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


No Birthday at School? Still Fun to be had.

classroom birthday

For all the complaints about helicopter parenting, any parent today can tell you there’s also a long list of things we’re not allowed to do for our children these days. Especially when it comes to birthdays at school.

You can find a school that has banned any of these ways of celebrating with classmates:

  • Sweet treats (too sugary).
  • Homemade treats (could be allergens!).
  • Store bought treats (sugar, allergens, undue financial pressure on classmates).
  • Paddy whacks.

Recently, in honor of back to school, a local ABC affiliate ran a segment on a non-food related way of marking the special day — paper plate crowns. Yes, you too can have the birthday fun of cutting up a paper plate and coloring on it and adding some stickers.

I’m all for the premise behind the interviewee’s business: “We love coming up with ways to use very based supplies to have a great time and make a cool craft.” Plus, she made a smart suggestion of getting the markers at back to school sales, so that each child could get their own set to take home.

Still, I’m not buying her argument that this is perfect for all ages. Plus, since she poohed poohed the TV host’s suggestion of sparkles (“teachers won’t like that”), there’s little to make the birthday child’s crown stand out.

classroom birthday

So, while I applaud the creativity of coming up with a non-sugar solution to the rampant ban on birthday commemorations at school, I suggest we keep our thinking caps on a little longer to come up with something more personalized and appropriate for wider age ranges.

Of course, I’m still in favor of the sweets once in a while in the classroom. My concession would be to have a cake once a month to celebrate all of the birthdays in the class within those 28-31 days. Then, on each of that month’s celebrants’ actual birthdays they could sing “Happy Birthday” to give the child the individualized birthday love they deserve.

Ode to Auteurs Via Cake Photography


Take a close look at that photo above. Who would you guess was being celebrated with this particular cake?

Consider some of the clues: how many candles? What color cake? What kind of sunglasses are those? And what car would I be driving off in using the keys on the left?

If you’re thinking of 16 Candles or those ferrari keys have you in mind of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…you’re right there along with director John Hughes. His films were among favorites in my youth.

Hughes made an impression too on New Zealand-born Henry Hargreaves and installation artist Nicole Heffron who have made art out of staged settings for birthday cake photography paying homage to film auteurs.

Take a look at this slideshow of some of the selected works and see how many you can guess. I’ll leave some blank space below the pictures, so you can guess first before seeing the answers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

….What do you think?…


….Did you get them all?


….Really? All 9?…


….Humming Jeopardy theme song…


Ok, then let’s begin with the Moon pies — if the pez dispenser didn’t give George Lucas away, perhaps the other sci-fi accoutrements and Star Wars paraphernalia gave it away.

Next up, the Mickey mold and items around this kitchen are inspired by Walt Disney.

The staircase on this sleekly elegant birthday table setting is for Alfred Hitchcock, particularly Vertigo.

The baked goods from New York’s Little Italy as well as the gambling and cigars are hints of Martin Scorsese’s Casino and Mean Streets.

Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is suggested by the pills, milk and Beethoven album.

The samurai sword by the blood-spattered cake is a reminder of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

The bear-shaped cake with a can of beer is to put you in mind of Ted director Seth MacFarlane (who probably doesn’t often see his films lumped with Scorcese, Kubrick and Hitchcock!).

John Waters’ identity is given away by his Pink Flamingos cake, a reference to the title of the 1972 movie starring drag queen Divine.

The cherry pie reminds us of Agent Cooper’s enthusiasm for the pastry even in the midst of solving the Laura Palmer case in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

The artists, who spent a year on the project taking one auteur to focus on each month, stated, “the series provides visual narratives that are both a celebration of each filmmaker’s unique vision and a glimpse into the minds of their most impassioned fans.”

You can see the entire series on Hargreaves’ site, where he also shares his photos of inmates’ last supper requests and other innovative project ideas.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

7 Alternative Birthday Cake Ideas

Last week I was virtually salivating over a birthday cake made with Pimm’s and Champagne poured into a mold to form a jiggly Buckingham Palace. Along the same lines a loyal reader sent me a link to CupofJo’s several unique non-cake birthday cake options.

I added some research of my own, and now share some of the more creative recipes I came across.

Crackle! Pop! Celebrate!

Food blogger Not Without Salt shared a recipe for a Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat Cake with layers of peanut butter chocolate icing. It would make for a crunchy bite of cake, but kiddos would likely love this one.

Rice Krispie Treat Cake

Sprinkle Bakes, a baking and desserts blogger I regularly retweet for #yummybday made the even more attractive version Rice Krispie Treat Sprinkle Cake.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

Fruity Festivities

Not Without Salt is also the source for this cake made entirely of fresh fruit. In summer this would be a perfect alternative if the guest of honor eats gluten-free. As a huge fan of watermelon, I’m all over this idea. Ironically, despite the blog title, there is no salt in this recipe!

Tasty Fruit Cake

Birthday for Breakfast.

What better way to start a birthday off than with a Cake Batter Pancake Cake? I am in firm agreement with How Sweet It Is food blogger Jessica’s view that “the world would be a better place if more sprinkles were involved.” Using sprinkles in the cake batter that she cooked up as pancakes, Jessica created a tasty treat that would likely bake much faster too! Still, it could use more frosting!

Cake Batter Birthday Pancake Cake

Brownie Birthday Binge

Not as creative as the first few options, this one still takes the cake (ha ha) for chocolate lovers. No wonder this brownie stacks up as the first playful, alternative cake displayed in’s slide show.

Brownie Birthday stack

Ice Cream Birthday Dreams

This Have A Yummy Day ice cream wreath recipe involves making the ice cream from scratch. However, the idea alone would be easy enough to replicate with store bought. I’d want to try this one actually, with pieces of cake or brownie on the serving tray too. Oh, and definitely a chocolate sea salt caramel ice cream as the base.

ice cream wreath

Chip in for Cookie Layers

This last one would surely be my son’s favorite. He’s asked for cookie cake the last two birthdays, but this one might be in the running for next February. The Cake Blog’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake layers thin cookies with buttercream between the layers holding this tower of goodness together.


Any other suggestions you’d share for alternative birthday cakes? I’d love to read about it in the comments section.