How to be the Coolest Mom* EVER (three days and counting)

Basic Instructions:

1. Drag your kids to the grocery store because no one else is around and your ten-year old’s theory about the minimum legal age that children can be left at home unsupervised isn’t fooling anyone but your six-year old, who is well aware that her sister can reach the cookies in the high cabinet if she uses the stool.Duff Groovy Cake

2. Find a box of this while in the baking aisle looking for Splenda packets, because coffee without sweeteners tastes like bitter death, using enough real sugar to compensate is not conducive to health, and a morning without caffeine is bitter death.

3. Ask your kids if they want to make a cake that afternoon and show them the box.  Receive one secretly-interested shrug and one excited plea for blue vanilla frosting to match, because it comes with fish-shaped sprinkle thingies—see?  See, Mom? Imagining the potential devastation blue frosting could have in the talented hands of your offspring, negotiate down to chocolate frosting and multicolored sprinkles

4. Get home, put away the groceries, examine the back of the box, decide exactly which steps should be done solo, and do them up to the point where you have to divide the batter between six small bowls.  Decide that Duff and his crew probably wouldn’t be using margarine containers and oblong Gladware, but remember that no one on this earth would pay you $450 for one of your cakes anyway, and leave the pretty cookware for the pros.

5. Have your kids wash their hands.  And again with soap.  Dry them.  Thank you.

6. Using a fourth-cup measure, have the kids count to make sure the batter is evenly distributed.  Carefully open the food coloring packets and have your ten-year old read how much of each goes in each bowl for which color, and have your six-year old count the drops, which she will do with the seriousness of a small bossy child who knows that the entire project is depends on her ability to keep you under strict control.

7.  Stir the color into the batter with great enthusiasm and a separate spoon for each bowl.  Add a bit more color as needed to make the red “redder” and the purple less blue, Mommy.

8. Prepare the pan of your choice.  If you have chosen a bundt pan, because you think the curved shape would be really cool, put it away and use something else.  Seriously.

9. Take turns pouring the different colors in the not-bundt pan in ROYGBV layers, using every rubber spatula you own, ignoring any questions about the absence of indigo, and wondering , with sharp 20/20 hindsight, why you didn’t insist on aprons and plastic sheeting.  What are you, a rookie?

10. Have fun anyway because it’s impossible not to with this stuff.

11. Bake, as the instructions say, until the cake is done.  Ponder that if you were the kind of person who knew even approximately how long that would take, or what the purple-batter-version of “done” might look like, you wouldn’t be the kind of person who needs to use cake mix in the first place.  Decide that this is an adventure, set the timer for twenty-five minutes and find your toothpicks.

12. Clean up the kitchen.

13. When the timer screams, test the cake for doneness, put in for a few more minutes for the sheer paranoia of it, and let cool for twenty-five.

14. Invert the pan.  The cake will release beautifully, because you paid attention to step 8.  If you hadn’t paid attention to step 8, the adjective “beautifully” would hypothetically have been replaced with, “missing most of the red and orange, which is still in the bottom of the pan and will not release in one piece or in any way that can be reattached to the top of the main cake.”**

15. Let the cake cool, carefully brush off the crumbs and ice it while the children are watching tv and no one is around to witness your nonexistent skills at covering a slightly lopsided cake with gooey frosting.

16. Clean up the kitchen.

17. Call the kids in to decorate the entire counter cake with sprinkles.  Swear them to secrecy so their Dad will be completely surprised after dinner.

18. Clean up the kitchen.

19. Run interference between their father and their inability to stop hinting that something amazing is up with the cake  on the counter.

20. After dinner, cut the cake and step back so the kids can take full credit for everything but the bundt pan, which you didn’t use anyway, right? ?????????? 21. Make plans to buy another box and do cupcakes this weekend. With blue vanilla frosting and little fish.


21. Pack a piece each in your kids’ lunches the next day.

22. Come home from work to hear that all the other kids were amazed at the cake—and that the mean girl whose daily goal, until very recently, was to make your gorgeous older daughter feel like a loser,  begged her to ask you to tell her mother the name of the bakery because it’s the coolest cake she has ever seen and her mother would totally buy one—a bigger one—for her birthday party.  To which your daughter shrugged and said, “We made it ourselves—because my Mom’s really cool like that.”



*Or Dad,  ’cause we’re all about the equal opportunity around here.

**The scraps, however, which you would have hypothetically eaten in frustration, would be hypothetically  delicious.

105 thoughts on “How to be the Coolest Mom* EVER (three days and counting)

    • Or maybe a white cake recipe like senojeiram suggested? I think the batter has to be light or it won’t keep the layers, though.

      Experiment time! 😀

  1. My favorite part of this story:

    “Come home from work to hear that all the other kids were amazed at the cake—and that the mean girl whose daily goal, until very recently, was to make your gorgeous older daughter feel like a loser, begged her to ask you to tell her mother the name of the bakery because it’s the coolest cake she has ever seen and her mother would totally buy one—a bigger one—for her birthday party.”

  2. GAH!!! SARAH!!!! I LOVE THAT CAKE!! You know that I will NOT under any circumstances be making another cake right now…but, but…okay, I shouldn’t make these lofty statements because that cake is so gorgeous! Must breathe. Seriously, I need to make that cake.
    (PS Downith if I can find the box, I’d be happy to mail you one. Let me know)
    (Oh and Sarah, you have to get the children’s book, The Obstinate Pen by Frank W. Dormer. Hilarious. And your writer girl is going to crack up.)
    Maybe I just need to face facts, quit the writing and go to baking school…hmmm…

  3. Although it’s probably too late, please consider the following directions.
    1. Slice off two very ample pieces of said cake.
    2. Wrap carefully in something or other.
    3. Place in freezer for grandparents future Thanksgiving visit.
    3.5 Plan to bake another one for Thanksgiving.

