Lemon-Champagne Cake for a Sourpuss

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on March 4, 2013

When I was first introduced to Grumpy Cat via the magical powers of the internet, I knew I had found my animal soulmate. That tiny frowny face expressed so much of my life philosophy with one look; as my friend Kristen said recently, I have a policy against many things. On the “NO” list of my life? Spas and massages, bachelorette parties and shower-type celebrations, children, driving at night, wearing flip-flops on airplanes, surprises of any kind. That last one goes double on my birthday.

grumpy cat hates your birthday
Friends and family misconstrue the reasons I don’t like to acknowledge my birthday. I’m not sad about getting older; I’m actually pretty proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far. I just don’t want everyone in the world looking at me for no reason at all. Being the center of attention turns me into a sullen teenager. I want to throw on a huge pair of sunglasses, hide behind my hair, do anything to turn the harsh spotlight of eyes on me in another direction. Compound that with the awkwardness of being forced to open presents in front of a crowd and I become a snappish, embarrassed mess. I would rather strip to a towel in front of a stranger and have them touch my naked back with oily hands.

Don’t get me wrong; I do love living high on the hog, and I have no problem finding excuses to spend money on myself. I just don’t feel others should reward me for the simple fact of my existence. So every year on my birthday I end up grumpy, exhausted, and disappointed after a day of forced smiles and recognition. The greatest gift anyone could give me (apart from cold, hard cash, which I can use to buy the perfect present, because I alone know what I want) is to let me sleep in, watch TV, eat junk food, and ignore the constant stream of emails and deadlines for a day. Kind of like Kevin in Home Alone, only without the need to burn Joe Pesci’s head with a blowtorch.

lemon champagne cake
But this year’s birthday is kind of a big one, and I thought it was high time to come to terms with my ambivalence about the whole “it’s your special day” thing. So I did what any food-loving misanthrope would do: I made a cake for myself, by myself, in the exact flavors I wanted, and ate it myself. (This may be culinary payback for the year that a well-meaning but inept co-worker staged a birthday coup with a strawberry-chocolate ice cream cake, two great tastes that do not taste great together in my book, and a conference room full of co-workers yelling “SURPRISE!” As Grumpy Cat would say, NO.)

Though you really can’t taste the Champagne flavor in the cake below, I like knowing it’s there—and the bubbles help create a delicate, moist crumb. If you’re serving this to kids and are concerned about the teensiest, tiniest potential for them to consume alcohol, just substitute seltzer. But don’t skimp on the intensely tart lemon curd, since it cuts the sugary richness of the frosting. I’d rather have sour and tart than full-on sweet anyway, and it’s my damn cake.

lemon champagne cake
I’m going to eat a cold slice of lemon cake for breakfast now. Not because it’s my birthday, but because I think it tastes better that way.

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