Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Birthday Cake Disaster

I have a delusion of myself as being a Martha Stewart/Earth Mother type. In my head, I can throw together a five course French meal with the organic vegetables from my massive backyard garden in between sewing a quilt from scraps of discarded tee shirts while simultaneously knitting LO's Halloween costume from the cotton I am growing myself in the previously mentioned garden and whipping up nutritious whole-wheat pastries that are a treat for eyes as well as the mouth.

Unfortunately, my reality tends to fall somewhat short of my delusions.

Case in point, the birthday cake I created for LO and his Grandma Marian, whose birthday is today.
To begin with the puncturing of my self-image, the cake recipe itself came from a nice lady named Betty, who also did all of the dry ingredient mixing for me, and who is not particularly concerned about bleached flour. (I also used her icing.) So already, I'm making a cake from a box and I'm not even doctoring it. Both Martha and Mother Nature are wagging their fingers at me.

Then, I decided it would be cute to make a teeny-tiny layer cake, using a wee springform cake pan that I've had for years and have now used three times if you count each of yesterday's layers once. Unfortunately, the teeny-tiny layer cake just looked unpleasantly...brown once it was iced. I decided to try sprucing that bad boy up with the 9-piece Cake Decorating Kit I recently bought. (Mental process when purchasing: "THIS will make me the Ace of Cakes guy!") All the "decorating" did was make this birthday attempt even more of a nominee for the Cake Disasters Hall of Shame.

As you can see, LO was not impressed.
No matter. The important aspect of cake, as many a watcher of those ubiquitous art cake competition shows ends up shouting at the screen, is how it tastes. And while I may not be able to decorate a cake for love or money, even I cannot mess up Ms. Crocker's age-old recipe.

And again, there was that disconnect between my expectation of LO's first birthday cake experience and reality. Because, you see, as soon as we presented LO with a delicious slice of chocolate cakey goodness, the child vomited all over himself. J was not quite quick enough with the camera to get the bubbling up of nastiness, but you can see a little on his chin as he gives me and the cake equal looks of horrified disgust.
I am not used to quite this reaction to my cooking. (Although there was one instance when J came home and, without a hint of irony, asked me if we had a gas leak once he got a whiff of the new recipe I was trying out. I threw that dish out without tasting it). Luckily the other birthday honoree thought the cake was quite tasty, so I don't have to worry about the future of any potlucks I attend or dinner parties I host. ("Oh, EGB, what did you bring? Cake? [Sound of vomiting]").

This will not be LO's final attempt at birthday cake eating, of course. He will have another opportunity on Saturday when we host his birthday party. Since he seemed to have an upset tummy yesterday (damn dairy allergy!), I am hoping we'll be able to have some of the more traditional baby/birthday cake pictures that litter photo albums and scrapbooks the world over. And I have not decided to hang up my cake decorator's hat. (It's like a chef's hat, but with more chocolate stains.) I will probably just write the child's name on the next cake, though, and work up to the "pretty" flourishes. I don't want Martha to scold me.

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