Monday, August 6, 2007

Let them eat cake!

Watching the Food Channel, I often come across shows where the host is decorating a great cake. To replicate this, they say you only really need to do three things: let the cake cool completely, use room temperature frosting so that it doesn't cause excess crumbs to be pulled up and to layer three sheets of wax or parchment paper under the cake in a triangle so that you can pull them out from under the cake upon completion for a professional and spartan-looking cake plate.

Last night, I was so proud of myself. My son (we'll call him Charlie) turns two today, and I made him a cake with brightly colored layers. I baked the cake at 4pm, and allowed it to cool (first in the pan on a rack, and then turned upside down) for FOUR hours. If you know me, which most of you don't, you will know that my waiting four hours was akin to skipping desert at a big family dinner...unheard of. My cakes are generally "extra moist" because I frost them when they're still warm and the frosting just kind of oozes into the cake.

Not this time! No, this was going to be the most perfect bright blue and green layered cake that was ever frosted with day-glo orange icing. Why? Because I am now an at-home mom, that's why. My entire 'job' as I see it is to make amazing pastries from scratch and host home-made meals to two-income couples so that I can continue to get praise and recognition. Wait, maybe it's to take care of Charlie and ensure that he grows to be a well-adjusted adult who doesn't have mother issues, whatever. Last night, it was perfect pastries.

So, I was literally beaming with pride because my cake looked so great! I neatly pulled out the first sheet, and then the second, leaving only the perfect clear glass of the cake plate. Then, it came time to pull out the third sheet. Somewhere between gently laying the cake onto the waxed paper, and pulling out the other two layers, the third piece had gotten so far under the cake that it would not come out. I had two options; I could just leave the paper there so that all could witness my ineptness, or, I could use my bare hands to dig that piece out...which do you think I chose?

That's right...ten minutes later, my hands were covered in orange frosting (which I had tinted myself using food coloring to achieve the perfect shade), the layers of the cake were sliding apart, and my heart was sinking because I had just failed. My child would have an imperfect cake for his birthay.

As I looked at the pile of cake and frosting with blurred vision (yes, tears of frustration), Charlie looked over at me and said "Wasss that?" He couldn't see the cake, he could just see me, and I realized that it didn't matter. Frosting can fix everything. I scooped it all back into place as neatly as possible, and slapped on some orange-tinted sugary goo. I piped on his name with bright blue icing, and added a decorative border to detract from the now-smeared plate.

So, we'll have a little cake with our icing...I'm sure to him, it will be just as good. So, my first lesson has been learned: Cooking shows are a crock!

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