21st Birthday Cake

Baking date: May 20, 2017

The 21st birthday for my friend Lou’s daughter was celebrated at the Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery. Lou had reserved a large table, ordered sangrias, wines and food, and even secured a stretch limo to get us all to and from the venue safely. The party guests included good friends and family:

Ladies at the table (1)

All the ladies

a number of which were mothers/daughters that Lana (the birthday girl) had grown up with:

Moms and daughters

I have known Lana and her mom for many years – our sons have played baseball together for 8 years, and basketball a number of years. So — of course — a special cake was my gift to the birthday girl. Her mom told me chocolate on chocolate was good. And her favorite color is blue.

I made both the one bowl chocolate cake and the chocolate ganache frosting from scratch, which included cocoa powder. The very same cocoa powder that fell out of the cabinet at one point. The top popped off and the cocoa powder ended up all over my mixer. I’ll bet this shit never happens to Martha Stewart.


For the decorations on top of the cake, I hand-piped a two and a one using bright white candy melts. I covered the numbers with royal blue sugar. I piped on bursts of the ganache and set the “2” and the “1” into the ganache.

Using a very small star tip, I piped Lana’s name in script using the ganache. I then placed blue sugar pearls in the center of each small burst.

Around the top edge of the cake, I piped shells using star tip #21. Inside the shells, I filled in with large blue and white sugar crystals.


Around the base of the cake, I piped on bursts of ganache and placed a white sugar pearls in the center of each burst.


Happy 21st birthday, sweet Lana. And thanks for having me be part of your special celebration!



Sweet 16 Birthday Cake (Guest Baker Post)

Baking date: September 1, 2015

My oldest niece Eva turned 16 on September 1. She lives in Toronto, and we get to see my sister’s family twice a year, if we are lucky. We share lots of special events via email, Facetime, and photo-sharing.

On September 1, my parents, my two other sisters, and I all received an email with a photo attached of Eva’s cake. Eva is a free spirit, fierce, and marches to her own drummer. I love her independence! She wasn’t going to want the standard sparkly, girlie, pink, or any other stereotypical “sweet 16” cake.

So my sister made her a chocolate cake, with the decorations done freehand. This cake wasn’t typical, which is why I love it so much.

Birthday cake

Happy birthday Eva! And for those of you in the Richmond Hill area of Toronto — you’ve been warned!

Heinz Ketchup Cake

Baking date: June 12, 2015

My uncle turns 70 this year. His birthday is in November, but his son — a Marine — has just been assigned to a new tour of duty in Italy. My cousin and his new wife are moving in the first part of July and will be gone three years.

My uncle’s kids decided to have a surprise birthday party for their dad, under the guise of our annual “Cousins and Crabs” party. Each Summer, as many of my cousins (there are 13 of us) from mom’s side of the family get together for an afternoon of crab eating and catching up. We usually do this in July when my sister and her family come into town from Canada for their annual visit. So, the story was that we were moving up the Cousins and Crabs event so we could get together before Will and his wife shipped off to Italy.

The party was hosted at my mom and dad’s house, in our sprawling front yard. I knew that cakes were being ordered for the party, but I wanted to make something special. He is also my godfather.

One unique thing about my uncle is that he is a fan of fanatic about ketchup. Not just any ketchup. It has to be Heinz ketchup. It can only be Heinz ketchup. In fact, he loves it so much and puts it on so many different kinds of food, that he gives it up each year for Lent.

