I'm back! I mean, I wasn't really gone, but was taking a brief and tantrum filled hiatus due to technical issues. And sadly, it wasn't my toddler having the tantrums. Anyhoo, for all intents and purposes the problems have been solved and I can now get back to blogging.
So. This past weekend (it feels like Sunday was aaaages ago) we had a little family birthday party get together for the Baby's birthday. He'd already had his little kid party on his actual day, but Sunday was the day that all my siblings come over and celebrate with us. I have the luxury of living near my Mom and Dad, and they almost always host these things. Their house is a bit bigger and much, much cleaner than mine. Also, my Mom has the whole 'food for twelve' thing down pat. But this time I decided to host it here instead. My Mom could use a break. And also, that way we would not have to schlepp the Baby home for a nap, or try to get him to sleep in a pack n' play in a closet somewhere. Not always the best circumstances for napping.
So, cleaned(ish) house: check. Fingerfood buffet style lunch: check. Cake: I'm on it.
The Little Dude has mentioned from time to time that he wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. Of course, he would mention this when it was A: not his birthday and B: not an appropriate moment for cake (like at bath time, or when I was tucking him in at night). You see, they rent these shaped cake pans from Wilton at our local bulk food store, and he'd seen the Thomas picture on the wall, and naturally, that looked like all kinds of awesome. But his birthday had come and gone by the time he mentioned this. Being the clever sausage that he is, he suggested that I should make the Thomas Cake for the Baby's birthday. And I thought well, why not? The Baby likes Thomas as much as the next kid, and so, I went for it.
It had to be Gluten Free/Dairy Free, naturally, which was, you know, an extra hurdle to jump over. But I have my trusty cake recipe and I greased the living daylights out of that pan with good ole' Crisco, and it turned out just fine. The next step was decorating it. Now really, the decorations would make or break it. I stayed up till midnight on Saturday night mucking around in the kitchen with GF/DF icing. I had some small measure of success in that it tasted ok. It was sweet, which is pretty much all the kids are looking for, so I put it in the fridge and went to bed. In the morning I sent Hubs off to church with the two boys and stayed home to decorate the cake. About 5 minutes in I realized that I was going to have to lowball my expectations a little bit. The icing, despite having had the night to chill in the fridge was waaaaay too thin. More of a glaze than a frosting. So it did not hold a shape when piped AT ALL. I kind of paniced and then remembered the awesome cakes my mom made when I was little. They were frosted, but then she used candy to make all the details of whatever shape the cake was (hot air balloon, plane, flower cart, you name it). So I ran to the bulk store, grabbed some mini m&m's and a variety of licorice candies and gave it my best shot. This is how it is supposed to look, according the the instruction sheet on the Wilton website.
And this is how it ended up looking with my not so successful icing and some candy: I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, despite my limitations. When I started and only had the runny blue icing on there I was sure it was going to be a total fail, so I am SO relieved that it worked out. I was definitely saved by the fact that I made a batch of chocolate frosting, which turned out to be much firmer due to the fact that I'd added melted chocolate chips to it. So it held its shape when I piped it and I could use it for all the details like the face and whatnot. Also, I really wimped out on colouring the icing. Food colouring kind of freaks me out. It smells bad and it tastes bad and is full of Lord knows what. So I did use a couple of drops for the blue and yellow obviously, but its the red and black that really makes me nervous. I made a little batch of red, but it takes SO MUCH food colouring to get a true red. I only managed to get a nice pink and I like pink as much as the next guy, but Thomas is not pink and blue he is red and blue. Four year olds are bound to notice that kind of thing. So I just used the red m&m's instead. And I know they have food colouring in them too, but somehow it just seemed less nasty.
I cut him a nice sized piece to tuck into... And then went about serving the other guests. My favourite thing about this photo though, is the Baby in the background. Do you see that? He has speared the entire piece of cake with his fork and is trying to insert the whole thing in his mouth. And that is a big piece of cake!
See? A pretty big piece. He gave it the old college try, but had to back off a bit and go one fork full at a time. You have to admire him though, for just making the effort. Go big or go home, as they say.
Here he is getting a quick hug form Uncle LemurBoy (or as he calls him 'Unca Peegee"). In these early childhood days one's aunts and uncles assume an almost mythic status; they are so rare and special and when one gets to see them it is usually under the circumstances of great excitement and will probably involve a gift. See how my sweet brother is undertaking to assist in educating my kids in the arts with a little Andy Warhol board book. So cute.
Anyhow, it was a lovely birthday. Worth the effort and the work and the three batches of icing. Totally, totally worth it.