Today's post is different for me in that it's not a recipe post. So no, I am not going to give a breakdown of how I made this succulent cake but instead will tell the story of HOW this cake came to be. About six month's ago, I was already thinking about what I wanted to make my sister, Molly, for her birthday. We both have an obsession with succulents. We frequently spend our time going around the city to specialty plant stores to stare at pretty cacti, imagining our future homes full of them, buying them by the handful at the Union Square Greenmarket (some of the live, some of them die), buying tiny pots to put them in, and more. Last year we bought cacti t-shirts and are otherwise tempted to purchase literally ANYTHING we see with a succulent on it. Seriously, it is kind of a problem.
I decided I wanted to make her an epic cake topped with buttercream succulents for her birthday, to honor both of our love for these tiny green creatures. For months, I watched YouTube videos on how to pipe buttercream cacti, bought piping materials, and just spent a lot of time overall envisioning this masterpiece. I was less concerned about the inside of the cake, choosing mainly to focus on the gloriousness of having a garden on top of it. IT. WAS. GOING. TO. BE. AMAZING.
A couple weeks ago, the day finally came to start creating the cake. It was a Friday eve and I decided to go with Molly Yeh's Funfetti Layer Cake, with a cream cheese frosting. Because Molly loves sprinkles, especially funfetti, and I know this because she and I used to sneak into funfetti frosting whenever it was in the fridge as children and eat the whole container. I did make one of the three layers strawberry though, by forgoing the sprinkles in that batch and instead mixing in pureed strawberries and a tiny dash of pink food coloring. I also decided to go with cream cheese frosting (except for the succulent part - those were buttercream) because my entire family agrees that cream cheese frosting is the superior frosting.
So, I set off making the cake and everything was going amazingly, except for the vast mountain of bowls that were piling up in the sink, until I got to the buttercream succulents. And this is where this post turns into a PSA about how just because you may have watched hours of YouTube videos about how to do something, does NOT mean that your first attempt will come out looking equally as good. Frustration soon set in as I realized I really should have practiced making the little cacti beforehand and the endeavor went on until midnight, with Pat stepping in to tell me to calm down, and slow down with the piping and really focus! It was seriously one of the hardest baking things I've ever done and I was legitimately breaking out into a sweat at the thought of Molly seeing the cake and being like WTF is this.
In the end, once I got all the buttercream cacti onto the top of the frosted cake and filled in the gaps with green spikes, I was proud of the results! I love how it came out, even if the cacti were a bit more Dr. Seuss than trendy plant store. And I guess it's the thought that counts, too, because Molly loved the cake and we couldn't stop laughing about the hilarious time I had making it. Plus, the recipe I used was so tasty so that helped. :-) What are some crazy baking creations you've made and lived to tell the tale about?
LASTLY, I wanted to share the bucket list Pat and I made for the summer. I try to do one each summer and this year we wanted to make it more manageable. So naturally, it focuses mainly on food. I'll be checking in again at the end of the summer to see what we accomplished. After that, goodnight! This has been a long post
Summer 2018 Bucket List
- Eat seafood at Brooklyn Crab
- Take the ferry to Governor's Island
- Eat dumplings in Chinatown
- Have a beach day at the Rockaways
- Eat $1.00 oysters at Sel Rrose
- Visit Domino Park in Williamsburg
- Have a sunset drink on Pilot (boat bar in Brooklyn Heights)
- Ride bikes on the Hudson river
- Summer Friday drink at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn pool + rooftop
- Have a picnic on the new garden pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Try as many new coffee places as possible