Baby Shower Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes and Lemon Velvet Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Baking date: July 21, 2017

A friend commissioned me to make 60 cupcakes for her daughter’s baby shower. I had made cupcakes for her bridal shower two years earlier, and a gender “reveal” cake when her daughter became pregnant. The the mom-to-be again requested the fresh strawberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting for her baby shower.

I told them I would make a cake as my gift to the bride. We decided on a lemon velvet cake with raspberry buttercream frosting.

The theme of the shower included elephants and the colors pink and grey. The grandma-to-be purchased pink polka dot cupcake liners, elephant cupcake toppers in pink/grey and pink/grey zigzag, and other shapes, as well as a cake topper. Links included to show samples; I can’t vouch for the vendors since I do not know where grandma-to-be purchased them.

The website for this cake topper wouldn’t load, so here’s a picture:


For the cupcakes, I pulled out my big gun of a cupcake pan. This was the last of the batter going into the oven:


The cupcakes were topped with a swirl of buttercream frosting. I then added pink and silver sugar pearls around the cupcake, and then topped them with the cupcake toppers that had been hot glued onto toothpicks.

Here are the cupcakes:


Then it was on to the cake. I will say that I tasted the batter before I cooked it. It didn’t taste real lemony to me, so I squeezed some fresh lemon juice into the batter, in addition to the lemon zest and the lemon extract.

The raspberry buttercream recipe — holy cow — it makes a ton! This was the cake and the frosting before I got started:


I tried a buttercream smoothing technique I saw on YouTube. I had placed the cake in the frig, so it took a bit longer and I never did get it completely smooth. In the future, I’d ice the cake and let it “crust” at room temperature, and then do this technique with the Viva paper towel and the fondant smoother.  I should have taken a before and after picture because it did help smooth out the frosting. Here’s the after:


Around the base of the cake, I piped on bursts, and added a large white sugar pearl in the center of each burst. Finally, I spelled the baby’s name with raspberry buttercream piped on candy melt circles in bright white that I added some black color to in order to get a grey.

Here’s all of the sugar, ready to be delivered to the party:


Here’s the table full of goodies:
Baby Shower table 1Baby Shower table 2

Congrats Kaitlyn and Kevin – we can’t wait to meet baby Hannah!

Kaitlyn and Kevin

Photo courtesy of Lidia Miller Photography.

My pricing philosophy:

How I price my work


Breast Cancer Awareness Cakes

Baking Date: October 3, 2014

In the month of October, I bake goodies for the women in my life who have battled breast cancer. It’s just a small way of saying thanks for being a warrior in the fight – we all support you!

The first cake I made was for one of the moms from my son Alex’s baseball team. She was selected to be the 2013 Orioles Honorary Bat Girl. This October is the third anniversary of her initial diagnosis of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

Hope is a very important word to her because originally, the doctors gave her little hope as she also has a heart condition. But she continues on every day, helping others, and making sure to cherish every minute. She appears to be in remission right now. She has two sons and a daughter.

For her, I made a cake using the Duff Pink Camouflage cake mix.  The picture on the box makes it seem like it is very easy to create perfectly round drops of the tri-colored batter:

So perfect!

So perfect! Because Duff has many baking helper fairies, I’m sure.

Well, this is actually what it looks like when someone like me follows the directions on the box:

This is how the cakes came out of the oven:

Looks ok, right?

Looks ok, right?

Baker’s note: where the different colors of cake came together, the cake started to separate, which you can see in the picture.

I iced it using a basket weave technique I saw on YouTube. I used Wilton Rose icing color to dye canned vanilla icing.

The basket weave technique

The basket weave technique

I topped it off with star-shaped candy melts in bright white, with H-O-P-E written on the stars with Wilton pink sparkle gel frosting.



Her family claimed it was the best tasting cake yet (and I’ve made them quite a few). Here’s a picture of the inside of the cake:

I'm calling this a win

I’m calling this a win

And here’s what the box shows it should look like:

Close enough, I say.

