So Kasper is turning ONE in a few weeks and I'm still trying to decide what to bake. I clearly need help, most likely of the professional kind, but will settle (for now, at least) with some suggestions from you.
Here's my problem. I've never been a baker, and much less a baker of birthday cakes. Sure, once I did make an almost perfect replica of Cookie Puss for a friend's 25th birthday party after hearing her talk to a fellow former-Eastcoaster about how that cake pretty much define their childhood. It looked spot-on, but tastest dense and chewy (and not the ice cream part, mind you, but the cake) and the frosting was little more than wet powdered sugar spread so thick and hardened so completely you could hear it crack when we cut into it.
But for some reason motherhood has changed all that for me. When Jules was just a month old, I had the crazed idea that a new mom should celebrate her fledgling's first 30 days outside the belly with chocolate cake. I looked up a recipe online for some chocolate ganache thing or other and, while the cake turned out OK, the ganache shared Cookie Puss's fate. A yummy candy, it did make, but that wasn't quite what I was aiming for. Nice as they were, my friends ate it with smiles on their faces, and large helpings of ice cream.
When Jules turned one, I decided to mark the occasion with a monkey cake shaped like one of the monkey paintings I'd started hanging in his room a few months after he was born. It was cheeky and cute and maddening to make. The tail broke off in little pieces that I had to glue back together with my signature rock-hard frosting, and I had no platter big enough to hold it, so I eased it onto an ugly gray cookie sheet and decorated and served it on that. Still, it was a proud cake baking moment for me and, will make some lovely memories for him when he sees the pictures.
Year two I decided my gift to would be a calm and centered mama who was not working herself into a frenzy in the kitchen cursing some cutesy cake-like creation for her son. I bought an ice cream cake at Safeway, and a bunch of balloons and called it good.
Year three found me back in crazy-ville, baking up a blizzard of a polar bear while Jules was out playing with Bomma and Tante Leen from Belgium and Kasper, just three months old, gave me a brief period of silence while he dozed in his bed. Of course this one drove me crazy, too, but the cake was good and the frosting slightly better than previous versions. And if you didn't look to close, you'd miss the lumpy crumbs of cake under the frosting I'd try to camouflage with a dusting of powdered sugar.
With Kasper's first birthday fast approaching, I'm starting to panic. Do I slave away in the kitchen to produce a mini-masterpiece of mediocrity for my sweet baby who happened to bless me with his presence a little later in my life? And if I do bite the bullet and bake, what will it be? A Halloween-themed spider? A cutesy bumble bee? Something else? Or do I give him the gift of my sanity and pick up a few cupcakes at the local bakery and call it good? And if I don't bake, will this come back to bite me in, say, 16 years when Kasper's pleading with me to let him get his driver's license and pulls the "you always loved Jules best" line? See? SEE?
As It Always Should Be
1 day ago