Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Personal Cake Baker

As May approaches, I am beginning to feel the pressure of planning Adler's second birthday gathering and most importantly, his cake.  And with all of the other pressures that come along with the end of the year and the parties and the events and the projects and the reading and the papers and the clothes that totally don't fit, my brain is struggling with culinary creativity.

Since I lack any training in actual cake decorating, my experience baking for my kids is a bit of a "worst of both worlds" scenario.  I spend forever putting lots of thought and planning into one of these confections, spend hour upon hour working on it very carefully, only to present something that once looked like Iron Man or Clifford before they were mangled by an untrained house cat or left unattended under a heat lamp.

Above average occasionally, but decidedly not worth the 18 hours of effort and six 16oz. Diet Dr. Peppers it took to keep me upright.  But regardless of the workload, there is nothing as rewarding as the look of awe in your child's eyes when the cake they imagined comes to life.

I've yet to see awe in Adler's tiny eyes.  Peanut butter and glitter, yes, but not awe.

So what would awe a two year-old?  When Cael and Graham were this age, I decorated their cakes with their favorite characters from TV or the movies.  But when I think of which characters Adler likes best, the options are somewhat limited.

He enjoys Curious George, but I made that cake for Cael in 2010.

Mickey Mouse is a favorite, but Graham had a Mickey cake in 2011.

The only other media characters that Adler prefers are the dogs from Paw Patrol, but those pups are so blindingly colorful that they just might bump me from spring-induced-headache to full-on migraine.  Veto.

I'm running out of options.

Looking back on the last few years of cakes I have made for Cael and Graham, I realized that most of their cakes have reflected their interests at that point in time.  For example, in 2013, Cael requested a baseball cake because he liked to hit things with wooden clubs because it was (and is) our nation's past time.

Then in 2014, Graham asked for an "emergency cake" because, well, I have no idea. But that's okay, because I really had no idea what Graham was doing for most of 2014 anyway.

That must be the key… finding one of Adler's interests, and using that to create a cake that will be personal and exciting. But which of Adler's interests would be best to bake?  I made a list of his favorite activities, and then I drew up some plans for how to execute the perfect cake.

Manipulating light switches and buckles.  I envision a square cake with a fruit leather belt and buckle stretched across the top.  I could panel the sides with light switch toggles or even bury a child safety lock within the cake layers.  For that matter, if the lock is the challenge, I could fill a cough syrup bottle with the frosting and challenge my toddler to solve the puzzle if he wants the treat, like a mouse in a maze, you know.  Some people aren't too keen on animal testing, though.  Back to the drawing board.

Emptying the freezer.  If he can break through the freezer's safety lock (see above), Adler loves to unload the contents of my freezer to some unknown location where they can thaw and rot away from prying eyes.  I could craft a million tiny fondant-shaped chicken breasts and bags of frozen California blend veggies for him to dig through the cake to discover.  If he got really overzealous, there might not be any cake left for the rest of the family to enjoy, though, so that might not be my finest plan. 

Climbing on top of the table ( and subsequently falling off).  This is without a doubt Adler's favorite activity, so I'm sure it would translate into a great confectionery delight.  Imagine, if you will, the figure of a small boy standing up on top of a cake decorated to look like a wood surface.  Since I'd have no way to suspend a chandelier like above my table, I could create a light source shining up on him instead.  And just to make sure this figurine is stable and secure, I might have to insert a dowel for the fondant boy to grab hold of.

And lastly, since my son is reluctant to get dressed at any point, I think I'd make this sculpted boy wearing just a diaper, so it can be a true representation of my little wild man. 

Can't see it?  Let me draw you a picture.

On second thought, maybe "Happy Birthday, Adler" is the way to go...

1 comment:

  1. Your cakes are never anything short of AMAZNG!!!!!!
    And lets not forget the padlock & key sugar cookies : ) They were soo cool & soo yummy!! -Shirley


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