Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Curt!

Last Friday was Grandpa Curt's 60th birthday. Curt and Linda decided to have a small party, and they asked me to bake the cake for it. I really enjoy baking, but I've never made a cake for anything other than my own kids' birthdays and the occasional get-together with friends, so this made me a little nervous. The only request Curt had was that it be a marble cake, and he said Zach could decide how to decorate it and what kind of frosting to use. I called upon the expertise of my good college friend Kristi, who lives nearby and has taken a cake-decorating class and knows a thing or two about baking cakes. She loaned me her Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, her Wilton Yearbook, some pans, and an idea. Then Zach decided we should do chocolate frosting (good boy, Zach!) and that we should use orange icing for the decorating. So Drew and I headed to Michael's and I picked up some real cake-decorating supplies of my own. On Thursday I decided that I should make a practice cake, just to make sure I liked how everything tasted and to practice my decorating. I was glad I did, because I ended up completely changing the cake recipe. The recipe I used originally called for some almond extract (to take away some of that cake-mix flavor), and it called for melting some chocolate with milk and water and swirling that with the yellow cake batter to make it marble. Well, Mike didn't like the almond extract flavor, and I felt like the ratio of chocolate to yellow was too lopsided to really qualify as marble. So, I used some tips Kristi had given me back in March when I made Drew's birthday cake, and some of my own ideas and totally revamped the cake. This was a bit risky because I didn't have time to make another practice cake, so I had to just go on blind faith that it would taste okay and have the desired marble effect. Although I personally love frosting from a can, I decided that I should go all-out and make my own frosting and icing. I did, and they tasted good, although I'm not much of an icing person and I don't necessarily think the homemade frosting was better than the stuff in the can. I was glad to know what exactly was in the frosting, but also not glad to know how much of that stuff (like the butter and shortening, especially) was in there. Oh well. You gotta go all-out when it's birthday cake, right?

Anyway, the day of the party, of course, Drew did not nap. The kid ALWAYS naps. In fact, I'm not sure there's been a day in his life (all 22 and a half months of it) that he hasn't napped just a little. And maybe he did actually nap a little (we didn't have the monitor on for the first 45 minutes or so, but when we turned it on, he was awake), but we don't really think so. Zach didn't nap either, but that's not so unusual these days, and we weren't worried about him. Drew did okay at the party, but he became frustrated at the end when his ice cream fell off the bottom of his spoon (who wouldn't get mad about that?), and he very intentionally dropped his spoon on the floor and screamed at me. This was about 45 minutes after Curt and Linda's friends said how well-behaved our boys were, so I knew it was about 44 minutes past our departure time. Despite the crabby child, we still had a nice time getting to know Curt and Linda's friends better and celebrating Curt's birthday, and the cake turned out pretty good.

Here I am at about 11:15 on Friday night, working hard to fill in the zero with many little icing stars.

And the final cake. You don't have to look closely to see that my stars are not uniform in size. I need a lot more practice.

Here's Grandpa Curt just after or before he opened his birthday present, which was an Iowa State pullover jacket that was very painful for me to buy. At least Zach was decked out in his Hawkeye gear when we bought it, so nobody could get the wrong impression.

Curt with his cake.

The next three pictures show the friends that came to celebrate Curt's big day.

And here's Drew playing with one of his favorites, Lightning McQueen, before having his meltdown.

Zach had helped me make the practice cake, and he really wanted to help me frost the actual birthday cake, but I ended up doing it after he went to bed on Friday night. There was a little extra batter that I poured into a round cake pan, and on Saturday afternoon before the party, he got to frost and decorate it. Our friend/neighbor Molly just started going to Farrell's, the kickboxing/work-out place Mike and I have been going to, so we decided to decorate the cake for her first free day (where she gets to eat anything she wants after a week of a strict diet) as a celebration of completing her first week.

Those little hands had a difficult time getting the icing squeezed out of the bag, but together we made it work.

The proud chef with his creation. B-M-C is for Brad, Molly, Cooper, our neighbors.

It was a lot of fun doing the cake for Curt's birthday, and it has me looking forward to Drew's birthday in a little over a month. Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Curt and Linda, and for having faith that I'd do an okay job!

1 comment:

zinncaulfield said...

great job on the cake!