Henry David Thoreau Cake

My dad, Bill Krieger, is a Thoreau-fanatic. He studied Hank DT’s life (as in, his doctoral dissertation) and looooooooves to quote him or provide Thoreau trivia to anyone who will listen. “If you have built castles in the air….”, “Did you know that Thoreau’s last words were ‘Moose, Indian’?”, “Simplify, simplify.”

Or, my personal favorite, “I was determined to know beans.”


When one of my brothers, Bob, and I planned to visit my dad in Walla Walla, Washington to celebrate his 70th birthday, I knew I HAD to make a Thoreau cake for him.


It would be chocolate, with chocolate ganache. And I chose Thoreau’s short and sweet message, “All good things are wild and free,” to frost above his head. I finished the cake at 2AM the night before my flight to the Tri-Cities in Washington.


When I got to the Cincinnati airport at 5AM, I breastfed Ansel at the departures drop off for as long as I could before I felt like I had to go. It was my first trip away from him, and I was fretting about it and it was hard to say goodbye, even though it would only be for 36 hours. But my delayed goodbye meant that by the time I got through security, I had 10 minutes before my plane was scheduled for take off. So, balancing the cake in one hand, and my carry on (which was basically my pajamas and a breast pump) in another, I ran through the airport to get to the gate. And I was the last one on the plane. Look how happy I am!


When you fly with a cake, everyone likes to tell you the same jokes. TSA staff say, “Oh, we’ll have to confiscate this!,” the flight attendants say, “Oh, you brought us cake! Did you bring forks?” and the loud man you sit next to says, “Oh, chocolate, my favorite!” But, per usual, I liked the attention.

Here’s the cake stowed away under the seat in front of me. It was my personal item.


Dad knew that Bob was coming for his birthday, but he did not know that I would be there. So me and the cake, we were going to be surprises.

Bob and I met up at the Tri-Cities airport and we were off to Walla Walla.


Historically, I’m terrible at keeping secrets, but I was really good with this one. The day before, I even had a phone conversation with Dad about Bob’s trip to Walla Walla, pretending that I wouldn’t be coming along. “So what are you going to do with Bob when he visits you in Walla Walla? ….oh that sounds fun…. Sorry I can’t be there. It’s really hard for me to travel away from the baby.”

When Dad answered the door, I hid behind Bob until he said, “Look what I brought,” and then I popped out. Dad was so surprised, he took a step backwards and stood there speechless. It was so very fun.


Walla Walla is a super-fun place to visit and my dad is an enthusiastic host. We went to wineries, ate fancy meals, enjoyed each others’ company, and I even got a full night’s sleep for the first time in 4.5 months.



We had a wonderful time celebrating Dad’s 7 decades on earth. He is someone who has truly loved and lived by Thoreau’s words. And, just for him, here’s just one more quote:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.


3 thoughts on “Henry David Thoreau Cake

  1. Lovely post! I can’t believe you got the cake all the way to Washington in such great condition. Props.


  2. Hello Kate,
    It’s Kate Walsh (Simon’s sister) from Australia here. We met during Andy & Simon’s graduation in Michigan just over a year ago now. Simon sent me a link to your thesis cakes blog a little while back and I cannot tell you how much joy it’s given me! The cakes are of course spectacular, but even more than the joy of discovering your latest creation, i look forward to reading your wonderful words. I love your philsophical musings, baby updates – Ansel is gorgeous, cake decorating tips and tricks and hearing all about your family and friends.

    I thought I should leave a reply as it doesn’t seem right that you didn’t know that I love your blog all the way over the other side of the world and it makes me so happy!

    I hope one day I get to eat one of your delicious cakes!



    1. Of course I remember you. Wow, your kind words made my day! Thanks for sharing with me. If I’m ever in Australia, I would *love* to make YOU a cake. What would you put on it?! 🙂


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