We’ve come around to the most humbling time of the year in the kitchen for me. I’m not talking about Thanksgiving Day. I’m talking about a birthday. I’m not so good with the cake thing. I could probably knit a better looking cake than I can decorate, but once a year, I give it my best shot.
Madame President is going to be 14. She’s on the basketball team again this year, I decided to bake a basketball cake.
There are LOTS of options on the internet for producing a variety of basketball-themed cakes. I picked one from a magazine and just plunged in. The directions said “oven-proof bowl.” Hmmmm, shoot! What to do about that. Major rummaging and then bargaining with my inner grandma. (I HAVE to talk to myself. It’s often the only adult conversation I get. If I didn’t talk with myself from time to time, my blog would read like, I mean, it would, um just be, so majorly influenced by my young housemate’s version of English. OMG!)
”I don’t know if this glass bowl is oven-proof.”
“I could try it anyway, just to see if it works.”
“If it breaks in the oven, I’ll have a big mess to clean up.”
“That’s okay! If it works, the cake will have a great shape!”
“But if it doesn’t work, it will be a big set-back time-wise and I’ll be up all night.”
Back to the cupboards and more rummaging . . . and more inner bargaining.
“Metal should be oven-proof.”
“The metal is rather thin.”
“It better work. It’s already getting late, I have to work tomorrow and there’s no time to clean up a leaky or exploded basketball in my oven before getting the turkey in there!”
I followed the recipe, mixed the batter, and poured it into a metal bowl the approximate size and shape of half of GN’s basketball. I peered into the bottom of the bowl, praying that the amount of batter down there would inflate like her ball does when I have to pump air into it. I slowly closed the oven door while chanting, “Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming.” He’s tall, GN’s not, but they both might like the notion of a basketball cake if it turned out okay.
I watched the timer count down the last three minutes of baking like it was the end of a very competitive game.
Ding! Game over! I mean . . . the cake was done.
All of the previous activity was not even the part about birthdays that makes me nervous. The nervous part comes after the “ding.”
Let’s see . . . make the frosting, tint it the color of . . . exactly what color orange would the basketball be? I tried the copper. Too dark and not enough yellow. Golden seemed too light, but I shoveled the tint into the frosting bowl and stirred it in. Good enough!
I spread the frosting on the cake and then unrolled the licorice wheels to get the black lines on the cake. (The store didn’t have the shoestring licorice, but we’ll live with this.)
The last thing I needed to do was make the dimples on the ball. How did they do that? Back to check the directions. A meat tenderizer? Shoot! I don’t own one. It didn’t matter anyway because the frosting was too soft for the dimples to work.
So . . . there it sits – that basketball cake! It’s on the counter in the kitchen, exposed to the air so it can firm up a bit before I make the dimples. I decided to take one of the dried mini-cobs of colored corn from my Thanksgiving table decorations and roll it over the frosting to make the dimples.
At least I got the basketball out of the oven in time to put the Thanksgiving turkey in!
I hope GN thinks it’s like, totally coolio! I have 364 days before I have to do this again, though in the meantime, I’m going to try to convince her that swimming is a good winter sport. I think I could make a swimming pool cake with much less stress!
Happy 14th, sweetie!