Last January, four weeks into new motherhood, I started Project Baby Cake. With each new month in this year-long series, I’ve challenged myself to create a pint-sized cake to celebrate each monthly milestone in my baby girl’s first year. Given my state as a sleep-deprived new mother/small business owner, this passion project was kinda crazy, I know. But, I couldn’t help myself.
The truth is, I was craving something much deeper than cake at the time, and I had to just throw myself into something to work it out.
So what did I do? I strapped on my newborn and committed myself to more baking, with the one requirement being that each new project had to be something entirely new (to me). Also, I tried to keep these recipes within a seasonal framework, use all-natural ingredients, and keep flavor profiles fairly basic for kid palates.
Most of all, my aim in project baby cake was to have fun and rediscover the joy I find in baking, celebrate my baby girl and give myself an excuse to get two of my creations together in a photo each month (Lucy James and her cake).
Looking back on each month, there were some definite highs and lows. There were cakes that made me feel like I’d gotten my groove back and made me proud, and there were some that left me feeling defeated and uninspired. I’m keeping them all on file, though, the good, the bad and the ugly, because they seem like the most honest reflection of motherhood and the chaotic, beautiful mess that it is.
Project Baby Cake ended earlier this week, when Lucy James turned one. It was a rainy Sonoma day, and in the flurry of the holidays and my scatterbrained state, I forgot one very elemental lesson in pastry: caramel does not hold its shape in the rain.
I remembered this about ten minutes into my Croquembouche assembly, as my little choux pastry balls fell into a sticky mess, forcing me to rethink my final cake all together and make do with what I had in my pantry. With a bag of white chocolate in stock, I melted it info a snowy glue and attempted a tower of cream puffs once again, with sloppy, but seemingly successful results. You can read more about it over here on instagram. In the end, despite the very unprofessional finish, Lucy’s cream puff cake was soft, sweet and fun to eat, which on further reflection, was also probably everything a croquembouche wasn’t, hard shell and all.
And for me, as this series winds down at the end of 2018 and I look ahead to a new year, I can confidently say, I found much of what I was seeking through my baking: inspiration, joy and community, as so many of you have reached out along the way with messages of support and encouragement. So thank you, thank you to each of you for your continued support of this sweet culinary path. All these warm, cozy creative feels have definitely gotten me excited to start something new in 2019, so stay tuned!
Until then, here’s a quick recap below. I’d love to know which ones were you favorite, so please chime in below!