Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hey, I never said I was Martha Stewart....I need help!

It's a well-known fact that I cannot cook. I do like to bake, though, wierdly enough....but I am completely clueless in the kitchen. I can make great sugar cookies but that's pretty much where my talent ends.

Out of nowhere, I got this wild idea to make birthday cakes for Cole and Bella this year for their birthdays. I've never made them a cake...I've always just done it the easy way. It's called Safeway....those people that work in the bakery there LOVE making cakes. Well, that's what I tell myself, anyway, to relieve any guilt I have about not making the cakes myself.

I still have a month left before their birthday so I figured I'd start practicing now....you know, get my skills down to a science. Today was the perfect time to do it....Tim was taking the kids to his parents house for the afternoon so I'd have the house to myself....nothing but time on my hands.

So SIX hours later, I finally had Cole's dinosaur cake done. Yes, I spent the entire "free day to myself" baking and decorating a cake for one of my kids. If Cole ever says, "Mommy, you never do anything for me....", he's gonna find himself on a serious time-out, while I put every single one of his toys in a garbage bag to be hauled off to Goodwill.

Here's the beginning stages (after I had already baked the cake and made the frosting)....



Yeah, so do you see where I had a little bit of a problem?? That big brown blob there is supposed to be a volcano. It sucks, I know. I considered slicing some of the cake off to make it more volcano-like but I was afraid I'd completely ruin it and I had no cake batter left. I also underestimated just how much cake batter I would need so I made it a 1-layer cake but for the "real thing" I want to make it 2-layers so that's why it looks a little flat. Oh, and the blue stuff....that's supposed to be a pond and then some running water. Well, my vision of a pond and running water, anyway.

Here's the finished deal....



Okay, now that you've stopped laughing.....you HAVE stopped laughing, right? Alright, I'll give you another 10 seconds......okay, seriously, stop laughing now and help me.

The volcano is downright disgusting....I tried to "melt" some of the buttercream frosting to make it look like lava and that's what I ended up with. And the more I tried to fix it and play with it, I just ended up making it worse. So now it just looks like a big brown blob with vomit all over it.

Just to clear the air....yes, one of the dinosaurs is eating another dinosaur. I figure Cole and Bella will appreciate it since they fight all the time. And the brown things are jelly bellies, which are supposed to be rocks...not dinosaur droppings. I'm just sayin....

I need help obviously.....but therapy will have to wait. Back to the task at hand, I need help with the cake....any ideas on how I can make the volcano more realistic looking? I baked it in a pyrex measuring cup but obviously that's not the right shape. Also, any ideas on how to make it look like lava is pouring down the sides? Oh and I was thinking about making another smaller square cake to sit on top with the waterfall flowing down from that but that may be overdoing it....I dunno.....my brain is working on over-time, as always.

So if you have any tips, ideas, suggestions, feedback, or if you just wanna say "For the love of God, you are NOT Martha Stewart.....step away from the oven, return the Kitchen Aid mixer to the store and go back to your REAL life, doing what you do best....changing diapers, cleaning puke stains off the carpet and forever folding laundry!!".....then PLEASE leave me a comment or e-mail me!

I'll be eternally grateful.....I'll even post a video of my kids thanking you for the awesome tips....while I sob quietly in the background, mumbling something about how no one in my family appreciates my hard work and effort.



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62 comments:

Stacey said...

I'm no pro, but I'll try helping anyway. LOL.

I think baking the volcano in the pyrex cup is actually a good idea...just shave a little off the top to make it more of a triangle/volcano shape..just do a little at a time so you don't go too crazy. lol. as for the lava, did you try putting the frosting in a piping bag (or a ziploc with the corner cut out) and "draw" it coming down from the top.

finally, for the water effects...maybe frost that part first, then do the grass so they are the same level?

Other than that, i don't see how you can improve on the cake. it's pretty damn cute!

Shannon said...

Would it help you any if I told you I've seen FAR WORSE cakes from PROFESSIONALS? Don't believe me? Check out Cake Wrecks.

