Meet the Anti-Cake

October 24, 20139 Comments

A recently conducted research study of questionable design and less-than-rigorous methods revealed startling information about 6-to-8 year old urban youth: they don’t like cake. Perhaps more shockingly, they are adamantly opposed to frosting of all kinds. Unmoved by buttercream and equally uninspired by cream cheese and whipped cream varieties, these children are calling for reform of birthday party norms. The study sample included a handful of high energy, early elementary school children who happened to be in the backyard of the principal investigator on a sunny fall afternoon.

“The effect we are seeing is curious,” said one expert, who requested anonymity out of concern for her status as a high frequency customer at a local bakery. “I blame the cupcake boutique phenomenon. These kids are having cupcakes practically every day. Cake is no longer special or celebratory – it’s become a birthright.”
Researchers boldly hypothesized that perhaps children are no longer interested in sugar. Their theories were tested and struck down swiftly. Study subjects showed great enthusiasm for cookies and ice cream. They greedily inhaled classic candies, polishing off an alarming supply of Twizzlers and Smarties in record time, as if they had never had such delicacies before.

“None of us like cake,” said one study participant, a first grade female willing to speak on behalf of her cohort. “The frosting is too sweet and the cake part is boring,” she explained between licks of an orange lollipop. The child conducted the interview with one hand on her hip, as if ready to start a revolution.

Researchers caution that the study sample, due to its limited size and haphazard selection criteria, may not be representative of first and second grade children at large. Further research is planned to pinpoint factors influencing this alarming trend.
Okay, so I’m the “principal investigator” and it was my son who, for his eighth birthday, did not want a cake. He asked for cookies instead, in addition to mint chip ice cream. And candy. I could handle that. I dug up my mother’s fail-proof sugar cookie recipe (the very same one I used to make the cookie face lollipops) and got to work mixing and rolling out dough. This versatile, all-occasion recipe can be used for just about any type of cut out cookies. Since my little guy is crazy for all things science, I cut the dough into the shapes of beakers, atoms, test tubes and Ehrlenmeyer flasks using this set.

And now are you ready for the real news? I finally found a use for my Pinterest account, which has been gathering cobwebs for upwards of a year. Since I can barely keep up with my already established social media platforms, I didn’t think I needed another. But I quickly discovered how wrong I was (again, dammit).
I know that you all know how to use Pinterest because I was stunned to see how many of my recipes have been pinned! Wow. You people love yourself some Pinterest. I’m so honored. And now I’m one of you. Do you have any idea what you can do with a single batch of sugar cookie dough? A ton. Of course, many of the examples I found require the skills of a fine artist, special equipment and the use of fondant and other mediums with which I refuse to work. I skipped right over all those. What I pinned instead? The clever, easy stuff (mostly). You will have to check out my cut out cookie page to see for yourself!

I don’t have very many cookie cutters since I make cookies but once per year, maybe twice if I’m feeling benevolent. A pumpkin and a bat, maybe a heart and a gingerbread man. That’s about it. I also own a set of number cookie cutters (handed down to me from my mother), which are great for birthdays. I even made 1s and 0s for the 100th day of school when my oldest was in kindergarten.
So there was no birthday cake this year. We celebrated with a few of his pals (mostly girls) and one by one, the kids fessed up to their dislike of birthday cake. Who knew? Fine by me. I’d rather frost a few cookies than a cake any day.

What is the status of birthday cake in your world? Is it passé? Do tell.

9 responses to “Meet the Anti-Cake”

  1. Didi says:

    I loooooove cake! Though I don’t think I belong to the said age group ;p

    But sadly I still can’t make cake on my own 🙁 But I really do love a slice during special occasions, especially good paired with either coffee or tea. YUM!

    • Alicia says:

      Yeah, Didi. I like cake too. My favorite bakery/coffee shop in DC makes a coconut cake that makes my knees buckle it’s so fine. I still have a small chunk of it hidden in my freezer from my June birthday. You know, just in case.

  2. Lise says:

    What a great post, and fabulous-looking cookies! My daughter never really loved that horrible sweet store-bought cake that is served at most kids’ birthday parties. Years ago, when she was in 4th or 5th grade I think, I had made an almond cake for a (grown-up) dinner party, and she loved it so much that it has become her official birthday cake. It’s a dense, rich cake made with almond paste, sugar, eggs, a little bit of flour and leavening. served with a raspberry coulis. Yes, it’s very sugary (the almond paste has a lot of sugar in it), but because it’s so rich you don’t eat much. The first year I served it at her party I think she was the only kid who ate it! They were expecting the standard Giant-made travesty. I’m so thankful my daughter still loves this cake. Next week will be her 17th birthday, and I’ll be making the cake again. I asked if she wanted me to bring cupcakes to the soccer game that falls on her birthday (when do you get too old for this?), but she said “No, Cookies!” More evidence, perhaps, for your theory.

  3. Camille Warmington says:

    Pinterest is like a good memory supplement. 🙂

    • Alicia says:

      Ha! That’s a great way of looking at it. My son asked me last week if I was “suffering from short term memory loss.” I said no. I’m losing my MIND, not my memory. But that’s next.

  4. Holly Smith says:

    I confess to *loving* the way-too-sweet store-bought cake monstrosities, if only because they remind me of my own birthdays as a kid (the *one* time my store-bought-cake passion was indulged). My own four kids are much more flexible, though. Daughter #2 requested lemon meringue pie for her birthday a couple years ago, while daughter #1 had gluten-free chocolate doughnuts for her birthday last week. Daughter #3, on the other hand, is demanding a mammoth Costco sheet cake for her birthday next week. Yay! (I mean, darn!)

    • Alicia says:

      Those Costco sheet cakes are the best! They must be putting crack in there or something. I usually don’t eat cake at kid birthdays but if it’s from Costco I’m licking the plate.

  5. It is a fantastic post really. Cookies are looking delicious . It is really a very good idea to get kids involved and they would love to eat such cookies in different shapes.

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