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The Cake of Death: #27.

April 28, 2010

on this day in history, 1983

I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. For a multitude of reasons. Only two blends knew it was that special day of the year, and I felt like I could get away with keeping things under wraps if I threatened them in order to not tweet anything. [thanks ladies.]  I didn’t want to get a billion birthday tweets and notifications on my blackberry of said birthday tweets. This seems ridiculous, I know. As one of the blends pointed out, I should be happy to celebrate me for one day of the year and other people may want to celebrate me too.

on this day in THS history, 1987

I personally think I celebrate myself A LOT of the time. I’m selfish and spoiled and I like myself more now than I ever have before. Oh, and I’m not afraid to say that. So, yeah – I celebrate myself a lot.

on this day in THS history, 1988

I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. Because I feel really far away from a lot of the people I love. I was afraid that if I took time to fully acknowledge my birthday, I would become even more homesick. And by home I mean Denton, and Madison, and Beaumont (ugh. Did I just say that?), and even places I haven’t lived before, like St. Paul. And The Woodlands. and places I’ve never even visited before, like Denver. And Mankato. The places where the people that most make me feel like home now reside. And I was scheduled to work a double. And I didn’t have anything fun to wear. Or any afterword plans to look forward to, other than my bed and SATC on DVD.

on this day in THS history, 1992

I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t want to say “thank you” and not actually mean it. I didn’t want to sit in sadness. I didn’t want to be happy for the sake of others. I wanted to be selfish and avoid this all by just pretending like my birthday didn’t exist.

on this day in THS history, 1995

Of course, I would still eat a treat with my co-workers. I would still get text messages from my family and closets friends. Those that knew that today was the day would leave me wall posts, and voicemails, and sweet, kind words. [thank you.] I would still KNOW I was a year older. But I removed my birthday setting from facebook and I BEGGED my two in-the-know blends to keep their twitter mouths shut. Even though they probably thought I was being foolish and maybe a tad dramatic.

on this day in THS history, 1997

So, I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. But the truth is, I did. I just wanted to celebrate it on my own.

on this day in THS history, 2000

I have been receiving birthday gifts and cards in the mail for a week and have been keeping them in a pile on my correspondence table – saving them for today. Using every bit of willpower not to break the ribbons, unwrap the packages and delight in what my loved ones sent me. I have been saving them for my own personal celebration. Saving them so I could squeeze all the joy of my own special day into a condensed amount of space.

image image
On this day of THS history, 2002

Yesterday my co-workers threw me a surprise luncheon pizza & trivia party. I figured something was up about 10 minutes before the “unveiling” because my boss Jen was acting sneaky. I sent a panicked message to a friend who reminded me I should probably just settle down and enjoy it. She was right. So I did.

image picnic on this day in THS history, 2003

There was singing. There was my face turning red. There was pizza. There was ice cream treat. There was trivia. And it was all good.

on this day in THS history, 2005

Last night I was visiting my second home the coffee shop and suddenly realized that I wanted a special cake for my birthday. Not an ice cream cake, or a bakery cake, or even a beloved cookie cake.

on this day in THS history, 2006

I wanted a cake that took time (but not too much time.) And effort. (but not too much effort.) And made me feel like I was pouring 26 years of memories into the batter. I wanted to stir away the last 365 days of 26 as I made a mental list of what I wanted to accomplish during my 27th year.

24on this day in THS history, 2007

I wanted a cake I could be proud of. I wanted to spread frosting of emotions over the lightly browned surface. I didn’t want a mediocre cake; I wanted an extraordinary cake. Then, I wanted to light a candle for myself, make a wish, and open my presents.

25b 25
on this day in THS history, 2008

I did a quick search for a recipe for the best carrot cake ever and I found THIS recipe. I quickly scribbled on a post it note the ingredients I knew I didn’t have at home. I did not write down any amounts. I did not read through the recipe. I just scribbled, packed my bag, and headed to the market.

On this day in THS history, 2009

This is how the baking of the death cake happened:

The recipe clearly states that the cake takes “2 Hrs 30 Min”. I didn’t read this. I don’t know that I would have cared had I have read it, but I didn’t read it. I’ve never made a homemade carrot cake before, so I had no idea what was involved. I didn’t read it. I admit that I am a rookie.

The recipe calls for 6 cups of grated carrots. Do you know how long it takes to grate enough carrots to reach 6 cups? Did I mention I only have a hand grater? Did I mention that it’s not even a box grater? Just this one sided cheese grater type thing with a handle. In case you weren’t aware – it takes a LONG TIME to get 6 cups. I probably spent about 40 minutes grating. (then again, I was tweeting after every third carrot)

The recipe calls for 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained. Oh. This tricky beast. Draining crushed pineapple with the one pasta strainer this single girl has in her kitchen was also a FUN game. I ended up figuring out a way to get rid of the most liquid, but it wasn’t pretty. I was covered in juice and crushed pineapple was FLYING all over my tiny kitchen. It was as if said pineapple had become flubber and had a mind of it’s own.