Duff has a staff. I don’t.

Baking Date: October 5, 2014

The next cake I made is for another survivor. This year, she celebrated 7 years in remission.  I had made her a 5 year cake a few years ago.  She is also a mom from my son’s baseball team. She has two sons.

I used the same cake mix, but didn’t do circles or the three colors. Instead, I just did swirls of hot pink batter:

Another technique

Another technique

This is what is looked like after coming out of the oven:


A big swirly mess!

Baker’s Note: The cake did not separate like it did when I used the drop batter technique as instructed on the box.

This cake was decorated using canned vanilla icing. On the top of the cake, I used the spatula that I had spread the icing on with to make the little “peaks”. I dipped the spatula on the icing and then lifted it quickly. There is a ribbon-shaped candy melt on top, in bright white with pink sugar sprinkles inside. Around the top edge of the cake, I placed pink sugar pearls. Around the base of the cake, I piped stars in the vanilla icing dyed hot pink.

Here’s the inside of the swirl batter cake:

Inside of the swirl batter cake

Inside of the swirl batter cake

This also got rave reviews in terms of how good the cake tasted.

The final cake I made was for a friend who also was diagnosed with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer just over a year ago. She has endured chemo, a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery. She had to quit her job because of her aggressive treatment of the disease, and the community has had fundraisers to help her family. She has a son in my oldest son’s class, a daughter in my younger son’s class, and a high schooler.

For her cake, I used a regular white cake mix and, saving some of the batter and dying it hot pink. I dropped small dots of the hot pink batter into the white batter in the heart-shaped pan. I didn’t get pictures of that — sorry!  I went with heart-shaped because I had seen these cookies, and thought I could replicate with a cake:

Inspiration Cookies

Inspiration Cookies

I frosted the cake using canned vanilla frosting. I dyed some icing hot pink and used a star tip for the bra and the same tip as for the basket weave for the straps and outline of the bra. I also added a hot pink border, using the star tip. I made a ribbon-shaped candy melt in bright white with pink sugar sprinkles.

I wasn’t sent any pictures of the inside, but I heard it was good.

To all those out there Fighting Like a Girl, stay strong. To those of you supporting someone in the fight, stay strong. And for those who have lost the fight, we honor your warrior spirit.



Mothers Day Cupcakes

Baking Date: May 10, 2014

For the past two years, my oldest son Alex’s baseball team has played games or tournaments on Mothers Day weekend. Last year, I made cupcakes for the moms and got everyone sparkly paw print earrings to help us cheer on the Lions in future games. The year before we got an awesome picture of the boys with all the moms and I made cupcakes with each kids’ uniform number on a heart-shaped candy melt.

This year, I made french vanilla cupcakes. I topped them with pink-tinted frosting and used a Wilton #32 tip to swirl on the icing. I added royal blue dots of sparkle gel frosting, since our team colors are white and royal blue (with a bit of yellow gold).

I created rose-shaped candy melts using bright white. I added some pink sprinkles into the mold before making the candies. I added some pink sugar sprinkles on top of the frosting.

And here they are loaded up and ready for the trip to the ballpark:

The final product

The final product

Before the boys got their goodies after the game, I made them deliver cupcakes to their moms, grandmothers, and aunts in attendance.

Big love to all the moms and those who take on the role of mom!

Breast Cancer Fundraiser Cupcakes and Cake

Baking Date: August 8, 2013

I’ve made goodies for breast cancer battlers, and I wish I didn’t have to tell you there is another mom who needs our community’s help.  Cassie is a beautiful person — inside and out — who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer this Spring. Her son is in my oldest son’s class, and they play football together.  She also has an older son and a younger daughter.

Cassie works as a waitress and has had to give up the job because of her chemotherapy treatments. Even with her husband working, things are pretty tight for the family financially, and the community is rallying to help her with an number of fundraisers, including a “Pink Yard Sale”.  That involves people donating items to the Yard Sale, and all the money for items sold will go to the family. I’m donating the glide rocker in our basement that helped rock our boys to sleep, but now has a higher calling as something that can bring comfort to Cassie’s family in the form of money raised.

