Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Adventures in Cake Decorating
As the mother of three growing kids, I've made a lot of "mom" cakes. You know, the ones with sprinkles covering the spots where the kids poked their fingers in the frosting, the ones with mismatched birthday candles and the ones with plastic dinosaurs drowning in red frosting lava (oh, you never made one like that?).
One of the pleasurable duties of a mom is the chance to make a new cake each year to mark the fact that your child (and you) have again made it to the next birthday. (Sometimes you wonder how you did it!)
As each new year rolls around, I find it gets boring making the same old cakes. So I've started branching out and trying new ideas in keeping with our birthday party themes. I find store-bought cakes are often expensive and taste awful, so I prefer to make my own. While saving money, I get to express some creativity and make a yummier cake too.
One year my son had a creepy-crawly party and got a big Bundt-pan snake cake.
Another year I tried making the Mach 5 racecar from the old "Speed Racer" cartoons, using a real plastic windshield. (I know it's not perfect, but my son loved it.)
I made some memorable cakes, but I never knew how to decorate like a pro.
For years I've wanted to learn how to make the elaborate designs of sugar art on those fancy, professional cakes. I love watching "Ace of Cakes" and those cake-decorating contests on the Food Network. So this summer I started taking some cake-decorating courses at my local Hobby Lobby store. The classes are fun, and our instructor is encouraging even when our cakes end up looking more like mistakes than masterpieces. The point is to enjoy yourself and not worry too much about how they turn out. After all, she says, you can always eat your mistakes! And anyone who critiques too loudly doesn't get a piece of cake.
So after two courses, I've learned how to make icing stars, rainbows, roses, daffodils, leaves, daisies, violets, pansies and chrysanthemums. My best cake so far is this one with all the icing flowers and a bluebird on the side. It has a basketweave design around the outside, and you know what? It was made from scratch and quite tasty.
So I'm learning more each time, and I'm already looking forward to my next class.
I'll let you know how it goes!