As part of my long-standing family tradition, I honor all requests for birthday cakes to the letter. When I was growing up, my mom would make every member of my nuclear family (there weren't all that many of us) whatever kind of cake we wanted...from scratch. The scratch part is important because the rest of the year it was all cake mixes and pre-packaged sorts of deals. I don't mean to talk smack about the whole pre-fabricated cake phenomenon. Now that I'm all grown up and just a bit handy in the kitchen, it strikes me that those boxes really save very little work. Like I told my sister a while ago, if you have flour, sugar, oil, baking soda/powder, water, and vanilla, you have a cake. Obviously some cakes are more complicated, but the basic principle holds. I suppose the mixes save a bit of time and measuring, but that's about it. I tend to prefer the greater flexibility and options involved with the little extra effort of baking from scratch, especially since basic recipes--like the one I made for C's birthday this year--are so completely simple. Though I may be personally leaning toward pie (in the epic struggle between pie and cake), birthday cakes are really one of my absolutely favorite things to bake.