the birthday cake

A friend and I were chatting about mocha cakes on Viber yesterday. My fingers were feverishly tapping my IPhone as we gabbed about how we liked our mocha cake. It has to be really fluffy. The flavour has to be right. They don't understand mocha cake here. It's not just a coffee cake. Emojis were flying back and forth from Sydney to my friend in Texas.  We sad-faced over having no access to a decent Filipino mocha cake. We have to make one. I will make one. I have been meaning to make one for so long.  Today was the day. I scoured the internet for an appropriate recipe. I wanted a traditional recipe. Old school. I wanted the cake from my childhood.

One of my best childhood memories was getting a mocha cake for my birthday. It was rectangular and came in a big white box with Joni's written all over it. The mocha flavour gets released into the air as soon as I open the box and I breathe it all in not realising I'm going to keep trying to recreate the experience in years to come. It had pink sugar flowers set in the cake with toothpicks. Because it's my birthday, I get first dibs on a corner slice- that's where the flowers usually are and the bonus double side of icing. My name would be scrawled across the cake in a neat script of red icing. My family would be gathered all around me and someone will always be singing happy birthday off-key (you know who you are!). We eat as much as we can because we know once it gets refrigerated the icing will never be as good again, even if you leave it out to get to room temperature. 

So many of the strongest memories come from our childhood. We're so primed for imprinting like Lorenz's geese. Obviously, apart from my parents I also ended up imprinting on mocha cake (and possibly the entire kitchen)! I have tried to follow my beloved birthday cake around but it's not readily available in Sydney. My family provides though and ensures I have one each time I go home to Manila. My sister-in-law has even taken the role of doing a yearly reconnaissance of the best mocha cakes in town so I can have it for my birthday. 

This cake I've made is from an online recipe by Aling Oday.  It's nice but I'd like to keep trying other recipes to see if I can get closer to the mocha cake flavours I love. I'm planning to try another recipe and this time it's from none other than Nora Daza, Philippines' celebrity chef from the 1970's. I promise to post a recipe once I find or create the mocha cake I like. In the meantime, I'll just have to wait till my next visit to Manila. 

What was your childhood birthday cake? Did you love it and love it still? Do you have a mocha cake recipe you can share?