My Husband’s Birthday Cake (that he almost didn’t get)

I quit my job at the cafe and have been picking up extra hours as a cake decorator at my part-time job.  Decorating cakes all day is why my husband was supposed to have a chocolate cake with no decoration for his birthday last week.  I mean, jeez, you get tired of working with cakes and people after a while, and with no time off to prepare the last thing you want to do is deal with one more freakin' cake that you're not even going to get paid to do.  So that was the plan… chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, any maybe his name if I was feeling generous.

After a long day at work, I started shopping for the cake ingredients.  Partway through shopping, I started to feel a little guilty about not doing more for my husband's birthday.  That was how I ended up over to the toy section playing with the Backyardigans toys.  No really, I was looking for something that I could just plop on top of the cake (he got hooked on Backyardigans while out sick from work–that evil, insideous Nick Jr.!).  What I did find was a tube of Spongebob toys in the discount bin, so I grabbed it and went home.

While waiting for the cake to finish baking, I started feeling guilty again, grabbed a piece of scratch paper, and started drawing.  This is what it looked like with the toys on it.

It wasn't too bad so I started the cake in earnest… and that was when I realized that I forgot all about buying a cake board and cake box for transport.  That's why the finished cake is on a sheet pan.  The cake would have looked better, and taken a hell of a lot less time to prepare, if I had an air brush setup.  But that's a whole different rant. <sigh>

Anyone notice where the bubbles originate?

Don't feel bad, no one at the party did either.  They were all too excited about playing the new 80's version of Guitar Hero.  In the end, I was happy that I did a bit more than I had planned for a cake, and the party was a lot of fun too.  Next year we're celebrating in Las Vegas for his big 40, snf I have no idea what we'll do for a cake then.

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Italian Cream Cake

I'm still working one day a week at the local megamarket.  In the bakery, we have a an Italian Cream Cake that sells fairly well.  What makes me cringe, however, is what I have to tell people when they ask me if it's any good. 

"Oh, I don't like Italian Cream Cake, so I wouldn't know."

What bullshit.  I love a good Italian Cream Cake, although it's difficult to find one that's not dry and tasteless… like the one we sell at the megamart.  Since I can't come out and actually say that ours is a nasty pile of shit with a greasy shortening based icing, I have to weasel my way out of answering the question by using the line above. 

Luckily, my boss at the cafe has a recipe that she's known for, and she was kind enough to give it to me (besides the fact that I have to use it to make our Valentine's Day cakes–she also gave me permission to use it personally and professionally).  It's wonderful, moist, flavorful, and not too heavy.  I admit I made a few small changes to it to reflect my tastes, but it's a huge hit with my family and friends.

For her birthday last week, my Mom requested the cake below.  I was only planning on doing a top border and a single rose, but then for some reason I went nuts and added a side ribbon, more roses, and a bunch of rosebuds.  Because it's top-heavy, it kinda looks like a squished down mushroom.  Mom loves the fruffy stuff, so it was fine.

I have another one to make tonight.  I'm taking it to a friend (a local bread god) on Monday who's going to give his professional opinion on whether it's as good as the one they make a Central Market.  It took me a while to convince him that I want him to be completely honest with me.  After all, if I'm being humored, how do I know what needs to be fixed?  And I have no intention of being second best, no matter how long it takes.

Ok, that sounded a little arrogant, but that's the best description of how I feel.  For most of my life I coasted along the road of adequacy, but for some reason the culinary world has brought out a new competetive side of me.  Maybe it's just early menopause….

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