Right, maybe I should change the title of this blog to "All About Cakes". Its very much about the baking lately around here. Though I should preface this by saying this is not the kind of cake I usually make. Normally I'm all about the butter, the fresh fruit, the baking from scratch. But this was a different occasion that usual. Our church is doing VBS this week (that's Vacation Bible School for the non-churchy or child-free among you) and I was asked to do the drama/story telling segment of it. So our props list for the first day called for "an elaborately iced cake". A prop cake, never actually to be eaten, to be used to illustrate what it is like to feel left out. So the cake was to be displayed, shown off, but never actually eaten by the kids. Just used to tantalize them. And it had to be used repeatedly over the course of the day. Several people suggested that I just put icing on a styrofoam form, but it just seems like a waste. I certainly did not have time for making something from scratch on Sunday night, so I did what I seldom do: I bought a box cake mix. And not just a box mix, but the very cheapest box mix possible. Good ole' No Name Brand in the ugly yellow box for a dollar-ninety-nine! Angle food if you must know. Because I know it bakes up high and pretty. It took me all of five minutes to slam that sucker in the oven. It was like magic I'm telling you!
And then, I iced the daylights out of it. I made up a nice batch of Seven Minute Frosting, useing the recipe from the Joy of Cooking. It is indeed, billowy and light and very, very sweet. Almost nothing but egg whites and sugar. Plus a little corn syrup and cream of tartar. What's funny is it took me longer to make the icing than to make the cake. I've made this frosting before, but what the real departure for me is food colouring. I see all sorts of beautiful cakes on Pinterest and at events that are all the colours of the rainbow. And I admire them, (and eat them at other people's houses too!) but I rarely can bring myself to bust out the food colouring when I'm baking. It just grosses me out to see a whole little bottle of the dreaded red dye #5. I know, I know, I'm being silly, but most of the time I just like to go with a cream cheese frosting, or some gorgeous whipped cream, and the food colouring just seems... unnecessary. If I want a colourful dessert, this or this is a little more my jam.
But this cake had to look FANCY! So I got out the evil little bottles and made myself some pink icing. And while I can't say that I'll be using it in every cake I bake from now on, I must admit it looked delightful! As I piped those pink rosettes and swags and ruffles edges around it, it was all I could do not to exclaim "ooooh, so priddy!" in high pitched delight. And after a generous dusting of sprinkles and some decorative oreo halves were added, it was ready to go.
And as I suspected, my children do think that it is part of the pre-eating ritual to take pictures of your food. Because I had promised them both pieces of this cake as soon as we got home from VBS and it no longer needed to be used as a prop. So I got out the knife and the plates and just before I was about to slice into it, L.D. said "Wait Mom! I don't think you took a picture of it yet." Duly noted.This is the Little Dude telling me how much cake he wants. "See Mom? A whole wedge of cake. With one of those cookies pieces on it."
But for a real review of a cheap box cake slathered with sugar and food colouring, you must ask the expert - a six year old. And here is what the Little Dude had to say as he ate this cake. These are direct quotes, as I took notes while he talked.
"This cake is so good. It makes me feel like I'm in candy world! You should take a picture of this cake mom, and then print it out and frame it and hang it up in my room so I can look at this cake all the time. I would say that its better than a hundred jelly beans." And as he licked his chops. "I'm a fan of this icing."
Though I should note that neither of them actually finished their cake. So either they reached full sugar saturation after scraping all the icing off, or else the cake wasn't actually that good. Either way, we did not waste that prop cake, and as the child of Dutch imigrants, that's what counts.