Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cake Decorating 201

Some may tell you I have a one track mind. This could be true. . . actually, it is very likely true. Two weeks ago as I stood in the Target backing aisle looking for yeast I happen to glance at a sale sign for food coloring and, overcome with pure joy, I shouted, "Lego cake!" Paul let me get it. He knew there would be no living with me till it was in my possession.

Now, all I needed was a few tips on how to make my lego cake art and an occasion for which to make it. Two words. Dad's birthday. How selfless of me to plead with my mother to allow me to show up to the birthday dinner with a dessert for my 52 year old father that resembles a child's toy. But she agreed to it nevertheless, and I was instantly online googling tips for making lego cakes. And in my great researching efforts I stumbled across a video tutorial on perfect lego cake-making. "It's so so easy!" They kept saying as they effortlessly frosted their most beautiful creation, and I dreamed of what mine might look like.

Tuesday morning I began the baking process. The cake was double chocolate and I put it in the freezer after it came out of the oven. The video said this would make it easier to cut and frost and who was I to argue? I left it there for an hour and then pulled it out. It felt cold. The precipitation that had formed on the plastic wrap from the cakes original warmth was frozen into small streaks across the surface. I called Paul into the kitchen for the main event. He is my su chief. I gave him the honor of cutting the cake because he is a boy and boys like knives.

The video said to do a "crumb coat" which they explained was a thin coat of frosting to seal in the crumbs. I think from my new found experience I would define it a little differently. A "crumb coat" is a thin coat frosting applied to the cake that allows any access crumbs to come off and get mixed in with your frosting and eventually travel to the untainted frosting in a bowl via frosting utensil. Don't let anyone try to trick you into believing that other definition.

So after I "crumb coated" each block, Paul gave them their final "beauty coat" while I worked on the raised bumps. Originally, I thought I would use cookies for this effect but the online video said they used marshmallows cut in half. This being a much cheaper alternative I thought, 'The masters know best!" What the so-called "masters" don't tell you is that it is nearly impossible to find a bag of unsmashed marshmallows at Macey's on a Monday afternoon during the caselot sale. This did not discourage me too much because I bought them anyway. But frosting them was a whole other story.

The video said to cut them in half with greased scissors and stab them in the side. Frost all you can (minus the part that has a fork sticking out of it) and once it's smooth slip it on to the cake where you will touch up the stabbed side. I tried this. I wondered what these women were thinking. I wondered why they didn't try stabbing it through the bottom which didn't need frosted anyway to eliminate the need to have to touch up the side at all. I wondered if they gave stupidly difficult instructions on purpose so no one could make a lego cake that compared to theirs. I wondered if they were on crack. Problems continued to arise as I frosted those marshmallows. You see, marshmallows are very sticky. The manufacturers put a coating on them that is powdery to keep them from sticking to each other. This coating is frosting resistant too.

For an hour and forty-five minutes Paul and I attempted to turn those little blocks of frozen cake into the smooth-looking deserts that I saw all over the internet. But they just kept crumbling and shifting and not accepting the delicious butter cream frosting that I may have got a little too cold in the fridge earlier that morning. By the end of that hour and forty-five minutes, with sore backs from being hunched over our labors and aching carpals from the delicate and detailed work we just endured, we decided it was time to stop. The cake was good enough. I looked around my kitchen and marveled at the amount of dishes we had dirtied and wondered how I would fit every utensil in the house in that little dish drainer.

I later asked Paul what he will say if I ever suggest making a Lego cake again. "No," he said. "No."

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