I had no intention of sharing this cake.

Christmas Surprise Inside Cake #surpriseinside

Everything that could go wrong, did.

The multi-colored roses are oddly resembling a pile of mush.  The touch of green leaves is a more of a massive green undergrowth and has a life of its own.

Surprise Inside Cake!

And the inside… well.  Lets just say that was not my best work.

Its completely tilted over.

Christmas JOY Surprise Inside Cake #surpriseinside

Why on earth would it do that?  Maybe because I used the wrong cookie cutters when preparing my cake and they were too tall for the pan so I had to improvise and create a “wall” around the cake with parchment so when I poured the extra batter over the letters it wouldn’t spill out the sides which didn’t really work and the batter did spill out on all sides resembling a square mushroom that took 70 minutes to bake and ITS CROOKED.


This cake that I spent many hours dreaming about and baking and decorating was a total failure.

Christmas Surprise Inside Cake #surpriseinside

But then I shared this picture on Instagram with the caption, “Guess what I am up to.”  and the adorable @achewycookie said,

“Spreading some JOY!”

And I was humbled.  Because most people don’t care about the dumb details like I obsessively do.

They just feel loved and appreciated when someone makes them a cake.  As they should.

So here it is.  The cake that should have been something else but isn’t so it is what it is.

Merry Christmas. 🙂

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. I worry every time I bake something to give away. We all want to put our best effort and product out there. We all struggle sometimes. Thanks for sharing this beautiful cake. It gives us all inspiration!

  2. I just continually *l.o.v.e.* your blog, Amanda + you and your sweet family!! ‘A little related story here for you: this past Sunday evening, my dear husband and I were in a local restaurant, where it was very quiet………… i.e., with it being the post-Thanksgiving Day Weekend, here in this college town. The only folks in the restaurant were me and my husband, sitting in a booth; plus a large party of maybe 7-8 Undergraduate Students and 2-3 parents, all sitting over at a big, rectangular, corner table. Anyway, we had all finished our meals, and were getting ready to leave, when Bobby Helms’ classic “Jingle Bell Rock” came on, i.e., over the Music System. The talkative/laughing students all just immediately stopped; then spontaneously launched into *SINGIN’*/*SWAYIN’* to the music, in their chairs or while standing………… and *TILTIN’ EVERY-WHICH-WAY WITH JOY*………… (i.e., just like the word “JOY” in your “Christmas Surprise-Inside Cake”………… is tiltin’, too)!! One of the girls then said, pointing, “Oh, wait, everybody, we’d better STOP”—-“we might be disturbing them,” (i.e., me and my husband)—-“over there!!” Since I’m a retired College Health Nurse………… the very SECOND, (haha!!), the girl finished saying that I said………… “No, we just LOVE it”………… “but ~ *S.*I.*N.*G.* ~ *L.*O.*U.*D.*E.*R.*!!!” And they all then very relievedly/gleefully/joyfully………… DID, (hahahahaha)!!

    This link, (directly Below), is for you and your readers to (turn the volume up and) sing along with, Amanda; and ~ while you’re doing so ~ just also go right ahead and sway/TILT to the music, too………… with *JOY*!!


      1. Thanks so much, Amanda—-‘glad you liked it!! A beautiful Traditional Irish Blessing** says, “Warm Be The Love That Surrounds You!!”………… and that’s my wish – during this Christmas Season – for you and your sweet family!!

        **Maybe I should also add, ” ‘Tilted Be The “JOY” That Surprises You,’ Inside Your Christmas Cake,” (haha!!)………… (And, Thankfully, Also ~ R.e.a.s.s.u.r.e.s. ~ Each Of Us That Our Work/Creativity/Selves Will Always Be Blessedly-Imperfect, Too)!!

  3. I just wanted to chime in with my two cents. When I read that you felt this was a ‘total failure’ my heart sank for you. I too am hyper critical of my own baking efforts – I baked it for two minutes too long and it’s dry, or I forgot to add sugar until just before it went in the oven and it ended up overmixed, etc. If I can stop the negative voice in my head, I can see that other people are so grateful that you took the time to make a baked treat by hand and share it with them! I think the tilted ‘joy’ gives it character and heart, and best of all, you can tell it is homemade because of the minor imperfections. You can learn from it and get the words straighter next time, but know that you are inspiring your readers. One of my favorite birthday cakes I ever made myself (ha!) was one I did covered in your rose technique (with blackberry frosting – yum!) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love it! If you hadn’t said anything, I would think you meant to put JOY that way! It makes it look very JOYFUL! With a spring in its step! Thank you for sharing in your eyes, your less than perfect cake. It looks perfect to me.

  5. Amanda, this cake couldn’t be more lovely! It is perfect in the very way we all are – created in love, unique in design and slightly tilted and off beat. You bring such “joy” to all us bakers….in every way, shape, form and now direction! Have a very blessed Christmas!! Thanks for another year of “Amandatastic-ness” (yes, that is totally a word!!!!) 🙂

    Just need to know how on God’s name did you get the letters in the cake.
    You are incredible.
    I’m a huge brazilian fan of yours.

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