Any and all creative work involving manual dexterity should be banned after 9 o’clock on Saturday nights. At least apparently for both my husband and me. We were both getting ready for our big birthdaypalooza celebration. Three of our four kids have birthdays within 12 days of each other, so I don’t ask family to come three times in less than two weeks. I also wisely conserve my energy (or you can read here I’m lazy).
In getting ready for a our birthdaypalooza, I decided to make a fun cake for my two girls. A trip to Disneyland is in our future, and they both love princesses or “nawhnawh’s” (Tiana) as the youngest calls them all. I was going to make a beautiful castle, worthy of any Disney darling. My husband was working on my son’s haircut so he would look nice in the pictures. Neither turned out like we wanted.
My hubby had the electric trimmer out, cutting our soon to be 11 year old’s hair, when said nearly 11 year old took the guard off to show my husband something about the clippers. Neither one of them noticed the guard hadn’t been replaced when my husband picked the clippers up again and proceeded to cut a swath of hair squarely in the middle of my son’s head. And square it was. Without the guard, my husband clipped a two inch square bald spot right in the middle of the back of my son’s hair. I was just starting to get the frosting ready for the cake when I heard my husband’s cry from the kitchen. I ran to the bathroom and saw the damage. I burst into laughter; I couldn’t help it. My husband and son started laughing, too.
We debated what to do. My son wanted two other squares cut out on either side to match. I reminded him with one week of school left he could be suspended for an “extreme” hairstyle; I couldn’t let him commit such a hair raising crime. Eventually, we ended up deciding to just give him a “bowl” haircut and basically shaved the bottom half and left him some locks on top so his entire scalp wouldn’t burn.
Now to the cake. This castle cake was supposed to be so doable. It said so right there in the recipe. But, as anyone who has viewed any pinterest fails knows, things don’t always turn out like the recipe pictures. I was about to have my own pinterest fail. The cake was supposed to look like this:
Instead, it turned out like this:
Baking dairy-free does tend to make for more difficult cake decorating, both in the cake and the frosting. I knew that but chose to ignore it hoping I would have better results this time. Not so. First, the top layer broke while I was trying to remove it from the cooling rack. “No big deal”, I thought , “I’ll just use frosting like so much delicious glue, and we’ll be good.” Then, the layers didn’t quite fit together so well. There were holes I hadn’t anticipated. Enter more frosting. About this time I was getting several calls every five minutes to come and check the latest revision of the haircut-that-cut-too-much to see if it looked any better. I came back from one of them to a cake that was slinking away faster than my children after they’ve been caught getting into the cookie jar. Half of the cake was experiencing a little land slide made of devil’s food cake and pink goo. The other half was sinking in along the fault line my delicious glue hadn’t been able to seal.
I sounded an alarm of my own and my husband and son ran in. My son said, “It sort of looks like a castle. Right after an earthquake. Or a tornado.” My husband commented, “You can totally tell it’s a castle; it just looks like it’s straight out of Lord of the Rings.” I had to admit it did look something like Sauron might have commissioned built in Mordor. If Sauron had ever had a happy, gooey pink period.
I wish I could have had the same reaction as my husband did with his less-than-perfect project, but, alas, I started to cry. Just a little, silently, into my arm. I can blame it on PMS, blame it on the late hour, or blame it on the last-week-of-school stress, but I actually let a little fault line in the castle get to me. And a tower that was sinking in. And holes all over the outside. My son opened his mouth to say something more, but my husband silenced him with a secret male-to-male “you don’t want to mess with a hormonal female” code look that even my prepubescent male understood. We ended up shoring up the collapsing sides with wafer cookie and called it a night.
My family came and we had a nice party. We laughingly told them about the shave and a haircut. They actually thought the cake was pretty. Of course, they are family, so they had to say that.
Next time the birthdaypalooza rolls around, I vow to remember my cake mistake. A cake baked and frosted in the pan tastes just as good. And it won’t leave any hormonal sobbing over baked goods gone bad in its wake. Of course, I won’t be left with a mental image of the terrifying Sauron, happily frosting a pink castle while wearing a pink tutu. Maybe the after-hours cake decorating was worth it after all.