The recipe calls for some other stuff too. But the debate on posting other peoples recipes is similar to the debate about downloading media with out paying for it, and also turning in a book report that you copied from the internet. So I’m going to tell you to go here to look at what else the recipe calls for, because I don’t want anyone sewing me for all I’m worth (read: about $5 –which may or may not be less than the price of the ingredients in this cake).

The recipe reads, “In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.” OK. Read that again. No really. Read that again. AN HOUR!?!?!? Twitter friends suggested that I probably didn’t need to let it sit for an hour.

Thanks, people. Sincerely, thank you. I am clearly a rookie and I truly appreciate your advice on the topic. If I were making this cake for the sake of making a cake I would probably listen to you and continue on my merry way of preparing the batter after 10 minutes. But I’m trying to make the BEST carrot cake ever. This is special single birthday cake. IT NEEDS TO BE THE BEST. I want those carrots saturated with sugar. (also, this allowed to me get a head start on other ingredients and also do some work on my annual “While I was XX” list in my elusive green book. “While I was 26” is quite the interesting list in comparison to “While I was 25.”)

The recipe calls for two 10 inch cake pans. Two 10 inch cake pans? I know I have two same sized cake pans somewhere. They may be 9-inch. Are they 8 inch? They could be 10-inch. I need to find my measuring tape. Here’s one. Searching. Searching. Searching. Still searching. Can I use pie pans? Hmmm… searching. Searching.,….And the other. LIGHTBULB. Blarg!!! The other is at the OFFICE. THE OFFICE!?!? Argggggggggg. Ok. What can I do about this? I can cook it in a baking DISH 9×13 style…but I REALLY wanted this cake to be on my little cake stand. It’s extraordinary. Umm..OH! I have this old spring form Bundt pan from my boss Jen. And a few mini Pyrex dishes. I will just make the Bundt cake for the office and the mini cakes for home. YEAH! Crisis averted.

The recipe gives you a bunch of steps (which you can read here) which leaves you with three bowls of mixtures, which you are about to combine together, and pour evenly into prepared pans. Um. Yeah. I also failed to read the REVIEWS on the recipe. As in, every person who says “this is a HUGE CAKE” – I didn’t see until AFTER the cake was in process. Nice work, self. The recipe also suggests you use a large bowl for combining these mixtures. I don’t have a LARGE mixing bowl, so after I used all three of my medium-good sized mixing bowls to hold the three different mixtures, I blended them together in – wait for it – the large pot part from my giant crock pot. Yes. My kitchen is stocked like non-other.

The recipe gives cooking time based on the aforementioned two 10 inch cake pans. Because I made a gigantic Bundt cake rather than the two 10-inch pans, I ended up baking for like 75 minutes (the mini cakes were done in about 25). So that was fun.

Then there was the icing. OH MY GOD THE ICING IS SO GOOD. I used my own good sense and avoided a recipe from anywhere but my own head. I beat the following together:

8 oz cold cream cheese
5 TB margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 c powdered sugar, sifted.

Seems harmless and easy, right? Only, you’ll never guess the good fortune of my sifter. Yeah. I got it at a garage sale for a dime. Want to know why it cost a dime? It is SUPER old and doesn’t actually work. I probably spent about 40 minutes sifting the damn sugar, too.

-Before I frosted, of course, I tried to remove the cake from the pan. It was not cool. And I don’t just mean it wasn’t epic, awesome, or hanging mad fresh style. I mean it was still very warm. I didn’t care. It was 2:30 in the morning. I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t caring. I just wanted that damn cake on the cooling rack sans pan. And so I released the spring form. All good. Then I tried to lift off the top. Yeah. That didn’t work. Apparently I didn’t spray it well enough because 1/2 of the top of the cake stuck to the pan.

-To fix the issue of the no longer intact Bundt cake, I tried to level it. While it was STILL hot, because you know, I don’t LEARN lessons. And then I started tearing crying sobbing when the cake fell apart. Then I left it alone. Put the frosting in the fridge and went to bed. At 3:00 AM. Four and one half hours after I started this silly extraordinary project for the sake of my own personal celebration.

-I woke up at 6:30 and got to work “fixing it”. I made the Bundt SHORTer. (like half sized) and frosted that part for work. Then I took the half of the top that wasn’t messed up and made a carrot cake sandwich, with cream cheese icing in the middle, then frosted the top of that and wrapped it up.

Then I made a layered cake with the mini cakes. And that one is just adorable. I frosted the layer, the top and the sides. I added a candle. I  took photos. [because that’s what some bloggers do.]


