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Blog Tour: Me vs. Cake

Get real, peeple. Is there ever really one day of cake? (Yes, I know. Yes, peeple is spelt exactly right.)I'm thinking of that Rihanna song now. Weird.

Molly Byrne's life isn't great by any standards. To her, at least. Only few things can get her out of bed these days. Her job at FishTopia, an endless supply of Golden Girls, and Chinese takeout. As of the recent, she's been suffering through something not even her therapist can cure. Depression. When things start spiraling downward and Molly can only force down so much cake, she wonders if her life is even worth fixing.

I have a few cake-related stories of my own, one of them being a slight horror story. All turned out delicious, so no worries. Enjoy!

Get well soon isn’t going to cut it in this quirky and poignant debut novel about a girl, her depression, an aggressive amount of baked goods, and the struggle to simply stay afloat in an unpredictable, bittersweet life.

There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.

Um, no. Never going to happen.

But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.

Creations by The Sister. She took a baking class once and knows how to do the pastry thing, where you twirl frosting perfectly on a cupcake. In lieu of a pastry class, I'll teach it to y'all as well. If you place your frosting-of-choice in a plastic bag - a giant Ziploc, preferably - twist the end into a knot. Wham bam turkey ham. Thus I present: swirly, fancy cupcake frosting.

So I've never had luck in baking an actual cake with actual ingredients. Read the following story and you'll understand. Okay, that sounds bad. I've made cakes and things with actual ingredients like flour, but I usually do the pre-boxed ones (i.e. Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker) Literally, never had an issue and they turn out delicious.

The one time my mom and I attempted to bake a cake from a cookbook, it turned out horrid. Just in case, anyone was wondering how fantastic that went. Since my mom doesn't trust me in the kitchen alone, she tends to hover over me like a pigeon while I'm baking/frying/toasting anything and instructs me to only microwave food. I be making cookies and ravioli when she's out.

Anyway, never had luck making a cake with a billion ingredients. Delicious as they are, I'm no Top Chef. I prefer the homemade editions. Here's one of our recents (a collab between Mom & I):

(Strawberry cake with pink-dyed vanilla frosting and filling, and edible glitter.) P.S: It was delish.

Spoiler alert: I have not one picture of this phenomenal cheesecake, and that deeply depresses me.

Last Thanksgiving, I decided to go rogue and bake a strawberry cheesecake from scratch. Because why not? My mom initially chose the idea, so I ran to the store for the ingredients - the day of, mind you - and by the time I got home, Mom was like: "lol peace" and went to canoodle with her boyfriend somewhere. I was Category 12 pissed, but it was up to me to save the day.

Blocks of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and more. Shoved all that into a bowl. Preferably, you should have a mixer. It's impossible to stir. I had to use the blender and it nearly didn't work, so.

But it did, so yeah. Woo. The batter smelled amazing. If you don't have a mixer (i.e. me), you can use your blender. Be careful, though.

In the middle of the blender fiasco, my mom arrived home in the best mood, all like: "Hiiii!" I wasn't in the mood to deal with her. She thought I did the batter wrong. Um, no. After completing the batter - which was a mission in itself - we begun the graham cracker crust, which my mother singlehandedly made. I Googled the recipe(s), which you can find here and here.

Thus, we sped (my) our gorgeous cake to my sister's place. (She was hosting the grandiose dinner.) Presented it. Ta da. My sister made a red velvet cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. Hate to give cred, but it was delicious. So while our cakes were presented beside one another, everyone pointedly avoided mine and went straight to my sister's and bragged: "Ooh, your red velvet turned out so great!"
Everyone barely glanced at my cheesecake. My sister took a complimentary slice with a response like: "Oh, you tried." My mother and I ate most of it the next day. It was the bomb diggity, frankly. The fam missed out.
After serious pursuits of literature at Northwestern (BSJ) and Ohio State (MFA), Shari Goldhagen discovered she had a knack for sifting through celebrity trash and worked as a gossip writer for publications including The National EnquirerUs Weekly, and Life & Style Weekly. And her articles on pop culture, travel and relationships have appeared everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell and currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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  1. And now I'm starvvvvving!!! hahah that strawberry cake looks SO good. And I;ll never say no to edible glitter. Or cheesecake!

    1. Right??? EDIBLE GLITTER FTW. And the cheesecake really was super delish! haha.


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