Saturday, March 03, 2012

Happy Birthday to Betty!

Happy birthday to my beautiful wife, Betty!

My kids and I made Betty a cake for her birthday. It was my first time ever baking a cake on my own. And by "on my own" I mean with limited (read: lots of) help from Betty. I also watched a couple hours worth of YouTube videos showing me how to ice cakes.

My daughter was extremely helpful by pointing out all the things I was doing wrong, and then running to tell Betty about how awful I was doing. But she meant well, so she still go to eat some icing when it was all said and done.

I made two cakes - a circle cake and a heart-shaped cake. I thought I was being fancy by making two cakes out of a single box of cake batter, but apparently that's what you're supposed to do. My circle cake could have gone a couple of minutes longer, but I didn't realize that until I leveled it and found a small semi-gooey center. I thought I was going to have to start all over with it, but we tasted some of the parts that I had cut off and it was good, so Betty just cut out the center and replaced it with a cupcake.

The lesson here is to always undercook your cakes, kids.

Next came the fun part: icing the cake. Betty got out all the ingredients for me to make our own icing while I wrapped my head around the fact that Crisco looks like a blob of white butter. We mixed some red food coloring in with our confectioner's sugar, Crisco, water and almond extract to make a nice pink icing, and then my daughter Annie helped me ice the cakes. Her way of helping me ice the cakes was to attempt to eat all of my icing, thereby making me be more creative with whatever icing was left.

YouTube taught me how to make flowers out of icing by using a 2D tip and an icing bag, so I used my newfound skillz to flowerize both cakes. Then I mixed some blue icing in with the leftover pink icing and made a nice lavender color. This was a gamble, because things could have gone one of two ways: 1) it would either look great on the pink cake, or 2) it would look hideous and then Annie and I would have to eat all of the icing in order to hide the evidence. Luckily for my diet, the lavender came out well, so I piped that shizzle onto the cakes.

I thought the heart cake came out great. I'm going to give this one to Betty, and she can eat it alone just like our kids ate their own cakes at their birthday parties. Why not? It's fun to act like a kid, and why should we stop acting like kids now just because we're a year older?

I didn't space my letters out great on the circle cake, but I think it still came out OK. Next time I'll use molds that mark the letters in the icing as a guide instead of free-handing it.

Betty was excited when she saw the finished product. She had just finished bathing our son Peter, and he looked as hungry as a little tiger cub when he saw the cakes. Although he had just gotten a bath, he was soon covered in pink and purple icing and needed another good scrubbing.

As for me, I'm now a Cake Master... well, maybe a Cake Master's Apprentice. I think I want to follow in Duff's footsteps from Charm City Cakes, and bring my own attitude to cake baking. I'm thinking I'm going to thug out my cakes, like so:

Or maybe just stand by them and look pretty, like so:

Or maybe I'll practice a few more cakes before I let it go to my head. All I know is that it was a lot of fun, and I really hope Betty and the kids like the cake. I really enjoyed baking it for Betty. It also made me more appreciative of all the times that Betty makes us something special for our birthdays - or on just a regular day, since she always makes our day more special.

Happy birthday, Beebles! I love you!

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