Birthday Baking, We Meet Again

Well, April is quickly approaching — and that can only mean one thing in my house: My annual irrational desire to bake a nice birthday cake for my son has kicked in.

I can’t explain it.

I have to say, I’m a pretty good cook.  If you want a kick-ass chicken parmigiana for your birthday, I’m your gal.  But I’m not a great baker.  So why I torture myself with some combination of guilt, delusion and sheer stupidity is beyond me.

For those of you who were around for my son’s birthday last April, dinosaurs were all the rage in Fordeville.  And, so, I set out to comply with his very specific wish:  A stegosaurus cake — green with red plates on its back, to be exact.

That didn’t work out particularly well.

It really stressed me out.  It was time-consuming.  And, worst of all, it made me set foot in craft stores, which give me the creeps.  Something about all those plastic flowers and scrapbooking supplies.  Plus, I feel like all those crafty types are laughing at me as I ask all kinds of Amateur Hour questions of the employees.  Like “Can I just hire you to make my cake?” Or, “Does this box of baking supplies come with a case of wine?” {It doesn’t, FYI.  But I do think this is an excellent marketing opportunity.}

Anyway.  In the end, Project Stegosaurus Cake aged me immeasurably and the final product ended up looking not unlike a chihuahua.  The upside?  I got great comments on the blog from fellow non-bakers who fully supported the notion of the professionally made supermarket cake.  I swore I’d go that route this year.

And now I’m feeling all Baking Delusional again.  Shit.

This year’s theme, you ask?

The birthday boy has requested — wait for it…

A pirate ship.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I knew this was coming.  Especially since our trip to Disney World, as I find myself frequently yelling things like “Don’t run with that sword!” and “I don’t know where your gold doubloons are — did you look in your treasure chest?”

But a pirate ship cake?  Why can’t the kid declare his 5th birthday The Year of Pac Man? Or The Year of the Flat Rectangle With Minor Embellishments?  Why?

Damn pirate ships.

OK.  I took a deep breath and decided to start at the beginning:  A Google search for “Totally impressive pirate cakes that make themselves in the comfort of your home while you drink wine.”

What?  No results?! Apparently, I have to modify my search terms.

Google sucks.

So, I searched more broadly:  “Pirate birthday cake.”

Well, that was somewhere between demoralizing and comical.

I came across all sorts of the baking impossible.  But I’ve pared it down and would like to share with you the Top Three Pirate Cakes I Won’t Be Making:


Cake 1.  I love that this cake comes from a website called  Because this is obviously 101, super-basic stuff.  Sweet Jesus, I think this is a regulation sail boat that may actually float and shoot fire from the cannons.  But the ocean part — that little blue swirl of frosting at the bottom — I can totally do that.



Cake 2.  This makes Cake 1 look like a dinghy.  The woman who baked this took the liberty of describing how she did it on a cake website.  But with throwaway phrases like “I…cut the cakes into a boat shape” and “I…used a decorating tool to make the ship look like wood…and I made the ship flags with my crafting supplies,” I’m not sure she and I are on the same planet wavelength.  But damn, that’s a fine looking ship.  Plus she has chocolate-chocolate chip and vanilla bean loaf cakes inside.  File under:  Not Happening.



Cake 3.  What I like about this cake is that it uses a pirate ship cake pan.  Now we’re talking.  I thought.  Until I realized that I need a cake decorating class to make this thing look like something other than a leftover game piece from my childhood Battleship Travel Set.



So there you have the cakes I won’t be baking.  Not all hope is lost, though.  I did find these options, which seem to be more my speed.


How cute are these?  Although it may be anti-climactic to yell “Blow out your cake pops, son!”  He’s still perplexed by the chihuahua-stegosaurus of 2011, so I’d like to avoid any further confusion.

This may be the win.


This, or a phone call to the Shop Rite bakery department.

Stay tuned.


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  1. Alicia says:

    I tried a Barbi princess cake a few years ago for my niece. Not pretty. Some things are best left for professionals…pick up the phone and make the problem go away.

  2. Anna says:

    what are you doing googling this shit? you need to be looking on pinterest!

    i suggest making cupcakes, and sticking on pre-made pirate sails like these:

    or, bake a regular cake and just decorate with toy pirate ship and pirates from playmobil or something like that.

    or of course, just call shop rite!!

    • fordeville says:

      I know, I know — Pinterest. I looked. It was too upsetting. Pinterest is filled with bakey, crafty people who operate way over my head. But thank you for the lead on the cupcake toppers — I love those.

  3. Casey Forde says:

    Love those cupcakes! You. Can. Do. It. 🙂

    • fordeville says:

      I love the Bela Karolyi, motivational ring to your reply! Just don’t laugh when you see my version of the cupcakes in person.

  4. Erica says:

    I’m going to be completely honest with you. I am an avid baker and a quite good one too, but I’m a rustic baker. When it comes to cake decorating, I don’t do very well. At all. I discovered that in a beginner’s decorating class I took last year. I remember your stegosaurus cake from last year and it looked pretty darned good to me! I would not be able to do that. : )

    • fordeville says:

      Erica, let me assure you that you were either drunk or I used an ingenious camera angle to make you think that stegosaurus cake looked good! (But thank you!). From the back, he looked like a mauled chihuahua.

      And it makes me feel better that good bakers of the world, like you, would also have trouble making a boat out of cake mix 🙂

  5. Zai Floyd says:

    You are so hilarious. I read and read and laughed and cried and felt ALL your pain. We must be cut from the same cloth because this is my dilemma for 2014 APRIL- too. I go through the same exact pain you describe every year – down to the “coffee.” Except -wait for it . . . mine is self-inflicted since my soon-to-be 4 year old is not requesting Pirates. I just thought it would be a good theme to re-use his Halloween costume.

    I am strongly reassessing the situation.

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