Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh Dear

Well, I survived. I made it through the Monday-night cake-decorating class, barely. Without assistance from my mother, I would be crumpled up on my parents' kitchen floor--still.

Things started out fine, er, rather, things started out OK. The cake only momentarily got stuck to the pan, but things were set by the time I got to my mom's house. I cut off the rounded top of the cake to my satisifaction, saying "Hey, that looks pretty good." However, my sister Emily (honestly and naively enough) said, "Oh, is it supposed to be crooked?" Thanks, Em. You may have been to young to recall all my cake icing debachles and have thus set the bar far too high.

Next, I set to work on the crumb coat, which is 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of water. It's drizzled on the cake and allowed to dry; it forms a hard-ish crust that makes the frosting go on smoother. Because I was only making a one-layer cake for last night's class, I decided to cut the crumb coat recipe in half. I should have thought that through mathematically, because yes, there was half the area but not half the surface area. I thought it was no big deal that I didn't have enough icing to cover the sides of the cake--this was a  HUGE mistake.

Here's me mixing blue into the icing for the base layer. Things are still going well, or so I think.

Still smiling before the icing goes on. I had the foresight to buy this gigantic cake tip that supposedly makes icing easier. Technically, it does, but my frosting was so thick it took a look of muscle to push it out of the bag and onto the cake.

Here we go. The entire time I was coaching myself: "don't mess up, Lainey, don't mess up."
Things start to get sticky, and I called Mom over to help turn the cake.

Damn, I ran out of icing. Cue the whining and cursing. Emily thought it was funny that the icing looks like a face here; I did not laugh.

I try spreading the icing along the sides of the cake and ACK, it won't stick and it's pulling off the cake forming a pool of crumbs along the edges. The whining turns to a wimper: "Mom, mom, it's not working." I am on the verge of a complete meltdown before my mom flies in and whisks the spatula away. She and Emily are in fits of laughter. Thankfully, I had enough good humor (barely, barely enough) to be chuckling between stomping feet. Mom was laughing and saying, "It's only your first time. You're doing better than Allison (my other sister who is teased for taking this same cake decorating class 10 years ago)." She was consoling because I was going on about I'm hopeless, what am I doing taking this class, I can't decorate a freaking cake, I'm a worthless human being. OK, I wasn't saying that out loud, but only a mother would know that was what was going through my head. I had plunged into the state of a toddler, whining and wimpering about a dang cake and begging my mom to save me, "oh but don't do the top, mom, I want to do the top, boo hoo!" What a two-year-old.

With the sides of the cake fixed (how did she do that?!), Mom returned the spatula to me and out of nowhere tosses a glass of wine into my hands. "Here, you just have some soup and wine." It's true, I hadn't eaten much all day (popcorn, chips and a muffin), probably with anxiety over having to ice that cake. I had a dream/nightmare about it the night before that I had to decorate a cake for the wedding of this boy I used to be like in love with a long long time ago and then I had to be in his wedding. Horrors! I am not that big of a person.

As you can see from the above picture, the cake ended up alright and my mom and Emily got the greatest kick ever out of my minor meltdown. We colored the rest of the icing while eating gumbo at the kitchen table. My mom begged me to come over again next week (I may have to) because apparently my meltdowns are highly entertaining.

Below is the finished cake. My attention to detail is evident by taking a close look (the piping gel is peaking out from under the icing), which is to say I have no thought for details. All I care about is if something tastes good and if it look reasonably nice--sort of "it's the inside that counts" of cooking.

And I do not have high hopes for the inside of this cake. I'm actually afraid to eat it. Just taking the top off the cake holder thingy, the smell of sugar slaps you in the face. I came home and brushed my teeth after class because they were covered in grimy sugar from the frosting. And the cake itself did not turn out (I think). It's incredibly dense. My mom actually spit out a piece of the rounded top when she tried it. And here's the thing with these fancy cakes: As far as I can gather, you have to use this buttercream frosting because it hardens to the right consistency. But it tastes awful. It's way too sweet and greasy. At some point in life, I changed over to liking dark chocolate better than milk chocolate. I prefer desserts flavored with fruits instead of laden with sugar. I can eat salty anything, but something overly sweet (like this cake) makes me want to yack. Thing is, I'm not sure I have enough determination to figure out how to make and ice a cake that I actually or that anyone actually wants to eat.

Correction: The cake is fine, as in edible. The frosting is way too sweet, but the cake itself turned out OK, nothing special, but totally edible.


Maria said...

Wow, Lainey, that looks amazing!! I can never spread the icing on smoothly so I'll have to try the crumb coat thing. Keep at it!

Anonymous said...

Your dad thinks I offer alcohol too quickly to you in times of stress!

Lainey Seyler said...

well it worked, didn't it, mom?

Liz said...

wow--looks great! does monday night cake decorating class mean no more gossip girl??

Lainey Seyler said...

that is true. can i bribe you with cupcakes? the class only goes through may though (as does gg).

Allison said...

hazaah! was i right or what about that class being harder than it looks. in defense of myself, i was about 16 when i took the class. we'll see how you like it...