Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hacking a Birthday Cake

My wife is a junkie for those competition cooking shows on the Food Network. They gather together a group of chefs and challenge them to create a cake or an ice sculpture or gingerbread house based on a certain theme in a limited amount of time. Don't tell my wife, but I now find that even when she isn't home, I will turn on one of these shows and wish I had followed my dreams of becoming a chef or at the very least, landed that job I wanted when I was 16 at Dunkin's Donuts.

Coolest thing I've seen watching these programs. That sugar can be blown and shaped in the same way that glass is blown and shaped. The added bonus.....you can eat your mistakes and failures. I am so going to try this soon!

Anyway, a friend was throwing a birthday party for a mutual teaching buddy. She asked me if I would make the cake and I said sure even though it was the next evening and I didn't have much time to prepare. I approached it just like a food network challenge. I had a time limit. I had my building material. The birthday girl's passion is Earth Science. She loves those rocks with maybe dinosaurs coming in a close second. So, I had a theme. I knew I didn't have the skill yet to blow a dinosaur out of a lump of melted sugar so I ran down to the local toy store to look at the plastic variety. I found a six inch tyrannosaurus and I was off and running.

I built a base out of a 9 X 13 chocolate cake. I created a tranquil lagoon out of cream cheese frosting tinted blue. It flowed off the side of the cake as a majestic waterfall. (As majestic as a two and half inch drop can get!) I piped a happy birthday message on the lagoon along with a few lillypads in green. I tried to create a frosting frog but ended up scratching that idea as it always ended up looking like that slime monster from Ghost Busters. Then I created a barren landscape with chocolate frosting and topped that with broken malt balls to give it a rocky appearance. I was going to try to create some sugar trees but time was running out and I needed a nap before the party. So, I just finished it off with the plastic dinosaur.

My only competition at the party was a pan of brownies. The woman who made them beat me hands down in terms of taste. Although, I think my presentation and adherence to theme made me the overall desert winner!

Happy Birthday Cyndi!

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