Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two Birthdays

Yesterday we celebrated not only the birthday of our wonderful nation, but the birthday of a friend's son as well. Ok, so we didn't really celebrate with them, since we had a prior commitment at my bil's house. I just helped them celebrate with a cake. Let me give a little background here. My husband recently made friends with a man who was in the process of relocating his family here from New York. He works for the LDS Church, and was transferred here. The only problem with that is he and his wife owned a house in New York. Unfortunately, due to the economic situation in our country right now, real estate is not selling. Or, not selling well, that is. So even though they put their house on the market immediately, it took a ridiculous amount of time to sell. The result was that he had to move here alone to start the new job, and leave his wife and their three children in New York to complete the school year and the sale of the house. Finally, after much waiting, and price reducing, and, of course, fighting (you can imagine the strain that would put on a marriage), the house sold.

So then, after struggling with the moving company for several weeks to get everything boxed up, packed up and moved out, he flew to New York to drive his family across the country to their new home. My understanding is they made the trip in three days. Yikes. Three days in the car, all day, every day. With three kids, the oldest of which is 11. I’m still wondering how they survived that trip. Because it’s not like they were on vacation and had fun, interesting stops along the way. Like Cousin Eddie's house. I’m reminded of National Lampoon’s Vacation….

Anyway, we saw them the evening they arrived here, before they’d even been to their new house, which is only about five minutes from our house. They stopped to pick up some things we stored for them while they were away. I swear I have never seen two people look more beat-down tired and utterly worn out than those two did. And with good cause. I’m still wondering how they were even on their feet after a journey like that. We made plans to meet for dinner later that week, which ended up being Friday night.

Let me just throw in here, that she is a fellow on-the-side cake decorator. I keep hearing wonderful things about the Halo cake she made for her oldest son's birthday last year, though I have yet to see a picture. So, at dinner we found out that their youngest son, the middle child, had a birthday on July 4th. Because all her tools and pans were packed up, and because of lack of time, she was just planning on buying him a cake from the store rather than making one. Oh the horror!!! I could NOT let her do that, so I volunteered to make him a cake. That’s right, I volunteered to make and decorate a cake in less than 24 hours. Yes, I realize I’m crazy. This is just one more affirmation of that fact. And as further affirmation, they did not want me to do it. They kept saying there was no need to go out of my way like that, that a store-bought cake would be perfectly acceptable. But, being so repulsed by the idea of this poor child having to suffer with a store-bought cake on his birthday, I insisted I could manage it without as much effort as they thought it would be. Right. So, this is what I came up with:

Not too terribly bad for such short notice, huh? Ok, so yeah, I see the mistakes too. And I realize the pictures aren't so great. But hey, at least the kid didn’t have to have a cake from some grocery store bakery that probably has been sitting in the display case for so long it is older than he is, or been featured multiple times on And, he got the kind of cake he wanted. White cake with strawberry cheesecake filling. My first attempt at a cheesecake filling, and of course I made too much. What's the downside, you ask? Not a damn thing. The extra is currently in a tupperware in my fridge. Where's that spoon I just had a second ago?

*ahem* Anyway, I didn't really think that anything at all could be learned from a cake that was researched, designed, planned, made, decorated and delivered in such a short amount of time. I was most definitely mistaken:

1. There is such a thing as too much filling in a cake. Really. I'm so not kidding. It's true! Ok, so I didn't believe it either. Then I made this cake. As you can see from the pictures, too much filling results in the eventual squishing out (professional-sounding, isn't it?) of the filling from between the layers, as the weight of the cake settles down upon itself. Note to self:use less filling or a lighter cake. Additional note to self: less cheesecake filling in the cake means more on the spoon...

2. Red icing in a tube from the store works great in a pinch for "red glare"- and doesn't taste all that bad either! It's most definitely better than trying to match the color to red fondant, and when all you're using it for is a single border, well, the drawbacks certainly fade in the memory. Remind me, why don't I like that stuff again?

3. Pearl luster dust works really well for that "star-spangled" pizazz. Unfortunately it just doesn't show well in photography. Well, my photography anyway. Have I mentioned how much I love this stuff? Maybe it's come up a time or two.

4. Blue luster dust works relatively well for making that "blue-blooded" American cake shine. Again, not so great in photography. But then, when you are using toothpick sparklers for rockets' red glare, the chances of seeing the shine are pretty slim anyway.

5. Toothpick sparklers work great in a pinch for fireworks. Or "rockets' red glare", whichever your preference. Well, yeah, they're kind of cheesy. But the cake would've looked pretty dang empty without them, don't you think?

As it turns out, I guess I only had time to learn five things with this one. Hmmmm. Note to self: truncated timetable = truncated learning scale. And I needed that information. I'm sure I did...

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