photo of white cake with candles on top

This Birthday Cake Hack a Bit of a Letdown

photo of white cake with candles on top
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

One of my social media feeds recently presented me with some birthday cake related videos. One promised a “life changing” birthday cake hack. As my loyal readers can well imagine, I couldn’t click fast enough. I love cake. And I’m not against a good hack either.

Yet what made this birthday cake hack video into a blog? My disappointment.

The most appealing part is at the beginning when the person offering the hack (I assume I can’t call her a hacker, that’s got bad cybersecurity connotations) cuts the middle out of the cake using a tall water glass. After pushing the glass through the center of the layered cake, she is able to pull the glass out with a little yummy round cake-let. Loved this idea. I’m thinking I could layer a sheet cake but then use a glass to give everyone a nice little individual cake to enjoy solo. That’s an ingenious hack. Yum!

But she keeps on going. She takes this gaping hole in the middle of the cake and shoves it full of not one, not two, not three, but five different kinds of store bought sprinkles. She just dumps the containers on in there, then lathers the top with frosting.

I thought she might mix the icing and the sprinkles, but no. It’s all just sitting in the hole in the cake’s center. She then puts more sprinkles on to the top of the cake to cover the fact that the frosting‘s no longer match.

“I’m turning this $5 cake into a $500 cake!”

Image from: Google, Allie Sparks Cake Hack

She and her camera person* agree this hack is making the cake so much better. But what she’s really done is built a sugar bomb. And she’s taken away the delicious CAKE!

This is all about the image of the cake. The idea of cutting into a cake that will explode with colorful sprinkles and look amazing on social media feed slo-mo videos or in your Instagram story. Even if you like sprinkles, you don’t actually get that many more of them. Only a few actually affix to the cake because there is no icing used other than to seal the top for the surprise effect.

This birthday cake hack totally throws off the cake to icing to toppings ratio! It has rendered the scrumptious birthday treat into a social media phenomenon. Boo.

Other Ideas for this Birthday Cake Hack

This hack could be really useful for a kid’s party if you, say, built a volcano-like cake. The kid cutting into it could have orange and red icing spew out like lava. Cool. Or maybe you could make it a lucrative surprise by putting coins inside. That would be fun too. Especially in countries where coins actually add up quite quickly to a good chunk of dough.

But as this cake hack works currently, I am not impressed. Too little cake. Too much mess. It’s not meant to be eaten but rather make a visual feast for your followers. So, if you’re going to serve up this particular birthday cake, may I suggest you also get another cake to actually let the dessert lovers at your party enjoy?

* Btw, if you watch the video it’s worth doing so with the volume on rather than the captions. That way you can enjoy the camera person’s cake porn oohs and aahs.

There’s a Wrong Way to Cut a Circular Cake?

I love cake, especially birthday cake. Really, I’m typically so focused on what kind of frosting was used (“please not fondant, please not fondant”) and what the inside is (“yeah chocolate!”) that cutting it correctly is the least of my concerns.

Yet I did recently come across an article suggesting I’ve been cutting circular cakes wrong all this time! Who knew?

Of course, it’s a mathematician who has chimed in with the best way to divide (or would it be bisect? That geometry term is springing up in my mind for some reason) a circular cake.

Going with small triangles is not the best plan, according to a YouTube video “The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake – Numberphile.” Drawing on a science magazine article from 1906, mathematician Alex Bellos suggests instead we should be cutting slabs directly down the middle to help preserve the cake longer.

So, you would start in the very middle of the cake and cut all the way through it from one edge to the other. Then you would do this again parallel to your first cut. Now, you have a slab from which to serve people.

You can then push the remaining sides of the cake back together with the exposed edges facing inwards for prolonged freshness.

There is even a suggestion of wrapping a rubber band around the cake. I don’t have the mental elasticity to see how this would work. Wouldn’t an elastic just cut into the cake itself? At least it would an iced cake rather than one enveloped in the aforementioned fondant (ugh).

The next time you cut into the cake you would repeat the two parallel slices across the cake’s center, then bring the now smaller cake back together again.

No matter the shape of the cake you’re sharing with humans, I’m guessing you will have an easier time of it than these pandas. Their birthday cakes are made of bamboo! Although, of course, they get to use their paws.

birthday cake

Going with the Flo for Birthday Generosity

I live in a city that is bracing for residual impacts of Hurricane Florence. We’re expecting heavy rains and high winds tomorrow. Already the trees in my backyard are dancing, and the kids in the neighborhood are too (since they’ve been out of school since Wednesday afternoon). I’m a little anxious about what might be coming our way. But, this happy hurricane-related birthday generosity helped me feel better.

