Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Sticker shock. I have never ordered a cake from a bakery. Never. I like baking. To me, it is a BIG stress buster and since I am always stressed, I am always looking for opportunities to bake. But what with Chip’s upcoming birthday and his school banning home cooked food in fear of allergens like peanuts, I had to resort to ordering his birthday cake from a bakery. That also would bake egg-free cakes. Because Chip is allergic to egg.

Last year, at gnd’s house, at T2’s birthday party, I ate the most amazing egg-free and diabetic cakes ever. E-v-e-r. You could not tell. They were soft, moist, light and unbelievably delicious (I’ll sell my soul for those recipes, lemme tell ya) . So, I got the name of that bakery – it is hard to find a bakery that bakes egg-free cakes and delicious ones too - and went there yesterday to twist arms and get the recipes order a birthday cake. For his preschool. 18 kids. Nothing fancy. A simple quarter sheet cake. Vanilla. White frosting. With a Giant Panda AND a teddy bear. That’s what His Chipness desires. Panda and Teddy. Both. He has been very specific about it. Aesthetics be damned.

The baker, a big, nice guy, greeted me and I gave him the specs. “You want two bears on the cake?” he boomed. “Yes, my son wants both bears. A panda and a teddy.” He was scratching his head. Putting two bears on a rectangular cake that is pleasing to the eye is not easy. But he wasn’t thinking of that. “Ok. What does a panda bear look like?” he was asking. I should have brought a picture. Dang. “Well..its like a black and white teddy bear. Black paws, black eyes, black back.” I replied. “Ok. Let me show you” he went to the printer and made a copy of the teddy bear picture he was holding. “Like this?” he showed me a black and white copy of a teddy bear. It did not look like a Panda. It looked like a black and white copy of a teddy bear. But I am not a fussy sort. And I said OK. Black + White + Bear = Panda. To Chip anyways. “With two bears, you will have to pay for two artworks.” The baker warned me. “That’s OK. It’s his birthday.” I said.

We sat down at the little table and he pulled forms. Stamped NO-EGG and NO –NUTS in large, reassuring, red letters over them. And started to fill out.

Cake (quarter sheet, yellow)- $42.00
Frosting- Vanilla
Filling – None
Artwork - $13.50
Tax – Illegeible
Total – $58.00

$58 for a sheet cake? “Is that 58 dollars?” I asked. “Yes m’am. And its only one artwork. I can add another one if you want.” “No, let’s just do one big panda bear.” I could not believe I was paying so much for a yellow sheet cake. Is that what it is out there? For birthday cakes? Wow.

So the cake has only one Panda bear and all plans of ordering cake for a second family-and-friends party from that bakery because my schedule was going to be too-crazy-to-be -baking has been promptly abandoned. I am rolling up my sleeves and baking cake layers this weekend and freezing them. I’ll also make pandas AND teddies out of chocolate ahead of time. Fill and frost, add bamboo shoots, put the bears and we’ll be good to rock and roll come party day.

And lest I forget and incur His Chipness nuclear tantrummy wrath, I have to find a plastic teddy bear that goes on top the bakery panda cake. Where to put it I don’t know. Prolly on panda's head. Or mine.


rayshma said...

aww... i louve His Chipness!
see what we poor cooking/baking impaired mortals have to go thru for a mere cake??
i hunted ALL over college station for an entire bloody week for someone who'll make me a cake with a CHICKEN on it! not the eating chicken. the baby hen chicken. V's a chick-doc... so... vanilla, that too. bcoz His Vin-ness doesn't fancy choc cakes like me.

they wanted me to pay them 70 dollars!!!! for what i have no clue! i went to HEB and bought a HUGE tiramisu! for less than half that cost! that was his cake this year! :D

noon said...

Dottie am still hoping that some day I will bake the cake recipe you had sent me earlier - the one with the amazing animals you had made...
And I can't wait to see pictures of this cake. Do you really think a baking novice can get good at it eventually? I don't know why - I just don't bake. The other day we turned on the oven (aka - storage area for kadai's) to heat up tandoori naan - it was smoking - I am hoping cleaning the oven with ez-off will fix it? Will it?
Am so scared in my attempts to bake, I will do something disastrous with the oven!

Am sure your panda cake with bamboo and frills will look so gorgeous - I will think - you actually let people eat that lovely thing there?!

Anonymous said...

Let me think...

I paid $110 for Chula's first birthday cake - eggless, cut to shape of number one, 6 pound cake.

So decided to bake Chula's second birthday cake at home. Did a lady bug which people thought was a baby. When I said it was a lady bug, they all agreed that it does look like a lady bug, but badly squished.

So all plans of hoem bake cake were duly abandoned.

Mieja's first birthday cake - 1/2 sheet, with eggs, $50. But I wasn't appy with what the decorated did. Absolutely not.

Last, Chula's third bday cake was $60 - 1.3 sheet, spl guava cake. Awesome, great, loved teh tates and look.

Finally I have found a bakery.

Now, I am planning Mieja's second birthday cake. I have my drawings and will start paining the bakery soon.


Mona said...

damn, the things these kids make us go through.
that's a lot for a cake, huh? for noo's first, i wanted to bring in cupcakes that i'd tried at somebody else's and oh my god, they said it would be over 10 bucks per piece. i baked a cake.

~nm said...

$58!!?? Thats a whopper! And I thought I had paid a ransom for Anirudh's cake which costed me about 1500 bucks!

So whens the birthday??

Rohini said...

