In honor of Tasha's birthday, we thought it would be a wonderful time to share her favorite birthday cake recipe! You can find this recipe in the highly covetable Tasha Tudor Cookbook (currently out-of-print). In it, Tasha says, "This receipt has been the family birthday cake for as long as I can remember. For many of my daughter Bethany's birthday parties we placed the cake on a wood-shingle raft, surrounded it with flowers, and floated it down our stream. We also had a shingle raft and a candle for each child's sandwich. We positioned the guests downstream, and when the right moment came we would light the candles and send the cake and its flotilla of shingle boats out into the stream. It was dark by then, so you can imagine the surprise of the guests at the sudden appearance of this fairy convoy. Once, the cake took off into a faster current and my son Seth had to wade in to rescue it."
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2-8-inch round cake tins, cut rounds of waxed paper to fit in the bottoms, and grease and flour the paper.
Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar well, then add the well-beaten yolk. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix well. Beat the egg white until stiff. Fold in the egg white and the vanilla.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins. This recipe makes a double-layer cake.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the cake is done when tested with cake tester. Take care not to over bake!
While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff but not dry. In the top of a double boiler, over hot water, combine the sugar and the water. Place on the stove and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until the mixture spins a thread when blown from a spoon--242°F on a candy thermometer. Add the syrup to the egg whites in a thin stream. This takes two people--one to beat constantly and the other to pour steadily. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture reaches spreading consistency. Add in the maraschino cherry juice to color your frosting a beautiful pale pink, if desired.
Once ready, remove the cakes from the oven and set them on racks to cool. Cool them in their tins for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tins, peel off the waxed paper, and allow them to finish cooling. When the cakes and frosting have both cooled completely, frost the cakes. Tasha would sometimes decorate her cakes with the petals of seasonal flowers such as calendula, rose, or violet for a lovely effect!