Spring Barrows decorated this cake

Spring Barrows decorated this cake.

In the opening scenes of SHADOWS, the peaceful life that Skye Barrows created for herself and her sister, Spring, comes to a crashing halt, but not before Sebastian Connelly walks into their bakery, Creative Confections, and gets a taste of the special life Skye created there. SHADOWS is a romantic thriller. Most scenes are gritty and edgy, yet my inspiration for Spring’s knack for decorating cakes came from sweet childhood memories–my mother’s talent for baking delicious cakes and beautifully decorating them.

The photo accompanying this blog entry is a cake that Spring Barrows would have decorated. As explained in SHADOWS, Spring’s interpretation of color is . . . unusual, yet her cakes are as beautiful as the cakes that I remember from my childhood.

Mom’s cakes tasted like slices of almond-flavored heaven. When I wrote the bakery scenes in SHADOWS, I asked for her recipe. I was shocked to find out that she had simply been doctoring a cake mix! Don’t let the simple nature of this recipe fool you-there’s something magical in the combination of white cake with almond flavoring, pineapple filling, and buttery icing. Follow Mom’s simple steps for a delicious double-layer cake that will fill your house with the aroma of wedding cake, then invite friends over to help you eat it.

M. Barcelona’s Pineapple-Almond Celebration Cake

For Two Layers of Cake:

2 boxes of Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix, mixed separately according to package directions AND ADD 2 TBSP almond extract to each box of cake mix.  Using 2 pans, 1 for each box of mix, bake the mixture using a 16 X 9 sheet pan. Note: in the directions on the box, the largest pan is 13 X 9. Mom likes thinner layers, and that’s why she uses the 16 X 9 “jelly roll” pan, which will require “a little” less baking time than the box indicates. Cool the cake in the pan or on a wire rack.

Pineapple Filling:

Melt 2 TBSP butter in pan, stir in ½ TBSP flour, add one large can crushed pineapple (20 ounce) with the heavy syrup from the can. Cook on medium fire until it thickens. Let cool.

Butter Icing:

 Very slowly, using a mixer, cream together one box of powdered sugar, one stick butter, 2 TBSP almond flavor, and enough cream or milk to make a smooth, spreadable icing. If it feels too thick to spread, add more cream or milk.  If it feels too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Place one cooled cake layer on a cake board or other flat serving tray; Spread pineapple filling evenly over the top of the cake; Place the other cake layer on top; Cover the entire cake with the icing, smoothing the icing by dipping your knife or spatula in water as you’re smoothing it.

At this point, Mom and Spring would both go to town with piping bags and decorating tools. Mom recommends learning cake decorating as a hobby. I’d love to, one day—maybe after JIGSAW, my next Black Raven novel, is written and published.

Comment here, through mail@stellabarcelona.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stellabarcelona and let me know if you try Mom’s recipe. If you have questions about the recipe, feel free to ask-I’ll pass them on to Mom if I can’t answer them. Also, if you have easy recipes for cakes, or cake-mix doctoring tricks, please share them here.

Special thanks to Kaitlyn Richard for making one of Spring’s cakes come to life!


Take care, and stay in touch,