Thursday, February 10, 2011

Diary of a crazed cake decorator....

Next time I see a cake I am not, not, not going to think "I can make that...."
I do that a lot. Year after year in fact.  Last year my midnight icing job produced a wonky, chocolately caterpillar that looked more like a train than a creature.

This is the cake that started it all last week....
A cake made by our seven year old neighbour's grandmother for his soccer party. How cool is that? Of course I thought, 'I could do that'.

I was given her cake mould, the board, the figures, the green spray paint stuff for the coconut grass... I went to a professional cake shop and wrote down everything the girl told me. She told me the roll out icing was too iffy in the humidity, piping would be better. Advice from an expert and all the right gear. Success would follow. Surely?

Friday 10.30am
I baked my first ever pound cake. A mission in itself - 6 eggs, a packet of cream cheese and three cups of flour and three cups of sugar. No rising agent. It was like a brick and took two hours to cook. A tasty brick though and one that would stand up to the rigors of a soccer shaped cake mould.
Et viola (ah yes I bake and speak French - sort of)
I went to bed feeling very pleased with myself. The party looked on track for the next day. Outsourced entertainment (a soccer coach) and low key party food - just chocolate crackles and lots of store bought additive filled rubbish chosen by the six year old. Boy heaven.

7.50am Saturday morning
The kids skipped off to cricket with Dad leaving me alone with a bag of icing equipment I didn't really know how to use. No problem... I've made notes.  I'll knock it off in an hour.

First I made the icing. Butter icing made with the cake decorator's friend - fat in a bucket. They don't call it that or you'd never buy it. Look away now if you ever want to eat a commercial cupcake again.
But I wanted white icing and this is how you get it. A cup of gloop, 500g of icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Now to make black icing.
W.R.O.N.G. Two batches of grey, sludgy brownish icing.

Food is just not meant to be black. I was told in the cake shop that the black colouring goes straight through children so warn their parents. I should have stopped then but I was blinded by that picture of the perfect soccer ball cake. Damn, I'm shallow and stupid.

8.45am (the weather is warming up nicely and so am I. Humidity at around 85% already).
I gave up on black, tossed out the icing and started again.

This time green made with Kelly Green colouring. How appropriately on trend. I just love to be on trend. Mmm, a green and white soccer ball. He'll love it. Again a vision floated before me of THE perfect cake.
I commenced piping stars. My hand killed. It looked alright, almost professional but you could see the brown of the cake in the gaps.

A little surge of panic. THERE SHOULD NOT BE GAPS.
I should have worked through it. I didn't.  I wiped off the stars and started again.

This is where I lost it. Hence there are no photos. I was hot, sweaty and getting beaten by a cake. Again.

10am-ish, (heck I don't even know what time it is now...)
I made more white icing. The white icing was smeared over the cake. The soccer ball's ridgey bits disappeared - a few crumbs appeared in their place. Professionals do NOT have crumby icing.

Disaster didn't just loom, it engulfed me. I wiped off the icing, again.
The fat in a bucket was gone.  I was out of piping bags. The car was at cricket.

I counted to ten (around ten times), had a shower, came back and started piping again with some icing I salvaged from a previous attempt.

10.45am-perhaps (it felt like 1am).
Husband reappeared from cricket looking very unsurprised that the cake preparation had descended into stress and that icing covered the bench top.

Luckily my neighbour was also on the scene. My calm, encouraging, wonderful neighbour. Even her 7 year old son whose grandmother had made the Best-Soccer-Cake-Ever  knew what to say, "It's really good that you're making a soccer cake," he said encouragingly. Bless him.
Saintly Neighbour zipped off to buy more white fat and more piping bags. I resumed piping. Things were looking up. Disaster and her friends Tragedy and Defeat tiptoed back and hung around in the corner of the kitchen waiting for me to fail again. I didn't. And I had help. Many hands do make light work....

It looked okay in the end.
Good actually. Heck, great in fact. Whoo-hooo!!!!!

So now a few days later and I've forgotten the pain. It's like childbirth. I'm even thinking 'next year I'll make something a bit harder, really push myself.'

