Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Story About A Cake

and a girl who turns 16 years old.

Warning: Long story.

Months ago now I saw a picture of a sunflower cake and I said right there and then "I'm going to make that for Sophie-Lee's birthday."

So here I am thinking "fondant icing, yeah - I saw some in Coles. Saffron to colour. Yeah, easy. I can do that"

So on Monday I decided to make a start on the cake (seriously, 2 days before the birthday - unheard of!) I headed to Coles and picked up two packets of the fondant icing and got half way round the store when I thought I'd better check the ingredients. Oh dear!!! Not good. Artificial colouring, flavouring and preservative. I did a little mental gymnastics and landed on the "put it back" foot. What's the point of having a grand looking cake if we all get sick from eating it?!

More mental gymnastics and I landed on the "I've done fondant icing before" foot. Once, when I was about 16 (ha ha), I decorated a Christmas cake with the palest yellow (not sure why) fondant icing and made sugar bells and I can't remember what else. Mum, do you have a photo of that? The only thing is... I'm sure I used premade icing then.

So, while still in Coles, I sent off a quick message to Janelle and asked, only if it was convenient for her, could she look up fondant icing and tell me if it was easy enough to make. I didn't get the reply ("It's as easy as playdough") until I got home and had looked it up myself.

The recipe that Janelle found sounded rather yummy and it was made with 'normal' ingredients but I decided I would make the 'professional' one and use glucose syrup (also seen at Coles) and glycerine because it just sounded less fattening for starters, plus I read up on the benefits of glycerine - and got carried away reading other useful bits of information. That's the recipe I thought I'd use until I went to Coles and couldn't find the liquid glucose.

OK - plan C (or is it D?) - make the recipe that Janelle sent - Basic Fondant Icing.

We're up to The Birthday, now. I won't mention the 'broken arm saga' that used up the better part of time that I would have used for making the cake and decorating it. I knuckled down and made the best playdough ever - soft, sweet, pliable, edible!!! Caitlin, the apprentice chef, was at my side. We mixed, we kneaded, we wrapped in plastic and stored the fondant icing in the coolest part of the house, whipped up the cake, soaked some saffron threads (I couldn't find powdered Saffron anywhere) in a very small amount of water, and then went out.

Before we came home, I was meeting Sophie-Lee at the RTA so that she could take the test for her Ls. She got them. Yes, here beginneth approximately 840 hours of driving lessons (unless things change in the next 11 years!).

Back to the cake (I say 'keck' in my head like Franck Eggelhoffer in Father of the Bride). When we got home (at about 5 o'clock) everyone was banned from the kitchen, except Caitlin, and we started to do our artistic challenge - to make a cake that looked like the picture.

Things are looking good. Caitlin and I have successfully decorated a cake that looks sufficiently like a sunflower, albeit an albino sunflower! So, now for the photo - outside for better light. I wanted a gingham look in the background rather than the dusty top of the table tennis table, or the grotty barbecue shelf, so I took a gingham-ish looking tea towel and the cake and headed for the patio.

This is where the word 'thwart' (my word for the week) sets in big time. If you thought I'd already had enough trouble getting the cake made and decorated, and you haven't heard the half of it, then now you will see the pains I have endured to produce this cake for Soph. In a split second, without warning, without recourse, my world, or more to the point - my decorated cake, was turned upside down!!!

The lid for the barbecue, unbeknownst to me, was only half on the barbecue and I had placed the cake on the half off part. A quick displacement occurred and the laws of physics, gravity and whatever else ended with the cake landing upside down smack splat on the tiled patio floor. My face contorted to cry (for those who know - think Lucille in Arrested Development). Caitlin asked if I was really crying or just pretending (it was real). I took a photo and laughed.

Can you imagine how fast my brain was ticking over? What to do? In an instant I decided on the "10 second rule". Caitlin and I scooped the cake back onto the amazingly unbroken plate, (ignore the oil from the barbecue - how it got there I DO NOT KNOW!) and without ceremony took another photo of the the cake.

I blew off the dust, ants, and goodness knows what else, and we went back to the kitchen for a redo vacillating between groaning (dinner's going to be late) and giggling (at least there's a story to tell).

The cake was finally redecorated looking more like it was done with pastry rather than fondant icing. There was no way the cake was going outside for a photo. 1600 ISO and/or flash would have to do.

And here it is in all it's flaming glory (smoke detector alert!!!).

We all sang "Happy Birthday" heartily to Soph and enjoyed the cake. Caitlin and I enjoyed it all the more - we had not been thwarted. We had overcome!!!

And we have some spare fondant icing! Mmmmmmm.

P.S. That night I dreamt that my earplugs were made of fondant icing :)
And... Reuben found out where the cake and it's icing had been the next day. If he had've known before the cake eating he most certainly would not have eaten it. He is glad he didn't know. :)


Anonymous said...

I have said it before. I will say it again. You *are* amazing!

Peg said...


Anonymous said...

"Good on Ya Mum you ought to be congratulated!!!!!!"
Happy Birthday to Sophie Lee x

MH said...

thanks for the story and the chuckle. On Ya :)

Anonymous said...

That is Great. LOVE that story. And can I say, Love the cake. I think you did a fabulous job. Well done Di and Caitlin. Glenda