Cake: Point and Counterpoint

Two of my kids have May birthdays, which is great because we get to eat a lot of cake. Jack comes first and he’s easy. This year he said, “I want a chocolate cake with white frosting.” Perfect. I went to the party store, bought some Mario decorations, went to the grocery store to place an order, and we had a cake!

Photo of Jack taking decorations off of a colorful birthday cake.

The grocery store makes delicious cakes with lots of frosting. Jack was delighted.

Quinn though. Quinn was all, “Will you make me a cake?” and how could I say no? (Side note: By “making a cake,” I mean, “purchase boxes of cake mix and cans of frosting and assemble them according to instructions.”) So I said yes and then one night he came downstairs after we’d put him to bed and he gave me these elaborate blueprints for the cake he wanted.

Pencil drawing of a cake with detailed instructions, listed below.

There is so much amazeballs in this diagram. I can’t even.

Let’s get to work dissecting this.

Point: He has VERY specific measurement requirements. Unfortunately, I don’t have a round 12-inch cake pan. I’m not sure anyone does.

Counterpoint: I can make either two normal size round layers that might not be big enough to decorate properly or I can make two rectangular layers that will basically be two cakes, one stacked on top of the other.

Conclusion: Two cakes it is! Quinn quickly agreed.


Point: Quinn doesn’t know that the cake part of cake is called cake.

Counterpoint: Aw.

Conclusion: He is adorable.


Point: Quinn wants white not brown “bread.”

Counterpoint: I want both, especially if there are two cakes.

Conclusion: Quinn agrees rapidly to brown AND white bread, although I actually bought yellow cake instead of white cake because it tastes better and it was unlikely that Quinn would catch me in that little white (or yellow) lie.

Photo of two uncooked cakes, one yellow, one chocolate, with frosting supplies behind them.

I also bought extra supplies because I thought it was likely that I would fuck up at least one of Quinn’s details. I did not.


Point: The layers should be stacked on top of each other.

Counterpoint: What? Was I going to lay them out horizontally?

Conclusion: Agreement on vertical stacking.


Point: The white frosting from between the layers should jut out “from that crack in between.”

Counterpoint: That seems difficult.

Conclusion: I will put white frosting between the layers and then I will frost the entire cake in chocolate then I will improvise a piping bag with a Ziploc and draw a white line around the cake where that crack would be.

Photo of a chocolate-frosted cake with my hand beginning to pipe a white line around the middle.

Okay, so it’s a little haphazard—but it was still delicious.


Point: The cake should say “Happy 11th Quinn!!”

Counterpoint: That is waaaaaaaaay too hard to do with my fine motor skills and a Ziploc bag, so instead I will draw a shaky “Q” and two straight lines that can be interpreted as an “11.”

Writing on the cake as described above.

I am almost stupid good at decorating cakes, aren’t I?

Conclusion: I don’t tell Quinn about this part before he sees the cake so there is no opportunity for prior restraint.


Point: There is some sort of question about…an arrow? Or…something else?

Detail from Quinn's plans that shows an arrow with a question mark next to it.


Counterpoint: I don’t want to ask because I am concerned that the answer will just mean more work for me.

Conclusion: Let’s just ignore that.


Point: Quinn wants a plastic cow on top.

Counterpoint: Let’s see how many different kinds of plastic cows that Target sells.

Conclusion: Imma put SIX plastic cows on top.

Photo of six different plastic cows.

Target sold a surprising number of plastic cows.



Pencil drawing of a cake with detailed instructions, listed below.

The plans


Photo of a cake with chocolate frosting. There is white frosting around the middle of the sides and a white frosting Q 11 on top. There is green frosting with sugar flowers on top. There are four plastic cows on top and three standing next to it.

Boo. Ya.


Photo of Quinn with a huge grin on his face. He's also wearing a green hat.

This is him seeing the cake for the first time. He’s also wearing the green fedora he asked for for his birthday.

Quinn says the cake was the best cake he’d ever tasted. The only mistake I made was doing a good job and now he keeps telling me that he wants me to make a cake for him every year. Rookie mistake.

9 thoughts on “Cake: Point and Counterpoint

  1. I enjoyed this whole post, and laughed out loud to the point where children came in from other rooms to find out what was funny.

    Theory: “1 1/2 inch up-arrow” means he thinks that how tall the cake is.

  2. Happy Birthday to Jack and Quinn!
    Both cakes look delicious. Where did you get Jack’s cake?
    The lettering on Quinn’s cake looks about how mine would look. :) Do they still sell those little tubes of decorating icing? Or, maybe arranging sprinkles or white chocolate chips would work.

    btw, I hope I didn’t alarm you when I shouted “JEAN?!” when you and Alex were getting into the elevator at Whole Foods. I was going out to work in the garden that day, and looked pretty shabby in my worst clothes.

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