Monday, July 22, 2013

Inherited Cake Skills

This is a little less geeky post than usual. But hey, it's a post. Be happy about it. However, it's still an LDS post, so it fits half the concept here.

This past weekend, my oldest turned 7. For her birthday she wanted a rainbow cake and she wanted a Hello Kitty cake. I don't know where her obsession with Hello Kitty came from. (One theory is I think my friend Casey is using telepathy to get my daughter to be obsessed about Japan's famous cat just to annoy me.)

So, there are a few ways people do birthday cakes. There's the "let's go buy the cake from (Walmart/Costco)" idea that is most assuredly the easy way out. There's the "let's go buy the cake from a (baker/private baker)" concept that is kind of an easy way out, but it is definitely paying for perceived quality.

And then there's my way. I bake the cake from scratch, make my own frosting, and pray I have the patience to fill decorating bags with the frosting and dab it neatly onto a cake. This is the result of that.

Yes, that is my attempt at Hello Kitty. Yeah, I know she doesn't look perfect. But you know what, she was about 1/4 the cost of going to the store and buying a cake. And my daughter loved it a lot.

On the same token, I am extremely surprised I was able to make this cake (from scratch) and make it look as good as it does.

A few months ago, for my son's birthday, I did this one.

It was a little easier as my wife and I had purchased the pan for the dinosaur. But still, the arms and body were not easy to decorate as you lose sight of the lines with one missed dab or because the cake didn't form in the lines the way you expected. Regardless, my son loved his red dinosaur cake.

Baking a cake, for me anyway, is pretty easy. I'm still working on figuring a few things out, but I have no problem throwing things together and getting a cake together. Decorating a cake, on the other hand, is still a practiced art form I'm working on.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what this cake decorating has to do with the title of the blog post. (If you've forgotten what the title was and are admiring the cakes, then that's cool too.)

Well, let me start with this. My dad is awesome in the kitchen. Okay, maybe not as much as he was when I was younger. It helps that his wife is a professional chef who loves to cook, so he doesn't need to do it as much. But I see my dad's ability in the kitchen or with food in general as split between three categories: BBQing, Winging-it in a Skillet, and Baking.

Well, my oldest brother has the awesome BBQing skills. He loves to BBQ. I don't know when that trait got past to him, but he got it. And believe me, he's good at it. I've heard people request my brother do the BBQing for church functions and whatnot.

My older brother is able to cook in the kitchen with whatever he finds, it seems. Now, I haven't seen this happen as much over the past few years, but I remember being a teenager and having him cook. My dad did this really well too. (I never ate it cause it wasn't PB&J, but he was good at it.)

And then there's me. My dad taught me how to make cookies when I was eight. I also know that he did cakes like these when I was really young. (We had a Batman and Superman pan that he used for my brothers' bday cakes. His patience was gone by the time I was old enough to ask for one.)

When my dad called me (or rather, my daughter) this past weekend, he told me he was glad to see that one of his sons got his baking/decorating skills. I pointed these things out to him. I'm the baker in the family.

For me, this is something that bonds me to my dad. I know he was good at doing this, but he didn't have the patience for it. Believe me, when I started doing that Hello Kitty cake, I wondered if I had the patience as well. I doubt anyone in my family would believe I do either.

But I've learned two things about this. One, I have made 2 cakes this year for my kids, who have absolutely loved them. They were both excited when they saw the finished product. (All the little girls at my daughter's party thought the cake was so cool.) When one of the girls started talking about how their mom and their friend's mom bought their cakes from a certain bakery, my daughter piped up how "well, my dad made an awesome cake." Made me happy to know how much my daughter was proud of me. And second, I'm glad I get to honor my dad in one of the gifts I inherited from him.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are schedule.

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