Mommy Playground

While I’m sunning myself in Cuba, getting some well-needed Vitamin D therapy, I’ve asked Rosalyn, from Kake Studio Bakery in Barrie, Ontario to write up a little something for us. Rosalyn can be found at her website, as well as here on Facebook. She makes some beautiful custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies, and does so all while being Mommy to sweet Leonidas. Without further ado…:

If someone asks me, “What’s it like to be a mom?” I show them this picture. It pretty much says it all.
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Launch day had come for my custom cake design business, and I suddenly realized I didn’t have a picture of myself for the website. My husband and I got to work and set up a photo shoot in our dining room. I had studied advertising in college and had worked for a marketing firm, so I’m confident on how to market my business. Having a sloppy image of myself on my website was not going to cut it.

Enter our nine month old son, Leonidas. He’s crawling around my legs like a champ, knocking me to the side, disrupting my perfect stance. Still too young to understand “Please stay out of mama’s way while she tries to make a living”, and knowing he’ll scream bloody murder if we toss him in the exersaucer, I finally decided to pick him up.

A few months prior, I was chatting with a great mentor and friend who is also in the cake business. She’s a huge part of the reason I finally took the plunge and decided to open Kake. She also started her own business with a young toddler, and while still working another job. She had her second babe at the two year mark and jumped back into orders two weeks after giving birth. When I asked her “How did you manage?!” she shrugged and said – “I just did.” She went on to give me her philosophy on being a mother and working out of her home. What really stuck with me was this: “I’m not Mommy Circus”.

With Pinterest, Facebook, and Mommy Blogs, it’s hard not to feel inadequate. We try to do all the activities, fun food menus, and craft projects that we see “everyone else” doing, and we inevitably end up falling short! Half a generation ago, kids didn’t expect any of that – they were able to entertain themselves (gasp!). They went outside. They played with their friends. They found a stick and it kept them busy for hours. Now, we have electronics and over-sharing of our lives with total strangers. So when we haven’t done paper mache and crayon art, made edible paint and play putty, and sewn our little darlings a cape or tutu by noon, we feel like failures!

But the truth is, by trying to do all those things, we’re failing our kids. Attention spans are shorter, creativity is diminishing, and in general, kids are just bored – yes, even with all the activities that we throw at them – because they haven’t learned how to find the fun in simple things. So when Leonidas started crawling, my husband and I decided not to baby proof. Why? Because creativity starts young, and they are never too young to learn. He learned that banging a wooden spoon on different surfaces creates different sounds. He learned that smaller objects can fit inside bigger objects, but not the other way around. He learned that if you hold up anything to your ear, you can pretend its a phone. When he started walking at 10 months (yeah, yikes!) his world got even bigger, and we let him explore it. There are no baby gates, or drawer and cupboard locks at our house.

I try and do most of my work in the evening when Leonidas is asleep, but its not always possible so sometimes I need to be in the kitchen for a long time during the day. He’s used to it, and spends a lot of time in there with me, usually doing his own thing, sometimes watching. Does he always enjoy it? No. Do I feel like a horrible mom when he reaches up with those scrawny little arms, grunting, trying desperately to get me to pay attention to him? Every time. But then I remember – I’m here. I’m doing my best. I started a business from home so that I can be with him most of the day. A lot of moms don’t have that luxury. And yes, being at home with our children is a luxury.

That’s why this picture made the cut, and the few dozen ones before, did not. I had wanted this picture to be perfect – perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect pose. But life with kids is rarely perfect. It’s an adventure, stressful, rewarding, infuriating, and a blessing, but not perfect. This picture shows that I may not be Mommy Circus, but sometimes I am definitely Mommy Playground.

And, because we all LOVE cake, here’s Rosalyn’s recipe for Cafe Mocha cake.

Cafe Mocha Cake with Caffeine Shot Italian Meringue Buttercream Icing

This is one of our most popular cakes. It’s truly the most moist chocolate based cake you’ll ever eat, and the icing is super light, not too heavy or sweet, and never crusts over. Enjoy!

For the cake:
2 ½ cups flour
2 ½ cups sugar
1 cup + 1 tbsp 22% cocoa (powder with a cocoa butter content of 22% – find it at your local bulk store)
2 ½ tsps baking powder
2 ¼ tsps baking soda
1 ½ tsps salt
2 tbsp finely ground instant coffee (use a mortar and pestle if you have to)
1 ½ cups buttermilk (do not substitute for regular milk!)
¾ cup corn oil
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups boiling water

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream icing:
2 + ½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup egg whites
2 cups butter
2 tbsps of finely ground instant coffee (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 325°.
Have ready two 8” round pans – oil and flour them if they are not non-stick.
Combine all dry ingredients together – no need to sift.
Add remaining ingredients, minus the boiling water. Mix until just combined.
Reduce speed on mixer, and slowly add boiling water. Mix for about 1 minute.
Divide batter equally into pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes – as all ovens run differently, check at the 30 minute mark to make sure you don’t over bake them. Remove when a tester comes out clean.
Let cool on racks for about 10-15 minutes.
Grab a serrated knife and run it horizontally along the lip of the pan, slicing the dome off.
Let cool for another 10 minutes.
Invert on to wire rack and let cool completely before freezing or icing to your preference.
Meanwhile, prepare your icing: whip eggs whites until soft peaks form – add ½ cup sugar, and continue whipping until hard peaks form.
Boil 2 cups of sugar with water over medium heat until it reaches 245°.
Slowly add in the hot syrup on the side of the bowl while mixer is on high – be careful not to pour directly into whipped whites.
Reduce speed and let mix until bowl is cool to the touch.
Add in room temperature butter, one piece (about a tablespoon) at a time. Continue whipping until thick. Add in instant coffee, mixing until incorporated. Add more or less, depending on your preference.
Use icing as a filling for the cake, and generously ice all over once assembled.

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