He knew EXACTLY what kind of cake he wanted for his 6th birthday.

And it sure wasn’t Mommy’s same old shortcut, store-bought cake mix crap.

You see, I’m so not a baker. I love my sweets…I just want someone else to bake it for me! The trouble with cooking for a living is that I’ve turned my boys into little gourmands who turn their noses at cake mix! Sheesh!

And a little confession…because I’ve been caught by my 6 year old:

I’ve used the SAME EXACT choo-choo train cake mold for BOTH boys every single year for their birthdays. Same exact brand and flavor of cake mix too. For a while, it didn’t matter…when the boys were itty bitty teeny weenies ages 1-4yrs, it didn’t matter because at that age all they cared about was CAKE! Anything with sprinkles, frosting, chocolate or copious amounts of sugar was okay with them.

Plus, I didn’t think they would remember that they’ve had the same cake year after year. I knew I could get away with it for their 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th birthdays. #5 was a bit dicey, but thank goodness for the water balloon fights to distract him from the cake.

This year, for his 6th birthday, Andrew didn’t even want to take the chance that I would have anything to do with his cake. He declared that he and Nathan were going to bake his birthday cake by themselves and even told me, “no yucky cake mix, Mommy!”

Sheesh! Cake snobs!

So, the boys looked through my cookbooks and picked out Barefoot Contessa Strawberry Country Cake – we brought it over to my friend, Jan’s place. We celebrated two birthdays that day….Wilbur, Jan’s pot-bellied pig, turned 1 year old and Andrew turned 6.

The Birthday Boys


Video: Andrew & Nathan make Barefoot Contessa Strawberry Country Cake

Yes, they really do bake. I gave them verbal instructions, but it was hands-on all them making the cake. I was in charge of the video camera, they wouldn’t let me touch any of the ingredients!

Barefoot Contessa Strawberry Country Cake Recipe

recipe from Ina Garten’sina-garten Barefoot Contessa Parties! Cookbook. Of course, Andrew modified the cake to include sliced marshmallows…and since Nathan snuck and ate half of the strawberries, we had to supplement with fresh peaches too.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling for each cake:
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans. Then line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the lined pans.

Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.

Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.

To make the filling for one cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with 1/2 the whipped cream and scatter with sliced strawberries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with strawberries.