So I decided to make him a Heinz ketchup cake. This was my inspiration:


It was a white cake mix (I dyed a bit of it red to make a sort of swirl in the cake):


I traced the outline of the ketchup bottle on a piece of paper. I then traced the outline of the bottle onto the cake using black sparkle gel frosting. I used white sparkle gel frosting to outline the labels and the cap. Then I began piping in the frosting using a star shaped tip with vanilla frosting I had dyed red:


For the “label”, I used sparkle gel frosting in white and piped white stars around the bottle. I frosted the rest of the cake with the remaining vanilla frosting:


I then finished up the label with red, green, and black sparkle gel frosting:


I finished it up with red stars piped around the base, and added white sugar pearls in the center of each star. Here’s a side view of the cake:


My cake was very homemade, compared to the two professional cakes:

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Professional birthday cake

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They also had a nice anniversary cake for my aunt and uncle, with a family tree, and edible sugars in the shape of some of his favorite things (high school logo, college logo, Mustangs, Marine corps, Ford, CPA logo, and Wall Street Journal).

But in the end, he made it clear which cake was his favorite:IMG_7250

It was a great party and a wonderful reason to gather family to celebrate.


The Fenwicks: daugher-in-law Nina, Uncle Bill, cousin Will, grandson Jack, daughter-in-law Cathy, cousin Matt, grandson Max, Aunt Barbara, and cousin Heather


My Uncle Frank, Aunt Becky, Uncle Bill, and mom

Football Helmet Birthday Cake

Baking Date: October 12, 2012

I was asked to make a birthday cake for one of my son Nick’s football teammates.  Andrew also plays baseball with my older son Alex, so we pretty much see his family year round.

On Thursday, Andrew’s dad saw me at the grocery store and asked if I could make him a birthday cake for Saturday.  We settled on a helmet-shaped cake since Andrew is the quarterback of the football team.  It was a butter cake decorated it in the team colors – royal blue and yellow-gold.  I piped on the royal blue/yellow-gold icing using a star tip #16 from Wilton.  The white is sparkle gel frosting.

Before I personalized it for Andrew, I posted the “generic helmet” picture on our local high school football Facebook fanpage.  It happened to be homecoming weekend and I thought the parents, players and students would like it.

Go Lions!

It was Andrew’s 10th birthday, but we all know it’s his jersey number that is most important.  I used star-shaped candy melts in yellow and piped on his jersey number (11) with sparkling gel frosting.  I added the “10” for his birthday in the small circle on the helmet.

Happy Birthday Andrew!


70th Birthday Cake

Baking Date:  October 6, 2012

My mom’s 70th birthday is October 15.  We had a big family and friends celebration on October 7.  Over 100 people joined the festivities, including relatives from Canada and California.

Even though the party was catered, my oldest son Alex and I made mom a cake.  It was red velvet in a heart-shaped Wilton pan.  I iced it using cream cheese frosting.

My son Alex decorated it with different colors of Wilton sparkling gel frosting, spelling out Happy Birthday Nanee (what all the grandkids call her) and a 70.  He added blue candy melt hearts around the side of the cake, as well as one on top of the cake.  Then Alex sprinkled edible blue shimmer dust on top to finish it off.

I know it wasn’t the fanciest cake that day, but to me it was a masterpiece.

Happy Birthday Ryan

Baking Date: September 7, 2012

I was asked by one of the baseball team moms to make a cake for her son Ryan. He is a Steelers fan (smart boy!) who just started high school this year.  They have a child with severe food allergies, so they didn’t want a really big cake.  I suggested small stars cakes  spelling out his name, in some sort of Steelers design.

I used the Wilton Mini-Star pan and made a marble cake box mix (marble cake was the birthday boy’s request).  I frosted the stars with canned vanilla frosting, dyed with Wilton icing color in Golden Yellow.  Truthfully, I added a bit too much dye to the frosting, so it came out more orange than I would have liked.

I found the Steelers “font” online and after the stars had been iced, I carved the letters with the sharp end of a knife.  I then filled in the letters with Wilton black sparkle gel icing.  The stars were then outlined using a Wilton icing tip #16 in vanilla icing that had been dyed grey (using a small amount of black dye).

The Steelers logo was added to one of the stars, using grey M&Ms to outline the white circle.  The white circle and logo diamonds in yellow, red and blue where added on using Wilton sparkle gel icing.

Ryan’s cake – side view

Ryan’s cake – top view

Happy Birthday Ryan!