The cake that started it all

I am so excited about one of our recent orders. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take an order if I don’t think it will be fun (or challenging or both). But when I got a request for a Barbie cake, I could hardly contain myself. The request came from a friend of a friend of another customer, and I knew the potential customer (let’s call her Allie) may call, but I had no idea what her party theme was.

You are probably wondering why this request excited me so. Let me back up about 15 years so that you can fully understand. Before I even had dreams of owning my own bakery, I got an itch to bake a special cake. I was invited to a friend’s bridal shower, and I wanted to surprise her. The hostess and I coordinated the sweets and agreed that I would bring the cake. I no longer even remember what gave me the idea or why I felt so compelled to bake that cake – a standup bride.

At the time, I didn’t have a repertoire of cake recipes so I turned to the internet and baked what is referred to as a WASC cake. WASC = white almond sour cream cake. WASC cakes almost always start with a boxed cake mix, and mine was no exception. (I’ll save the journey of how I started baking with cake mixes to doing nothing but from scratch for another post.) I went to Joann’s or Michael’s with the intention of buying a Wilton doll pan, but then I saw the price tag. So I studied the pans and pulled out an old receipt at the bottom of my purse a scrap piece of paper and made detailed notes of how the cake on the box was decorated. (This was before cell phones had cameras.) I had been gifted a hemisphere pan so I decided I’d make use of it.

Handwritten notes on making the doll cake

It took me a VERY long time to decorate that first bride cake, and I learned a lot as I was doing it. Transportation was another challenge. At the time, I didn’t know there were tricks to keeping a cake securely in place. I very gingerly drove the cake to the shower in a plastic cake preserver and then placed the decorated doll on at the shower. When it came time to serve dessert, I was soooo excited, and the bride-to-be and guests didn’t disappoint. Everyone enjoyed the cake and couldn’t stop talking about the bride. After the shower, I went home and told my husband I wanted to own a bakery someday!

I did have the foresight to take pictures of the cake before it was served. Unfortunately, the digital camera I used broke and I wasn’t able to recover the photos. So when another friend had a milestone birthday a few years later, I decided to bake her a similar cake. I first decorated it as a bride and retook my bridal pictures. Then I took off the veil, added a birthday sash and some color to her dress… Voila, we had a birthday doll cake! As luck would have it, that camera got lost on vacation later that summer. So once again, I failed to still didn’t have any pictures to add to my cake portfolio.

Several more years passed, without much baking and no more doll cakes, and we ended up moving to Los Angeles. I was invited to a co-workers bridal shower, and again arranged to supply the cake. Third time is a charm they say, and fortunately by this point I had gotten better at saving pictures. My photography skills hadn’t improved (still working on those honestly), but I have photos of that cake still today.

Fast forward another five years. Our son was born and I left Corporate America and that co-worker. Actually, she had long since moved to England. Although my baking had been sporadic since that very first bridal cake, I had started to do more of it. It was now time for me to move forward with my bakery dream. Little Z’s Cakery was born. All because of that first bridal cake. So you can imagine my excitement when my new customer Allie called and said she wanted a Barbie cake for her daughter’s birthday! To this day, I still use that same hemisphere pan for our doll cakes. I frosted Barbie differently and gave her some ruffles instead of a smooth wedding gown, but the tips and tricks I had learned from the other cakes made this one go so much smoother.

Barbie Cake

I am so honored to have been asked to make Allie’s daughter’s birthday a special one! This is exactly why I founded Little Z’s Cakery. Happy partying!

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