I think it looks awfully darn good for being made from a non-professional. Yeah, the volcano could use some work (but I am the last person to be giving advice on THAT), but all in all I'd give it a thumbs up!

Kristina P. said...

Hey, I think it looks great. And I'm sure the kids think you are the coolest cake decorator ever.

Alicia said...

Honestly, I have to say that that is not bad for your first try!!! LOL at the volcano, but everything else is pretty cool!!!

Kelli said...

I think it's adorable!!! LOL

MrsM said...

Kids like cake regardless of what it looks like! (It's what's on the inside that counts LoL). I have no professional tips, but in my non professional opinion maybe you could try making successively smaller round disks of cake, then stack them all together biggest to smallest? You could cut the middle out of all of them, and then stack them up and fill them with frosting (aka "lava"). Ice the outside brown, and then use a piping/ziplock bag to draw lava coming down the sides.

Maybe.

At least that's how I'm imagining it might happen.

As far as the water it looks good, but I do agree with the other person who said you could make the grass and water level.

Over all I think you did a great job though-especially for a first attempt!

Mrs. D Lightful said...

I love that cake! Awesome tutorial! I hope you don't mind if I feature it?

Mellisa said...

I think that you did great!! I was totally expecting worse from the way you were talking in the middle...the only tip i can think of is to make the volcano more triangluar shaped...then thin down the lava (maybe make a lip at the top) then fill lip and overfill a tad so that it runs down the side. But I think that your kids really loved this cake!! It was really cute!! You did a good job!! Be proud and thankful that kids have invisible rose colored glasses!! LOL :) I hope that you post pictures of the next cake too!

Design it Chic said...

I believe the cake looks pretty dinosaur-ish like:) The kids will love it! You did a great job for sure!
Happy Labor Day!

Widge said...

That cake looks great! I love the name of your blog :)

Buckeroomama said...

I'm laughing, not at your cake (which I think is pretty cool and which I'm sure your kids will think, too!), but at your words... you do crack me up. You know that.

Regarding the volcano. Maybe this might help: It doesn't have to be a perfect cone shape. Just slowly shave off the sides slightly and then wedge some off the top to form an indentation into which you'd pipe in the lava...

My kids would love your cake! :)

Yaya said...

I think it looks awesome!

Jen said...

Wipe up your tears b/c I think that this is awesome. This is so much better than I could ever do!

That is why Jeff is the cake maker in our house. So how is Tim at making cakes?

blueviolet said...

Kids do not look at things with the same critical eye we do. That cake is fabulous. Don't even beat yourself up. It's great!

Amy said...

I have to agree, I bet your kids would LOVE it!

Morgan said...

What about microwaving the frosting just a little- so it's not too liquidy, but it's melted enough to pour smoothly down the volcano?

Or, maybe just making a cake in the shape of a dinosaur and frosting it? You could use candy to decorate spots, make eyes, stripes, whatever.

I think your cake looked nice though! Very creative baking the volcano in the pyrex measuring cup!

Kimberly said...

I actually think it turned out pretty good. For someone else who doesn't cook and also recently made a birthday cake (decorating it was obviously the hard part), I think you did great!

My husband read your blog and said you must be my doppleganger. :)

Lee said...

I have to say that I am very impressed! Of course, boiling water impresses me, because I can't cook either, and I agree on getting cakes from people who LOVE to make them...the store! But, I really do think it looks great!!

Shelby at DoubleUpBooks.com - The Twins and Multiples Bookstore said...

I'm of no help when it comes to cooking or baking, but just wanted to say I loved the dinosaur eating the other dinosaur - that is so funny. That just makes the cake. I think it looks great!

Tracy said...

Ummm...I think it looks pretty darn good!

I am of no help, other than to tell you my advice would be to let somebody else make the cake. You'd be better off using the 6-hours for "Helene-time."

Creative Junkie said...

Helene! I love it!