In other parts of North Carolina, there have been evacuations and Flo came to shore howling hard. But, Red Cross workers in Hay River, N.C. still found time to share the birthday spirit. Upon learning that two teens in their shelter were having birthdays, they held an impromptu birthday party. They brought in a cake to serve and pizza for a shared celebration for the displaced 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.

“It’s the most humbling experience you’ll ever have. It really is, to see people happy and to know they feel comfortable and they feel safe, is our reward. That’s what we appreciate,” a Red Cross worker at the shelter told a CBS News outlet.

I appreciate the feel-good story related to birthdays. My stress levels about the pending storm may even have gone down while writing this!

Plus, while looking for a good image to use with this blog, I came across an article entitled: “You’ve Been Cutting Birthday Cake Wrong For Your Entire Life.” Oh my goodness, you know there is a blog waiting to happen there! I’ll get that one out to you in October (just before celebrating my own birthday—Yippee).

Birthdays Don’t Always Go as Planned

As a big fan of birthdays I tend to focus on the positives. Yet, I am not the ostrich bearing her head in the sand. I recognize not everyone has the same enthusiasm for their birthday. Yet someone over at Insider decided to actively seek out bad birthday experiences. They gathered 19 “worst birthday horror stories” from Reddit. I thought I’d share some of these “disastrous events.”

There’s the person who spent $300 on an expensive dinner and had his/her girlfriend break up with him on the drive home.

birthday disaster

foter.com

Or another individual whose girlfriend forgot his/her 19th birthday and made him/her wait in line for hours at her college bookstore before delaying his/her return home to the traditional birthday pizza dinner with his own parents.

But they’re both trumped in my mind by the writer who’s boyfriend left him/her at the bar on her birthday — without telling him/her he was leaving!  

There are also tales of surprise parties ruined. But the winner in that category is the one who was worried his wife’s “keeping secrets” meant she was cheating. She was in fact planning a party with several close friends not seen in years, but…she was also having an affair.

Injuries and Worse on Birthdays

Another writer received a physical hit instead of an emotional one. “On my 10th birthday, my mom got a piñata. My best friend was trying to hit the piñata, and on his backswing, he clocked me right in the forehead.” While friends rushed to the candy from the piñata opened on the friend’s forward swing, the birthday celebrant fell to the ground bleeding with a “huge gash” on his/her head. Five stitches in the hospital were needed.

birthday piñata

Image source: Foter.com

Someone else recalled a brother slamming his/her face into the cake, missing the cake, and instead bashing the seven-year-old’s face into the table. “I started crying and got blood all over my cake,” this person wrote. Oh, and, “this happened again when I was 9.” That’s the kicker for me. Really? Again!

A 16-year-old with whooping cough needed to be quarantined. But the parents apparently still wanted to celebrate, so they put the ill teen in the basement and party upstairs. The writer said, “they put a piece at the top of the stairs for me.”

Another writer’s Dad ran over the cat in the family driveway, in full sight of the birthday goer and his/her friends having picked them up from a movie for the sleepover portion of the party. Two of the friends saw the “pancaked” body before the father was able to “hide the body.” Let’s just agree those are three words you don’t want associated with your birthday. 

I’ve written before about death on birthdays, and read about people getting shot at birthday parties, but even still, I can’t agree with the article’s suggestion that their stories “will make you not want to celebrate.” I doubt anything has the power to make me not want to make a big deal of my birthday, and those of the ones I love.

Baby Born Twice is Promised Two Birthday Cakes

birthday

Photo by amanky on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

There are two other times I’ve had the opportunity to write about someone with more than one birthday. One’s the Queen, another was an administrative glitch. This one is actually a baby born twice. Yes, you read that correctly!

The 19-week ultrasound for Mom-to-be Joni Reinkemeyer determined her unborn baby had developed spina bifida, a birth defect where the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly. Her doctor suggested an operation to close the gap in the baby spine.

That operation meant “delivering” the baby, operating on it, and then returning it to the womb to complete the rest of the pregnancy—hence being “born twice.” According to Reinkemeyer’s doctor, Dr. Michale Bebbington, in Today’s Parent, this kind of surgery has only been done “a few hundred times worldwide,” and only “about one in five of those who are referred for evaluation will be eligible and willing to undergo surgery.” 

At the end of the second trimester in October 2017, 32 people were in the operating room to assist with the rare surgery. This included duplicates of each staff role — two neurosurgeons and the whole NICU team, — to ensure a safe procedure.  

The baby, named Jackson, was then born again in 2018. He’s doing fine. Mom says he’ll also get to celebrate both birth days.

“Seeing that he was born twice, I think we can allow him two cakes,” Reinkemeyer said.