  4. Sounds to me like your children are so lucky to have you as there mom. I think the way to be not only a cool mom but a good one is not to act like you are a friend but be loving and careful as well as a great role model. Right?

  5. That is so very cool! I am a nanny and tie dying cake is one of our favorite things to do! We bake them in mason jars and she loves being able to watch it bake in the oven. Thanks for sharing!

    • What a good idea! I was thinking glass bakeware, but we have mason jars, too.

      How do you get the cake out when it’s done? Or is the jar the serving dish, too?

      • The jar is the serving dish too! You just have to be careful when you remove it from the oven. You just put icing on top and dig in. We did it in mini mason jars and normal size ones!

  6. Found you on Freshly Pressed and this cake looks AMAZING! I’m curious to see how cupcakes would turn out. =)

    • Very well! We made them Sunday. I’m not a fan of the blue icing, but I’m not really the demographic for that kind of thing, anyway.

  7. You are my hero for making this. I love rainbow everything and have heard tell of this magical rainbow cake, and I loved seeing your homemade version. I am fairly certain it can be made without the special cake mix — just buy food coloring and mix it in separate batches of vanilla batter until you get it right.

    I haven’t made this yet and kind of fear the mess, but I am so going to try this.

    • You MUST DO THIS, Laura! You can use regular white cake mix—we did it last Sunday.

      It’s well worth the mess, I promise (but seriously, step 8 is important)

  8. So funny. Reminded me of when my mom said she would clean the kitchen floor really good, like soap and water good, then (when it was dry) rolled out sugar cookie dough, and let us cut them out and decorate them. Her line of Reasoning: It would have ended up on the floor anyway, so why not just do it on the floor.

  9. Very cool indeed. And your ;post gave me a giggle. My 9 year old granddaughter and I have a baking session whenever she comes to visit. (ps. I make her help with the clear up, it’s part of the learning process.) 🙂

    • i enjoy cooking with my children—if nothing else, I get a good post out of it!

      (they do help with clean-up, though height is a factor!)

  10. I found you on freshly pressed (kind of jealous) and loved this post! Guess I will just have to read more now.

  11. Adorable! I want to make one for myself …..and then bring a piece to work to make my co-workers jealous of my magical looking piece of cake BWAAAHAHAHAHA … j/k I’ll share ~ lol This was a great post – Very entertaining! 😉

  12. Great story! This reminds me of trying to bake a cake for 4-H at age 11. First, it was too rich and fell. Then it was beautiful, but tasteless. After five or six tries, we finally had one that was fair-quality. (As in county fair of course.) By then, we were probably saying the recipe in our sleep! I don’t know how my mom put up with all that, as she is not much of a baker. I’ve made many cakes since, but always from a box.

    • To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the temperament to sift things, so my from-scratch cake measurements are always suspect. If I want something less chewy than brownies and less dense than, say, fruitcake, I use a mix—without guilt.

      Life’s too short, yeah?

  13. LOVE it. I have to try it now. My kids need a bit of awesome. DH and I have both been a bit busy and stressed. I now know the perfect “all my assignments are finished” celebration. 🙂

  14. I’m so excited about this! must find it. I’ve had my two year old cooking in the kitchen since she was…well, a little less than two. This is for us.

    • That’s terrific—I wasn’t allowed to cook much when I was growing up, so I decided my kids would know their way around a kitchen. So far, so good!

  15. I’ve just smiled the whole way through reading this post. It’s been a while since I’ve read such a great blog post, comedy and cooking, perfect! Also, I really love the idea of this cake, as I’ve been desperate for a while to make a rainbow cake but the six tin thing kind of puts me off!
    I own a cafe, and I think I might feature this on the cake selection soon – thanks!

    • Aww, thanks. There’s a lot of comedy in my cooking, believe me.

      Glad to bring the recipe your attention, Holly! Hope your customers like it.

    • If using a cake mix is laziness, love, it’s still slightly more proactive than trolling around WordPress for posts that don’t appear to intersect your personal interests in the slightest and creating an admittedly well-done poem to make sure everyone knows it.

      You’re very welcome for the target and the confirmation of your apparent opinion of the human race, though.


  16. I’m not a big fan of packet cake mix so for those that make their own, make a few small bowls of butter cake mix and mix different colour food die into each one. Swirl it carefully together in the baking tin and you should get the same result. Mum used to make it for me as a kid all the time.

    • This is a great idea—I don’t know what color butter cake is, or how dense, but we used a white cake recipe the last time (three egg whites, very light) and the colors were beautiful.

      • Butter cake is about the density of a cup cake, and is sort of a base cake, add cocoa to make chocolate cake etc but is fluffy and sweet by its self. The mix you described sounds perfect too. Loved those cakes as a kid 🙂

  17. So funny! I love your writing style! I made blue pancakes one morning when my four-year-old nephew was staying over. He didn’t really eat much, but had a great time bragging to his mom and dad when I took him home that we had “Special blue pancakes” for breakfast.

  18. cool kids – the cake looks superb!! well done mommy. a very sweet step-wise narrative of your day with the kids. thanks for sharing and congratulations on being fp!

    • That would be steps 12, 6, and 18! 😀

      Seriously, though—the point is to do things with them, not for them. Sure, it’s easier to take over, sometimes, but if it becomes a habit, they won’t learn how to do things for themselves, and you’ll be stuck until they leave the house.

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