Thursday, July 14, 2011

It just takes the cake

Let's talk about cake. My aunt decorates cakes as a serious hobby--she made them for her daughters' weddings and would have for mine if she hadn't lived 2500 miles away. (Should have asked her anyway, though. My wedding cake was lousy. It tasted fine, and that was about all that could be said for it. Luckily we also served homemade ice cream.) My sister-in-law got interested in cake-decorating a couple of years ago and produced some awesome cakes for her daughter's birthday parties. Personally, I've never been that big into cake (ice cream and brownies are my preference), so I admired from a distance until it came time to make Chloë's first birthday cake. Because of course I had to make it from scratch and decorate it. That's what moms do, right? Or at least that's what moms who like to cook and bake and fancy themselves quick learners do.

So I made a lemon cake from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, with lemon curd filling and Italian buttercream frosting (I had to go online for that one--and was thrilled because I'm not fond of American frostings as a rule), and decorated it just before serving because there were issues and I couldn't get to it earlier, and it was nothing special looks-wise but it tasted good, and I was pleased. I decided I would get more interested in cakes--mainly the baking, since I didn't want to be seen as competing with my sister-in-law. Eric got me The Cake Bible for my birthday this year, and I made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and ate about half of it myself. Then I got out the Wilton decorating books my aunt gave me for my wedding shower long ago, which I'd brought out for Chloë's cake but nothing since.

And now? Now I'm fantasizing about the truly awesome cakes I could make and frost. Chloë's birthday this year is water-themed, kiddie pools and a sprinkler and water balloons for the kids to play with. I was going to make an underwater cake, with cookie fish and seaweed and maybe some sea stars and piped shells and graham-cracker sand, but then I saw this cake and decided that I must make a backyard cake, complete with kiddie pool and sprinkler and hose.

Luckily, this idea is actually going to be less strenuous, piping-wise, than the fish one, which is good considering I have a two-month-old and a two-year-old and no time to sit down and actually practice piping. It will involve constructing a pool, probably out of pie crust, and cutting up some licorice and other candies, but that I think I can do.

So I don't think this will become a new hobby, but it's definitely a new interest. I have to go out sometime in the next two weeks and get a grass piping tip. And when will the next cake be? I don't know, because our nuclear family's next birthday is in April and anyone else would probably be covered by my sister-in-law. Maybe a fall cake is in order.

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