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I’m obsessed with cake right now.

Okay, I admit…it’s not just today. I am pretty constantly obsessed with cake. Hubby #1 loves to tell the story about my college roommate’s wedding when the cake was wheeled out, a hush fell over the room and I shrieked, “Yay cake!” at the top of my drunk lungs. What can I say…cake is important to me.

So, it’s obvious that the cake for Baby #2’s birthday party would be an important decision for me. I went back and forth for a week…make or buy? Make or buy?!? It’s a huge decision. It sets the tone for the party – is this a ritzy affair or a down-home shin-dig? In my pre-baby life I was all about making cakes, from scratch – fancy, delicious cakes from multi-step, complicated recipes. Then Baby #1 came along and I didn’t have quite the same amount of time for baking, but was thrilled to find cake mixes at Whole Foods that aren’t brimming with toxic chemicals. Then as Baby #1 got older and the birthday parties got bigger, I started buying cakes.
Buying cakes is so darn easy, but store-bought cakes are guilt inducing. I want to be the mom who makes the best cakes ever. So, this year I made (from the Whole Foods organic mix) the cake for Baby #1’s birthday party. Actually I made the equivalent of four cakes – I used two mixes to make two 8″ square layer cakes that I pushed together to make a big sheet cake looking thing (which cracked down the middle on the way to the party location) and two mixes to make who-knows-how-many cupcakes. I was up insanely late and was extraordinarily stressed out that the cakes would be raw in the middle or so dry that people would choke. Flash forward three months and it’s time for Baby #2’s birthday. I asked Hubby #1 his opinion – make or buy?

“Do whatever is going to be the least stressful,” he said without hesitation.

I was torn. The cake is so important, and I want it to be perfect! I got a vision in my head of a train shaped cake. I called Hansen’s…a train shaped cake is $432. Hmmm…that seemed a bit steep for a two-year-old’s party. I suspected that even if the $432 cake made me blissfully stress-free that Hubby #1 wasn’t going to be on board. Okay, back to the drawing board. Maybe making a train shaped cake was the way to go? My friend, Shelby had made an adorable train cake for her son’s birthday with a pan from Williams-Sonoma. I called Williams-Sonoma, prepared to buy the pan that makes 9 cupcake-sized train cars, knowing that I would need to make four batches (36 train cars) to have enough to feed everyone at the party. It turns out, Williams-Sonoma considers trains Christmas decorations, so the the pan is not available. I e-mailed Shelby to see about borrowing hers. Before she could e-mail back, I started to worry about where I would have space to line up 36 cupcake-sized train cars. So, I chickened out and decided to order a cake.

There, I admit it…I ordered a cake. I am not super-mom. I am hanging my head in shame. If I was going to buy a cake though, it was going to be the best cake money could could buy – well, the best cake under $100 that money could buy. I remembered a cake from friend’s birthday party a few weeks ago that was good and came from a bakery just bordering ridiculously far away from our house. I packed up both kids and off we went. I got to the bakery and saw that it was cash or check only…I never have cash or checks on me, but yesterday I did. It was a sign! This was meant to be our cake. We tasted the fillings, we picked the flavors, we got them to agree to draw a picture of the train from the invitation onto the cake for $25, and we ordered the cake. Hooray! Success! I was immediately stress-free. Then the man warned me that the fudge filling we had selected had a small amount of peanut butter in it and that I needed to make sure there were no peanut allergies at the party. For a brief moment, I felt my stress-free success slipping away, but I shook it off.

I will make a quick post-candle-blow-out for people to beware of the PB, and I will bask in the tranquility that the store-bought cake will provide. Yeah, right.

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