My son has asked me to make his birthday cake this year. “What do you have in mind?” I ask, thinking he’s probably going to ask me to make him a Titanic cake like he did last year. I shudder at the thought. “I want a Shelby Mustang!” he replies eagerly. Ummm…ooookay. My mind begins to race. I know someone who can do this for me and is fabulous at cake making…in fact, she made that Titanic cake he asked for last year. So I suggest that she make his cake again. “No, Mom, I want YOU to make it!” Oh boy.
We search the internet looking for ideas, starting with this Coolest Birthday Cake Website, a place where I’ve gotten many an idea from before, and he spots a figure eight race track cake. “That’s what I want, Mom,” my son says, pointing to one of the cakes.
Am I up to the challenge? I’m not confident being that my cakes have been simple up to this point, but I am certainly willing to try. Because who could say “no” to their child when they are looking at you with those “my mom can do ANYTHING eyes”?
So I searched our local Wal-Mart cake decorating section to come up with a simple way to make this cake. I bought two brand new nine inch round cake pans thinking they would make a fine number eight for the shape of the cake. I was also looking into finding pre-made fondant to make the track. Have I used fondant before? Nope – the very thought of it was kind of scary for me, unchartered territory as it was. That’s what Buddy uses on TLC’s Cake Boss -because he’s a professional. But – this was for my boy, after all…I’d try anything once.
As I was looking for fondant, I found the Wilton cake decorator sheets. Hmmm…this might work out better for me since the packaging said you could actually use paper punches to create shapes with it. This seemed a simple solution since all I needed was to cut two round circles for the track. I bought a couple of packs of the decorator sheets hoping my idea would work.
The night before the party, I set out making the cakes. I baked two separate flavors, one chocolate fudge and one French vanilla, and layered them up unevenly so as to create a “checkered flag” like color inside. Both sides of the cake were chocolate and vanilla. I stacked my cakes and cut out a section of one cake (using my pan as an outline to cut out a half circle) so that my cakes would fit together like a puzzle – it made the perfect “eight” shape.
Once the cake was stacked and placed, I tinted vanilla icing green for grass and proceeded to ice my cake. I made sure to put the cake in the refrigerator in between coats to get the smoothest possible finish I could. It was getting late into the evening, but I was determined to finish my cake! By one a.m. the day of the party my cake was finally iced, so I began to cut out the circles for my track using a serrated steak knife on the decorator sheet. And I began praying for a miracle that I could get this right the first time. I had only bought two of the decorator sheets and I needed one circle per sheet. There was zero room for error and there would be no middle of the night trips to our 24 hour Wal-Mart for me! Hopefully…
Using a butter bowl as my guide, I began tracing around it with my knife. A smaller bowl went around the inside of the larger circle and before long, I was punching out a perfect track! Phew! Sweet relief was mine.
Wiping the sweat off my brow, I continued on to the next track. If I could get both tracks to punch out perfectly, it would be nothing short of a miracle, especially with my tired state of mind in the wee hours of the morning.
Success was mine again! I let out a whoop when the second track came out “nearly” perfect, but was careful not to get too excited considering the rest of my family was sound asleep. Luckies. I used orange decorating writing gel to put the “lines” on the track so that it would look like a road.
And it did look just like a road. This is when I began to become very proud of myself. I was actually doing it! I couldn’t help but grin when I thought about how excited my son would be when he woke up the next morning and saw his finished cake in the fridge, just waiting for the birthday boy to open the doors and spy it.
I could have wept, I was so relieved that this cake went together without a hitch (unless you count the TWO trips made to Wal-Mart that night because I forgot the EGGS of all things! You can’t bake a cake without EGGS!)
Staying up late was absolutely worth it when, indeed, my boy was all aglow the next morning as he “oohed” and “ahhed” over his cake. I’ll admit I got a big head when he said that I was the best cook in the world. The guests at the party were unaware that I had made his cake. My mother-in-law thought that I had BOUGHT it somewhere. Go me! I was definitely proud of how it turned out, but even more excited that I could come through for my son and give him the exact cake he asked for. It made this birthday very special indeed!