A Peek Into Surprise-Inside Cakes With Amanda Rettke

Today, In Studio moves into the kitchen for a chat with writer and baker Amanda Rettke. Amanda is a Fargo native and a mother of five and the amazing desserts and colorful treats she dreams up in her Minnesota kitchen have inspired bakers around the world.


She’s passionate about the art and science of baking and I’ve learned more about baking cakes from reading her blog, i am baker, than I ever did playing around in the kitchen on my own. Every every single photo makes me hungry, so if you’re reading this post on an empty stomach, you’ve been warned.

Now Amanda’s exuberant cakes are featured in a new cookbook called Surprise-Inside Cakes, where she shows us all how to make cakes with a little extra wow.

Here’s more from Amanda…and some completely drool-worthy photos.


How did you start baking?
“I started baking after I started having babies. There were birthdays and events and potlucks and I needed to bring something! So I started making decorated sugar cookies. I have a real passion for those cookies, but found they were too time consuming for the amount of kids I had. So I started making cakes, and found that I really enjoyed decorating them.”

What made you decide to write a book?
“I got a call from a publisher one day, asking if I would consider it. From that moment on it was all I thought about!”


How has your current environment influenced your baking?
“What a great question! We just moved to a new home with a beautiful kitchen. The windows in the kitchen overlook our backyard, which is about 15 acres of God’s glorious trees and ponds. The setting alone is magical, but pair that with growing kids, who are now actually enjoying spending time in the kitchen with me, and I pretty much feel like the most blessed woman on the planet.”

How do people respond to your cakes?
“One of my favorite things in the world is seeing peoples faces when they are given a cake. Add to that their shock and awe on seeing a surprise inside cake… well, that is priceless. I equate it to a drug! I want to bake more, to give more, to share more, to inspire more. Baking for me is more than a passion. It is a life-giving affirmation.”


How do you get such bright, saturated color?
“I use gel food coloring. It’s great!”

Your use of food coloring has drawn criticism in the past. How do you respond to that?
“I can’t help but laugh about it now. I once had a person tell me that I should not be allowed to procreate based on me giving my kids rainbow colored pancakes. That was a low blow! I am a sensitive soul and take things very personal, but I try to look at how critics can help me, to make me better. I do try to give my kids good food, to feed them whole food and fruits and vegetables and limit the junk. But at the end of the day, I think the world is a better place with a bright, beautiful cake in it.”


What’s your favorite cake in the book?
“I love the Vampire Cake. And the Opposites Cake. And the Maypole Cake. And the Rose Candle Cake. Ah! I can’t decide.”

What’s your most popular cake?
“In 2011 I created a cake called the Vertical Layer Rose Cake. I used a 1M tip and placed big rosettes all over a cake. That cake design in now replicated and sold in bakeries around the world. I most recently saw it featured at Harrods of London.”


Why should people make the effort to make a surprise inside cake?
“I think people like to bless others. I know that my cakes can be difficult and take a long time, but all of that time and resources and effort is worth it when you are giving someone you love a beautiful cake. I hope that my book would give people basic methods for how they can personalize a surprise inside cake for someone. I would hope people are inspired to do something really special. Everything is better with cake.”

What do you say to someone that’s intimidated by your recipes?
“Start easy. Start with a box mix and a layer cake. Once you get in there and feel a cake and manipulate batter to make it do what you want, its a very freeing thing! You start to develop confidence and the ideas flow. Its a wonderful medium to share your artistic talent!”


Why is knowing how to bake important?
“I don’t think having a huge foundation of knowledge is important in baking. I think everyone has a different process and all of them are great. Wether you are from-scratch only or utilize a box mix, what I love is the sharing. The moment when kids rush in the door and smell freshly baked cookies. That moment when you walk in the door to a friends house with a chocolate cake covered in sprinkles. That moment when you cut into a cake that you designed specifically for someone you love, and tears come to their eyes. I want everyone to have those moments.”

Want to learn how Amanda does it? Of course you can buy the book wherever books are sold. Or you can check out her tutorials.

She uses two techniques to get the surprise-inside look. The first is a Cake Mixture method, which you can read about in this Heart Cake Tutorial and the second is The Twice Baked method, which puts a surprise shape in every slice. Click the links to see a quick video tutorial on how to create an Egg Surprise-Inside Cake, which will be awesome for next Easter and a Countdown Cake for New Year’s Eve.


If, like me, you’ve fallen in love with Amanda’s cakes, come see her in person and get your book signed!

Book Signing Event:
Zandbroz Variety
420 Broadway
Fargo, ND
Saturday, April 26
6:30 p.m.

Learn more about the shops, people, events, art, parties and food that make the Upper Midwest unique; Follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, on Twitter @PrairieStylFile or subscribe via email on the right side of this page.


Eco Chic Junk Market Tickets Winner and Info

Thanks for everyone who commented to win the pair of Early Bird tickets for the Eco Chic Junk Market on May 10.

And thanks also for sharing the contest with your friends on social media. We now have lots of new faces in the Prairie Style File family and, as promised, those of you who shared the contest got entered twice!


I loved reading your comments so much.

Some of you wanted to go to the Junk Market because you need to decorate, some of you just want to hang out with friends and some of you just love the thrill of the hunt. Some of you made me laugh and one of you made me cry. I wish I could send everybody, but sadly I have only two tickets… and a handy random number generator to do the tough deciding for me.

