Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthday cake

I have birthdays on the brain (three first birthdays within a week!) lately, so I thought other moms would enjoy my adventures in birthday cake making. Now, I’m not a cook. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Probably my favorite story about my cooking is when Caleb (who was about 4 at the time) tasted some home-made spaghetti sauce I’d made (and I actually do a decent job with spaghetti sauce) and said, “Well, you cooked it better than I thought you would!” That is a very accurate depiction of my cooking. I don’t cook often, and it’s usually nothing to write home about (with the notable exception of my lasagna).

But there’s just something about First Birthdays, isn’t there? I was all set to buy Sam a cake. It would look good and taste great. But then . . . well, the logic-free Mommy-monster invaded my body. I had been looking for a Jack’s Big Music Show (Sam’s favorite Nick Jr. show) cake to buy, but wasn’t having much luck. Then I went to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party, and my Mommy-friend had made a STUNNING caterpillar cake for her daughter. So of course, I got to thinking, “could I do a cake for Sam?”

A quick Google search showed me this Jack’s Big Music Show cake, complete with template and decorating instructions. Even though I’ve NEVER decorated a cake before, I got brave, bought the cake mix and icing (yes, I used canned icing for the test cake, but I promised my husband that I’d let him MAKE me the icing for the “real” cake), and did a test run.

I learned a lot.
  • I learned that the hubby’s idea to put an apricot glaze over the cake pre-icing was a REALLY smart idea, though we probably should have cut the face shape out first, so there would be glaze on the sides that were going to be iced.
  • I learned that even an entire tube (plus some more) of red gel food coloring only makes a very dark-ish pink icing. I decided it would have to do.
  • I learned that the recipe gave me TONS more green icing than I needed (but it’s a fun neon green  color), TONS more pink-that-was-supposed-to-be-red icing than I needed, almost the perfect amount of blue icing, and more than ample enough of the other colors I needed.
  • I learned that icing CAN be too warm (and by that I mean room temperature) to “hang on” to the cake.
  • I learned that flattening and cutting neon green Laffy Taffy to make Jack’s hair is harder than it looks.
  • I learned that it takes a LOT longer for me to do all the steps on the recipe than I ever thought it would.
  • I learned that cake decorators truly are artists (and I am NOT). This stuff is HARD WORK!
I was really disappointed with how it turned out (though it did taste YUMMY), until I got some positive feedback from friends who’ve seen pictures, and from my toughest critics – Jacob and Caleb. What do you think? What new domestic skill did you attempt for your baby’s big milestones?

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family. 

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