I'm just impressed that you made your own cake. Seriously. That is something I have NEVER done with a birthday cake and my kids are totally grateful and don't need therapy.

Carly said...

My fav part is the dinosaur eating the other dino. I saw that before I read it. I would just skip the volcano. the rest looks good. I am going to try to make a ghost cake for my ds birthday party. I too am no Martha.

S Club Mama said...

I don't think it looks that bad. I do cupcakes because they're easier to decorate.

Amy said...

I did not laugh until I read that you wanted us to stop laughing. I said WOW... It looks great...

Sadia said...

I sometimes bake cupcakes in ice cream cones. (The icing looks like ice cream on top.)

What about using a waffle cone, filling it two-thirds of the way up with batter, and baking that? I've been thinking about doing that for Christmas tree cupcakes this year. Since it'll be such a small cake, shave 20-30 minutes of the bake time. You might be able to use pyrex bakeware plus aluminum foil, or even an oven-safe cooling rack, to hold it upright in the oven.

Kim said...

What Sadia said. And I'd try a few squirts of chocolate sauce to add a touch of "liquid" lava.

newlyweds said...

Oh girl Oh Girl, I share the same problem, I can't ice a cake for anything. But I love this cake, I seriously think you did a great job, and I love the dinosaur's eating one another and the dino dropping, ha ha!

Sorry I have no suggestions at all.

Missy (Two Little Monkeys) said...

I think it looks good. I have no idea how to make cakes either so you definitely did better than me!!!

Christina said...

(hang on one more second while I finish giggling...ok, I'm better now.)
I have no advice, but use your time wisely!! Let the people at the stores bake cakes for us that can't even make chocolate chip cookies without burning them. (do you do that too?)
Kidding really sweetie..you did good!! Much better than I would of ever done!

Amethyst Moon said...

I'm impressed. I think it's great, and whie it doesn't look quite as good as the professional ones, I'm sure it tastes better.

GAMZu said...

What about using peanut brittle/crunch for rocks?

wife.mom.nurse said...

I am sure that the kids were
DELIGHTED with that creation!

Funny you say that you don't cook, because I was just telling my husband about your awesome looking wings and how I need to find your post with the recipe. Well, it's my style of cooking at least :)

Jenny said...

HeeHee!!

I think it's a good first try. I know mine wouldn't look any better.

I do think you have something there with the volcano...could it be a sloppy joe dinner?

I bet the kids will love it!

Sorry, the only tip I have is to buy one already made. I like baking too, but cakes are not my thing.

Heather said...

I admit I was laughing, but it's wayyy better than I could ever do! I think you did an awesome job with the end result. Maybe you could get a really sharp knife and taper the top of the volcano. The one dino eating the other is such a wonderful touch..even the ride in Disney has that scene ; )

TanyaMom23 said...

No help needed! The cake looks great and your son will love it because you made it for him. I am planning a Dinosaur party for my son also! Check out the dinosaur cupcake-cake I plan on attempting on my blog.

Kristen said...

For the volcano...I would frost an ice cream cone and stick it upside down on the cake. You can use fruit rolls cut out into flowing lava.

If you have a Sweet Factory candy store in your local mall they sell candy "rocks".

But I think you did a good job. Have fun with it.

Oh. And I came by from SITS. I saw your plea for help :)

The Plateniks said...

http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com/volcano-cake.html

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Awww, your kiddos will love what you did. Seriously! I've only tried doing something like this once or twice. I shave a little of the cake off after it's cooked and cooled to make my shape before icing. Still...surely there are volcanoes shaped like yours. :) They'll be ecstatic to see it!

Also, check out the cake wrecks link someone left above. I found that site a long time ago and will never feel bad about one of my cakes again. I think we're always WAY more picky about our own work. Yours is really cute and so sweet that you took the time to make it yourself!

Happy Labor Day!

yonca said...

Oh, Helen! It doesn't look that bad! I'm sure your kids love it!

Jenni Jiggety said...

I think your cake ROCKS! I love making cakes for my kids...I suck at it but I try and they always love whatever I come up with!