Now on to what you really came to read about…who won!


Our randomly chosen winner is Carol R. Carol, please watch your email for a note from alicia@prairiestylefile.com for details on how to get your tickets.

It sounds like lots of you are planning on going to the Junk Market, so don’t forget to show me your treasures! You can find me on Twitter @PrairieStylFileon Facebook and on Instagram.

And check back for two more giveaways on April 29 and May 13! And if you want to be kept up to date about all the contests and events at Prairie Style File, be sure to subscribe via email at the top right side of this page.

Have a great Easter!

Eco Chic Junk Market
Saturday, May 10
8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Early Bird Admission (Sold Out)
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. General Admission

Red River Valley Fairgrounds
Hartl Ag Building
1805 West Main Avenue
West Fargo, ND

Tickets $5 at the door
12 and under are free
Event held rain or shine


Meet Me for a Drink at The Fargo Craft Beer Tour

If you’re looking for a new favorite beer, you can’t miss the Fargo Craft Beer Tour at the Hilton Garden Inn on Saturday, May 10. There are over 100 beers to sample during the event, so you’re bound to find something you love.


Organizer Christian Medford knows a thing or two about beer. He founded the St. Cloud Craft Beer Tour so he has close ties with a number of Midwestern breweries.

The growth of local breweries in the region (Fargo Brewing Company is a major sponsor), a better selection of craft beers in local bars, restaurants and off-sale locations and a thriving beer nerd culture in the Red River Valley convinced Christian that Fargo was more than ready for its own event.

If you already love beer, the Fargo Craft Beer Tour will appeal to your sense of adventure. ”

“You can get something you can’t get at a bar,” says Christian. He says that brewers often experiment with small batches and sample them at shows to get direct feedback from beer fans. “There’s always something interesting that pops up that’s just unique.”

Junkyard Brewery Co

It’s also great chance to try some new brews from vendors that you might not be able to find locally. You’ll get a commemorative sampling cup and plenty of time to try some new brews.

If you’re not really a beer drinker, sampling events like this one are the perfect way to learn what you love.

“You can spend 50, 60, 70 80 bucks at a bar and before you find the beer that you actually like,” says Christian. “You take a small sample and if you don’t like it, you go to the rinse station and try another one,” says Christian. “Keep sampling — you’ll find it.”

And the event is set up so that even non-drinkers can have a good time. Designated drivers can score free non-alcoholic drinks and everyone can check out the food and retail items for purchase.

Photo from The Dinner Series

So come have a beer (or lots of 2 to 3 ounce ones!) with me at the Fargo Craft Beer Tour. I’ll be live tweeting at the event (find me @PrairieStylFile) and posting photos of all my favorites on Facebook and Instagram. Follow me and we can meet up!

And don’t forget to follow the Fargo Craft Beer Festival on Facebook for updates.

And check back Tuesday, April 29 for your chance to win a pair of tickets to the Fargo Craft Beer Tour!

Fargo Craft Beer Tour
Saturday, May 10
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
(VIPs get an extra hour of sampling from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.)
At the Hilton Garden Inn
4351 17th Avenue South
Fargo, ND
Bus: Route 16

Tickets: Available at Bottle Barn Liquors locations
General Admission: $25
VIP: $40
Designated Driver: $5

This is a sponsored post. I’m helping The Fargo Craft Beer Tour spread the word about their event through a marketing partnership because I love what they’re doing and I think that you will too. Thanks for helping me make a living by telling you about cool things in the Upper Midwest!


Lil’ Punks and Rocker Babies: Edgy Kids’ Clothing From TotTude

TotTude is the cure for cutesy kids’ clothes burnout.

Designer Tera Christianson creates clothing for little ones with attitudes, a line of cool onesies, Ts, tutus and accessories for infants, toddlers and kids who want to stand out in a sea of baby pink and powder blue.

Stud Muffin T from TotTude

Tera works out of a studio in her in West Fargo, ND home where she raises four little ones and operates both Blessings Photography and TotTude. She’s obviously much better at multi-tasking than I am, because just reading that sentence is making me tired.

And all her hard work is paying off. She sells her designs on her website, her Etsy store and her boys’ clothing is featured on the deal site Zulily.com through tomorrow, April 17.

There’s lot of tattoo imagery running throughout the collection (especially the boys’ line) along with nods to punk, rockabilly and hot rod style, which look unexpectedly sweet on little ones.

Red Onesie by TotTude

I mean seriously, isn’t this onesie adorable? And I’m not just saying that because my baby is wearing it. Although it did take some discipline not to title this post “Eeeeee, My Baby is a Model”…

And I love, love, love that she gives little girls options that are both cute and powerful. It’s nice to see an alternative to all the pretty-pretty princess nonsense out there.

Girls GreenTutu from TotTude

TotTude’s color palette — lots of blacks and grays mixed with bold blues, reds and the occasional blast of purple, neon pink and neon green — is a nice break for parents like me who are totally sick of a closet full of pastels.

And frankly, this stuff just makes me smile. I mean, wouldn’t it be fun to watch someone open up a tattoo sleeve onesie at a baby shower?

Kids Accessories from TotTude

Don’t forget to shop Zulily.com until tomorrow, April 17.

Learn more about the shops, people, events, art, parties and food that make the Upper Midwest unique; Follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, on Twitter @PrairieStylFile or subscribe via email on the right side of this page.