Wonder how any siblings will take it? If they stick to an extra cake, I could see it going over well — more cake for everyone. But two parties and twice the presents might be a bit too much.

I can tell you if I was a Mom with a kid who was friends with Jackson, I’d only want to be called upon to give a gift once a year! But, I’d probably be more than happy to show up twice for parties — especially once they got to that age when I could drop off the kiddos and get a few hours of quiet on my own!

Stranger Makes Birthday Surprise Complete

Birthdays can bring out the best in people. Not always in the person actually celebrating the birthday — she can get a bit demanding (she writes while pointing to herself). But other people often really step up to help someone celebrate a birthday and feel loved. That is the big reason I love birthdays so much.

Here’s a great example from Canada (my native land).

Birthday surprise

A Halifax woman who wanted to surprise her mother for her birthday turned to Reddit for help. The thing was her Mom lives 4,000 kilometres away, in a tiny rural community in Manitoba, nearly four hours northwest of Winnipeg, where there aren’t any floral delivery shops.

So, Alison Hill, put a post on Reddit the night before her mother’s 71st birthday to see if anyone nearby was willing to bring her mother flowers. Within minutes someone had volunteered!

Hill ordered flowers in Dauphin, Man., about a 40-minute drive from her mom’s place, and offered to pay for the gas. But the man wouldn’t take it.

The Surprise Happens

The next day, Tia Hill was sitting in her front yard enjoying birthday wine with her husband and a few neighbors. She told the CBC she said, “If I had known we were having company, I would have baked a cake.”

Moments later, a grey truck pulled up and a man got out to ask if she was Tia. When she said she was, the man went around to the passenger side and came back with an urn full of salmon pink hibiscus and a birthday cake.

The flowers were from Alison and her three-year-old son. The carrot cake was a surprise for both women.

“A perfect stranger,” Tia Hill remarked. “She just ordered the flowers, he ordered the cake. And I was so taken aback. What a wonderful thing to do for somebody.”

Alison Hill added, “I thought that was amazing. It never even occurred to me to get her a cake — I just wanted to send her flowers!”

Tia Hill even called the florist to track the man down and thank him, but he had given a different name there than he gave on Reddit. “I don’t know who this man is, but he came with flowers and a birthday cake, so I love him to death,” Tia Hill said.

Alison Hill wrote back to thank the man too:  “He just said that I’m very welcome, and he does these things because he hopes someday someone will look out for his mom, too.”

 

Spice Girl’s Fruit Cake Prompts Commentary

I’m a bit of a Posh Spice fan. I can admit it. Although when the Spice Girls were big I probably appreciated Ginger Spice more. But, Victoria’s last name says it all, really. She landed David Beckham. And, although I love my own husband, of course, David Beckham is very much on my list. 

Victoria’s Birthday Cake

So, when I saw a blog criticizing Victoria Beckham’s birthday cake, I couldn’t click on the link fast enough to see what the fuss was about. Turns out, the fuss was about Watermelon. The kitchn story announced: “Victoria Beckham’s Birthday “Cake” Is Just a Big Watermelon in Disguise.”

When Beckham turned 44, she posted a video of her daughter sweetly singing “Happy Birthday” as the cake was sliced in front of handmade cards on Instagram. 

birthday cake

And the commentary began: 

The kitchn columnist said, “If you put this ‘cake’ and a real cake in the same place, no one would eat this one because there would be real cake.”

She collected some of the twitter responses, and I did quite enjoy these ones:

birthday cakeScreen Shot 2018-04-27 at 9.05.41 AM

Cake Alternative Accepted

Still, I have to say there is nothing wrong with a healthy alternative to cake (at least not for someone else, that is). Not everyone loves cake. If I loved cake less, I could likely go to the gym less too…

To me, it’s one thing to have a few laughs over the cake, but quite another to bash her eating choices overall. Those comments I won’t be repeating. She was happy with the cake, and loved that her family knew her so well. 

Her daughter sang! There are handmade cards, people! In March Time reported, her “net worth is about $450 million, thanks to brand sponsorships, modeling contracts, and a massively popular fashion label.” That’s just her net worth, without David. The kids could probably afford greeting cards — but they made them! And they made her a fruit cake instead of having a seven-tier something-or-other custom-made by some celeb chef. 

Say what you might about the watermelon having seeds or it not being a real cake, but it was prepared with love, which is what birthdays are about in the end!

Birthday Generosity for a BK Loyalist

While this may seem like advertising for Burger King, I would like to share this evidence that birthdays make people go out of their way to show they care.

Harold Rinehimer, a resident of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, is a stalwart Burger King visitor. According to local media there, Harold has walked from his apartment to the fast food restaurant “every day, twice a day, for nearly two decades.”

“I guess I like the stuff down here, the food, the times, and I see good friends down here,” Harold said.

