Like Mother, Sort of like Daughter: My Short-lived Pastry Chef Career

A few years ago on this very day, the fam and I threw Mom a luau for her SURPRISE 50th “30th” birthday party. It was pretty incredible. Everyone pitched in. The Aunts decorated, Grandma hosted, Dad cooked, and the family partied. Oh and did I mention? I was in charge of the…CAKE. I know what you’re thinking, I had a big apron to fill.  Apart from the cake it was my job to keep Mom busy on the big day while the whole family prepared for her arrival. I envisioned the classic surprise scenario where I walk Mom up to the front door, and when we open it family and friends jump out of their hiding place screaming SURPRISE!!! Classic, right? To my dismay, my dad could not  multitask. It was too much for him to coordinate the whole everyone hides their car situation while he was also getting his BBQ on. I was  LIVID. What is the point of a surprise party if there is no big surprise reveal moment?!?! Whilst Mom was very concerned about her laundry, completely unaware of the looming birthday bash, I called/texted dear old Dad to have a little chat.  It went something along the lines of, “Sure fine, no one needs to hide you know with it being a SURPRISE PARTY and all.” Textbook passive aggression. (Like Mother, Like Daughter.)This passive aggressive chat soon turned aggressive, and I am not proud of the crazy party planner lady I had somehow transformed into at that moment.


Kebab Master Extraordinaire

I should really have more faith in my family. Dad, here is your apology not only in writing, but on the internet no less! I’m sorry. My beautiful family ended up turning the traditional surprise method upside down. They completely embraced the summer block party vibe. The line of cars surrounding Grandma’s house, instead of ruining the surprise, made it way better. The family made huge poster boards with decorations, everyone was wearing leis and flowers, and Dad was right out front manning the grill like Bobby Flay. When we drove onto the scene mom saw the crowd and pumped the brakes in shock at the sight of what was essentially her own parade. Everyone was screaming SURPRISE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY and YOU BROUGHT THE BEER, RIGHT?!  That last one liner had to be from one of my Grandpas, I’m sure with a beer already in hand. They’re hilarious. Surprise4 Anyhoo,  I wholeheartedly recommend this approach as an alternative to the traditional surprise method. Especially if hiding 15 cars in a driveway is nigh impossible. It knocked my initial vision out of the park, and my mom was genuinely floored. Word to the wise, though: if the individual you’re surprising is prone to violence, arm yourself with padding. I think I still have a bruise from my mom’s punch (yes…punch.) for tricking her. Surprise1


Oh,  and in case you missed it, I was in charge of the CAKE! I opted for a strawberry flavored Duncan Hines mix (Mom swears by Duncan, sorry Betty!) with homemade vanilla frosting. This cake made me realize how much hard work my mom puts into these things. Good Lord, I spent about 3 hours at Grandma’s just frosting this bad boy. In lieu of the theme, I made a hula girl cake. Publix Bakery offers a service where they will turn any photo into an edible photo. My mom is camera shy, so it was pretty tough to find a head on glamour shot. I ended up opting for her senior high school yearbook pic because it was the only one I could find and it made me LOL.

homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, sprees, airheads, nerds, twizzler straws

homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, sprees, airheads, nerds, twizzler straws

I then created a hula girl using frosting (a mix of yellow and red food coloring gave her that lovely golden skin tone you see there.) I used nerds for her lei and dots for her bathing suit top. The hula skirt was made out of a giant green Twizzlers creation I found on the candy aisle. I lined the side of the cake with sprees for some color and did my best attempt at a wavelike texture with the icing. The surfboard and flowers are made of air heads flattened and cut out with scissors.

Mom (left) Aunt Cris with her cupcakes (right)-please note coconut bra.

Mom (left) Aunt Cris with her cupcakes (right)-please note coconut bra.

Like mother like daughter? Eh, not quite. I know Mom would’ve been a bit more patient than I was, making sure every line was straight and every detail was perfect. She probably would have also found a way to avoid her arms resembling a yellow mutant, but hey, I tried, ok? The problem was, my eye was on the prize, and when the prize is cake, it can be pretty tough to focus on the intricacies of pastry art.   The point is we had a blast, and everyone enjoyed the cake and the memories that came with it. Happy Birthday Mom, and here’s to many more Luaus! 😉




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