As for the 1/4 of a cake that was crumbled – it’s sitting in Tupperware on my counter. I plan to eat it with ice cream. Or yogurt. Or oatmeal. Or just a big old slab of frosting.

My last name may be Shugarman, but I’m starting to doubt my baking abilities. I used to think I was a GREAT baker. Especially when it came to cupcakes. This cake STRESSED ME OUT. To no end. But it is SO DELICIOUS. It was SO WORTH my time and tears and pacing and cursing and lack of sleep. SO WORTH IT. There is a reason it has 4.75 stars and is title “Best Carrot Cake Ever.”

I’m eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. FOR SURE.

Well. At least, that was the plan. Then I arrived at the office to find that my boss Jen had baked Carrot Cake cupcakes in my honor. My cake remains at my desk, in a carrying case. Adorable, and ready to be shared. But it will wait until tomorrow.

Yet I have to argue that the cupcakes Jen made, from a box mix, are definitely in the running for “Best Carrot Cake Ever.” Made with love to make me feel like home and extra special on the anniversary of my birth.

What more could I ask for?

34 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 6:30 pm

    First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 🙂 Also, I hope you don’t take offense to this, but this seriously made me smile and laugh. I felt like I was there with you, and I was reliving all of my own perilous apparently-I-don’t-learn-lessons baking mishaps at the same time. 🙂

    One last also – I am seriously craving cake now. 🙂

    • April 28, 2010 6:36 pm

      no offense taken at all! I actually wrote an email to Jessica of How Sweet Eats this morning telling her the story of the cake tragedy and she replied with “This is hilarious! please post this on your blog.”

      This cake is SERIOUSLY amazing. When I first took a bite, I was like…oh…OKAY…THAT’s why it took me five hours. okay. so good!

  2. April 28, 2010 6:41 pm

    For some reason I thought it was tomorrow I should have remembered it was exactly 4 months after mine. Happy birthday! Next time you’re in tejas I’ll make you an old fashioned from scratch cake! For some reason future RDs had to learn how to do that!

  3. April 28, 2010 6:54 pm

    Hehe, I loved the set up, I couldn’t wait to get to the final cake product. All the old pictures made me smile, happy birthday to you!! P.S.- Whole Foods makes carrot cake that is like crack and don’t say I didn’t warn you. They sell it by the “slice” too. Mm I want some.

    • April 28, 2010 10:21 pm

      the closest whole foods is like 103 miles away. isn’t that the saddest news you’ve heard today. it’s ridic.

  4. April 28, 2010 6:56 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet girl!!! I love the pictures of your previous birthdays! And I love this story. I, too, never learn and I don’t read instructions completely before starting. I’m telling you: move to Sacramento and be a part of the launch team for our church and then you and I will bakes delicious cakes and play Trivial Pursuit to our hearts’ content!!! (Moving to Sac isn’t as scary as it sounds. I can hook you up with a roommate. And we have a team of people so you’ll have insta-friends 😉

  5. April 28, 2010 6:56 pm

    It’s possible that you and I would be good “blends” 🙂 my birthday is next week and I oh so reluctantly send out an invitation just this afternoon for a BBQ next weekend. If my friends hadn’t been hounding me for the past two weeks, I might not have done it. Perhaps slightly different reasons that yours, not worth going into on a comment, but I think I might make a carrot cake of death next week as well!!! Thanks for the inspiration and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 27 is a good age (I’ll be 29…………….ack!).

  6. Heather permalink
    April 28, 2010 7:16 pm

    Then this is me not filling your commet section with birthday wishes 😉 I am so impressed with you cake baking skills- and your patience!

  7. April 28, 2010 7:25 pm

    OK so first of all, I have always held the FIRM belief that people who don’t like to shout from the rooftops, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY BITCHES!!” just aren’t living. For you, I will make an exception. I mean, you explained your reasons why and it’s quite eloquent, so I SUPPOSE I can let it slide.

    Second, I love that you chronicled you birthdays in photos. I love the red and green frosting hearts from 1987. I LOVE no seriously LURVE your glasses. Probably because I had the same ones. They wee green and pink tortoise. Seriously, GREEN and PINK?!? As if the fact that the frames encompass our entire cheeks, wasn’t enough. Dear 12-year-old Heather and Caitlin, what were you thinking?!?

    Third, I love that you made yourself a cake. I, too, made my own this year. I think that’s really saying something, isn’t it? Gone are the tell-tale days of our parents picking a design and lighting the candles. Now we must succomb to box mixes, or in your case, extreme bravery. All the women who independent (throw ya hands up at me!)

    Fourth, you and I in the kitchen would be disasterous. And hilarious. You mix things in a crockpot (awesome idea BTW) I have conversations with my oven and write odes to cous cous. Yup, awesome.

    Also, I want carrot cake. And I don’t even know how much I like it. But I want it. Now.

