My husband and I love those shows where they throw a guy out in the wilderness and he shows how to survive in seemingly impossible situations. The more I watch them, the more I realize that I likely will never need to survive in the Sahara or the Sub-Arctic. I do however find myself feeling on an almost daily basis as if I've been cast out into a strange world full of obstacles to tackle and unknown creatures to cope with. This will be the chronicle of one woman trying to survive the jungles of parenthood.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Like Cake! (do de do, do de do do do do)

     This post is going to be all about cake.  What exactly you ask does cake have to do with surviving parenting?  Well it's not so much the cake per se, it's more about the making of the cake.  Here's where you start saying to yourself, "I'm lucky if I have time to make a peanut butter sandwich, much less a cake.  Is this woman nuts?"  Just hear me out!  For me, making cakes is both a valuable mama-time experience that I enjoy as well as a useful endeavor that serves a function and saves us money since we'd be getting cakes for various and sundry occasions anyway that would be less tasty, less fun and much more expensive. This alleviates any and all guilt associated with aforementioned mama-time activity!  I know, most people will tell you that you shouldn't feel guilty as a mom for needing some mama-time and they're right but that still doesn't mean I don't feel just a wee twinge when sitting down to watch an episode of Dr. Who on Netflix with my feet up surrounded by two loads of clean, unfolded laundry.
     Now, if baking isn't your thing, then find something that is that fits the requirements of being something you really enjoy as well as serving some sort of useful purpose to your household or the world in general.  Cook new meals, knit diaper soakers, repurpose old furniture, plant a garden, volunteer with animals or whatever does it for you.  You don't even have to be good at it, you just have to enjoy it and feel good about doing it.  I am not a skilled baker.  I make crooked cakes and flatten them with generous use of a cake leveler.  I can't make a rose out of frosting or ice a cake so it's smooth which is why I use a lot of fondant because it's very forgiving and a lot easier than it looks.
     Ok, now on to the cake!  This is a cake I made for my dad's birthday while he was out visiting us.  He's in the timber industry and I don't know how to make a jelly roll for a log cake so instead he got a stump cake.  It's a devil's food cake from a mix with chocolate frosting from a can and homemade peanutbutter cream frosting as filling.  I covered it with a combo of storebought marzipan (for the top and mushrooms) and homemade peanutbutter fudge marshmallow fondant (recipe the very bottom of the post if you want to try it.)  There's coconut grass and the fondant and marzipan has been painted with paints made from gel food colors and green apple schnapps (I didn't have any clear alcohol and water melts fondant.)  I've decided that I don't have to show you the picture of the back where I tried out some "moss" effects and there are two green spots that look sort of like boogies.

Just for fun, I'm subjecting you to a few more past cakes. Remember, this is my mama-time activity so humor me. :)

 These are the guest cake (carrot cake with orange filling and frosting, YUM!)  and Spice's cake for her 1st birthday party.  She was somewhat underwhelmed with the cake.  She sort of picked at it for a few minutes and then decided she'd rather be picked up instead.

This is the cake I made for Sugar's 2nd birthday (at McDonald's as she loves "Burgers, Fries and Milk" right now.) Word of warning for anyone ever considering it, don't use marshmallow creme with fondant, they don't like each other.  That runny stuff that looks like an over abundance of mayo isn't supposed to be there.

We did cake every month for the first year on our girl's monthly birthdays.  I only made a couple of those myself as we usually did really mini cakes or itty bitty cheesecakes so we didn't have cake for two weeks every month.  This was the topper for Spice's 8 month birthday. She had swine flu.

This one was YUMMY! It's matcha green tea and vanilla flavored layers with strawberry preserve filling.  The icing is vanilla and the fondant is matcha flavored too.

Peanutbutter-Fudge Marshmallow Fondant:
I covered a large area of my sanitized, dried kitchen table with sifted powdered sugar mixed with 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, about 14 inches across and an inch deep. You can cover the table or whatever surface you're using to knead on with shortening, but I find it's easier to clean powdered sugar off the table than Crisco and if you use enough sugar, the fondant still doesn't stick.  I coated my bowl (I use a microwave safe ceramic one from IKEA) in vegetable shortening as usual and my spoonula too. Then added in one full bag of mini-marshmallows, about two tablespoons of water and roughly half a cup of peanutbutter and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the marshmallows are fully meltedand quickly coated my hands with Crisco before pouring the melted marshmallow mixture into the powdered sugar.   I kneaded it together until it felt just a little softer than I'd make regular marshmallow fondant as the peanutbutter makes it a little chewier once it's set. There are lots of good marshmallow fondant recipes and videos online and I'd try that enough to be comfortable with making and using it before trying this one because it is a little harder to work with.  This batch had a nice, mild chocolate peanutbutter flavor that I prefer to the straight marshmallow as it is less sugary tasting and you can knead in as much or as little cocoa powder as you want to adjust color and flavor but I wouldn't add more PB as it would be TOO chewy.  I've also done it without the peanut butter and used strawberry extract in place of the water for a yummychocolate covered strawberry fondant that I make darker.

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