Thursday, March 4, 2021

Adventures in Cake Decorating #6 - Construction Site Cake

Cakes have several things going for them at the moment.

  1. It's been a deep winter, cold, wet, and gray. We were buried in snow here, and even Texas had frozen over. Who doesn't feel like eating sugar and fat? (New Year's resolutions, shmoo schmear shmezoshmooshuns.)

  2. My coworkers had a secret-Santa gift exchange. My secret Santa sent me some great cake-decorating tools and an idea book. I've had cakes on my mind.

  3. A daily Pinterest notification reminds me of this cool construction site cake I made for a nephew's third birthday. (It must be my most photogenic cake, despite being served on a baking sheet.)

So, let's talk about it.

It's chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, all the better to represent the earth beneath our feet. A little extra cake baked in a bread pan made a partial tier on one end for a three-dimensional, excavation look. 

The edible decorations are candy: Whoppers as boulders and various Hershey minis for a brick or cinder-block wall. Crushed Oreos are the loose soil. I repeated my grass tufts from the Cars-inspired cakes, again using Wilton tip #233 and a little chocolate icing dropped into the piping bag with the green for the occasional streak of multicolor multidimension.

My sister-in-law found the fun orange traffic-cone candles. And, I did indeed use the toy bulldozer to bulldoze the "3" into the layer of Oreo dirt to reveal the chocolate icing mud beneath it.

Using toys as cake decorations always makes me think of a dinosaur cake I saw in the grocery store bakery, oh, ages ago, back when I wanted such a dinosaur cake for my birthday. (Let's be honest, I still think dinosaurs are pretty cool.) I remember it was a sheet cake with a small volcano (maybe made of cake and frosting, maybe made of plastic) and a river painted onto the frosting in deft shades and swirls to look like it was flowing. There were small plastic dinosaurs and plastic palm trees to complete the scene. It's been a long time since I've seen a cake in that style in a bakery case. 

Part of me wants to place nothing on a cake that isn't edible. Another part of me remembers that old dinosaur cake and realizes how fun (and handy) it can be to use toys as decorations. 

I never had that dinosaur cake for my birthday. This is not a lament. I had many awesome homemade birthday cakes as a kid -- one shaped like a flying saucer, a giant Rice Krispies treat in the shape of a jack'o'lantern, a stacked brownie-strawberry-and-whipped-cream thing. More than once I asked for apple pie as my birthday "cake" because I loved my mom's apple pies. But, the grocery store dino cake has stuck with me for some reason. It was one of those imprints that just never leaves your brain.

I wonder if any of the cakes I've made for my niblings will be among their Polaroids of life left out on top their mind-desk, easily rediscovered with a random sifting of the surface, or if they will blur into a kaleidoscope of birthday extravagance, where everything is so big and amazing that no one thing can stand out. Maybe they'll remember instead a super-delicious but plain-looking cake on a random Sunday afternoon, or a cake that toppled when the dog tore through the kitchen (it'll happen), or some other cake in a bakery window that they saw but never had.


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