Are You There Mom? said...

Hi there! I found your blog following a SITS comment. Just wanted to say I love your posts! TOO funny! I'll be back! And PS- I actually love this cake! It's great!

Jennifer said...

Hey, beggars can't be choosers, I say. Does that frosting have sugar in it? YOU WIN! The cake? Does IT have sugar in it? Again, WINNER!

You done good, buddy boy. ;-) LOL!

Amy W said...

I'm seriously impressed! From picture #2 to picture #3 there is a wonderful transformation! You've had some great advice too. It's really not too hard to shave down your volcano with a serrated knife. And the lava looks nothing like vomit! Chocolate almond bark really does mold well, if you want to make your own rocks. Just drop some onto some waxed paper. You have to melt it, then let it cool back down until it's almost solid again.

janice said...

Helene- I love the cake! I didn't actually start giggling until I read & looked closer and saw the dino eating the other one! You've already gotten some great suggestions- I might recommend baking the volcano in a small oven proof bowl (pyrex makes custard cups almost as tall as their measuring cups that might work)- it may give you the dome shape you want- then carve if/as needed. You might also look for decorating gel instead of icing for the water part-cake mate might make it in tubes in the grocery store, but for a larger quantity, check out your local cake/baking supply store or the Wilton's/cake aisle at your local crafts store. Crushed oreos, graham crackers or even better- chocolate wafers will look great as dirt/sand- your jelly beans will "blend" into their background even better. Lastly- don't heat your lava frosting- thin it out to a nice thick, but runny consistency by whisking in water or milk a DROP or two at a time until it's just how you want it. Spoon a puddle onto the top edges of your volcano and let it run down the sides. Good luck- your kids will love it and your trial run cake is adorable as is!

Mrsbear said...

You know, with all the decorative touches, it really does not look half bad and I'm positive the kids would love it. I got my son a dinosaur cake from the grocery store and their volcano was actually an upside-down cupcake frosted with orange and brown, that might give you a better starting shape. Otherwise, nice work, the dino on dino violence was an especially nice touch. Although I might lay off the dino droppings. lol.

twinmama said...

Cute cake, Helene! I am sure that Cole will love it!

Not sure if someone has already suggested this, but it makes it easier to carve out cake for your volcano if you freeze it and then do the carving. You might be able to get an easier cone shape.

Have fun and happy baking!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

My tip? Call Safeway.
Just kidding! You put forth good effort. And it's cute! I'm sure someone who is good at these sorts of things will give you some great advice. That someone is NOT me.
PS There's something for you on my blog.

Kylee said...

I often think we mum's are the biggest critics of ourselves than anyone else ever could be. I think your cake looks amazing and while you might see flaws in it your kids will think it is the best cake they have ever seen!

If you did want to try and improve on it - simply for your own sake - then here are some ideas.

As Stacey said - ice the water parts first so that they will be level with the grass. If you didn't want to do that then simply create a border around them after the fact with 'rocks' like you have done already.

Another kid pleaser is to use blue jelly (jello?) for the water. Just carve an indent in the section you want as the water and fill with set blue jello that you have mashed up.

For the volcano - do you have a round bowl/baking dish you can cook the cake in? I use my pyrex bowls to get a dome shaped cake and they always work well.

Otherwise - 'shape' the cake once it is completely cool. You can refrigerate it first to make it a little harder and more resistant to your efforts. Use a serrated bread knife and just take your time.

The most important thing to remember is anything you think looks wrong can be covered by icing!! Even your original square volcano can be filled in to make it the shape you prefer. Sure it uses a LOT of icing but trust me - no one will complain :)

To get the lava effect try using icing sugar (confectioners sugar? Sorry I'm from Oz) mixed with water until you have a runny consistency. This is known as glaze. You can colour this and then run it down the sides of the volcano. It will set given time so you should end up with the effect you are after.

Alternately - try melting white chocolate, colour it and drip that down the sides.

