An Ode to a Crazy Cake Man

Well, maybe an ode is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe the title should be….. "my husband has mad cake skills". I think it's even cooler if you spell skills with a z. SKILLZ.

All right, I know…. I'm getting carried away here. But I think it's time you knew of the mass craziness that takes place on birthdays here. It started about 15 years ago for the very first of the first birthdays, a super cool race car. And then the madness continued…..

We've had castles, treasure boxes, sea serpents, alligators, slugs, tea pots, mushrooms, a brief commercialized era of blue's clues (hey, we're human too!) and as the big kids have gotten bigger there have been electric guitars, pianos, rodents of unusual size, fountains, blocks of "cheese" and more. Each year the mastermind (Joe) thinks up a cake…. sometimes with kid input and other times not. As the kids get older it is often a little inside joke that turns into a birthday cake.

The weeks leading up to the birthday have the kiddo begging to know what their cake will be, while Joe gives illusive hints and smugly grins at them. He spends the first half of the birthday morning cutting, icing and creating the birthday cake. Most of our birthday peeps feign hunger or thirst in hopes to get into the kitchen and sneak a peek. At which point Joe dramatically throws them out. It's this totally ridiculous tradition that really is nothing like our other very simple birthday happenings. The cake is always this over the top candy laden creation that Dad & kid adore to no end. I have become the master cake & icing maker…. finally making both cake & icing that are just right for the ordeal and Joe's exact requirements. {Which became a real challenge when the youngest was in his dairy/egg free days!}

And while I should really share a bunch of cake photos to show you all Joe's mad skillz…. I will instead just share this year's castle & the ultimate chocolate cake recipe. ('cause the scanner & I don't exactly see eye to eye.)


Luke's Castle:








I know, it makes you want to brush your teeth and ward of sugar buzzed young people….. but it's so cool, right? And I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a slice of it with my coffee yesterday morning…. ahem.

Do any of you have crazy ridiculous traditions? I'd love to hear what they are.

And the cake….. oh that cake is my all time favorite. No eggs, no dairy and super easy. This was adapted from somewhere. Maybe a moosewood cookbook? I think there are many a vegan cake out there that look similar. It's my go to birthday treat. *swoon*


Right Now : I Am


Dark Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached bread flour)

3/4 c cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cup water *

2 TBSP vinegar

3/4 cup oil (I use extra light olive or grapeseed)

1 cup sugar

1 TBSP vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt in a large bowl & set aside. In another bowl mix together water, vinegar, oil, sugar & vanilla. Pour this into the flour mixture and stir gently but quickly. Bake in a well oiled & flour dusted pan for 15-25 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (10-20 minutes for cupcakes)

Makes 2 round cake layers or 24 cupcakes.

*This cake is AMAZING if you use cold coffee instead of water. The stronger the coffee the better, in my opinion. It is also incredible with a 1/2 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate chips or finely chopped bakers chocolate in it. I love the coffee with bakers chocolate combo and a bourbon chocolate ganache for grown up cake. Wow!




21 thoughts on “An Ode to a Crazy Cake Man

  1. Ummm.. Sooo now im hungry!! Im sitting here at work drooling all over my desk. Thanks Steph!! SHEESH!
    Ive gotta say.. that castle is freaking awesome. You guys did a great job. Was he super excited when he finally saw it?


  2. Oh my goodness. THAT is a cake. Does he have a steady job? Because he could do this as a living! That would take the fun out of it, though, wouldn’t it? I would LOVE to see pictures of all the cakes. A block of cheese? He sounds like a gem. My husband is quirkily creative too, in a way I am not…I may have to pass this on to him. My brother in law sent me a link to a “Leprechaun Trap” cake…the cake part bakes into a RAINBOW (I know…hard to picture, but incredible)…I’m going to send you the link by email…share it with your hubby! Any March birthdays in your house?


  3. I love it!!!! Hmmm . . . now I’m thinking pink octopus cake . . .
    Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to run some flour test trials this month. I’m thinking Amaranth and coconut flour would be tasty.


  4. The cake decoration is amazing! And yes, we use a similar version of this cake…called Dr. Feelgood’s Chocolate Cake in Crescent Dragonwagon’s vegetarian cookbook “Passionate Vegetarian”. It is our all-time favorite birthday cake. But we always go for two layers, with home-made whipped cream generously globbed between and heaped on top accompanied by home-grown raspberries. I’m having a sugar jones just looking at your photos! Yum!!!


  5. What an awesome dad and fabulous family tradition. I’m sure you children will cherish those memories. I bake a cake for the kids on the first day of every school year. We sit and have cake and talk about their first day when they get home from school. This year my youngest is off to college, so I guess I’ll have to send the cake with him.


  6. It would take the fun out of it. I am going to share the kids cakes on here from now on since you all thought they were so fun. The block of cheese was hilarious… I even made a little felt mouse to sit next to it and we served it with fruit so it looked like a GIANT cheese platter. The Leprechaun cake is TOO cool! No march birthdays here but I love the idea of the hidden rainbow. Cheers to all the creative men out there!


  7. Can you use spelt? I can't remember if it's low gluten or gluten free. Also, with denser flours in gf baking, maybe you could add more baking soda & vinegar for leavening. If you get it to work I would *love* to share the variation here. I've got several gf pals out there πŸ™‚


  8. I'll be sure to share the big kid's cakes this year too. Luke's is always the toughest in Louisiana since its 80 degrees in the house this time of year. Heat/Humidity and frosting do not get along so well! But the little guy *loved* his cake πŸ™‚


  9. That is exactly the way I love cake. Frosting, while being an excellent decorating tool is far to sweet for my taste…. but chocolate and whipped cream… oh my! And raspberries? Over the top. Someday when we head back up to the northern half of the country I plan to have raspberry & blackberry bushes in the yard too πŸ™‚


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