Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cakes of Love

Cool title, huh?

Are you wondering what this post will be about?
Well, it's about cakes. Made with love.

I don't profess to be a baker - and I'm most certainly not an artist. However, I like to make creative birthday cakes. They don't always turn out like the images I have envisioned in my mind, but I've learned to live with this and, instead, try to enjoy the creative outlet it provides for me.

For many years, every time one of my kids had a birthday, I would order a themed birthday cake from the specialty bakery in town. They were always very lovely cakes, quite yummy tasting, but also very formulaic. No style, really. Too perfect.

Then Aidan, my youngest son, told me that his biggest wish for his birthday one year (I think he was five) was for a homemade birthday cake. Guilt feelings from the working mom ensued and I immediately agreed that this was what he would have.

"What kind of birthday cake would you like me to make you, Aidan?" I asked. "A wedding-cake birthday cake, momma", he replied. Wow. Really? I wish I could find the picture of what I wound up making for him, but since I can't, let me just say that my memory tells me it turned out quite well. It was a two-tiered wedding cake that had the second tier resting on pillars. The lower level had a dirt bike scene recreated on it and the top tier was a skiing scene. I used props. PlayMobil was my best friend.

And so, with this one request, a new family tradition was born. Each birthday thereafter, both my boys would try to outdo the other with their request for their homemade birthday cake. They would try to think of the kookiest thing imaginable and thought it was hilarious to try to stump their mom. Here are a few examples from the years:

It's hard to tell in this photo, but this is Piglet and some lizard and snake pals playing soccer on top of this cake for Aidan:

Teagan asked for the "dinosaurs playing football on a volcano with a river running down the side" cake for his 15th birthday:

Here is the life-size electric guitar cake I made for my oldest son, Teagan's, 16th birthday (I was so tired by the end of this one, that the white guitar strings are more than a bit crooked):

This was the "purple monster with wings and sharp teeth cake" Aidan requested for his 14th birthday:

Aidan requested a "half rhinoceros, half alligator cake" for when he turned 15 and this is what he got. If I recall correctly, he was rather unimpressed but I thought I pulled his request off quite nicely:

I can't remember what the specific request was here, but obviously it had something to do with aliens fighting each other. Teagan has always liked aliens. I made the cupcakes individual spaceships:

I really have no excuse for this next one. I must've been really tired and did not receive my "instructions" in time:

My apologies for this next one. This was the "severed zombie head" cake:

It was, afterall, Teagan's 18th birthday. I pulled out all the stops:

He was surprised that I actually pulled it off:

So, when my sister asked me about three weeks ago to make a cake for her son, my nephew Andrew's, 10th birthday, how could I say no? Andrew wants a snake cake.

My creative juices began to flow.
First, I baked three chocolate bundt cakes. Andrew loves chocolate:

I covered a long piece of plywood with foil so my finished product would have something big to lie on for transport. Then, I looked up pictures of snakes online. I'm ready:

This is always the nerve wracking part: making the cuts and piecing things together:

Aidan assisted by preparing the frosting. We were trying to get a portion of the frosting red, like blood, for the inside of the snake:

Sadly, we got mauve instead. This will just have to do:

Aidan's next assignment was to grind cookies into "dirt" for around the base of the cake. He's such a great assistant:

The crucial moment: attaching the head:

Once I was finished, we moved him downstairs to my basement pantry where it's only 61 degrees. This will help his frosting harden a bit until tomorrow:

If I were to straighten him out, he would measure almost 54"...that's 4' 4" long:

I used those candies called "runts" for the teeth. Mmmm...banana flavored! Aidan cut a tongue out of "fruit by the foot". Everything's edible on this guy:

The tradition continues. I hope Andrew's as pleased with his snake cake as I was to make it for him!


  1. You have some fine photography here. Nice cakes too. I am glad I bumped into your blog!

  2. Okay - that's it! You get Mom, Aunt, and just general all around most amazing cake maker of the - at least - decade award!


    I'm impressed, Danni. Truly, deeply, very impressed.

    Very nicely done!

  3. You are the greatest! I don't like bakery cakes either. I thought the zombie was the best, however, the snake takes a close second.

  4. THAT is hilarious, and totally awesome! You are amazing!

    Glad to hear you tried Costata Romanesca zucchini, you will love it I'm sure. It is prolific, and also produces a lot of male blossoms. Stuffed zucchini blossoms, anyone?

