No-Frills Black & Yellow Cake

Sometimes, life works in weird ways. I’m sure I’m not the first one to discover this.

Sometimes, in life, breaking up is the best thing you can do–in relationships, in friendships, in partnerships (business, or personal).

Don’t worry–Jessie and I are good. Today, I’m talking about breaking up with work.

If you’ve ever been let go, you know it’s a hard thing, especially if you loved the job.

After I was let go at my bakery job, I tried not to be phased. Getting hung up and worrying about it wasn’t going to fix anything; instead, I got out there and put my name in several restaurants, shops and companies to get a newer opportunity, a better chance.

And after no one called back, interviewers left me literally stranded, refusing to call me back or even acknowledge my call-backs (I’m talking about you, oh-so-unprofessional Whole Foods) I struggled a bit with my ego… and with the realization that I really freakin’ missed my cupcake job. But, like breakups gone bad, sometimes, you gotta take it at face value–it just wasn’t working out, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

That aside, I quickly found a new job and started almost immediately. Finally, I was thrilled to be in the workforce again, making money I so desperately need to support myself, as well as create an amazing Christmas for my friends, family, and boyfriend.

Meanwhile, I quickly found myself deep in a hole–working & training a LOT, homework up the wazoo, plus family and boyfriend commitments. It became all too much. And when I looked for a way out–nearly begging–I was denied.

In these situations, you’re kind of forced to look at life.

You have to evaluate what’s working in your life, and what’s not. While I loved my job, I hated the fact that I was expected to work more hours than I’d wanted–which would severely interfere with my schoolwork, family and boyfriend commitments, and personal state. I learned quickly several semesters ago when I took on nearing-full-time work, school full-time, dance, and being an after-school history tutor that I do NOT work well under pressure, and I do NOT fit in the jam-packed schedule club. I need time to myself–and lots of it. I need mental clarity. I need space in my day to veg out and read a magazine. I was overwhelmed, and it wasn’t working…and there is nothing wrong with that.

You have to change what you can, and accept what you can’t. Ultimately, if you’re unhappy, you have the ability to change that. If you don’t like something, 9 times out of 10, you can change it. But the things you can’t control–how someone acts or reacts, the decisions others make–you can’t change those, and you need to accept that. I was heartbroken when I was denied my lesser hours, something I couldn’t change. But I could change how I was going to react to this news…and I did.

You have to figure out what makes you happy, and get rid of what doesn’t. We can’t always be happy–and anyone who pretends they’re happy 24/7 is a dirty liar. But ultimately, life is waaaayyy too damn short to be unhappy in a crappy, minimum-wage job you hate already by Day 3. It’s too short to sit by and be berated by an angry boss when you’re only twenty years old, not forced to pay rent or struggle with life’s daily, “grown-up” grind yet. I’m too young to be so stressed over one measly job. I’m lucky I’m in a situation where I don’t have to fret about bills, rent, and the absolute necessity of having a job. For spending money, of course it’s nice. But if I don’t have to put up with it, why should I? Why is my happiness measured by this job?

It wasn’t. So I quit.

And now, I am happy.

It’s funny that sometimes, so little counts for so much. The mere fact of quitting–just calling and saying, “hey, sorry, it’s not working” took off twenty pounds of unneeded mental clutter out of my head. It felt great–what a relief! And while it sucks I’m back where I started, I’m happy I’m no longer stressing. No one needs that–and I’m most definitely not pleasant when I’m stressed.

So, in lieu of work, I made a cake. This isn’t your typical Hayley-cake. Nope. It’s absolutely atypical of everything I stand for, everything I showcase. A normal Hayley would be wary of this cake, would probably never show you, my loyal, AWESOME fans.

But then I realized, why am I worried? It’s a freakin’ cake.

And remember that when you look at the title: it’s a no-frills cake. Meaning I put hardly any effort into it. Meaning I sacrificed a pretty crumb coat, beautiful pipe-work, and the like, for just a friggen cake. One with lots of flavor, a simple smattering of frosting, and topped with hot fudge, only because I was feeling marginally fancy.

That. Is. All.

If you’re here for a pretty cake with lots of details and colors, I apologize for being a horrendous let-down. But, you know, I’ve had lots of really pretty cakes that taste disgusting. This may be lacking in the looks department, but A) it tastes AMAZING; and B) I opted to shave off decorating time in favor of spending time with my family… because they make me happy. And because, while they fully support my creative baking and decorating endeavors, deep down, they’re totally no-frills, and this is the kind of cake that makes them happy.

Problem solved!

Ready for some yummy, half-assed cake? You bet you are!

No-Frills Black & Yellow Cake

1 box (two-layer) yellow cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
1 small box sugar free/fat free French vanilla pudding mix
Chocolate Frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)
Hot fudge sauce (about 1/3 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray two 9″ cake pans with cooking spray, and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions. Stir dry pudding mix into batter. Portion batter evenly among both cake pans, and bake about 23-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes briefly on counter, then cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Once cakes are cooled, carefully split them in half with a long serrated knife to get a “layered” effect. If you’d prefer, leave them be and stick with two layers. I had three in mine since one of my cakes was a little on the anorexic side and I couldn’t split it.

Chocolate Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
About 4 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and cocoa powder until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, about one cup at a time, until frosting reaches a nice, soft and spreadable consistency.
2. Place one layer of cake onto your serving dish or a plate. Smear with a generous portion of chocolate frosting, just reaching the outer edges. Top with another layer, and repeat. Once your layers are stacked, frost the top layer with the remaining frosting. (You may need to double the frosting recipe, depending on how much you use). The key is to go for a nice, fluffy look, so use your spatula or knife to make it look like clouds or something fluffy 🙂
3. Microwave hot fudge sauce for about 30 seconds, then carefully pour on top of your layered cake, spreading it around to the edges if necessary. I let mine drip over the edges–who cares–and it looked kinda cool.
4. Then obviously, eat this immediately since you just saved yourself a bunch of time and effort in the kitchen and deserve to spend it eating a slice of heaven and spending time doing things that make YOU happy! (Store airtight and covered in the fridge, though)

You’d think that, per training and typicality, my family would have been like “WTF why is this cake so ugly? Where are the sprinkles? Are you ill?” but instead, they were like, “OMG, what is this cake? Can I have some? Screw it, can I have all of it?” and then proceeded to eat the whole thing. They love me, so it’s good.

And again, THANK YOU to all my amazing friends, family and fans who consistently chat with me on Facebook, through comments, or by email–you guys are the best!

xo, Hayley

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  1. Best cake yet and I have to say you are very wise for someone so young!


    • Cherie–thank you so much, seriously. You are part of the reason that makes this blog so fulfilling and fun! (And the wise part, while semi-true, is mostly thanks to my mom’s advice–she’s pretty smart). xo!

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