I’ve been an unemployed journalist posing as a stay-at-home mom for nearly three months now, and weird things are starting to happen. Famous in the family for my brown thumb, I started a small organic vegetable garden with my son. After seeing three miniature bell peppers appear, I became obsessed and started sketching out plans for year-round plantings in the two large raised beds that I now plan to build.
After nine years, the fake bride and groom no longer occupy the crystal frame in our living room and our wedding party now appears in a large silver frame with eight tiny windows that used to say “1 1/4 x 2.” The fake bride and groom were with us for so many years I thought they’d earned a place in the family, though, so they are in the frame behind our own wedding picture.
I am seriously hoping I’ll find employment before I descend into full photo-album creation or, horrors, scrapbooking, but I have become a frequent flyer at the large craft store that just conveniently opened near my home. I’m finding myself on the hunt for cake decorating supplies, mostly. This is weird because I’m not really into sweets, especially cake. I’ve never gotten over the revelation that icing had shortening in it. Gross.
But I’ve got a little boy with an egg allergy who deserves cakes like every other kid for his birthdays and other occasions. Most recently was his kindergarten graduation. His teacher wanted to have a cake for the class, so I volunteered to make an eggless version, which she supplemented with storebought cupcakes.
I decided that “Congratulations Kindergartners” was too stuffy for little kids, and also didn’t relish the idea of piping all those letters and trying to fit it into an appealing design. “Yay!” seemed more appropriate.
I used the same recipe I used for my son’s birthday Bakugan cake, which was a hit with kids and parents alike. I’m not a baker; I start with a mix. I use two boxes of reduced sugar devil’s food mix, each one baked in a 9×15 rectangular pan. Instead of the three eggs called for, I use two parts powdered egg substitute (available at health food stores) and a half a cup of applesauce per layer. This produces a moist, somewhat dense and nicely flat layer a little over an inch thick.
After allowing the cake to cool, I spread storebought chocolate-chocolate chip icing on one layer and topped it with the second layer. I then covered the entire cake with vanilla buttercream (I do insist on homemade buttercream) and put it in the fridge to set overnight.
To decorate, I first sketched out a design in actual size. I kept the piping to a minimal by using fondant for the balloons and some of the letters. I rolled the fondant out in a pasta machine and cut it with cookie cutters, letter shape cutters and whatever else was handy that worked. I piped on some of the lettering, the balloon strings and the yellow trim, which was vanilla buttercream. I then added star sprinkles. It was not a restrained, elegant design, but it was for kindergarten. They’re not into restraint.
The cake was a hit, even with people who didn’t know it was eggless. Now I’m wondering what can be my next cake-decorating occasion. Although first there’s the garden…