    Lastly, I am SO glad today happened back in 1983, or rather that a little somethin’ somethin’ happened in 1982 (TMI? haha.) You are seriously one of my closest BLENDS and such an amazing inspiring motivating person. You lift me up, crack me up, and down right make me happy.

    So here is your birthday present – a nice rambly comment which has become synonymous with @ThenHeatherSaid. It’s probably filled with typos, too. Aw Eff it, it’s your birthday.

    PS I love you.

  8. April 28, 2010 7:48 pm

    You are adorable and amazing!!!

  9. April 28, 2010 8:02 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I think this is my first time commenting on your site, even though I love to visit. I can imagine how frustrated you were, but with how you retold this I couldn’t help but laugh! Thanks for sharing your birthday with us, even if you wanted to celebrate it with just you. Enjoy the cake, it looks beautiful!

    • April 28, 2010 10:15 pm

      Nicole – Thank you! It’s so nice to hear from people who have been reading but are first time commenters! (i’m always wondering WHO is “out there”, you know?) I am glad I decided to post about my birthday tonight because the more I think about it the more I realize that I truly love and appreciate the blogging community for just BEING THERE for me through it all – of COURSE i should want to celebrate with all of you!

      I hope to hear from you more often in the comment section! There is lots of room for good discussion here! 🙂 THS is not just MY space – its a space for conversation. 🙂 (oh my. i am corny.) xoxox

  10. April 28, 2010 8:11 pm


  11. April 28, 2010 8:13 pm

    Ohhh…I guess I should be nice and say happy birthday, too.

  12. April 28, 2010 8:13 pm

    But I am going to yell at you tomorrow!

  13. April 28, 2010 8:14 pm

    And I love you. Lots.

  14. April 28, 2010 8:15 pm

    and that cake is salvaged beautifully and looks delicious. 🙂

  15. April 28, 2010 8:17 pm

    You also look beautiful in your pics. I love your hot black dress!

  16. April 28, 2010 8:17 pm

    Ok I’m done.

  17. April 28, 2010 8:17 pm

    For now.

  18. April 28, 2010 8:20 pm

    This made me laugh. I can just picture you in your little kitchen mixing your cake in your crock pot (a good solution I must say).

    Sending you lots of love on your special day. Hoping 27 is a wonderful year!

  19. April 28, 2010 9:22 pm

    Ohhhh girl! hahaha that post was too entertaining! First off, Happy Birthday! I hope you had an amazing day! Second, that cake probably tastes 1000x better than anything you could have just whipped p or bought pre packaged because of the effort you put into it! And for the record, it looks delish!

  20. cookeatburn permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:47 pm

    So that picture of you in ’97? We could have been twins. Ridiculous.

    I love your cake story – and I would say having a crazy story like this only further qualifies you as a good baker. We all need a crazy story or two to bring up, right? 😉

  21. April 28, 2010 11:41 pm

    It was your Birthday!!!! You kept it a secret!!! Tricky tricky!

    A Very Happy Birthday to you darling!!!! I pray for wealth, health, and blessings a plenty!!! May this be the year where you come into a new understanding of just how special you are!!! 

  22. April 29, 2010 7:02 am

    First, happy birthday, a day late! Secondly, I give you a lot of credit for tackling that carrot cake recipe. I’ve always wanted to try making one myself but knew it was usually a difficult recipe! Enjoy that bad boy! Looks great!

  23. April 29, 2010 10:00 am

    Awww. Happy belated birthday! I hope you have an awesome year 🙂

  24. April 29, 2010 11:12 am

    happy birthday lovie!

  25. April 29, 2010 1:04 pm

    I’m glad you decided to share your birthday with us!

  26. April 29, 2010 4:12 pm

    wishing you a silent belated birthday wish anyway! shhh Thanks for sharing your b-day pics throughout the years, they are so fun to look back on 🙂 omg and that cake what a wonderful treat. I think I’d like to jump into a giant tub of that frosting. Hope you had a nice day 🙂

  27. April 30, 2010 12:41 pm

    HAAAAAAPPPPY BIRTHDAY!!! *HUGS* {i’m behind on reading blogs, so… sorry its late} but I bet that cake was amazing. I made a carrot cake for Easter and it was insane how good it was. geez! who would’ve thought ya know. 🙂 hope you’re having a fantastic week!

  28. May 1, 2010 11:30 pm

    I love this post filled with pictures. I giggled though the whole thing. 🙂
    I sure do love you and I hope that your 27th year is incredible–another year to get some of your 101 in 1001 crossed off. 🙂
    Also, that cake looks incredible.

  29. Danielle permalink
    May 6, 2010 1:07 pm

    Oh Heather Sugarman,
    As the owner of your second home, I totally would have made you a special birthday cake. It wouldn’t have been carrot though, because I do not have a carrot cake recipe, but it would have been delicious. Not unlike my peanut butter surprise cookies…

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