I learned to bake them by watching my mom in the kitchen. Maybe I watched her because I was interested in what she was doing and maybe because I watched she invited me in. From watching her I learned the order of putting a cake together. I knew I always had to take the butter out in time to melt because it had to melt on its own to melt right. And, it had to be butter. She preferred all purpose flour to cake flour and lined her pans with flour on the sides and wax paper on the bottom. She always tried new things in the kitchen and her attempts always made for a better final product. Did she discuss techniques with her friends or did she spend hours contemplating them on her own? I don't know!
Mom didn't always bake cakes. She would only do them for holidays or special events. The fact that it was Sunday wasn't special, but Easter Sunday was.
I think this is something that has really changed in our food history: we no longer have as many special foods only on special occasions. Cookies, cakes and other pastries that used to find their way into our kitchens at festive times now are staples as is meat. I often ate meat three times a day when my ancestors would have been lucky to have it three times a week.
How much meat do we really need?
My food memory also has images of well balanced, full plate dinners that always had a vegetable, meat, salad, tea and starch served on the kitchen table around 4 pm and we all sat down to eat. The messages were clear: no soda for dinner, a full plate is served and we all sit down together. I'm only just now realizing that message about a full plate of food. I couldn't be satisfied with just a plate of macaroni and cheese for dinner because it didn't fit my memory. I've recently learned that my biggest meal should be eaten for breakfast and each meal through the day should get smaller. That way my food intake matches my energy output. Eat like a queen in the morning, a princess for lunch and a pauper for dinner.
My mom's favorite cake became the Caramel Cake. I think right now, mine is German Chocolate, but it has to be home made! The best recipe I know of is on the Baker's German Chocolate label.