Dear Betty Crocker

Dear Betty,

I have a confession to make: I can’t bake. 

Ella’s birthday party is this weekend, and every year a friend of ours (a dad! he’s a man!!) bakes her birthday cake because I fail spectacularly. Oh, sure, I can do a simple smiley face cake like the one I did for Fi’s birthday this year:

It’s gluten free, and I’m proud of how bright the yellow is – but that’s about the extent of my baking skills (as you can see, Betty, the smile is crooked because I was nervous!).

But Ella’s cakes are more complicated. Last year she wanted an elephant cake, for Pete’s sake! Betty, what was I to do? I knew I couldn’t make an elephant so our friend (the dad) baked it:

The year before that she wanted a doll cake, and our dad friend made that one, too:

He is a fantastic baker, even though he is a man and you probably think the whole world has gone to shit when a mom can’t bake and has to ask a friend’s dad who is a man to bake for her.

But this year, Betty, he’s out of town so he can’t bake Ella’s cake. What am I going to do??

She wants a volcano cake. With lava coming out of it. I thought about trying to make one myself (how hard could it be??) but that’s when my husband reminded me what happened when I made Granda’s cake for his 84th birthday, which turned out to be his 83rd birthday:

Or last year when I tried to make the Frankenmonster cake like this for Fi’s birthday:

It didn’t look difficult – just a few layers of cake with some green and purple frosting dumped on it. What could go wrong? I gave it a try.

Well for starters I didn’t plan for leaning, Betty. The recipe didn’t say anything helpful like Beware of the leaning Tower of Pizza effect. I had so many layers of cake that they – well, they leaned and then they began to slide. Chunks began to fall off it like ice floe off a glacier. So my husband – who had once seen an episode of Cake Boss – tried to fix it.

Note: You may find the following video disturbing, Betty. You can hear our daughter, Ella, (poor child!) screaming in the background, which makes me wonder if my baking exploits have traumatized her.

Click here to see 20 seconds of the disaster.

After that I had to send my husband to the supermarket to get a last-minute cake – and he made me promise to never again try to bake a themed birthday cake.

So this year, I ordered Ella’s volcano cake from a real bakery, in advance. And I’m not going to feel guilty about not being able to bake it for her myself, Betty. I hope you understand. It’s just…not the 1950′s anymore. And even if it was, I’m pretty sure I would still not be a very good baker.



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  1. The video just killed me, it was so funny!

    I can bake a simple cake. With no frosting. That’s about it. Themed cakes? No way. Why bother when you can order one?

    You can see which camp I’m in with this.
    Twitter: MamaWantsThis

  2. I always buy birthday cakes. Always. There was one time that I tried to make a BD cake for my huz. A simple circular two-layer cake. But the two cake rounds were so lumpy that one wouldn’t sit on top of the other. Ended up running out for a store-bought cake that day as well.
    Now that I think about it, when I try to bake cookies and muffins they rarely come out well.
    Thank goodness for bakeries.
    Twitter: take2mommy

  3. Clearly your dad friend has some sort of baking gifting….one that I have not received.

    When I turned 16, my mom made me a chocolate cake for one of the few birthday parties I had where I was allowed to invite friends (instead of just family). And at the party, we discovered that when she baked said cake, she forgot to add the milk. Take comfort in that.
    Twitter: fromtracie

  4. That dad friend makes AMAZING cakes, do you think he vacations in Maine? The best I’ve ever made was Cookie Monster for a 2nd b’day. Other than that, my kids have had the basic Granda cakes OR I’ve bought them… (p.s. the video was HILARIOUS — ok, and a little disturbing too.) Please post a pic of the cake this year — are you attempting the volcano? :)
    Twitter: wordsxo

  5. Looking at beautiful birthday cakes makes me sad.

    Every time.

    If my kids could have Specialty ordered cakes of their dreams: I’d let them go nuts.

    Home baking? OVER RATED.

    The kids want to be happy..and ordering a gorgeous Horton Hears a Who cake is an easy choice to make when it brings on smiles through sparkling eyes of joy.
    Twitter: gdrpempress

  6. Your laugh is infectious. I cannot wait to see the volcano cake! Let people who love it make them…
    My son wanted the fire engine cake last year. I followed the video and did real good. Then it called for food coloring and I never used it before. So I put the red in the frosting and it was still kinda pink. Two bottles later… The fire engine did turn out more red then pink but can you imagine the taste?! had to scrape the whole frosting of… As for Betty, she created easy to make boxed cakes for a reason. She knew most women were like us!
    Twitter: NorthWestMommy

  7. That video gave me the LOL I needed! I happen to love the Happy Face and 84-1 cakes…classics. I’m not much of a baker either, but this year I pulled off a miracle and made a rainbow cake for my daughter. It gave me hope. But I think getting a store-bought cake should not involve a single drop of guilt!
    Twitter: theaumsmama

  8. Girl, I am a fantastic cook, and I can bake pretty well. But that fancy birthday cake stuff? Always left to the pros. I have ZERO decorating talent. Good on ya for being proactive this year. :)
    Twitter: TheMamamash

  9. Good for you, Ado. No, it is not the 1950s anymore. Nor is it hundreds of thousands of years ago when we had to hunt for everything we would eat, skin it and cook it on a wood spit over an open fire. People have specialized. We can do more because we rely on others to take of what they do best, so that we can focus on what we do best. I hope Ella has a fantastic birthday!
    Twitter: SJM_CookiesMom

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