Sunday, July 28, 2013

Little boy birthday cake

Life is Good: don't take yourself too seriously!

There are many things that I hope to pass on to my in God, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, love of family (whether it be blood or otherwise), a desire to serve God's people, being a true and loyal friend, excitement and enthusiasm about whatever is at hand, curiosity about the world...I could go on and on. I can't guarantee that they will learn these things from me and I can't guarantee that those things will resonate strongly with them. But I will do my best. It's the promise I made to them during those many talks we had while they were still in the womb.

One thing I am pretty sure they will learn from me is not to take yourself too seriously. Each day, I give them ample examples of me laughing at myself. And one fine example is this year's (okay, every year's) birthday cake for our littlest. And to prove that I am utterly flawed and imperfect and am the first one to laugh at myself. I am writing this post with pictures to prove it.

It started out like anything else...I had a brilliant great fun idea. Our littlest dude lovvvves music. SO! Why not make a musical note-shaped cake?!  Well, the best thing that I can say about this cake is that I am no quitter. And thank goodness, when you are making a cake for a two-year old, the pressure to make it "perfect" is significantly lowered. At least that is what I kept telling myself. And here it is...

Once you have stopped laughing, please scroll down for more details.

Okay, that didn't take as long as I thought it would. Or maybe it did? Now I know why fondant cake decorating has become so popular. I think fondant tastes horrible, but it is smooth and beautiful and in my opinion, easier to create with. For me, it is like making a collage. Cutting strips and pieces and creating an art piece. (My mom taught me the process when I was younger.) But, man, it is not tasty! So I choose the more imperfect (but sweeter!) route...

For those of you who would like to attempt your own adventure in laughing at yourself (or perhaps, are better equipped for decorating such a cake), here is how this cake came to be...

I started with four cakes. Two loaf pans and two mini, round, springform pans.

I used my Eggless Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread recipe (without the cocoa powder) because I knew it would be firm enough to sculpt into the shape I needed. I cut the loaf pan-sized cakes in half and placed the cakes and pieces together.


Then I stared at it for a while and wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I went on Facebook and told everyone who has "liked" the How to be Pleasant Blog about my procrastination. And then I looked at the clock knowing that naptime and quiet time were sure to be over soon, so I needed to, as my fellow Kansans would say, "get my rear in gear" and frost this cake!

I started out by covering the entire cake with frosting. Some people call this a crumb coat. For you painters, it's like preparing the canvas.

Then, I wet my hands and patted all of the frosting all over the cake until it was softer looking.

Then I turned on Annie Lennox's song, "Why" and wondered why I thought I could make this cake in the first place, why I had emphasized the concept and not thought about the implementation of this cake more, and why I had never considered taking a cake decorating class! And then I did something that chills me to my bones, wrecks me to my deepest depth. I took the easy way out. I grabbed my three-opening cake tip and covered that cake with frosting "stars".

It wasn't my finest creative moment. But this cake wasn't about me. It was about our two-year old. And you know what? He loved it. And our five-year old thought it was really great, too. And it tasted good. (Though I must admit that cardboard would taste divine with my Grandma's frosting spread all over it.)

This cake was not about my creativity or my art. It was about my family. It was about the time I put into the baking and the decorating, because the time and the effort are the translation of love. And that's another thing I hope my I can pass on to our children. To be the kind of people who give of their time and their efforts and of all that they have and all who they are to show love to their friends, eventually to their own families, to everyone they meet, and to those they will never meet. Love and giving. That's what this cake was really about.

Oh, and primal frosting carnage, too...

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