It started innocently enough. A friend, for her birthday, requested a Barbie cake to go along with the pink-themed party I was throwing for her. You can buy these inspired cakes (half a Barbie with only a toothpick for legs in a dome cake) at most chain supermarkets for about $50. When I heard her request, I figured, "I work at a food website and love to bake. I should be able to figure this out." Emphasis on should.

The cake (and yes, that's the actual picture of my finished cake) took 3 days, 4 boxes of cake mix, 20 eggs (minus 8 yolks), 4.5 cups of water, 1 1/3 cups of oil, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 cups of sugar to complete. Here's how it went down.

Tuesday: Grocery run. Bought 2 boxes of strawberry cake mix, 1 box of chocolate cake mix, and 1 box of vanilla cake mix. The strawberry would be the dome part of the cake, the vanilla the 9" round to make it a little taller, and the chocolate for cupcakes because who on earth is going to want to carve into a Barbie cake? Also purchased eggs and half a Barbie from the craft store.

Wednesday: Cake baking begins. In one hour, I knock out the vanilla and chocolate mixes, making 18 chocolate cupcakes and not one but two vanilla round cakes. In the interest of getting all cake out of my apartment, I decide Barbie will be extra tall. The dome cake takes a little more effort. I greased (boy did I grease) a domed, glass baking bowl and added the two boxes of strawberry mix, then set the oven to 200 degrees and cooked for an hour and twenty minutes, as suggested by a crafty mom's blog I read online. I learned a few things, namely that A) cake expands more than you think, so double cake expands twice as much as you'd ever dream. Added cookie sheet to catch the overflow of batter. B) My oven is not level, which made my batter spill out on one side, so I had to bail out the cookie sheet a few times to make extra room. After 2.5 hours, it was still soupy in the middle, so I added a foil rim (and maybe shared a few choice words of encouragement with Barbie) and baked the cake at 300 for 30 minutes. Perfect. Came out of the bowl like a dream.

Thursday: Operation Icing. I made a Swiss Buttercream icing (she's a really good friend), because I heard it doesn't get crunchy when it sits out overnight. I made a double batch, spread the white, vanilla-flavored icing between my three layers, then dyed the whole think Bubble Yum pink and began decorating the cake. In hindsight, I would've sprung for the icing spatula and the piping bags, but at the time, it felt like a rubber spatula and zip-top bags with the corners snipped would suffice. Take my advice: Spend the extra $3!

Overall, I had a great time and ended with a cake I think my friend will love. Plus I saved about $35. (Unless you factor in the cost of my time (and likely my electricity bill), which means I owe myself roughly $142.) Have you ever made a crazy cake for a friend or child's birthday? Let me know!

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel