When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemon Cake
I have always baked and decorated the boys’ birthday cakes.
This is not because I am the victim of any supermom complex. It’s not because making homemade cakes saves us heaps of money on professional cake-decorating expenses (although that’s certainly a welcome bonus). And it’s not because I’m a particularly talented cake-decorator either. (There’s the Ace of Cakes, and then there’s me–the four of hearts of cake, I suppose.)
I do this because it’s fun. And because I think there’s some prematurely self-aware part of the boys that recognizes that their birthday cakes express just how much joy they bring to my life.
One of the things I do to load up on the birthday cake fun is to choose a “theme” for the cake that represents the boys’ interests/passions/obsessions.
So for A’s second birthday party, I decided to make a train cake (using a train cake pan that I already had) that would snake through a mountain of ice cream containers (A’s favorite dessert-food), upon which a little Caillou figurine (another of A’s obsessions) would be standing.
(That image is either woefully unclear or disturbingly clear to you right now, depending on your knowledge of PBS cartoons and your ability to picture mountains of ice cream.)
My mother-in-law, who was in town for the party, stayed up with me the night before the big day to keep me company while I baked the cake. And at 11 p.m., after the cake had cooled, I went to turn the cake pan upside down onto the wire rack and…
…the entire thing crumbled into, well, crumbs.
(I learned later that I had made the grievous baking error of cutting a cake recipe in half, an error that I had never made before when using this recipe and will never make again thankyouverymuch.)
After a couple f-bombs growled their way out of my lips, I resolved not to let my cake disaster ruin my evening (or A’s birthday dessert, for that matter).
And so, thanks to a little bit of brainstorming with my mother-in-law, I pulled a box of lemon cake off the pantry shelf, whipped up the batter and poured it into two small pans, baked them exactly according to the instructions, turned out two perfect cakes onto the wire rack, let them cool, frosted them with lemon frosting, and stacked one on top of the other (with blueberries in the middle).
And I turned my “lemons” into a lemon-blueberry FIRETRUCK cake. Though not aesthetically perfect, A was absolutely thrilled to see his very biggest current obsession (i.e.firetrucks) in edible, sweet, delicious form.
I think it was pretty darn cute too. Even if it does look more like the work of a two-year-old than a 29-year-old.
Want to see more of my “work”? Oh, I know you do. (And yes, it’s fine if these cakes make you laugh at me rather than with me…)
Here they are, in their “made with love and little skill” glory!