebrate the incredibly large number of years she had achieved. (Just kidding Mom—everyone knows you are still a spring chicken!)
When I told my four-year-old Madeline that her Mimi was about to have a birthday, she was overjoyed to help make a cake and cards for the occasion. It was so thrilling for her to realize that even her grandmother has birthdays. And like me, Madeline loves any excuse for a party.
I struggled with the decision of what cake to make. Many of the celebrants at our family gathering were watching their diet in one way or another so I decided to create a new recipe using more healthy, less processed ingredients. Yes, this is still a dessert and an indulgence, with its fair share of calories. However, I was able to avoid many of the vices found in traditional birthday cakes: no butter, no refined flour, and I used brown sugar and honey instead of the usual granulated or powdered sugar.
Since whole wheat flour is often more coarse and heavy than all purpose or cake flour, I recommend using either whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat whole wheat flour for the cake—they tend to be less gritty than the standard “whole wheat” flour. Also whisk the flour in a medium bowl before measuring out the three cups you need for this recipes.