Birthday Kindness

Upon discovering that Harold was turning 80, employees planned a surprise party for his birthday.

Seeing the big smile on Harold’s face at the surprise was worth the effort, said restaurant manager Elizabeth Phenotti. “It made my day…It’s just doing something nice for someone, making someone feel special. He sure needs it, he’s a wonderful person.”

Along with a cake at the party, employees gave Harold a card signed by everyone and a Burger King gift card.

birthday generosity

Image source: WNEP

“Faithfully, rain sleet, snow, shine, he always makes it here. I think it’s awesome that he’s lived to be 80. Hopefully, he has a lot more years,” said Burger King employee Audam Fogle.

“That was a nice thing they did for him,” said Nick Indelicato, who met Harold at the BK and often shares a meal with him there. “He was really surprised, so that was nice.”

Harold’s advice? Life goes by too fast, so enjoy it.

Since Harold’s first meal of the day at the BK is breakfast, and he returns for dinner, he definitely started his birthday on the right note — cake for breakfast!

Fighting over Frosting Birthday Cakes?

One of the age-old birthday debates revolves around cupcakes: Which is better the cake or the frosting?

Birthday cake

Some people can do without one or the other. My son, for instance, is likely to lick off all the frosting and leave the cupcake untouched. This is why we’ve moved on to cookie cakes, which he will eat in their entirety. But then there are the boys who come to his sleepovers and prefer their cookie cake slices without any frosting!

Now, I’ve encountered an idea that throws another spanner in the works: replacing buttercream frosting with ice cream frosting. Food & Wine’s  culinary director Justin Chapple offered this suggestion as a recent Mad Genius Tip:

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This made me think of another quintessential debate come cake-eating time: To ice cream or not to ice cream?

Birthday Cake & Ice Cream

I can understand the appeal of an ice cream cake, especially since one of my favorite fro-yo flavors is cake batter. Obviously, if you’ve ever seen any of my #yummybday posts, I am very much drawn in by the appeal of a freshly baked cake. Yet, I’ve never been a fan of cake and ice cream.

My family members are among those who feel that a birthday cake is best served with a side of ice cream. Yet, for my birthday’s there is no ice cream on the plate. It melts too fast and gets the cake soggy. If I wanted a soggy cake, I’d order a molten lava cake thank you very much.

Perhaps the best compromise for the cake and ice cream kerfuffle is this clever idea I came across from The Country Cook’s website. They used melted ice cream to replace all of the cake’s liquids, which “results in a slightly more dense and ultra flavorful cake!” This sounds good enough that we may need to celebrate some half or 1/4 birthdays soon, since we don’t have another birthday coming up for seven more months at my house.

birthday cake=

Happy Birthday — Have a Meat Cake

Many food and fashion trends have originated in Japan, but I’ll be interested to see if this one takes off in North America. Apparently people are beginning to celebrate their birthdays there with meat cakes.

Yep. Those are cakes made out of meat.

I’ve mentioned before that we used to make ground beef cakes for our dogs on their birthday when I was growing up. But this is full on carnivore cake for adults.

 

Yummy Bday at Yakiniku

These cake-shaped servings of layered meats are a trend being enjoyed in yakiniku restaurants where diners can grill their own meats.

The cakes help celebrate a birthday and can be shaped to look like a gift with sparkler, flower, or bow decorations.

In an approach that might remind North Americans of fondue restaurants, the diners are encouraged to select pieces of the raw meat and and grill them at the table. Of course, you then have to take a picture and post it on Instagram to really be part of the trend.

The Daily Meal predicts this phenomenon will take off shortly here in yakinuku restaurants or Korean barbecues. Yakinuku restaurants, by the way, serve diners bite-sized meats and offal to grill at their own table.

Amy Sedaris has also popularized meat cakes. The promotion for her new series, At Home with Amy Sedaris, features a four-tiered deli meat cake with meat-molded mushrooms. But she’s apparently been into this kind of cake for years (judging by a photo in a 2008 blog I found when searching “Amy Sedaris” + “meat cake” — not something I ever anticipated googling).

My Cake Hierarchy

Having worked with someone who didn’t eat sugar and ordered a paleo cake for the office, I will admit I was uninformed enough to worry she was going to be sharing a meat cake. This was a person who made beef jerky in the office oven after all. Happily, though, paleo just meant no wheat…but the cake could still be frosted and was just as tasty as my choice of cake.

So, I’m going to go first with traditional cakes as I’ve featured in #yummybday. Then, some of the alternatives I’ve blogged about, or I could settle for a paleo cake. But the meat cake is going to be number 4 on my list. Now, if there were a pasta cake…that would be something I would be willing to try.