Friday, August 22, 2008

The Icing on the Cake

Back before I spent all my free time involved in the writing community, I did a lot of personal art. I drew, painted, scrapbooked, sculpted... whatever inspired me at the time. I also did some cooking and floral arrangement as part of a side catering business. It still crops up from time to time, but writing trumps it all. I just have a good eye for that sort of thing. I don't spend too much time on any of this stuff unless an event comes up that gets my brain whipped into a frenzy.

I like parties. I like the planning, the details, the decorating. I like it going off without a hitch. I like people to be really impressed by what I've put together. When I'm not in the mood to write, I plan parties. I've been planning a wedding for years. When it does happen, it should be the event of the century. Or maybe next century at this rate. Either way, its what I enjoy. If I wasn't a writer, I'd try to be a wedding coordinator or party planner. Maybe do wedding cakes or open a bakery.

A couple years back, when one of my books stalled, I decided to throw my mom a big party for her 50th birthday. It's at the beginning of October, so it's really starting to ramp up. It will be a 50's sock hop with all the trimmings: Fifites era costumes, a jukebox, hula hoops, crepe paper...if I could find a milkshake machine, I'd have it, too. The gym of a local church will be all done up, serving root beer floats and hamburgers to a hungry crowd.

Since it's a birthday party, there has to be a cake, too. The original plan was to make a birthday cake that looked like a record. Maybe a jukebox. Easy. No problem. I watch enough Food Network to be dangerous. My boss's wife used to teach the Wilton classes at Hobby Lobby, so she offered to help and turned me onto a website with ideas and recipes. Oh dear. That was a dangerous place. Now the cake is, uh, a bit grander. A three tier turquoise and pink wedding cake, when you get down to it. This one is pushing my skill level, so his wife and I are camping out at my house all day tomorrow to teach me how to decorate cakes. Crash course. If I can pull it off, I'll be a hero

Here's a picture of the inspiration cake by Cakes by Allison. We're only doing the top 3 tiers since we don't have that large of a crowd. I have to admit I might cheat and have Publix make the cakes and I'll decorate them. Their cakes are so tasty, plus I can mix and match the flavors. We'll see. Baking those darn things when they're that size and making sure they're level and whatnot, can be a nightmare.

So, what's your favorite flavors of cake and icing? I'm still trying to decide what kind of cake this will be. If you could throw any kind of theme party, what would you like to have? We had friends who had a luau once and it was awesome. Next year for my 30th birthday, I'm thinking 80's flashback party. And yeah, I already have the cake picked out.



Jane said...

Chocolate cake with butter cream has always been a favorite, but I think red velvet cake is my first choice now. I had my first taste of red velvet cake a few months ago and now I'm addicted. I'm not usually a fan of coconut frosting, but it goes well with the red velvet cake. Coldstone Creamery has great ice cream cakes, too.

Maven LJ said...

I have a recipe for a great strawberry cake my grandmother used to make. Love it. Also love a chocolate cake with fudge icing. Those are my two favorites -- though I also love a really sweet white cake with fluffy icing.

Can you tell this is my first day off my diet? :-)

The problem is, the best cakes are NOT pretty. Give me one that's falling apart with icing dribbling into the crevices. Good stuff.

I took a cake decorating course years ago and made my kids fancy cakes for their birthdays for a while. I still have the bugs bunny pan and the flower pan around here, somewhere, and will occasionally get the flower out for Easter or a birthday.


Problem Child said...

Umm, shouldn't you be writing?

(But I'll be happy to taste-test your "learning experience.")

Angel said...

My Mom's red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, no nuts. Yum!!!

I love to plan a party too, though I'm no where near your caliber. :)
I've never done a theme party, but it sounds like so much fun. You need to go ahead and pick the date for your birthday party next year, so we can pray it doesn't end up on the "most coveted day of the year".

For those of you not in the know: I'm having to miss SP's Mom's party, along with the Maggie ceremonies in Atlanta, because my SIL is getting married that night. Hence, I've dubbed it the most coveted day of the year, since everything important to me seems to be planned for that night. :)


Smarty Pants said...

It's May 9th! My actual birthday falls on a Saturday this year.

Between fall break and everything else, there may be, like 10 people eating that huge cake...

Instigator said...

I'll be there! I'll be there! And so will 'Zilla :-) I can't wait.

And I'm envious of your creative talents. I've never been an artist. I can't paint, draw and we all know my scrapbooking skills are non-existant.


Jen said...

You are AMAZING, SP! I am so impressed.

Playground Monitor said...

I think my favorite is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

I'll be there, with or without the DH. If he has a big volleyball thing that weekend, he'll just have to miss the party of the year, and I'll tell him about how much fun it was.

I'm amazed. I can't even frost cupcakes and get them to look good.

Liza said...

I love butter cream frosting better than just about any other kind. I'm not too picky about the cake, as long as there is no coconut in it. I love to bake cakes, and have the fancy Kitchen Aid mixer to help. My BIL and sister gave it to me for Christmas last year. Now I just have to get the recipe for my BIL's favorite red velvet cake.

You might be able to take a picture of the cake to Publix and have them do it all. They are pretty fab with cake making. Good luck SP!

KansasSue said...

How pretty! If I made something like that I'd probably sob for days because they ate it when it was meant to be looked at forever.