See how stupid I am?

My son, the one who's now six, says he doesn't even like icing. If I were more sensible and actually listened (to him and those whispers of doubt in my head) I'd give him what he really wants... just a cake.

By the way - If a cake tragedy makes you chuckle then please do read this blog - it will make you laugh and laugh.  


  1. It was like I imagine the Pilgrim's Progress to be, this post, all about adversity and redemption and that feeling you get when you've had too much sugar and are in danger of turning purple and being rushed to hospital. It made me very afraid of the two cakes I've committed to creating soon. What if there's no happy ending for me?

  2. The finished cake looks A-maze-ing!!! What a mum... Think the green is great also, very on trend indeed. Looking forward to my skateboard cake in May, though postage could be an issue. x

  3. I'm a member of the "stupid club" too Ann, do this every year, although I don't go as far as to bake the cake, stricly store bought.
    How fantastic is that cake! That's what perseverance with a capital P can produce, good for you!!!

  4. Hi Ann, I think your cake is just superb - I can relate to the marathon effort. Beleive me the black and white icing was not a breeze but my hand muscles were probably not as sore as yours were. Maybe we could start a 'soccer cake' business!!
    Max told me that it was a disaster that turned out really well.
    Cheers from the 7 year old neighbour's grandmother.

  5. Oh! Have I been there and my disasters did not end up looking as good as yours. I have a failsafe method now... I use flat cakes and cut out a shape - like a train or a spaceship etc.. then its like working on a piece of paper. Just have to get the icing even on the sides.......
    But, Well Done!!!!!!! {Phew}

  6. I was feeling your stress while reading your post! I have done this too, "it can't be that hard......." The cake turned out perfectly! Great job! xx

  7. I felt a bit sick reading that post.

    But in the end, it looked fabulous!

    Lucky you're not me, because I would have kicked the thing to bits by about 9:15am.

  8. LOL - sounds just like childbirth!!
    But hey check out that fantastic looking cake. You are amazing! So an Eiffle tower cake for next year is it? ;)

  9. Oh Ann, that sounds so stressful. I know that feeling, when 10.45am feels like 1am! But I don't do 'wow' cakes. Just plain old chocolate cakes, but I buy fancy little toys to decorate them with.

    Are they your hands squeezing the icing? If so, I think we have the same watch!

    And by the way, this is the second post I've read this week from NZ which mention the humidity and how it affects cake decorating! Sarah from Red Gingham has been making birthday cakes too!

  10. Ah, Ann, chuckling in Hobart. I'm so glad your neighbour saved your bacon. Miss India's last cake was made under similar stressful circumstances. The things we mums put ourselves through! J x

  11. Amazing! My son (and husband!) would love that cake! You are very talented!!! And patient! My baking efforts are more of the 'rustic' aesthetic!

    Have a great weekend,
    Vari @ Buttercup Ink xx

  12. Ann, I'm smiling, nodding and chuckling with you. I'd like to meet a mother who doesn't think that "I can do that" when it comes to birthday cakes. My last attempt was re-named birthday trifle cake when it collapsed under the weight of too many strawberries and cream. I also tried to blame the cake for being 'too fresh!!' I think you should give yourself a pat on the back - it all turned out well in the end. x

  13. wonderful effort :) to be honest I thought it looked fab just brown .... I would have given up then - you are inspiring :) le xox ps giveaway at the third

  14. lost my comment ... it just looked fab - even right from the start :) well done you ! le xox ps giveaway at the third

  15. You are a better woman than I, the whole lot would have been drop-kicked into touch and a large Chard poured before I locked myself in the bathroom..........probably a good thing I dont have kids actually...

  16. You have such a way with words Ann. I am still laughing -with you not at you of course! And in the end all was brilliant. But now I know why i take a picture of Barbie/princess/latest craze into the lovely lovely ladies at Pak n Save and voilà (my French is just like yours) a cake is produced. But it isn't nearly as much fun!


Thanks for taking the time to write, Ann x


Related Posts with Thumbnails