Another fundraiser is the “Clips for Cassie” event. Cassie’s mom is a licensed stylist and is donating an entire day of her talent and time to give back-to-school haircuts to people in the neighborhood, in exchange for a donation to Cassie and her family.  My good friend and graphic designer extraordinaire Rebecca Henigin came up with the design for our flyer:

Clips for Cassie Fundraiser Flyer

Clips for Cassie Fundraiser Flyer

I offered to make special goodies for anyone who got their hair cut, and made a donation. Cupcakes seemed like the most simple single-serving treat.

I purchased Wilton Pink Wave Baking Cups. They are nice and tall and give the cupcake a lovely package. I used a devils food box mix for the cupcakes, and a canned vanilla frosting, dyed pink using Wilton’s icing color in Rose. The designs on top of the cupcakes were made using Wilton icing tips in #48, #12 , and #234 in different ways. I topped them off with Wilton candy eyeballs.

This is how they turned out:

In addition to the cupcakes, I made a special cake for the family. The cake was a white box mix. I put a bit of the batter aside and colored it pink using the Wilton Rose color. I then marbled the rose batter into the white batter in a 9″ x 13″ pan. I frosted the cake with a canned vanilla frosting, and I used pink and black sparkle gel frosting to draw on the design from the flyer. I made the heart and the pink ribbon from pink candy melts. I piped bursts around the edge of the cake in the leftover dyed pink frosting, using the #48 tip.

It was pretty humid in my kitchen, so I’m a bit bummed the “C” in Cassie ran some. I find you have to be mindful of the icing running when you use these sparkle gel frostings. You need to refrigerate them to help keep the shape of your design.

Here’s a few views of the cake:

I hope these sweet treats brought an extra bit of happy to the Clips for Cassie event. What good deed could you do that would help brighten someone’s day?

Walkersville Slugger Cake

Baking Date: May 11, 2013

It has been a very exciting few weeks for one of our little league team moms. After being nominated by her daughter (which I blogged about previously), Krista won the competition to be the 2013 Baltimore Orioles Honorary Bat Girl!

We are so proud of Krista, all the other nominees, survivors, and those currently in the battle. We, of course, are thinking about the angels who gave their all in the fight and are no longer with us.

I’m especially proud of Krista’s daughter Sarah Grace, whose winning nomination essay should be an inspiration to any family member or friend of someone in the fight against cancer.

Sarah Grace's Honorary Bat Girl Nomination Essay

Sarah Grace’s Honorary Bat Girl Nomination Essay

As a way of honoring Sarah Grace, I made her a special cake, along the theme of the special pink bats used on Mother’s Day by Major League Baseball.

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

I made a red velvet cake (her favorite), with cream cheese frosting in light pink all over. I made a bright/hot pink border using the same cream cheese frosting. In the interest of time, I used a box mix and can frosting.

For the lettering, I piped melted chocolate candy onto a “logo” I created.  Thanks to my designer friend Rebecca Henigin from Henigin Design, who studied the font and told me which fonts I should use for my logo.

I printed out the logo, and taped a piece of wax paper over it.  Using a piping bag and small tip, I hand-drew the letters on the wax paper, tracing them with the chocolate candy melt. Since the McElwains live in Walkersville, MD, that’s the location I used on the bat.

In hindsight, the letters need to be a bit bigger/thicker.  Once they harden and you begin to peel them off the wax paper, the thinner parts break very easily.  There are a few “Frankenletters”, but hopefully you can’t tell which ones they are!

Yes, yes, I know the letters don't form a symmetrical arch!

Yes, yes, I know the letters for Walkersville don’t form a symmetrical arch!

The hot pink frosting on the side of the cake.

The hot pink frosting on the side of the cake.

Congrats to Sarah Grace and her mom Krista, and thanks for bringing inspiration to all those who are “Fighting Like a Girl!”

