Friday, April 13, 2007


A Piece Of Cake

Last night was the first night of the cake decorating course I'm taking with Weezie. She wants me to be able to make birthday cakes for the kids, so I guess it's my duty as a father. The weirdest part of the night was the very beginning when the instructor asked us all to introduce ourselves and explain why we're taking the course, and offer a funny story. Huh? Suddenly it's open mic night at the comedy club. There were 17 students in the class and the funny stories were few and far between. One woman said she dropped a cake once and "everyone" tells her that she invented the upside down cake. Oh, she just yukked it up while she told that tale. Unfortunately, when she finished, you could hear crickets chirping over the silence. Another girl told some lame joke that I can't even remember. Most people just said their name and told the class they just wanted to learn to decorate cakes. Weezie said she wanted to learn how to decorate a cake with more than just Smarties. I've seen her cakes. I know what she means. I just told the class I was there because Weezie dragged me there due to my obligations to the kids. I think I threw the class off when the instructor asked if we were a couple, and I just said, "no, we just share a daughter". Hmm...I'm sure the wheels are turning. Someone's gonna ask.

In the three hours of our first class, we opened our icing kit boxes and learned how to attach the tips to the piping bags, how to make parchment piping bags, and how to make buttercream icing. Don't let the name fool you. The closest that stuff got to butter was the proximity of the vanilla to the butter compartment in the fridge. Shortening, icing sugar, meringue powder, vanilla and water. Yep, that's it. My Sweet Lard! OK, My Sweet Shortening! Once the course is done and we're back in the real world, we can do half shortening and half butter. For our purposes, we don't use butter so the stuff can last a long time. Alright, I can live with that.

We didn't actually get to do any decorating on this first night. The instructor brought in a couple of cakes she had baked, she whipped up the icing in the different thicknesses, and demonstrated how to level and torte the cakes, how to do the filling and how to base coat the cake. Then she got busy with the piping bag and did some decorating around the edges and base of the cake. Then came the best part of the night: we got to eat the cake. The thing is, when you know it's just a brick of shortening and icing sugar, it loses a bit of its charm.

Next week we have to bring in a cake and a boatload of materials so we can decorate our first cake. The good and bad part of this is that we get to (have to) take the cake home with us. To make matters worse, every week I'll be baking and decorating and bringing home a cake. The Squeeze hates to have this kind of stuff around the house because, well, you know, it gets in your mouth.

I've checked my calendar to see if any friends or family members are having a birthday, but it looks like April is a pretty clear month. Weezie can take hers in to the hospital where she works because there is always a grateful and hungry group of nurses and doctors to take care of it. I should send mine with her.

Tonight I'm going shopping to buy all my materials and accessories, and maybe I'll do a bit of practicing this weekend. I just need to fight the urge to eat the stuff. Maybe working with it so much will turn me off it. Not bloody likely, but here's hoping.

Learning to bake cakes is a very good pastime for me as well....I just love to bake cakes on any occasion, whether it is birthday or christmas. They are not always perfect,but they are anyhow loved by all. And it was fun to learn about the 'upside down cake.'Good luck with your cake baking sessions!
When they start asking about the whole 'sharing a daughter' thing, you can explain it to them using the 'attaching the tip to the piping bag' analogy. Okay. I'm sorry. I obviously suck at cake-decorating humour.

Oh dear, that sounds like my idea of hell. However, when you're ready, we have an old family recipe for buttercream icing/frosting and it definitely has butter and no lard. When we actually baked cakes for family birthdays, it was always the frosting of choice.
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