I'm addicted to watching "Ace of Cakes." Those guys are amazing - they so love what they do and have so much fun doing it. I'm envious.

I'm not really a cake eater, however. I'll eat if if it's put in front of me, but I'd rather have a hunk of berry pie. As for parties, I'm trying to come up with a fun theme for my birthday in two years, but I'm not having any luck, so unless I win the lotto, I'll be reading all your theme party ideas with great interest.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Well, I'm not much of a cake lover (unless it's cheesecake or that tiramisu cake from the Marietta Diner). I know, sacrilege. :) I prefer chocolate, but will eat vanilla, strawberry, or red velvet too. Don't like icing, but I'll eat a dab of buttercream. Mostly, I remove the icing and eat the cake. :)

I'm planning to be there, though I haven't replied to the invite yet! Hubby is a maybe -- not sure what he has going on. I will reply more formally, as this isn't going to help you out at all. :)

I'm not a party planner, but I do intend to have a luau some time after I get my back yard done (which, with the cost, could be a decade). I also think Derby parties are neat.

I think the 80s flashback sounds neat. Though I got rid of all those clothes and I probably couldn't make my hair stand up that big ever again. :)

Playground Monitor said...

If I came to a party dressed like I did in the 80's, I'd have to wear something baggy with spit-up on the shoulder. I was raising kids in the 80's. LOL! I never knew what mall bangs were til the other Playfriends started talking about them.

Sherry W. said...

My SP, you are a lady of many talents. I can't even draw a good stick man. I love to bake and it usually taste great but no fancy decorations will be tried or applied.
I can make a mean Earthquake cake and guess what?!? Turns out perfect every time!

Sherry W. said...

What the heck are mall bangs?

Problem Child said...

Mall Bangs are those fabulous mile-high (and sprayed with quick-set concrete) bangs that were so popular in the mid-80's. You know, the ones that look like a cockatoo landed on your forehead? Or that you're channeling your inner tsunami as a fashion statement?

Jean said...

I am so relieved to find out what mall bangs are. I had a different idea.

My favorite cake is yellow with caramel icing--the kind where you burn the sugar in an iron skillet. My grandmother made it for every special occasion and, apparently, I am the only one who watched her make the icing. At the last family gathering my cousins threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't show up with that cake. I thought they were feeling emotional and wanting to connect with the past. Then I saw them dive into the cake. No. They just wanted the cake.

Anonymous said...

Awesome cake!!! And yes, like you I watch too much Food Network & HGTV. And I will eat just about any cake or pie, the exception being pound cake, no how no way!

Playground Monitor said...

OMG I love pound cake. We had a place when I was growing up that would take a thick slice of pound cake, toast it on the grill with a little butter and then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. Yum-oh!

PM's Mother said...

I knew we were kindred spirits. Party planning is fun! When my girls were young(er) I always baked and decorated their birthday cakes. I even learned how to make those fancy roses with butter cream icing. Ask PM about her birthday cakes. Of course they were always pound cakes because you didn't have to stack layers that might slide off before the decorating was finished. My mother had the BEST pound cake recipe ever!

PM's Mother said...

PM, you forgot the chocolate syrup and whipped cream!

Playground Monitor said...

See... this is where Mother Nature plays her little tricks. My mother can sew beautifully. I can sew straight seams, and yes, I did win first place in my Singer sewing class one summer during high school, but it was mostly straight seams. I have not used my sewing machine in over three years (and the last time was simply to sew up a ripped (and straight) seam.

My mother can also decorate a cake. I might be able to smear a little ready-made frosting on something and add some sprinkles, but that's about it. I think the best I ever did was blue icing on cupcakes with marshmallow eyes and a raisin smile -- Cookie Monster!

My mother is also a talented artist. The art gene skipped a generation and #1 son got it. When I draw, it kinda looks like those cave drawings in South America.

PM's Mother said...

Dear PM,
Art is in the eye of the beholder. You paint beautiful word pictures. Everything I write sounds like a classified ad.
Your Mother

Maven Linda said...

Number one: white cake with vanilla icing.
Number two: spice cake with cream cheese icing.
Number three: strawberry anything, so long as no chocolate is involved.

It's also hard to beat a good banana pudding :-).

Playground Monitor said...

Banana pudding. Oh yeah!

Peach and blackberry cobbler are up there on my non-cake list too.

KansasSue said...

Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana die for. It's what my teenager wants for his birthday every year. Yu mix cream cheese in with the pudding and bananas and use those chessman cookies. Now I've done gone and drooled all over my shirt.

KansasSue said...

Yu can mix it, but it's better if you do it. (It's been a long day.)

PM's Mother said...

Banana pudding is the official dessert at my family's annual August reunion. It is plentiful and tasty...and I always pig out.

Anonymous said...

Do I have to pick just one?

Fudge cake with dark chocolate fudge butter icing, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, lemon or orange cake with butter cream icing of the appropriate matching flavor.

For an occasion cake, I love real whipped cream frosting with a cannoli filling, or a fruit filling with custard or a yummy chocolate fudge or pudding filling. Yikes now I have to have some cake. LOL.

Happy Birthday. Let us know what cake you decide upon.

Pat L.

Anonymous said...

anyone here having a problem trying to log onto several author/book sites tonite thru yahoo? Getting a 404 server error whatever that is. Strange - some I can get on and some not.

Pat L.