Mother’s Day Cupcakes and Cookies

Baking Date: May 11, 2013

It’s no surprise to my readers that I spent a Sunday in the Spring at a little league ball park. In fact, I was in a total of three ball parks, for 4 games on Mother’s Day. My oldest son had a tournament – with all games rained out on Saturday crammed into Sunday. My youngest had one game.

For the moms on my youngest son’s team (well, for all the kids, moms and dads), I made Key Lime cookies and Orangesicle cookies.  These are from a box mix by Pillsbury – not sure if they are limited edition/seasonal or not.  There is also a pink lemonade flavor, and all flavors come in cake mixes as well, and have corresponding frosting flavors.

Key Lime OrangesicleI made the cookies and topped them with vanilla frosting and sprinkled the corresponding colored sugar sprinkles on top. Here’s what was left after the game:

Key Lime and Orangesicle Cookies

Key Lime and Orangesicle Cookies

For my oldest son’s team, we’ve been together as a group since the boys were nine (some of them, since their boys were 8). While a few players come and gone, the core group of about 8 boys has remained solid.  We have spent many a weekend together cheering our boys on during some unexpectedly frigid late Spring months and through blistering heat in the middle of Summer. Through it all, they’ve been a supportive group of families — on and off the field.

This year, I made Mother’s Day cupcakes for the moms. I made devil’s food cupcakes (from a box mix), topped with milk chocolate frosting (from a can).  I made roses using vanilla candy melts and the Roses in Bloom Wilton candy mold tray. I used pink candy sprinkles to give the roses a flush of pink, because we have two moms who are breast cancer survivors.

Mother's Day Cupcakes

Mother’s Day Cupcakes

Since we are the Lions and our colors are royal blue, black and white, I also got each mom a pair of “bling” paw earrings in royal blue from Thunder Rock Jewelry. For the two survivors, they got “bling” paw earrings in pink. I put them in a white netting bag, and tied them off with pink ribbon that had a paw print on it (what a perfect find at AC Moore!). For moms that don’t have pierced ears, the earring can be removed and placed on a necklace.

Paw Earrings in special bags with ribbon for each mom

Paw Earrings in special bags with ribbon for each mom

Hope you had a chance this year to find a way to honor all the moms who touch your life in a special way!


My oldest son’s team wears a pink ribbon patch on their travel/All Star uniforms. We have a team mom who is a breast cancer survivor — going into her 6th year cancer free! Last year, I made her a cake to celebrate her very important 5 year milestone.

We have another mom who was diagnosed about 18 months ago and has gone through chemo, radiation and the host of indignities that every cancer patient suffers through. HOPE is a very important word to her.  She embraces the pink and I’ve made a few sweets for her, including a Pink/White/Hot Pink cake in October for Breast Cancer Awareness:

HOPE cake

HOPE cake

some cookies with hot pink frosting that spelled out HOPE:

HOPE cookies

HOPE cookies

and a HOPE red velvet heart-shaped mini cake out of some extra batter I had from another baking project:

Bringing sweet HOPE to those who need it

Bringing sweet HOPE to those who need it

When I heard about the Honorary Bat Girl Contest on Mother’s Day co-sponsored by Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger, I immediately thought of my baseball family.  Without reading the details, I suggested the contest to the daughter of the mom currently in the fight.

Sarah Grace was very excited and wrote an essay about why she would like to be considered. Turns out you have to be 18 years old to be nominated to win. Sarah Grace is not yet in high school. Disappointed — but not discouraged — she immediately wrote a nomination for her mom.

I hope you will consider voting for any of the amazing women who have been nominated.  You can search by baseball team to select someone local to you.  But I also HOPE you’ll read the story of my fellow baseball mom Krista. You can vote for Krista here:

Sarah Grace is an amazing young lady. Her efforts to honor her mother and other breast cancer victims gives us the HOPE we all need.

Krista and Sarah Grace

Krista and Sarah Grace