Every year I give my children the option of getting a store-bought birthday cake made by a professional or having me attempt to bake and decorate a cake based on a Google image of their choosing. So far, both have wanted me to bake their birthday cakes more times than not. Now, I’m no Nigella Lawson. It’s taken years of practice and many cake fails to get to a point where I don’t cringe doing the big cake reveal.
To give you an idea of my baking journey, here is my first attempt at creating a birthday cake:
It was supposed to be a baby dragon laying on green grass. As I lacked the tools to make perfect circles, I decided to roll the fondant into balls to hide the appalling gaps at the bottom of the cake. In doing so, I ran out of green fondant for the green grass and had to improvise. It became a blanket. And yes, it had zombie eyes. Obviously, eye anatomy was not my forte.
I’ve had many cakes, and cupcakes fail. Some rather epic. Oreo two-layered cake, anniversary mud cake…
and unicorn cupcakes…
Buttercream consistency has been my biggest issue to date. It tends to lean towards runny. I’ll admit that sometimes I cheat and get Betty Crocker’s help. Whipping store-bought frosting that’s been pimped with vanilla essence and cocoa powder makes a great alternative for frosting between cake layers.
Sometimes I feel like these picture perfect Instagram and Pinterest cakes are there to make us mere mortals feel bad when reality doesn’t match expectations. At least my attempt at a mango cream pudding ended up tasting better than it looked.
The cakes have gotten better over time. Probably because I realised the importance of exact measurements, sticking to a recipe and watched many YouTube videos. I learnt how to crumb coat, which is adding a thin layer of frosting to seal stray crumbs before a second layer of something else. I bought a cake leveller so my cakes no longer looked unbalanced.
I became more confident in working with fondant.
Fondant is magic! It covers unsightly bits, seals the cake and protects it from drying out. This means you can make the cake in advance and not fret the day of or before the party.
For an amateur baker, the last few birthday cakes have turned out alright! Frozen was a popular theme in our house.
Last week, I veered from my usual fondant covered three-layered buttercream cake to a four-layered chocolate mousse cake. I am a glutton for punishment.
I hadn’t quite allowed the mousse to chill enough before spooning it between the cake layers. Luckily, I had caught the cake before it toppled over and hit the floor. I doubt I could have applied the five second rule!
So there you have it folks! My baking journey for the last eight years since becoming a parent. Some of my best and worst creations!
Isn’t it better to have tried and failed than not have tried at all?
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