It’s time to throw the Practical Cook confessional wide open. Gentle readers, in the last 72 hours, I’ve made cakes from a box not once, but twice. Though I followed the Cake Mix Doctor rule of thumb, homemade frosting only, this week demanded punt after punt. I attended meetings in my pajamas (they were virtual meetings), created end-of-year presents for school in the middle of the night, and generally fueled myself with coffee and adrenaline. So the schedule was tight, and, of course, the cake didn’t come out of the pan.
Because nothing is better than a beaten up castle when you’re serving a crew of princesses. Thankfully, I had spare cream cheese frosting on hand, and it makes for good spackle. Also, I had another secret weapon:
Gummi Bears cover all sins. They are the ultimate distraction for the preschool set. So I set off with my cream cheese spackle, a shiny glaze, and some insanely bright purple sugar.
Oh, and did I mention the narrative? Working with my client, the birthday princess who insisted I bake a castle cake even though there were perfectly serviceable cupcakes at hand, we developed a story. This was an old enchanted castle, and there was a poor princess trapped inside, who could only be freed when the cake was cut and eaten.
Naturally, she was guarded by a band of Gummi Bears, who kept the mean bears away. In the end, the cake was a wild success. I found it cloyingly sweet—the glaze and the crunchy purple sugar were too much for me. And it’s well-documented that I loathe all things gummi. So why put myself through this?
My youngest helped bake the serviceable cupcakes, hanging on to the hand mixer like a jackhammer. She accepted that the castle didn’t come out of the pan clean, and her big sister loaned her a princess for the occasion. Yeah, this cake was saved and more.
1. Never skip the flour part of grease and flour. Spraying Pam on this pan was just not enough.
2. Beware a lighter textured cake in a pan with a lot of detail.
3. Always have Plan B.
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