    Ali :-)

    ps, Pete and Reggie are adorable!

  5. HOLY COW DANNI!!! I see a new career in your future!! hahaha! I used to do this with Halloween costumes for my older children...I actually made my son an active volcano one year!! hahahaha! You are a wonderful mom and auntie and I hope Andrew has a lot of people to help finish that one up!!! It's awesome and he will flip!

  6. I love family traditions, and this one is the best! With all the zombies, aliens and monsters, though, I'm thinking there might have been years when you were wishing you had a daughter.

  7. Oh wow! Edible art....chocolate art...can it possibly get any better????

    You are fantastic!

  8. Would you make me a giant Peanut please? :)

  9. Girl, you are so wrong! You definitely are true artist and experienced baker. Those cakes are wonderful! I personally liked the chocolate snake cake the best. It is beautiful! And I am not really a big snake fan. You get better and better each time. So cool that Aiden gets involved with the artistry too.

  10. All of those cakes are amazing....and had some pretty specific requests. A volcano with dinosaurs playing football and a river running down the side? There was no way to have any miscommunication there. And what I really want to know is what kind of tools those aliens were using?

    I know Andrew will love his snake cake. I love how it is ALL edible. Banana flavored runts, huh? You and Aidan did a fantastic job. Im sure he was a great assistant to have in the kitchen. He wasnt working next to the window, right? Butterflies like to flutter by next to the window...

  11. Nice new header photo!

  12. Can't wait to hear and see the reaction to this artistic masterpiece! Prettiest looking snake I've ever seen, and chocolate too? What could be better?

  13. Wow! Girl you outdo yourself! Those are some great off-the-wall creations!

  14. What fun! That's quite an annual task you set for yourself. Yikes! Well done. Is there a new profession hiding in all that cake batter, I wonder...?

    I remember one cake I got was a Barbie and her dress was the cake. I think my Mom bought it at the store, but I still thought it was pretty cool. :o)

  15. Hooray for snake cakes!
    You are one creative momma and aunt. You boys will have such amazing memories. You know they'll be telling stories of your cakes long after they have kids of their own.

  16. You are one surprise after another!

  17. Those cakes are amazing! That zombie head is so cool with the arm sticking out. So gross that I almost couldnt eat it. I said almost.

    Ive been meaning to tell you, I love your new photo at the top.

  18. Ohhh...this makes you just the coolest mom! My sons would love the head, and the snake! Kim

  19. Very impressive Dani, you may have the beginings of a new career. Your blog brought back fond memories of cakes baked when my sons were small. Big machines always seemed to be their theme.

  20. Very clever! You have made some wonderful cakes over the years, and your use of bundt shape to form the snake is really clever!

    I learned a tip in pastry school that is soooo helpful when creating carved cakes. If you freeze the cake, and work with it while frozen, the crumb and breakage problem is dramatically reduced. It makes it extremely easy to carve any shape you like! and when you put your first coat of buttercream on (crumb coat) while the cake is still frozen, it seals the cake and seals the crumbs in. Then you can do a second coat of frosting that is crumb-free.

  21. Very nice!!! You make some awesome cakes for sure. I used to do that sort of thing - birthday cakes by request - when my boys were little. Don't be surprised if one of your family decides to take up cake baking when THEY have kids. My son decided his daughter needed to have special cakes like he did when he was a kid, so boy! They remember & love it, even if they don't think such stuff has made a big impression on them.

    Way to go Super Mom & Aunty!

  22. Wow!! I'm impressed! You get the "Mom/Aunt" award of the year.

  23. I loved all the cakes, but the guitar was the most artistic! The snake, however, was the most life-like and amazingly flexible considering what he had to go through in transport...... Some day you should write about your secret way of resurrecting a dismembered snake.
    Good job, Aidan! Your architectural skills were unmistakeable. I'm putting in my order for my birthday cake. Can I count on you and your mom? Or are these cakes only for boys????

  24. What an amazing looking cake!!! I am so impressed. I can't decorate a cake to save my life so this is awesome to me!!!

  25. Wow! I am in awe. I struggle to make any cakes. Lucy's horse cake was a pure struggle for me and I went in a coma when I was finished. Very creative cake! Little did you know you would later have that snake in your kitchen.


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