The biggest tip I can give you - have fun!

Your kids will love whatever you make them and based on your first effort the results are sure to be amazing.

PS - sorry for the huge post!

- Kylee

♥georgie♥ said...

i cant offer any advice as i stink at baking...I honestly dont think the cake is bad at all

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Sorry - but I'm worthless on this one. In fact, I tried to may a layer cake today and it literally split down the middle. Not pretty - but it's still quite delicious.

Xazmin said...

Don't be so hard on yourself...I think they'll love it!

And I totally did not think the jelly bellies were dino-pooh!

What if you used an upside down ice cream cone for the volcano. You know, the kind with the flat bottoms? Or if that's not big enough, still do what you did, but then press the ice cream cone down into it.

I like the idea of piping the lava icing flowing out. Or you could use a red or orang jam.

I like to do cakes for my kids. Well okay, I don't enjoy doing them...but I like how they love them!

I actually love cooking but hate baking!

Kathy B! said...

I dunno, Helene! That looks pretty fabulous to me!

Mrs. D Lightful said...

Thanks, I'll be linking! Even though it didn't turn out exactly how you want, I think it's a very creative idea, and actually, doesn't look bad at all!!! :)

Mama Plays Mozart said...

I have to confess that I was laughing when I read this post... not really at the pictures of the cake, but more the commentary that went along with it. Anyway, don't think I would have done any better and you've got to give yourself points for your enthusiasm and dedication! If someone made me a cake like that I would LOVE it!

The Mother said...

Not the one to ask. I was always finishing birthday cakes while the kids were pinning the tail on the donkey. Or the dog.

Zeemaid said...

I thought it looked great too!! I especially appreciated the dinosaur eating dinosaur part.

But like #1 commenter, I'd just shave a little off the top to make it more pointy or I'd use icing around the base to round it out more and make the base bigger.

Everything else looked awesome. Maybe switch the brown jelly bellies for white or grey so they don't look like droppings and mark out your areas for water and ice them separately from the grass but I think it's a totally awesome especially for a first try and better than anything I could have come up with!!!

The Lane Family said...

I am not a cake pro or even a cooking pro but one year I did make a dinosaur cake for a nephew and I used a metal colander to make the volcano, it looked okay..he liked it.

Also for the red lava I used melted white chocolate and added a little red food coloring.

My favorite part about the cake....the dinosaur eating the other dinosaur. My son will need counseling as well because he would think that was AWESOME!!!

Michelle said...

ah here's the cake post, well it's not the best looking but I'm sure it tasted great right? your kids did eat right? then mission accomplished girlfriend.
the volcano does sorta look like meat loaf. maybe next time you could use a mini-bundt cake pan to make a volcano. I know that crushed graham crackers (you can buy a box of already crushed) looks like sand. and coconut mixed well with green food coloring makes great grass.

Donna said...

Okay - you lost me at "..a month beofre their birthday..." and "...I thought I'ld practice..."

really? seriously? so....are you gonna eat this particular cake? now? or freeze it for the big day?

The whole concept is so foreign to me...

I got nothing...

The High Family said...

So I was totally going to tell you to submit that puppy to Cake Wrecks...but I want you to know that I could NEVER do this! So you are AWESOME..seriously, awesome. The cake really doesn't look that bad. I think Cole will LOVE it. You have a ton of really great comments and ideas that the blogosphere has submitted. I can't think of anything clever. My hubby is the cake maker in this family. He blows everyone away with his creations each year...a hidden talent I didn't know about until 2006...crazy!

Good Luck with the final creation...I am sure it will be amazing! :)

mymariboo said...

Holy crap--is that what it looked like before I ate it?!?! Awesome! It was UH-MAY-ZING!

Twisted Serenity said...

*lol* Im absolutely no help, I'm good with pies, and terrible at cakes! I usually call DQ for an ice cream cake on birthdays (there goes my mother of the year award, huh?!! haha) I love how you keep a sense of humor about everything though! You blog is a joy to read!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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