Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Andrew's Birthday Cake

Last Friday was Andrew's 10th B-Day party! His actual birthday is tomorrow, but I told him to not get too excited because we weren't sure we were going to let him turn 10. He's just fine at age 9. I've been making cakes for...hmm...a long time. Nothing too fancy; just birthday cakes and baby shower desserts and such. I can't see shelling out a lot of money for a fancy cake if I'm able to make something that will work. Anyway, I've had my share of flops (several cakes have had to be held together with toothpicks) and accidents (usually involving a toddler who got curious) but nothing compared to the challenges I've faced while trying to bake cakes here in Mexico. Eesh! Part of the problem is the ingredients; we use boxed milk here and the powdered sugar has a different consistency. Another issue is the oven; there is no temperature guage and no insulation. But I'm learning to deal with or work with those. The one thing I haven't been able to figure out is the climate. It is just hot here! While I was trying to decorate Andrew's cake, the sun was fully on the window right in front of me. Well, I knew from experience that everything had to be cold (remembering a cake last summer in which the top layer had to be attached to the bottom layer by several skewers to keep it from sliding off!), so I had frozen both layers separately, chilled the frosting, made the pudding with only half the required amount of milk, chilled to almost freezing and worked fast. So I was almost finished when the top layer began to shift and the pudding filling began to ooze down the side. AAAARGH!!! The guests would be arriving any minute, supper was needing attention and I had chocolate pudding running down the sides of what was supposed to be a white cake. And then I remembered -- someone had given me a bottle of Hershey's syrup when we were in the States and I had it hidden in the door of the fridge. Vi-ola!!! A quick swirl around the outside and another layer of white frosting around the bottom (ostensibly for decoration, but really to keep the pudding and syrup from running off the platter and onto the counter) and no one can tell that it wasn't supposed to look that way in the first place! Judging from what was left, everyone else thought it looked good enough to eat! When the party was over, the cardboard platter was practically clean enough to reuse (well, sort of!).

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