I have a problem. Yes I know I have MANY problems (don’t be so smug) but this is by far my biggest problem. I think I can do anything. Okay, well not anything but almost anything. I mean I can’t play basketball in the WNBA due to my significant lack of height and that I have no jump shot but outside of athletics in which I am physically challenged I can do anything else. I know that sounds crazy or maybe just arrogant or both but I have to say I am pretty creative and a good problem solver. Ultimately, I reason, I can figure out how to do anything I put my mind to.
Which is why at 10:00 pm on the eve of my daughters birthday I decided to make her a penguin cake. Hey, I looked it up on the internet it didn’t look that difficult. My daughter loves penguins and I thought it would be fun to surprise her. So full of good intentions and my confidence, I set about creating a penguin cake masterpiece. What happened between the time that I began this endeavor and the finished product is something that could truly only happen to me.
Here is a picture of what the penguin cake was supposed to look like:
So to begin with I was missing a few things. I had no cookies for the wings or eyes. I didn’t have white frosting or circus peanuts for the feet and beak. As a side note, who does have circus peanuts? I mean does anyone eat those awful things and why do they make them and what are they made of? I’m pretty sure they must be made in the same factory as cheese puffs – some kind of “non-food that looks like food” factory. But just for the record…ewwwwww.
Meanwhile back in the kitchen I run into my first dilemma. I’m supposed to use a 12 oz bowl and a 1 quart bowl to make the cakes. The recipe does not say any more than that. So I improvise…I Macgyver the situation and find a couple of bowls that seem to fit the dimensions in general principal. I grease and flour the bowls, make the mix and pour it into the bowls. Dilemma number two then arises. How long am I supposed to cook these bowls of cake mix exactly. Again, no help from the recipe. Actually this is starting to look like recipe for disaster not penguin cake. So I adopt my “whatever” attitude and just forge ahead.
At this point the Batty Broad’s husband comes into the kitchen to find out exactly what kind of craziness is going on. I explain what I’m doing and since he’s been married to me for 14 years and knows I won’t be deterred, he starts pitching in. Sucker. Okay so now I am on to Dilemma number three, I have no white frosting. That’s okay I will just make some. However, Dilemma number four, we don’t have enough powdered sugar which I discover AFTER I have creamed an entire stick of butter. I tried to make it work anyway, but I end up with something vaguely white, sort of creamy that tastes like butter. Sort of similar to the taste of circus peanuts. One more time now…ewwwww
The Batty Broad’s husband has begun manning the oven. He may be just trying to help or he may be trying to prevent me from burning down the house. Either way I will take all the help I can get. On to Dilemma number five, I don’t have black food coloring. I mean I have brown frosting but penguins aren’t brown so I want to make black frosting. The only food coloring we have is blue, green and yellow. So first I try blue, which makes the frosting a grayish green color. Definitely not what I was going for and certainly a color that would make you assume that you probably shouldn’t eat this or risk food poisoning. Okay, well let’s just add some green…and no, I don’t know what I’m doing but hey we are already in this mess we might as well keep going.
Oops! The green is leaking and also dried out…I’m not sure how that is possible but suddenly I have green food coloring everywhere. As I attempt to clean it up it seems to be expanding and everywhere I turn there is more. Finally the Batty Broad’s husband says, “you have green teeth”. What? How do I have green teeth? I run over to the bathroom and look in the mirror and yes I DO have green teeth. Lovely…
Back to the scene of the baking experiment and the first round of cake is done. Sweet victory is mine! It’s working! I have also discovered cream cheese frosting that I can use for the white part of the penguin. Okay I’m on a roll. Now what to do about the feet, beak and eyes? The Batty Broad’s husband comes up with the answer – Marshmallows. He not only cuts them so we have feet, a beak and eyes but used the yellow food coloring (without getting it on his teeth) to die the feet and beak. He’s the man!
We are in the home stretch. First round of cakes is done and cut so that they can be put together. The bottom halves are frosted and I am waiting for the top halves to cool so I can finish my masterpiece! Wait! Crap! Dilemma number six…I need something to make wings. Aha! Chocolate! I will melt chocolate chips, spread the melted chocolate into bowls (for the curve of the wings) and freeze it. I am a genius! Bow down! Worship me! I am giddy with my own creative powers.
That’s when Dilemma seven, eight, nine and ten show up. Dilemma seven is that I have to wait for the stupid cakes to cool and it’s now 1:00 am. Dilemma number eight is that it has become clear that the “round” cakes are a little to flat to really make this look like a penguin. Dilemma nine is that cutting the cakes so that they fit together correctly is A LOT harder than it looks on TV (stupid Cake Boss). Dilemma number ten is that frosting is stickier than you think.
So I cool the cakes off in the fridge and proceed to start frosting them, but they are being uncooperative. They won’t stay together so my cake is looking more like Pac Man and less like penguin. The cakes aren’t as round as I would have liked so the penguin is looking like he’s been deflated. The white frosting that I am trying to put on for his tummy is mixing with the brown frosting and the penguin looks like he has a hairy chest. The eyes, beak and feet look good (the only parts I did not do) and thankfully the wings are working out even though they are way too long for the penguin and look more like crutches. I am trying to keep the pieces together with the frosting, which only seems to be sticking to me and not the cake. Dammit! The back of the penguin looks like he has developed leprosy with bits of cake and frosting in a clumpy mess. From the front, he looks like an old decrepit brown bird that might be slightly crazy.
All I can do at this point is laugh. There is more frosting on me, the floor and the dishes then there is on the cake. I have green teeth and a very unfortunate looking “penguin” cake. I decide to stick the fancy, curly birthday candles on the penguin to both detract from it’s leprosied backside and hopefully hold the pieces in place. It does not improve the overall appeal of the cake. And to assure you that I am not making this up, here is a picture of the finished product:
Well I wasn’t wrong…I could make a penguin cake or something sort of like that. The good news is that it tastes good. So if I can just get everyone to close their eyes while I cut them a piece everything should work out okay.
I have to go wash the frosting out of my hair and brush my teeth so I don’t look like I ate fungus. Just another normal day in the life of …
A Batty Broad