Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last Cake

Trevor had a fabulous birthday. He was not disappointed in the least (despite not getting the skateboard with the skull on the bottom of it, which he talked about non-stop the last few days before his birthday arrived).

Normally, I look forward to making a cake for my little guys. This time around, I think I finished with a bad taste in my mouth (and I don't mean that the cake didn't taste good ... it did). It was just that every step of the way seemed fraught with anxiety.

Trevor was very specific about his cake design. He wanted to draw the illustration for the front of the cake. Given his fixation on skulls lately, it was not surprising to see what he came up with:

Next, came my task of recreating that picture. I placed his drawing on my baking stone and covered it with waxed paper. I did the best I could to trace his outline lines, however the flames and teeth were quite tricky (too small for drawing with a frosting tip).

What a frosting bag fiasco it turned out to be! When I went to fill the frosting bags, they smelled like rancid oil. It was a nauseatingly strong smell.

I decided to try the Ziploc bag approach. Within one minute, the bag burst and frosting globs spilled onto the wax paper. I was so thankful that I was working on wax paper and could merely wipe it up and start again.

My husband had generously purchased a Decorator Bottle Set from a co-worker selling Pampered Chef items, but they required washing before use. Since my vinyl and cloth bags were smelly and the Ziploc option wasn't working, I decided to take the extra time and wash out the decorator bottles.

I was eager to try the new set out, but I found them very difficult to work with. For starters, the opening is so small that you have to use a butter knife or smaller to push the frosting in. I used a Popsicle stick and it felt like it took forever. Normally, I am such a fan of Pampered Chef items, but this one had me frustrated.

(In searching for the photo to include on the blog) I did read some tips. Many individuals find it far easier to fill the bag by scooping the frosting into a baggie and cutting of a tip then pushing into the bottle. The bottles did clean up nicely with the provided brush tool. Plus, many users identified the bottles as helpful for children's use ... so I will hang on to them and use them with the boys. In fact, perhaps I'll just have Trevor do the whole frosting job next time. He's quite the artist. He may just do a better job than I can!)

In the end, I rewashed the vinyl Wilton bags and used them despite the lingering odor.

As for the cake, Trevor wanted an Oreo cake. I decided to forego looking for an Oreo box cake and merely used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cook book and added one cup of crushed Oreos. Sadly, even the cake wasn't cooperating. It stuck in the pan and came out with giant pock marks:

I'm pretty sure all of these dilemmas can be placed squarely on my own shoulders. If I had been on the top of my game, we would have had all the necessary ingredients in time for me to prepare both the frosting and the cake in advance, the freezer would not have been so full of food that we couldn't fit a cake, and I would not have felt too rushed to adequately allow the cake to cool.

Still, there were many times along the way, when I heard the voices in my head arguing about this whole process. For one, as I was adding the food coloring to the frosting, I was thinking about all the damage that these chemical dyes are doing to our children.

As I prepared the cake, the voices were reminding me that the boys would probably have one or two pieces (requesting the skull eyes or flames or something from the middle of the cake) and I would end up eating the entire rest of the cake. This will certainly not help my bid for weight loss.

All in all though, the cake was a big hit with the two little boys ... and they are the ones who matter! Trevor loved his cake and has even had three pieces so far (eating the cake and not just the icing, as he is wont to do, but yes, requesting first the skull eyes and then the flames).

He also loved his presents. I think his favorite thing was a hoodie from Walmart that zips up over the head. He wore it to the doctor's office (he has poison ivy) and jumped out to scare the doctor:

His second favorite thing is the small Bakugan toy and his third favorite would be the spider web glass he is holding in his hand in the picture below:

Of course, after mentally declaring that maybe this will be my last cake, I found this adorable monkey cake over at Smitten Kitchen's blog (oh how I love looking at the tasty foods she whips up effortlessly and photographs flawlessly). Oooh, and the butter cream frosting has no artificial colors. And I've always been a big fan of monkeys. And ... okay, so maybe it is not my "last cake." Six months from now, I'll probably be looking for somebody who wants a monkey cake.

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