Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confectionary Insomnia

365 days.  Twelve months.  One year.
That's how long it took for me to catch up on my sleep after Cael and Graham's birthdays last year, and the time is upon me yet again.  Sure, I could just buy them a few gifts and get a store bought cake, but what fun are memorable milestones if at least one family member isn't nearly delirious and incoherent?  So again this year, I set out to make a cake that would make my boy's eyes grow wide and his stomach growl.

And I did... okay.  This was certainly not my greatest achievement although I think it was my best effort, and I'm alright with that.  For the first time I decided to make my own rolled fondant, or for those unfamiliar with the cake making lingo, I decided I hadn't seen enough late night mop infomercials and needed to adjust my schedule accordingly.

I used this rolled fondant recipe and dedicated Thursday night to repetitive kneading.  Fold in, fold out.  Try to stay standing.  Hope sore arm muscles turn into Michelle Obama biceps.  Eat half the dough and know they won't.
It wasn't until Friday at dinner time (with only a base layer of fondant down) that I realized I was seriously behind schedule and, with a new(ish) baby that seemed to have little regard for my predicament, probably wouldn't even be able to start decorating until all three boys were in bed. 

I was right.  

Graham had requested an "emergency" cake with police, firefighters and ambulances, and by 9pm I'd only managed to supply a gold badge.

By 10:30pm, I had a good start on the cityscape that would eventually be on fire.

At 12:30am, I realized how I'd built everything in completely different scales and ripped off the fire hydrant, only to rebuild it the exact same size and give up.

Around 1:15am, I was pretty sure I'd seen a camel walking down my street, but it just turned out to be a mailbox.  After that, I made some handcuffs.

At 2:00am, I was frustrated with myself that I hadn't spaced the cake's features better in order to avoid a few large empty spaces that I stared at blankly for a while.

3:05am, still staring.

At 3:45am my brain gave up completely, and no miracle mop product could bring it back.  I strongly believe that I could accomplish these decorations in MUCH less time if I could work on them during the hours when humans are supposed to be awake, but instead I plug away slowly, alternating between productivity and wandering around the kitchen in a Walter White-esque "fugue state".

By the time I cleaned up my mess and got to bed, it was 4:11am.  Adler woke up at 4:17.

But somehow, I managed to finish in time.  
I learned a lot this time, too, like how I really need to make the buttercream frosting smooth under the fondant if I want to avoid lumps, and that the extra work involved in making homemade fondant is well worth it for the payoff later.  
I also learned that orange gel food coloring doesn't wash out of 800 thread count sheets.  At least not when it's smeared across your forearm in a spot you can't see yourself.

Incidentally, it doesn't wash off your forehead well, either.

Graham liked the cake, though, and after opening gifts I had just enough energy left over to eat a few bites of the dessert I'd worked so hard to make.
"Do you like your cake, Graham?"
"Yep, I love it.  Thanks, Mom!"
That's good enough for me.  Happy Birthday, Graham!

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