My son recently turned one and for some inexplicable reason, I decided that I was going to bake and decorate his first birthday cake. I guess I forgot that I am not actually a baker and that maybe, just maybe, preparing a birthday cake might be harder than it looks. But I had this image of myself stuck in my mind, proudly carrying out a beautiful, delicious cake that everyone would ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over - and I was addicted to the idea.
Let me describe my son’s birthday cake to you. Picture a two layer, light and fluffy, organic, vanilla-banana cake that is in the shape of a dump truck. Between the two layers is a thin, sweet layer of pureed, fresh, organic blueberries. The whole cake is iced with smooth, creamy, vanilla, butter-cream frosting. The wheels of the dump truck are slices of orange and the design of the dump truck is neatly outlined in blueberries. It looks perfect. It tastes even better than it looks.
This is the cake that I imagined. Unfortunately, this is not the cake that I made.
The day before my son’s birthday I baked two beautiful, golden brown, organic, vanilla-banana cakes that were shaped like dump trucks. I wish I took pictures of them because they were gorgeous. I was so confident that the dream cake was about to become a reality. Apparently I lie to myself very well.
On the day of my son’s birthday, I waited until he was down for his nap before I began assembling the cake. Things went downhill fast.
First I put too much blueberry puree on the first layer, so it oozed down the sides in a sticky, unappetizing mess. Then I went to put the second layer on top and realized I’d put the puree on the wrong side of the bottom layer. In order to see the dump truck design on the cake, I had to put the top layer on the wrong way but then the edges of the two layers didn’t line up. Then I went to take the icing out the fridge (I had so cleverly made it up an hour before hand) and realized it had started to harden and was a chunky, unspreadable mess. I tried to spread it anyway. I was in total and complete denial.
After I finished smearing on the icing, I took a step back to examine my handiwork. I took a moment to debate whether to laugh or cry. Images of myself throwing the whole thing in the garbage can ran through my mind. I wondered if I bought a cake from the grocery store, if I could get away with taking credit for it? Then I remembered what an awful liar I am (except, of course, to myself). Next came the images of my family and in-laws holding back their laughter while I shame-facedly carried out the monstrous birthday cake. Nope, there was no way I could do that either.
So what did I decide to do? I couldn’t quite suck up my pride enough to laugh at myself, and I was too stubborn to give up and cry. So I cut that mother up.
The carefully sliced and served pieces actually looked pretty tasty sitting on the blue ‘1st Birthday’ paper plates I’d purchased. My fridge was filled with 14 pre-cut pieces of cake, all ready to be served and covered carefully with saran wrap.
I did have the sense of mind though to realize that there was a small chance, I might think this was funny later. I was home alone at the time and therefore had no one to bare witness to my shame. My pride is small and flexible enough though that I was able to pull out my camera and take a couple quick shots of the first birthday cake I’d ever baked and iced all by myself. At the time I swore to myself that no one was ever going to see those photos. But let’s face it - it’s pretty funny.
And so I present to you, the cake that no one saw.