I’m one of those people–the ones who go on-line to get ideas for their kid’s birthday cake. They look at the pictures and say, “Hey, I could do that. And I bet I could do a better job, too, because these look like a mess.” There’s a reason they look like a mess–it’s super hard.
Dear little Owen turned 5 on Friday and something special had to be done. A Lego cake seemed like the logical choice as he lives and breathes Legos. That decision was my undoing. How difficult could it be to make two rectangles with little circles on top to replicate a Lego piece? I mean, really.
Not only was I making the Lego cake, but I decided it should be gluten-free so Amelia and I could partake. Who wants to make two birthday cakes? Not I. I ended up making two 8×8 Betty Crocker gf chocolate cakes to ensure I would have enough cake for the 10 people who would be eating it. If you’ve ever made the Betty Crocker cake, you may have experienced how it sort of puffs up in the middle. Not a big deal–until you’re making a LEGO cake. I needed two flat rectangles, so I had to carve out the shapes I needed from each cake to achieve said rectangles and still have enough usable pieces to make the circles to top the rectangles. It’s as exhausting and frustrating as it sounds. And I hadn’t even frosted it yet.
I made buttercream frosting and tinted half of it yellow and half of it green. I did a “crumb coat” first, something I learned when taking a Wilton cake decorating class a decade ago. (A lot of good that did me.) It allows you to not worry about getting crumbs in the final layer while still getting a good base coat of frosting on the cake. I chilled the cakes after the crumb coat and prepared for the final coat. Already I was aware that the rectangles were resembling ships rather than Lego pieces, but I forged on. No one was going to tell me that I couldn’t make a decent child’s cake. Someone should have.
It didn’t occur to me that it might be a touch difficult to frost between those little circles I had so painstakingly cut out with a knife. My smallest offset spatula didn’t fit between the circles so I turned to the handle of a plastic fork…not the best choice, but all I could find. It sufficed, but the results were less than exemplary. And then I ran out of icing. I was saving the undercarriage of the circles for last and barely had enough to cover–I could have used another half cup of icing, but so it goes.
Five hours later and half an hour before we walked out the door to the party, I decided to pipe the word “LEGO” onto each circle in white to make it more obvious what these big bulbus lumps of green and yellow icing were. To no avail. When I walked into my mother-in-law’s kitchen wielding the cake, she said, “Oh, cute! Are they submarines?”
So I won’t be attempting another child’s birthday cake any time soon. I even hesitate to show a picture, but in the interest of full culinary disclosure, I feel I have to reveal it.
When I showed it to Owen, he said very enthusiastically, “Thanks, Mom!” And isn’t that all that matters?