How NOT to Make a Cake

You know those cakes, the ones that look almost too good to cut into? Some look exactly like sports cars, or castles, or animals. You’ve seen them in bakery displays, they’re made from scratch and elegantly decorated with fondant, or beautiful buttercream. They somehow look delicious and sophisticated all at the same time.

Well, my mother is no Buddy Valastro, but that doesn’t keep her away from the kitchen. When my brother and I were kids, birthdays mattered. Each year our mother would ask what we wanted our birthday cake to look like and we didn’t hold back. We requested whatever came to mind when the question was posed. These are just a few samples I could find:

There was no buying pre-made cake in our house. As birthdays rolled around, bakers across the world groaned collectively, as my mother would rip open the box and add the eggs and oil to the mix. That’s the easy part. The hard part was trying to fashion something resembling our request. One year my brother asked for a red guitar. He was served an orange blob with candles. When I was seven I asked for a teddy bear holding a heart. I was served a brown blob holding a lopsided red blob. We came to love these cakes more than if they’d come out the way we hoped they would. They were a mess but we saw how hard mom worked to make us happy and we always laughed together at what we ended up with.

This year was the first birthday I’d spent at home in 10 years so I decided we needed to throw an old-school party. There must be party hats and matching plates and of course, a mom-made cake. I asked her to create “Animal” from Sesame Street; I knew it would be a challenge. She laughed as she brought home the ingredients that day and we shared a knowing look, both excited to see what would happen next. She wouldn’t let me watch her create her latest masterpiece but I could hear her in the kitchen.

 “Why isn’t this turning red?!”

 “Does that even look like a nose?”

Finally, she was ready for the big reveal. Behold:

A cake made to look like Animal from Sesame Street with orange and black frosting


Complete with a marshmallow Peep in the middle of his face – this is more than just a red blob of fur! I immediately called my brother. “It actually kind of looks like Animal!,” I said. “I know,” he told me. “She sent me a photo of the practice cake she made before you got there.”

Have you ever tried your hand at an artistic cake? How did it turn out? Share your story in the comments below!

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