90 Years of Cake.

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This past weekend, I attended a birthday party for my Aunt, who is turning 90 (how awesome is that???). I was tasked with baking her a cake. As you know, I love baking cakes, so I was thrilled to get a chance to do it. At the same time, I was a little nervous. Here was a woman who in her prime was an amazing baker herself (she’s the one that gave me all the baking pans, including the infamous Lamb Pan), and she has had 89 other cakes to compare this one to. I had two pieces of knowledge that could give me an edge over at least some of the previous cakes – I knew she loved chocolate, and that her favorite color was purple. So, I went with that, and here’s what happened.

90th cake

Because the cake was for a party, it was kind of big (a half sheet cake). We had to clear out the entire bottom row of our fridge to make a space for it!

that's one big cake.

that’s one big cake.

I did have a lot of fun making all the flowers though. First, I mixed the icing until I came up with the perfect shade of purple.

and it was all...purple.

and it was all…purple.

Then, I started piping flowers. As I went along, I mixed in some plain white, so they wound up being varying shades.

shady.

shady.

My aunt loved it. I really don’t know how it stood against the 89 other cakes, but really, that doesn’t matter. She loved this one, and she was happy on that day. And that’s really what life’s all about, whether you’re 90, or 38. ūüôā

The Making of a Birthday Cake: One Cake’s Story on How it Became a Birthday Sensation.

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So, I made a birthday cake for my mom – her birthday was yesterday. As I was making it, i took a ton of photos and documented it’s progress from generic un-decorated cake layers, to celebrated birthday star. Here is one cake’s journey, in photos, from average unknown plain jane, to birthday stardom.

Stage 1: assemble the layers.

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Top one layer with buttercream, spread it out evenly, and place the other layer on top.

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Stage 2: Ice the entire cake.

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Smooth it out, but be sure to save some icing to color for decorating.

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Stage 3: adding shell border and flowers.

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Color your icing as you see fit. I chose a kind of mauve-y tone for the flowers and border, and a light green for the leaves.

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Stage 4: Personalize.

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This cake was for my mom, so I added the appropriate message.

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Stage 5: eat and enjoy!!

The Power of the Flower.

I am terrible at identifying flowers.I mean, I know what a rose looks like. Every girl does, right?¬† But why? Why is the rose the flower that symbolizes love? The one flower to rule them all.¬†It’s not rare, or incredibly interesting to look at, or only available a certain time of¬†year. But when a fella wants to woo his lady, he gives her roses.

Frankly, I’m not impressed.

Now if this fella were growing his own roses and cut them from his own garden, that’d be a different story. But any guy¬†can go out and buy a girl a red rose practically anywhere, at any time, and for not that much money.

With so many absolutely gorgeous flowers out there, many more beautiful than the rose, and many that would require a bit more effort to locate (and by locate, i don’t mean cost more), why are we all so inclined to settle for that same red rose every time?

interesting AND beautiful.

I have received¬†roses, and I’m not ungrateful for them. I am grateful for every gift I receive, even if it’s one I already have (that just means the person really knows me!). No, I’m not trying to play down the act of giving – I’m merely observing that with so many options, we always return to the same one. Is it out of fear of something new? It is because we don’t feel like (or have the time to spend) thinking about it? Or is¬†it just human nature to¬†repeat the same patterns?

break the mold.

I have a garden, and just this year it’s really taken off. It was planted two years ago, and last year, basically nothing happened. But suddenly, this year, it exploded. Sadly, I can’t identify a single flower in it. However, each is beautiful. And any of them would make a unique and¬†lovely gift.

my personal favorite.

Screw human nature. Try a new flower. Stop and look around once in a while – you’ll be glad you did.

*All the flowers in this post are from my own garden.

flower power.

I have discovered a new hidden talent – making flowers out of modeling chocolate. I wish that I had discovered this earlier – I could have been wowing¬†people with tiny perfectly sculpted yet edible chocolate decorations on their cakes, cupcakes, whatever. But better late than never, and now I’m obsessed with making them. I just want to sit at home and sculpt more flowers. When you find something you both love and are great at, you have to go with it.

Frankly, I should have known this was something I’d be good at for various reasons, the main one being my naturally cold (and often times freezing) hands. Thanks to my mom, who passed her genetic condition of poor circulation in the fingers on to me, I am able to handle modeling chocolate for much longer than the average person, without it melting (the same goes for icing). So mom, if you’re reading this, thanks for the cold hands – they really are good for something!

Also, I’ve always loved clay. When I¬†was kid, I was obsessed with Play-Doh. Like, I played with it well past the recommended age group on the side of the box. Because I grew older¬†while Play-Doh¬†remained the same, the relationship was bound to fail eventually, so I attempted to move on to polymer clay. I discovered that one thing I could make really well were flowers (possibly because that was all¬†I¬†really tried to make, go figure).

But, as I often did with various¬†crafty endeavors¬†before I found my true calling (baking, of course), I became bored quickly with the art of polymer clay sculpting, and shelved the books and packed away the clay in the deep dark depths of the plastic tub in the craft closet, only to be unearthed again accidentally when I moved into my new house, discovered the box and exclaimed with wide eyes, “What could possibly be in here?” as if¬†I’d discovered Black Beard’s treasure.¬†¬†Then, back away it went. ¬†

gold ain't got nothin' on polymer clay.

Anyway, I really can only blame my lack of knowledge as far as cake decorating options go for my¬†late arrival¬†into the world of modeling chocolate. Up until a few weeks ago, I never imagined such a thing existed. Clay, made out of chocolate?? It’s like my childhood fantasy, come to life.

I can now have my clay and eat it too. Some fantasies do become reality. (and some don’t and never will, so forget it).

you don't bring me flowers...unless they're chocolate.