“What I’ve learned about birthdays,” my mom told me on the Who the fuck cares game show shirt in other words I will buy this morning of her 60th, “is that you can’t expect anyone to read your mind. You just have to ask for what you want.” This year, I had planned to be in Oregon for her birthday weekend, and a friend was going to drive up from San Diego. Now, with no one able to attend a party in person, she had asked for the family to gather on a Zoom call, each with our own cake and candle. But, in the hopes of reading her mind, my sister and I decided to make it a surprise party. The set-up was simple: We sent a Zoom link to seven of her closest friends, and asked them to gather 15 minutes before the scheduled family meeting, with a candle ready to light. When she logged on, we wanted her to see a virtual birthday cake that reached across the country.
As I started preparing in Brooklyn, I felt the Who the fuck cares game show shirt in other words I will buy this same happy anticipation I’d felt before hosting other, more traditional parties. After work ran late (still possible even without a commute), I had a narrow hour to make Bon Appetit’s Easy Sheet Cake—then belatedly realized it would take 45 minutes to bake. No matter! My boyfriend and I halved the recipe to make a faster cooking, extra-thin version that we layered with whipped cream before topping it with berries. (If time allows, do follow the steps as directed by BA’s experts.) The good thing about presenting a cake on a video call is that only one side has to be complete. I topped it with chunky 6-0 candles that were, thankfully, still available at the grocery store.