Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Birthday Cake Disaster

For as long as I can remember I have loved decorating cakes. The problem with this is that I stink at it. I mean I REALLY stink at it.

I started off baking from scratch but those cakes were such disasters that they were not edible at all and finally after many years I accepted that fact that I'm not a baker and I switched to packaged mixes - which really helped.

That just leaves the decorating part and frankly I'm just as bad at that.

I have made some world class ugly cakes.

When I was younger my parents just smiled and suffered in silence when presented with one of my disasters but when I had children of my own the kids weren't as nice as my parents had been.

I would mention decorating a cake for some event and the Island Girl would beg and plead for a store bought cake.

Of course she was traumatized in 1st grade when I made eyeball ice cubes for the punch at a school Halloween party and the eyeballs separated and became bloody olives in the punch and no one would drink it.

Many years later and a thousand disastrous cakes in the trash I have just about given up my dream of ever decorating a beautiful cake but every once in a while I just have to try it again.

My sons had a birthday party coming up and I was going to order them a cake until I saw a cake decorating challenge on Food Network and I decided that this time was going to be different and I was going to create the perfect cake for them.

The Oldest Island Boy wanted a chocolate chip cookie cake and the Youngest wanted a traditional cake.

No problem.

I found some really cute little pirate figures at the Dollar Store so I decided to use them as decorations and give the cakes a pirate theme.

I baked the cookie cake first using a roll of cookie dough and the second using a Devil's Food chocolate box mix. Both cakes came out of the oven fine and I was feeling really confident.

I let them cool for many hours and then I was ready to decorate them.

I did a white icing border around the cookie cake and while it certainly didn't look like I expected it to it wasn't too bad.

Then I tried to write his name on the cake and that didn't go so well. I ended up with a big green smear but since I had the pirate stuff I just covered the spot with a cannon and then tried to write his name again.

It worked a little better but the writing wasn't good at all.

Darn.

I put the rest of the pirate stuff on the cake and it really didn't look too bad - but still nothing like it did in my imagination.

Now it was time to do the Youngest's cake.

I covered the top with cream cheese icing and then added red icing to the sides - and ran into a problem.

The icing would not stay on the sides of the cake. As fast as I would push it back up in one spot it would slide down in another.

The cake is perfectly cool so I have no idea why this is happening and the pretty little puffs I'd made with the pastry bag are all smooshed from me trying to get it to stay.

This is not going well.

I added the pirate stuff to the top and then wrote Happy Birthday Rook in red. It looked sort of ok for about 5 minutes and then the back corners of the cake started to sink.

Why is this happening?

Wouldn't a cake fall within an hour or two of baking it?

This is at least 8 hours later and it just decided to cave in. Well that's just great.

The little pirate man has now sunk to his waist as if he were standing in quick sand.

And then before my eyes the red icing that I've written his name in starts to run towards the sink hole in the corner.

That icing looked perfectly dry to me and now has turned to a liquid.

The odd thing is that only a couple of the letters ran while the others remained dry and in place.

I have no idea what is happening and as I stand there looking at it I realize that once again I have created a disaster. I also realize that I can't take these cakes to the party because they are so awful.

So this morning, early, I went to the grocery store and bought the only cake they had on display and then had the woman write their names on it.

When the boys got up I showed them the cakes I made for them and then I showed them the store bought cake.

The relief on their faces was hysterical.

After the party my parents and my sister and her family came back to my house for pizza and there for everyone to see were the cakes.

My dad commented that they didn't look that bad (which just proves how truly horrible some of my other cakes have been) but my sister agreed that the Youngest's cake was shocking.

She said "It looks so scary!" We all agreed it probably would have been ok as a Halloween cake LOL



The only redeeming quality is that since I used a box mix it tastes pretty good.

Zig liked the cookie cake though so he got to eat his fill.



I've now been officially asked by all three of my children to not make them homemade cakes any more.

I guess I knew this day would come.
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