I Bake Memories Into My Cakes

I have been a stay at home mom since my first baby was born.

We lived in Chicago.

I didn’t have some fancy, high-payin’ job at a hoity-toity downtown firm.

It was cheaper to stay at home and not pay for daycare.

We lived in a rented apartment so we didn’t have a mortgage and property taxes to pay.

That began 12 years ago.

And I’m still here.

New address…same job title.

And because I’m a mom at home, I have always made my kid’s birthday cakes.

Well, almost always.

I did start buying cakes for Gigi for some reason and she got mad at me and said (well it was more like a scream…she always screams…) “why don’t you make my cakes?!  You only make Zoe cakes!  I WANT YOU TO MAKE MY BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!”

I have always enjoyed baking.  And I believe my skills have improved greatly over the years.

I even made naan bread recently on my new butcher block island in my kitchen.

And in the cake making and decorating realm of kid birthday parties, I am SO PROUD of the panda cake I made a few years ago for Gigi.


Pinterest is my friend.

And it can be your friend too if you are planning parties.

I never go into a party for my kiddos without consulting with Pinterest first.

Now, not every idea I have for dessert for a birthday party has worked out for me.

Ask my kids about the horse cupcake debacle of Zoe’s fourth birthday party and they will tell you about my “nailed it” moment.

Luckily someone who worked for Man-Farmer (he has an actual job at a local university and isn’t really a farmer, he just pretends to be one) was able to whip up a cake at her cake baking company for Zoe at the last-minute and it was really cute.

Zoe has actually said in the last few years that she “doesn’t like cake”.


Is that even a thing?

Who doesn’t like cake?!

Well, my kid doesn’t so we have had to go a different route for her.

We found that the Mrs. Field’s Cookie Shop at the mall made cookie cakes.

It essentially a huge chocolate chip cookie that is then decorated with icing and it’s become Zoe’s favorite thing to eat for her birthday.

And then the Mrs. Field’s Cookie Shop at the mall closed.


But, a cookie guardian angel was hovering over Zoe because lo and behold, the gal who owned the now defunct Mrs. Field’s Cookie Shop at the mall got hired at the same local university that Man-Farmer works at and she agreed to make our girl a cookie cake last year out of her own home.

She’s great with the decorating with icing thing (something that is NOT my forte) and that’s what makes her cookie cakes so amazing and I am hoping she will make her another one when Zoe becomes a teenager in February.


We had a birthday party for Gigi yesterday at our house.

My kids usually have a birthday week.

An entire week of celebrating their life and giving them food and gifts and love.

Yesterday was Gigi’s family birthday party.

Tomorrow, the 14th,  is her actual birthday and she will be celebrating her 9th birthday.

To read about Gigi’s confusing entry into this world on my old blog, click here.

I made some treats to take into her classroom tomorrow.

And we will have pizza from a gas station for dinner.

Her choice.

She loves Casey’s pizza and it’s made from scratch at the gas station down the street.

We already went to Red Lobster for lunch (her choice as she’s a crab leg lovin’ girl!) on Saturday to celebrate her upcoming birthday with Grandma and Gpa.

And this coming Saturday we are going to drive her and 4 of her giggly little 3rd grade friends to a rock climbing venue where they can climb up a 65 foot converted grain silo and then eat pizza in the party room.

So yesterday, cousins and Grandma and Gpa come over for cake and ice cream.

We always have a theme party.

This year Gigi chose Dragons.


What do I do for that?

Pinterest!  HELP!

I found a few different ideas and finally decided on a Dragon Scales cake.

Some lady, who must make cakes professionally, posted her link to this amazingly decorated cake using buttercream icing.



I knew my cake wouldn’t look like this (I WISH it would, but I’m 100% realistic in my abilities) so I went in with the attitude of…It won’t look amazing, but it should look ok.

And away I went baking.

I used the fancy cake lady’s recipe for the cake she made on her site.

Gigi wanted a blue cake and so I added blue gel coloring to the batter.


I forgot that the egg yolks would play a part in the coloring process.

So, instead of a nice blue color I ended up with a green color.

But a baby-poo green color.

And as I poured the batter into the pans, I knew something was WAAAAAAY off with this batter.

I said to Man-Farmer “this is not going to work out.  this batter is not spreading and is so weird.  i’m going to have to make more cakes later.”

Flat and poo-green and what the hell just happened?

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The fancy decorating cake lady may be able to rock it in the icing department, but her cake batter went south in my kitchen.

So, I went into Round 2 mode and used a never-has-failed-me-before Martha Stewart recipe for a yellow butter cake.

I omitted any coloring in the batter and just kept it yellow.

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Much better.

A cake versus a disc of poo.

I made the buttercream icing and dyed them three different colors.

Purple, blue, and green.


I decided to do the crumb coating of icing and the icing between the layers of the cake in the blue icing.

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And then attempted to ice the rest of the round mass of buttery sugary goodness in purple and green dragon scales.  I was running out of icing, so I just slathered the remaining icing on the top.


As I’ve gotten older and have created many different cakes in my kitchen, I’ve become more lax in my attitude about each cake’s creation and final outcome.

I try my very best.

And the final product is what it is.

No more stressing.

No more worries.

I gave my all.

Enjoy the cake, people.

The Dragon Scales cake was not perfect.

It tasted amazing.

Homemade butter cake and homemade buttercream frosting…so much butter!

Gigi told me last night that the cake was the MOST AMAZING CAKE SHE HAD EVER HAD EVER!

She’s so sweet.

She knows how to make her mama feel good.

As she’s a true sweets connoisseur she knows that a good homemade cake-full of basic ingredients like butter, sugar, and eggs from the hens in the backyard-just can’t be beat.

But what she doesn’t realize is that I’m baking her more than a sweet dessert.

I’m creating her childhood memories…one cake slice at a time.













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