I'm trying really hard not to convert that into rupees... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that Is expensive - Must be because of the allergen free thing, because most Grocery store sheet cakes run about $50 for a full sheet (12" x 16" or so) - But Happy Birthday Chip.

Rayshma, saw your comment - I'm in TX as well, (DFW), and most Grocery store bakeries are very competent - I like Tom Thumb myself, but Kroger makes decent cakes as does Sams Club or Costco!


DotMom said...

rayshma, next time I'll mail you what ever bird you desire (in fondant or chocolate) Just put it on a regular grocery-brought cake.. Cosco makes awesome cakes.

noon: its verrry easy. baking is fun. Try it. You can clean your oven with oven cleaners if it not a self cleaning oven. self cleaning ovens are easy..lock the oven, just press the self cleaning button and 6-8 hours later all the gunk, crust food there is burnt to a cinder and you just wipe it down. most new ovens are self cleaning ones... so check if your oven can do it. I the cake will turn out. This time I am thinjing of making a 8" layered one (or even a 6" layered) one with frosting and a healthier, frost free bundt cake for adults.

utbtkids: $110. Wow. people are crazy.. lady bugs are red. babies are pink and brown! guava cake.. I have seen bakeries make it, but I have always wondered how it will taste.. will try making it at home now. may be for the bundt.

mona: and quarter sheet too. not a huge cake! $10 for a CUPCAKE????? are they insane? (or was this in NYC??)

~nm: India is getting so expensive.. Rs.1500 for cake was unthinkable when we were gorwing up!

Ro: By Indian standards, from what I learnt from my trip last month, $58 X 40 is not that expensive.

anon: I ahve eaten cakes from Costco and they are delicious! Never bought them though.

Tharini said...

Soooo cute Dottie! Sooo cute! Am intrigued abt u freezing the cake layers. Won't they get all extra moist from all the condensation?

Am dying to see the output now. Do put up pictures. Of both his school cake andthe one u're making. *drool*

DotMom said...

Tharini: If you wrap the layers tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them, they won't go soggy. That's because the condensation will appear outside the wrap. I do it all the time. With cupcakes or slices of (unfrosted) cakes or quick breads.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

You really did a terrific job on Chip's 1st b'day cake! Can't wait to see the Panda Bear/Teddy bear cake!!
How cute that his Chipness (LOL) gave you exact specs :)

This bakery won't sell less than 10 cupcakes, so we ended up ordering 10 diabetic cupcakes, 10 diary-free, eggless, nut-free cupcakes, and 1 regular cake...
Having a kid with allergies, this is the least i could do...
But it was well worth it to see the smile in my friend's daughter's eyes - cos she could sit down and eat cake with the rest of the kids...
And my mom is diabetic and enjoyed it too...

But a word of caution...Talk to D (from the bakery) repetitively to ensure he makes it allergen-free (cake and the icing and decorations).
Last month, there were several incidents reported against this bakery in our Allergy Network with traces of nuts and dairy in what should have been nut-free and dairy-free cakes.
It was very disappointing!

B o o said...

I can vouch for that guava cake Utbt is talking about. "Out Of the World"!!! *drool*
Zurich is of course SO expensive that I wont get a decent cake for $58.00 here. I am so jealous that you can bake such awesome cakes! Some day, Boo, some day! :)

DotMom said...

gnd: thanks for the heads up! what a shocker. I am calling D and repeating my concern. Like an ass I paid for the cake too.. dang. thanks a million though. I totally understand the disppointment with b'day cakes and allergy kids. It was only yesterday that Miss H. whisked Chip away to another class room when the cake was served because she said she could not see his fallen face... He knows he can't eat cake... breaks your heart.

boo: with the prices like those you should totally bake ..think about all the shoes you can buy with the money saved :D

Sandhiya said...

Hi Dotmom,
I love reading ur blog but i never commented on it. I am avid reader of cook blogs too.So i came ahead of a indian cook who bakes awesome cakes.she started doing it prefessionally. Since u live in that region i thought u may like this here is her url
Happy birthday Chip!!

Orchid said...

i am not surprised....ask me somebody who doesn't know the "b" of baking...this is how we live our lives :)

ddmom said...

I can't seem to pick myself up from the floor. Cleaners in the kitchen wondering why every 2 seconds I am laughing like a maniac.
I am already imagining the plastic panda on ur head and I am in splits.. again.. sorry..

Nisha said...

So cute. So expensive. So funny.

Anu said...

$58 for a cake!! and here i was thinking the ones in Coldstone Creamery i saw the other day were super expensive!! I started baking after coming to the US, but have managed only muffins till now ;) Will hopefully graduate to the amazing cakes u mention someday..Sigh!

Maggie said...

Well, at least it's only once a year, right? So when's the big day?

DotMom said...

sandhiya: thanks for the url sandhya.. she does not live close to me, unfortunately. But her cakes are mind-boggling!

orchid: lol :)

ddmom: ack. you are in trouble for putting a bear on a cow :)

nisha: so expensive!

anu: coldstone cakes are expensive too.. BG got me one for my birthday, never asked him how much it cost!

maggie: hehehe. true. But $58 for a cake made from boxed mix and crisco frosting?????

Pixie said...

Wow! You can bake all that! Dottie... seriously - wow!
The cake sounds delicious... me want cake too now...
I would love to bake too... but, no oven here... *sigh*
Once I do learn, I'm sure I'm gonna bake well too! (we are modest aren't we! :P)
When' the B'day? If this comment is a bit late - how was the birthday!?