From now on, perhaps March should be labeled as the month I bite off far more than I can chew. With Smunch's birthday in February and Mam's in early March, I should probably eschew any other job that comes my way in early March, but of course that's not the case. I'm managing Mam's softball team, and volunteering for big new roles at school as well as agreeing to reprise my current roles. I watch other moms do much more and I can't help but wonder why I'm the one who's losing my mind. It could have something to do with cake.
Because of course, when March 1st rolls around, the first thought on my mind is what in the world I'm going to do for Mam's birthday cake. And this year, her birthday fell on a Saturday, so I couldn't fudge it by scheduling her party later than her actual birthday. In fairness, I'd already scheduled Smunch's party quite a bit earlier than his birthday, so I had more time in between at least. But then there was that whole trip to Tahoe.
Mam originally wanted to have a "pony party" this year. The idea made me cringe. I love ponies as much as the next girl, but I was worried about the expectations she would have. Would she expect to have pony rides in the backyard? Friends have done that. I wasn't up for it. I like simplicity. So, I was relieved when she changed her mind and wanted a "dolphin" party. Of course, that seemed a little narrow to me, so I expanded it to an Under-the-Sea party with a dolphin slant.
And originally, I'd envisioned a sleek, 3D, dolphin-shaped cake covered in grey fondant. That'd be cool, right? But I wistfully thought of a nice round cake that I wouldn't have to stress over. In the end, I asked the birthday girl herself and had her design the cake...carefully guided by the cake artist, of course! She chose a round cake with dolphin on the top. Totally do-able. Of course, even that, I had to take to extremes, right? At least I resisted putting a small 3D dolphin on the top! But I did start out with this:On the right is the very cute dolphin picture I found on the internet and sized for a 10" round cake. On the left, my carefully constructed fondant reproduction.As ordered, I baked a 10" round white cake. I split each layer into two, for a final cake that was four thin layers with whipped cream and strawberries as a filling. I frosted it and covered the cake (very inelegantly...I need some fondant lessons) with aqua blue fondant...my new favorite food coloring. I should've taken a photo at that stage, but honestly, I need some help with how to make a fondant cake look pretty on the sides. I didn't and it looked a little Frankenstein-ish. Nothing a little seaweed couldn't cover up. I used food spray to color the bottom of the cake a deeper blue and make it look like deeper water. I'd bought a dolphin cookie cutter, cut out some additional dolphins in light grey fondant, which I painted with dilute black color paste. They looked cute, but nothing like the big dolphin on the top.I also made a bunch of brightly colored fondant to use for starfish and clams...the two other little cookie cutters I'd found online. The Cookie Cutter Shop rocks.
Mam got to help me add the starfish and shells. She was so thrilled that it made me a little sad to think about how little I normally let the kids partipate in their cakes. I had to give up a little artistic license, but she was so thrilled with the result that it was totally worth it!Finally, I added the big dolphin to the top.One thing you can't see is that my fondant was too dry and when I draped it over the cake, the corners all cracked. I'd intended to do a border of waves, so I wasn't too concerned. Of course, with this perfect-looking top, I was nervous. I added a pearly-looking border around the bottom, then got to work on the waves...It did a great job of disguising my cracked edges and looked pretty cool, I thought. Of course, no cake is complete without some writing. At that stage, I'm always concerned that one more thing is going to ruin it, but it turned out O.K.That funny smudgy area under the dolphin wasn't really smudgy. That's where her name was before I doctored the photo to be blog-worthy. Mam was absolutely thrilled with her cake, especially with her own role in the decorating.But in the immortal words of Ruff Ruffman "Is that all the points a dog can give??" Of course not. I wasn't done there. In addition to the cake, I'd been working on a collection of chocolate shells over the past week. Before the party itself, I added graham cracker "sand" to cover the cake board and added shells (interspersed with chocolate starfish, crabs, and lobsters) decoratively around the sides.I loved the look, even if it didn't last for long!Yummm. And the girls loved eating the shells too!