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25 November 2013 @ 03:35 pm
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Whatever artistic talent I may have with words, I have none when working with chocolate buttercream as my medium. This afternoon was spent making a birthday cake for Philomythulus, and although the train cake design is pretty simple, it started to look like a dog's breakfast once I tried to ice it. In my defence, I will say both that while I have tried to write well pretty much every day for the past decade and a half, I only make complicated birthday cakes a couple of times a year, and secondly I had the 'help' of both children. Cub confined himself to climbing my legs and howling when not allowed to eat the cake, but Philomythulus kept moving things around, sticking his hand into the icing, altering the design and trying to break off bits of cake to eat.

All I can say is, you can hide a multitude of sins with mini smarties, jelly babies and chocolate buttons, because the train cake actually looks passable now. At least, it probably wouldn't be worthy of mention on Cake Wrecks. And fortunately it's only going to be us who eat it, because with the number of sticky fingers in the mixture, it would not pass even the laxest of food hygiene standards. At least it's all tasty.

I used this cake recipe, only baked in a single rectangular pan instead of as cupcakes, then cut it into train-carriage-shaped rectangles, stacked two on top of each other for the engine (the leftover half-rectangle was divided amongst the three cooks as a perquisite). Then it all went wrong with the icing, though once there were white chocolate buttons on as wheels, jelly babies as passengers and mini smarties as cargo and general decoration, it started to look quite good again, at least from a distance. Liquorice laces make the tracks underneath, and a big 8 candle forms the smokestack.

Next year I'm using ganache instead of buttercream. The trouble was that when I tried to spread buttercream on cut surfaces of cake, the cake crumbled, the buttercream didn't stick and I had an unappetising and unattractive mixture of cake crumbs and buttercream stuck to my pallet knife and no actual icing on the cake. I think ganache would go on more smoothly and less lumpily.

I really am quite a good cook. It's just that I'm no good at all at presenting food prettily and tidily.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/109002.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
No Whimsy, Sugar: Joytaste_is_sweet on November 25th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
I've found, that when it comes to things like birthday cakes and Halloween costumes, that what matters most to the kid is that you wanted to make something awesome for them and that you tried your darndest to do it. At least that still seems to be the reaction I get from my awesome kid (three in the icon; now eight). Which is lucky, because I have far more creativity and enthusiasm than actual artistic talent. :)

I wish you'd posted a picture of the cake! I would've loved to see it.
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on November 25th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
It was cake, there was chocolate icing and smarties and it looked recognisably like a train, so he was thrilled with it :-). The only problem was over only having one (large) piece of it after dinner. He tried singing Happy Birthday and pretending to blow out the candles again to see if that would make me give him another piece, but sadly it didn't work. Perhaps I should have gone for giving him two small pieces instead.

I did try to take a picture, but if there's anything I'm worse at than cake decoration, it's photography, and the photos made it look incredibly unappetising except for when they were blurry or the flash was wrong.
No Whimsy, Sugar: That's me babytaste_is_sweet on November 26th, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)
Your boy is so adorably cagey! That is hilarious, and so sweet. How old is he?

It's hard to know what will work with a little one, eh? Maybe if you'd given him two smaller pieces he'd want a third.

I'm smiling like a loon here at your anecdote and imagining your son so happy with his imperfect train cake. May he always be able to find joy without needing perfection.
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on November 26th, 2013 06:58 am (UTC)
He's eight now. He has autism and can't talk, and he has some charming ideas about cause and effect sometimes. But he was absolutely adorable while waiting for his cake and presents, running laps of the house while singing the tune of Happy Birthday over and over and laughing. I don't know anyone better than him at taking joy in life.
No Whimsy, Sugar: That's me babytaste_is_sweet on November 26th, 2013 10:06 pm (UTC)
That does sound wonderful. :D
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philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on November 25th, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds like an excellent idea.

*offers you virtual messy-but-tasty cake*