Sunday, February 13, 2011

Birthday Cake

While I always enjoy the opportunity to make a cake I must admit I don't love cake decorating. Maybe it's because I tend to look before I leap. I'm the type of person who gets an idea and thinks "How hard can that be?" and mid-way through the execution of said idea, I discover just how hard 'it' actually is. Birthday cakes are my baking Achilles heel. They either look good or taste good - rarely both. A brief history of birthday cakes my household has known:

This I made for my son's first birthday. It's a 3-D cake and it doesn't look bad but it was unremarkable in terms of taste. As I recall it was also difficult to serve. Watching your mummy set fire to then dismember a duck doesn't make for a happy first birthday. Next.

This cake was inspired by one I saw on the cover of Gourmet magazine. Remember when 'Dr. Seuss' cakes were all the rage? Featuring funky colours and designs with uneven layers that made it look like your cake was going to slide off the plate? That isn't what I was going for with this effort but that's what I got. This cake is definitely not level. And it wasn't very well iced. As a concept it worked well. The kids all ate a little cupcake and grown-ups had a slice of the cake. Which tasted pretty good. And I like the colour palate. But I was very hung up on how my cake appeared as compared to the cover cake. Which is like comparing myself to Lea Michele on this month's cover of Cosmo. Moving on.

This is the one birthday cake I've made I actually remember fondly. My son was so excited about his Blue's Clues party and requested a Tickety cake. Considering some of the other characters on that show I got off easy. Tickety is a clock. Clocks are round. I can handle a round cake. I was especially proud that I thought to 'set' Tickety for 3 o'clock. For a third birthday cake. I love details!

Despite my Tickety triumph I seem to have retired my birthday cake making skills for several years following its presentation and consumption. Mostly because I discovered a good baker/cake decorator. My youngest son had a beautiful Curious George cake on his first birthday that I had no hand in making. Then there was a fire truck for my older son...also beautiful and nothing to do with me. I made a train cake for my youngest son's second birthday that was rather unremarkable in both looks and taste. What I remember most about that birthday is he woke up with hives that, while insignificant the day of his birthday by the next day had made his eyes swell shut. Good parenting at its finest. (Honestly, it didn't look that bad the day of his birthday...)

The next few years were also uninspired. A Wall-e themed cake was a regular chocolate cake I made and plunked a Wall-e figure on top. Although now that I think about it that cake was actually pretty tasty. It's hard to screw up chocolate cake. My youngest son begged for a Thomas 'cupcake cake' from the grocery store for his next birthday. We also had an ice cream cake for son #1 at some point...that was good but a bugger to serve, despite being thawed in advance. Last year we had an Olympic party for P. since his birthday fell around the time of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I had a cake made for that party with a picture of all the Olympic mascots screened on in icing. Next came the Up-Cakes which were actually kind of inspired but I can't take credit - those were my son's idea.

Which brings us to now. This year P. really wanted a Tangled party and requested very specific cupcakes as shown on the Tangled website. Pascal (the cute little chameleon) cupcakes. I dithered. I delayed. I actually tried to talk him out of it. But he would not be dissuaded. So this weekend I made 24 Pascal cupcakes:

Twelve chocolate, twelve vanilla. All icing courtesy of Duncan Hines (Vanilla). Although I did mix the colours myself. If you check out the link above you will notice that my cupcakes don't look like those pictured. I couldn't find fruit roll-ups for 'moody' Pascal and declared that all of our Pascal's would be happy since they were at a birthday party. This seemed to please P. and all of the angst I felt in decorating these quickly faded when he saw a completed Pascal or two and said: "Oh mommy. You got them just right!" And tonight there are none left. His friends from school came, saw and conquered. And we lived to tell the tale. Happy 6th birthday, P....

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