Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is it that time of year already?!

It is usually at this time of year that I start to ask myself if I will ever learn. Yes, it's birthday time for Blake, and as is my tradition, I am usually spending the night or two before his party scouring the internet for easy-to-make cake designs, and instead finding lots of beautiful but complicated cake designs that I would like to try baking, but won't be attempting because they require a level of skill and experience that I simply do not have! Then I go through the "Oh, why didn't I think about this at least a week ago - as opposed to the night before?!" And well, the answer is because it's me, and that's what I do! We have Blake's party on Saturday, and we hired a small church hall nearby and have invited just a few kids to join us for the Spiderman-themed party. My main regret on Thursday was not having arranged for some form of entertainer - whether a clown, magician, or storyteller...anything so that I would not have to play the role of Mistress of Ceremonies and lead the kids in games such as musical statues. I hope we get through it intact!

As for the theme, Blake had several weeks ago chosen Spiderman, and we are eternally grateful for Granny Karla's magical suitcase of birthday surprises.  If there is one thing she does very well (she does a lot of things very well, by the way), it's load an entire trolley suitcase full of goodies that come in VERY HANDY for her daughter (me), when I think about the things I would have to buy if she hadn't already done so, and bring it across the Atlantic for consumption by British children who don't even know there is so much choice in the party decorations department.  Spiderman party bags, pencils, notepads, cake toppers, balloons, balloon centerpieces, streamers, coloring pages, stickers...and I am probably leaving something out there in that list!  Oh yes, I am - Spiderman napkins, paper cups and paper plates.  It is amazing...on Thursday it felt like opening a true treasure trove leading to birthday planning bliss.

So that left me with the simple task of the cake.  Chortle chortle.  Oh yes, simple.  I said to someone yesterday that if there's a hard route or an easy route, inevitably I take the hard one...wonder why that is?  Anyway, after some Internet research last night, I worked out that there was one singular place in London that might help me out with achieving my goal to creating this Spiderman cake, and that place is Jane Asher in Sloane Square.  I had watched a video on how to color fondant icing - after feeling slightly sick thinking about how much red food coloring I had to use on Noah's red double decker bus cake last year.  The good news is, there is a better solution than using an entire bottle of liquid food coloring, and that solution is called icing paste.  But, according to Google, the only place I could actually purchase this today in London was miles away from anywhere near my home or work.  So, of course I went there!

The place was amazing - it is one of those shops that make you realize how little you know about something, in this case, baking.  It was definitely more like a craft shop than a kitchen supply shop; they had things like edible writing pens (where you would just write on your cupcake or cake or cookie or whatever - how rad is that?!).  They had cake tins, cupcake cases, sparkly edible glitter, sugar stars, sprinkles, decorations, icing sugar, candy melts, candles, and the list goes on...but crucially, they also had: icing paste.  I bought 4 colors, asked as many questions as seemed allowable before it got embarrassing for me, and headed back to work (this was all happening during my lunch hour!).  Incidentally, they also - unsurprisingly for being a cake-making company along with being a cake-making supply shop - sell a Spiderman cake, but if you have a look at the detail you'll see why I would be reluctant to think I would be placing an order with them for it.  It is rather exceptional though!

And now, around 12 hours later, I'm about to start my own humble cake.  I have the idea firmly in mind, and oh, how irrestible that idea can seem initially.  When the clock is about to tick over to midnight, however, and the house is asleep, I can think of a lot of things I would rather be doing than embarking on this activity.   Stay tuned to learn more of my adventures with Spiderman.  Will I defeat the evil forces of fondant icing?  Will I regret not forking out additional money for a "cake smoother"?  Will I get any sleep?  I'll report back tomorrow...

To give credit to where credit is due, I would like to thank Eloise at the Gourmet Cupcake Company in Chelmsford for this terrific video on how to make blue fondant.  I happened to see this one on Thursday night and love it for many reasons, one being the fact that at some point she clarifies whether the camera is rolling, which I just love.  It is also extremely informative, and having watched it a second time tonight I also noted about her use of gloves, which could save me from some unexpected trauma (a la forgetting to wipe your self-tanning lotion off your hands...ha ha ha!).   Thanks, Eloise - I love your videos!

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