Tag Archives: Cake

Sweet Jelly Beans

In my family, Labor Day weekend has always been, to quote the VP, a big freaking deal. Traditionally, we convene at the cottage to mark the last hurrah of the summer, enjoying the sun and lake right up until twilight on Monday. But last year, my niece’s appearance in early September guaranteed that from then on, our Labor Day celebrations would be especially significant. And with her first birthday, we started a new tradition.

When Etta made her first ultrasound appearance, she looked so much like a little bean, we started calling her “Jelly Bean”. Back in December when we started making plans for her first birthday fête, the theme was a no-brainer. And so, my sister Claire strung the tent with tissue paper puffs and made centerpieces out of mason jars filled with jelly beans and pinwheels. She hung a ribbon clothesline above the fireplace with photos of Etta taken every month of her first year.

G was in charge of the menu – a classic barbecue spread with chicken, potato salad, baked beans, and corn on the cob. And like any adoring auntie with pastry skills, I made dessert.

For her first taste of sugar (ever!), it had to be simple – a vanilla cake frosted with thick, ultra-sweet classic buttercream. And not just any cake – it also had to withstand approximately 2 lbs. of jelly beans piled on top. After extensive internet research, I settled upon this cake from Sweetapolita, based upon a Rose Levy Berenbaum technique, and customized it for our sweet little jelly bean.

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An Epic, Delicious, Somewhat Gross-Out Birthday Cake

My entire extended family is very much into gross out humor. Two years ago, I baked a kitty litter cake for my little cousin’s birthday and since then, she and I have been stepping up our game with each subsequent birthday. Last year was a chocolate fudge cake with homemade hot pink raspberry icing- pretty, but not particularly clever. Imagine my pride when this year, a full two months before her 9th birthday, she sidled up to me a brunch and said, “Emily, I know what kind of a birthday cake I want this year- a dog poop cake!” As we hashed out the details, we decided the cake should be a scene of a dog park, complete with grass, play areas, and defecating dogs.

Don’t worry, cakes are not going to become a regular feature on this blog. Although my obsessive compulsive tendencies lend themselves fairly well to the precision of baking, I’m much more into rustic desserts. In fact, I only create a ‘celebration cake’ a few times a year. But thanks to the Baking & Pastry Boot Camp my mom and I took last fall, I have acquired some skills that allow me to turn out a cake that is both delicious and humorous.

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