A cake I made for my grandmother’s 75th birthday

One thing you should know about me is that I have a serious sweet tooth. I have always loved any confections I could get my hands on from brownies to cakes to cookies, etc. My favorite school days were the ones preceded with a chocolate sprinkled donut from Dunkin’ Donuts. My favorite part of birthday parties was cutting into the cake. And one of my favorite Christmases was the Christmas that I received a Barbie doll cake in which the skirt consisted of buttercream and vanilla tulle.

Despite this passion for pastries, my mom was never much of a baker. She preferred to personally not have that kind of tempation in the house and, additionally, she wanted to prevent us kids from unhealthily binging on readily available sweets. Due to this deprivation, I often found myself raiding my friends pantry cabinets mid-playdate in search of delicacies such as Pop Tarts, Oreos, or cookie dough. Given that I could never find items such as these in my own household, my passion for baking presented itself fairly young. I started with classic box mixes for sweets including brownies or muffins. I then slowly graduated to the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip package, which, just by the way, was a very naiive undertaking given that the perfect chocolate chip cookie is a particularly difficult art that I have yet to master. And, when I felt especially ambitious, I attempted to make cakes.

As with anything else, and as I was aware with my background in sports, to become adept at a new pursuit takes time. I think the art of baking receives an unfair underestimation in this regard. Baking takes years of practice, mistakes, and lessons before combining a slew of ingredients correctly and in a presentable format can begin to hover in the 80-90% success rate region (as an aside, I don’t believe any baker can feasibly reach 100%, but luckily for cake decorators, icing can cover most mishaps). Just for a few examples, in one of my first attempts at banana bread, a family favorite, I read the recipe as 1/4 cup of salt opposed to the appropriate 1/4 a tsp. For those that aren’t aware, 1/4 cup of salt is an absurd amount of sodium for a loaf of bread and upon first taste of the batter, I quickly discovered that the loaf was no longer bakable. One of the first times I volunteered to bring a cake to a party, I was in a bit of a rush and neglected to heed the recipe’s warning of waiting for the cake to cool completely prior to icing the layers. What I then delivered was a melted mess that granted me a lot of, “Well, it’s still just as delicious!” from my mother’s friends. And, of course, who can forget the classic forgeting to oil the pan before pouring the batter in resulting in the old cake stuck in pan setback? You only make that mistake a million times. Nevertheless, I enjoyed baking almost as much as I enjoyed the results and it wasn’t long before my mother suggested we attend one of the cake decorating classes offered by a Michael’s or bake shop. Unfortunately, due to my brother’s and my demanding sports schedules, we never really had a free series of Saturday’s to spend a few hours learning the proper techniques when I was going through high school. A few years later, towards the end of my second-year of college, I lamented this fact to my sweet (pun intended) boyfriend and one Saturday two months later I was on the way to my birthday present: a Wilton Cake Decorating 101 class.

After Angela, my cake decorating professor, handed me my Wilton Certificate, I had a new lease on cake decorating life. My newsfeeds became flooded with cake videos in which I’d watch someone decorate sugar cookies with royal icing, create a pumpkin cake out of two bundt cakes (tried that), make Christmas trees out of ice cream cones (also tried that), and much more. I found that the world of sweets had a whole community dedicated to inventing creative ways of displaying edible every day items and I was hooked. I’ve started unveiling my creations on my secondary Instagram, @cakebyyates_, and I’m always searching for inspiration for my next project. If you need a cake decorated, this amateur has got it covered. And buttered.

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