The Aceling of Cakes

Mr. Fella said he would cut off the dome himself.

He’d been asking to be the one to cut off the dome for days, ever since I baked two tiny cake layers for a handful of frivolous reasons: was experimenting with the new 6-inch round cake pans, had some new decorating tools burning a hole in the drawer that I wanted to practice with, cake mixes were on sale at the grocery store… Plus I’d had people over on Saturday, and a cake seemed like a good dessert to go with the bland chili* and sweet corn muffins that I was going to serve, even if I did figure out early that there wasn’t going to be any time to actually frost any layer cake and called for reinforcements (a friend who had already asked if I needed her to bring anything). Still, it was easy enough to throw together, and I ended up with two beautifully rounded cake layers that I put away until we frosted them today.

*I have a perfectly delicious vegetarian chili recipe that I love–that EVERYONE loves–but Certain People were doing that thing where they get crabby about a perceived lack of meat in their diet but not that thing where they solve all my problems by actually coming up with any ideas for what to actually make instead. So I went with some pre-loaded recipe from my recipe software. Not the perplexing recipe for White Bean Chili submitted by the Board of Canadian White Bean Producers (it didn’t even call for cumin), but some other basic ground beef chili that really lacked oomph. Nobody actually disliked it.

It was about a month ago that the elementary school sponsored a cake decorating contest that served mostly as a cake procurement strategy for the cake walk fundraiser for the spring carnival. Although I long ago resigned myself to receiving very few of the PTA announcements that were sent home with the kids every Wednesday (solving the function of a kindergartener, a folder that was too big for the backpack, and a black hole of a student desk usually results in the empty set), we somehow got the flyer advertising the contest. It promised real prizes. Who can resist real prizes? The theme was “Summer Fun” and we were off. Off to where, you ask? Off to the internet, of course. To YouTube, where we could engage in our favorite activity of watching instead of doing.

The kids sat there for an I-am-not-shitting-you entire hour, clicking from video to video in the Betty Crocker Kitchens library. I saw so many of these videos I was able to develop an opinion on what hair length was most flattering on official cake decorator Liv Hansen (I like it shorter). Long story short, we’ve apparently got the next four years of birthday cake themes picked out for each kid, and we’ve added the following words and phrases to our daily vocabulary:

cut off the dome
crumb coat
Betty Crocker Kitchens

Of course, making cakes isn’t all sprinkles and buttercream frosting. It required a trip to Michael’s for decorations; a trip to the doctor to find out why Fella’s eyes were hemorrhaging snot; a trip to CVS for allergy medicine, Swedish fish, and tiny sand toys; a trip to the grocery store for green fruit roll candy; and a trip to the bank to put the money from piggy banks into the giant machine that makes a big clattering sound and counts your coins and deposits the amount directly into your account ($42). And of course a trip to Burger King while we waited for AAA to send a truck to test and ultimately replace the dead battery on the car. I hadn’t been to Burger King in years. YEARS.** I ordered a breakfast sandwich.

**The last time I was at a Burger King had been in high school, on a show choir competition trip. I ordered some “international” sandwich that was a rectangular breaded chicken piece with pasta sauce and provolone cheese on it (one of three in the promotion). They were serving Pepsi. I don’t like Pepsi, so I don’t eat at fast food places that serve it.*** But there we were, stuck in that parking lot, and it had outdoor seating in the shade, and it turns out Coke in the soda fountain. I was very pleasantly surprised. The workers were very nice to us, too.

***Rubio’s was the sole exception, and they switched to Coke probably ten years ago now, so it hasn’t really been a problem.

Two cake mixes and three pounds of frosting makes a very heavy cake, but we walked it to school and filled out the entry form. Later that morning, the kindergarten class got to go tour the cakes, which was exciting, but nobody expected a certificate and a gift bag to appear before lunch. First prize, motherfuckers. First prize for the whole SCHOOL. I am related to an award-winning cake decorator, who took the responsibility of spending the Target gift card very, very seriously.

And the rest, my friends, is history.

Not a Cake

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