Monday, September 13, 2010

Cake Fail

Dear Makers of Bake-and-Decorate Your Own Cake Toy: Although I am pleased by your implied optimism that my children and I can make the cake contained with your product look like the one on the package, I feel compelled to write that it did not, even the tiniest little bit, do so. Sincerely, Andrea, Mother and Fondant Failure

This is the letter that I should send to the makers of this toy which sat in my pantry for 8 months since my daughter received it for Christmas. Being a lazy mother with no desire to help my kids create a mess that I will be responsible for cleaning up, and despite the fact that I myself had bought it for my daughter, I hid it in the back of a medium-height shelf in the pantry with the hope that she would forget about it. Well, she did, but its disuse mocked me until I felt guilty enough to resurrect it and give it a whirl. On a cool and rainy end-of-summer day, I hauled the thing out of the cupboard and began to wash the roughly 1,000 components that came with the product. I soon realized that it took two “C” batteries that I just don’t happen to stock at home. We made a brief trip to the store to purchase the batteries, came home, opened the instructions and prepared ourselves to create a masterpiece.

We decided on a chocolate cake to start, so we dumped the included powdered cake batter into the provided bowl, added the suggested one spoonful of water, and mixed until smooth. We poured the batter into the kit’s cake pans and baked them in the microwave for 30 seconds, as instructed. My disbelief that a cake could actually bake in 30 seconds, without taking into account that this was a tiny cake baked from approximately four teaspoons of batter, was squashed as we removed the pan from the microwave and flipped the perfectly-baked cakes onto a paper towel and stacked one on top of the other to create a perfect, if tiny, two-tiered cake.

Now for the fondant. Now, I am not a fan of fondant. I do not like the texture or the taste, and I have seen just enough cooking shows and know just enough amateur cake-bakers to know that it is not the easiest substance to work with. Nevertheless, this toy’s purpose is to make the users feel like professional cake decorators, and fondant icing is the main ingredient in its objective, since everybody knows that all the trendy cake decorators use it. So we read the instructions and began to make fondant. Again with the powder in the bowl, again with the scant spoonful of water that seemed comically inadequate. We stirred and stirred until the substance resembled the homemade play-dough that I made – once – when my kids were toddlers and I was an infinitely better mom. My daughter deemed it the right consistency, and proceeded to roll it out onto the provided stick-free mat. We positioned it over the top of the cake and tried to flatten out the edges to make it look as fondant should – like a plastic covering. When we realized that it was as good as it was going to get with our expertise, we stood back and decided that it could only get better with more decorations, or details, as my daughter likes to call them, and dumped some sprinkles over the top of the fondant. When it was finished, we stepped back yet again to regard our masterpiece with a critical eye. This is what it looked like:
Of course, we laughed our faces off. It was so drastically different from the picture on the front of the package – the picture that it should have resembled, instead of this miniature tragedy. After we each tasted our masterpiece, we threw the remains away. Then when my kids weren’t looking, the whole toy met its demise in the kitchen trash. No one needs to relive this experience in MY house.

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