by Caroline

The one day a year I am very happy to take orders from my kids is on their birthdays, when they know they can order up a day of special meals, culminating in whatever birthday cake they like.

Ben’s birthday today falls on a school day, so I have no say over his lunch, but I’m mixing up waffle batter for breakfast. Then for dinner at home, the boy has requested homemade sushi and a lemon layer cake for dessert.

The layer cake is one I haven’t made since a friend’s baby shower four years ago, but it’s a classic 1-2-3-4 cake that’s a good one to have in the repertoire. I’m using the Martha Stewart recipe for a lemon version, with The Joy of Cooking’s lemon curd filling (because it uses whole eggs rather than the just-yolks version Martha suggests) and a lemon cream cheese frosting. And then, because my boy loves candied citrus peel, I’ve made candied lemon peel to decorate the top. Ben, claiming birthday boy prerogative, is not assisting with the baking (even I don’t bake my own birthday cake), but his younger brother volunteered as an enthusiastic sous chef, and wound up pretty much handling the project on his own. He just needed me to read the recipe:

I don’t think I’ll leave the baking entirely to him anytime soon; after all, it feels like a privilege to bake something delicious for my favorite nine-year-old.