I like to challenge myself when it comes to baking. Something about pulling ingredients together that on their own aren’t very tasty but when combined make something delicious. I can’t take credit for this analogy. I heard a rambling variation of it at a funeral recently and it resonated. In his example it was banana bread which is baking so yum. I wish I felt as compelled with my writing. Writing is infinitely harder for me for some reason. I have disparate thoughts that when combined are far from cohesive. Far from delicious. More like when you mistook the salt for sugar and the food becomes inedible. All right, that’s not entirely true. Let’s just say I’m struggling to put my thoughts to paper. I have all these ideas swirling in my head that I really should let out but I’m letting fear and other tasks keep me from it. Given that struggle and in the hope that I produce something written, I thought I’d blog about my recent cakesploits. (Yes, I just made up that word and I’m ok with it.)
A neighbor’s daughter was turning a year old and she showed me a smash cake design she wondered if I could do. It was a rosette cake – frosting rosettes around a small cake in variations of pink. Kind of ombré. Of course I could do it! I totally volunteered and started planning. If you aren’t in the know, a smash cake is a small cake that a child on their first birthday is meant to smash with their hands and gobble it up making a big lovely mess that is photographed and saved for prosperity. It’s totally for show and a bit excessive but completely awesome to watch if the kid actually dives in. Mine sure as hell didn’t. She was going to, had her little chubby hands reaching for the Winnie the Pooh themed cake, but the adults in the room of which there were many let out a collective “awww” and she freaked out. Started crying and refused to touch or taste the cake. Talk about a total buzz kill. For me. Poor thing seemed slightly traumatized having all those eyes on her. Anyway, I was excited to be part of this baby’s day and of course I wanted an excuse to practice this style of cake so I was in!
I had been planning for weeks and finally it was time to start. Of course when it came time to execute, all sorts of things popped up including a funeral and a covid vaccine shot. Not in that order. What went from having plenty of time became having having a lot less time. Eek. Regardless I made it work. Much like this blog post because I’m just going to wrap this up so I can post.
Lessons learned. Piping rosettes at at angle is a lot harder than it looks. Mixing frosting colors is a lot harder than it looks. I need to find my toothpicks. I’m very slow when I’m distracted by my kid, my spouse, the dog, the cat, or Facebook. I need better methods to transport baked goods.
Here’s the cake.
Ok. After some thought, I didn’t feel good about myself just abruptly finishing my post, but I had a kid patiently (read sarcasm) waiting for me to help her with her crystal forming science experiment kit she got for her birthday. Oh the pressure of a seven year old on a mission. Anyway, I’m glad I prepped in advance to make the cake. I baked the cakes and cupcakes early on and froze them until I was ready to frost. I cooled the cake layers, wrapped them separately in plastic wrap, and followed that with foil. For even added protection, I put them into a large ziplock bag. For the cupcakes, I put them in a large plastic storage container, the kind that snap closed. Into the freezer they went. Did you know that you can do that? They stay just as fresh. Some might argue they lock in moisture though I don’t think that’s scientifically accurate. Whatever the case, it works.
On another day I mixed up the frosting and stored for later. I had done a test run of frosting days before with some leftover frosting I had and I thought I had figured out the colors, but when I actually came to frost the cakes I realized that my lightest pink was more off white than pink. Rats. Oh well. It was crunch time and I didn’t have time to mess with the frosting. The cupcakes were easy. Frosting the cake took a few tries (aka a few scrape offs and start overs) and a change in piping tips to achieve the look. Was it perfect? No. Was it still pretty and look pretty darn good? Absolutely. I was worried the mom wouldn’t be thrilled because I didn’t match the inspiration piece colors and my flowers overlapped a bit, but she loved it as is. I was relieved. It was a smash! (Groan. Pun.)