My soon-to-be 8-year-old put in a special request last week for his impending birthday party:
“Please Mom. Can someone else make the cake? Or can we buy it? Please? You’re..uh…it’s just…You’re not good at cakes.”
He was being incredibly diplomatic and I had to laugh at the request. And then I reflected.
I’ve become a Cake Wrecks.com Candidate. Lord have mercy.
I used to bake killer apple cinnamon crumble. Heavenly bittersweet chocolate, brownie and mint liqueur squares. To-die-for créme brûlée .
But everything seemed to slide southward when I started baking party cakes circa my son’s arrival into the world.
The first failing was for fête #1. To the naive, the chocolate-iced buttermilk cake appeared okay. But glancing around the living room of my San Francisco apartment, I noticed the guests toying with it. Sliding it around on their plates but not really putting it in their mouths. I sampled it myself and my cheeks went flaming red.
Quickly dashing down the hallway and into the kitchen where my dear friend Jo, rest her soul, was pouring herself a glass of wine, I moaned: “The cake’s terrible! Nobody’s eating it. It’s awful!”
Jo burst into boisterous laughter and advised: “Go back in there and let everybody off the hook! Tell them they don’t have to eat it!”
Which I did, much to the relief of the dozen or so invitees who let out a collective sigh and promptly set down their plates of untouched, inedible brick.
I had added too much of je ne sais quois and the cake was wrong. Simply wrong.
The next cake wreck was in honor of my son’s 5th birthday, served to his kindergarten class.
At the time, he was way into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And because the Turtles eat pizza to rev them up, I figured it would be brilliant to make “pizza cakes” for the class.
Starting out by baking two thin, round white cake “pizzas”, I topped them with red tinted icing a la “tomato sauce” and grated white chocolate i.e. “mozzarella cheese”. Next, scattered Cherry Twizzler bites served as “sausage” and bananas were …uh…bananas.
To complete the concept, I picked up Dominos pizza boxes to serve them in.
On the day of the party, I presented the “pizzas” to the teachers who delighted over the concept. The kids, however, were dull and disappointed.
“Nobody ate it. It was plechs,” my son later reported. “I threw up when I tried it.”
YOU DID NOT! I protested.
But he swore he had been sick and assured me several of his comrades had been ill too. To this day he stands by the story.
So no, I won’t bake any cakes this year.
But I want to know: What happened? How on earth does a person go from créme brûlée to plechs?