Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey
I’m pleased to report that I survived this year’s birthday cake without having a breakdown but it did take two late night sessions to complete. Oh yeah, and to save my sanity, I had to simplify it. The two page blue print went out the window.
I started the cake making process on Thursday (the party was on Saturday). I got up in the morning and started baking. When the flour settled, there was one 9″x13” cake, four cakes in loaf pans, one 9” round cake and one 8” round cake cooling on the countertop and three batches of fondant in the fridge. The apartment smelled like a bakery.
After Jeffrey went to bed, (bedtime is 8 pm), I started the first element for the cake – the cake pops. (From the cookbook Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats by Bakerella (Angie Dudley) See also bakerella.com). Cake pops are balls made of cake (I crumbled and used the 9”x13“ cake for this part), stuck on a candy stick and dipped in candy coating. The cake pops were serving double duty; they were going to be decorations on the cake and they were going to be the party favours, instead of loot bags. Being the sucker for punishment that I am, this was my first time baking them.
Everything was going great until I noticed that the candy coating on some of the pops was starting to crack. Now what? According to the recipe, re-dipping isn’t recommended because it could make the pops too heavy and they could fall off their sticks and I didn’t have time to start over. I wanted to cry but I’d promised myself that I wasn’t going to take it so hard if something didn’t work out right. No more breakdowns over cake. I took a deep breath and made a decision. I would try re-dipping, just the tops, where most of the cracks were. I used a different colour coating (I’d bought four different colours) to dip and, you know what, they turned out really well. I put blinders on my overcritical eye and gave myself credit for doing a decent job on my first try.
First night done. I crawled into bed at half past midnight.
The next part was to assemble the remaining cakes into a train. I couldn’t do that while Jeffrey was running around so, once again, I waited until he went to bed on Friday and got started. I rolled out one batch of fondant, put it on a cake board and, using green food colour, painted it green to look like grass. Next, I took the two round cakes, covered each in fondant, stacked them, placed them on the ’grass’ and painted them green as well. I had a mountain.
There were going to be four cars making up the train but only two were going to be edible. The two middle cars were made by covering Styrofoam blocks with blue tinted fondant. They were going to hold some of the cake pops (my original plan called for more cars so I could display all the cake pops of which there were 48). Making the engine and caboose was the most time consuming, I had to trim and cut the four loaf pan cakes to make two cars. I had to tint and trim pieces of fondant. I remained calm, even when my fondant threatened to start cracking like it had last year and got the cake finished. The final touch was to paint on railway tracks using black food colour.
Second night done. I finally went to bed after 1am.
This year I kept my perfectionist side on a tight leash. I stayed calm when things didn’t go exactly right. I simplified my grandiose plans and avoided a tear soaked breakdown. The cake was a hit with the guest.
I love baking. I love to bake fancy cakes for my son’s birthday but I’ve decided I love sleep more. Next year, I’m renting a shaped cake pan.