When Birthdays Are A Big Deal And You’re A Cake Baking Failure

birthday cake failMy wife’s family forgot her 16th birthday. Totally forgot. January 14, 1988 came and went with nary an acknowledgement that she had turned 16.

The moment has stayed with her forever.

Now that she is a mother of two young boys, she makes certain that not only are their birthdays not forgotten, but they are a very big deal.

A flood of balloons, and boxes covers the table before they’ve even had their cereal. Birthdays must be celebrated ALL DAY LONG in her books, not just for a few hours at night. When Charlie celebrated his 3rd birthday this past weekend, he had the big Birthday Boy treatment with gifts, a visit to the Lego Store to play with the bricks, and then dinner out at his favorite restaurant where they serve noodles and garlic toast.

Then we came home for cake. The cake is a VERY big deal to my wife. Huge. Massive. As in I forgot the cake one year because I don’t think it’s a big deal and she almost left me. It’s a big deal.

My wife and I are classic exhibits of Pinterest Fail when it comes to baking. While we have friends that do fondant Angry Bird cakes, or Cars, or Buzz Lightyear, we’re lucky if we get the cake out of the pan without breaking it. Our idea of decorating means grabbing some figurines from the toybox and tossing them on the cake.

This year was going to be different though. My wife found a cake recipe from Martha Stewart, and decided THIS was the cake we were going to make. A moist devil’s food chocolate cake bathed in Mrs Millman’s frosting.

We watched the video 3 times. We memorized the steps. We bought the ingredients: chocolate chips, cream, corn syrup – that’s it. And yet we still managed to screw it up.

First we got the ounces wrong. 24 liquid ounces is 3 cups, but 24 ounces of chocolate chips is actually a weight measure, so it’s more like 4 cups. Ugh. It was supposed to be set after 2 hours in the fridge, but it wouldn’t take. 6 hours later we gave up and tossed a blender in it to make it more like a whipped chocolate.

Check out Martha’s version versus ours:

  • Thick and Creamy 1 of 7
    Thick and Creamy
    Look how thick and dark Martha's cake is. It looks like frosting from a can.
    Image Capture via Martha Stewart video
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome 2 of 7
    Tall, Dark, and Handsome
    Her cake is high and straight and dense.
    Image Capture via Martha Stewart video
  • Not Quite Marthat 3 of 7
    Not Quite Marthat
    Our frosting is much lighter, and not as rich.
    Image via Buzz Bishop
  • Short and Squat 4 of 7
    Short and Squat
    That is not a tall, dark, and handsome cake.
    Image via Buzz Bishop
  • Want A Slice? 5 of 7
    Want A Slice?
    That frosting is NOT the same as Martha's. Not even close.
    Image via Buzz Bishop
  • Star Wars 6 of 7
    Star Wars
    Star Wars Chocolate Cake?! My favorite!!
    Image via Buzz Bishop
  • Thanks Mom! 7 of 7
    Thanks Mom!
    The kids don't care. Cake is cake is cake is cake.
    Image via Buzz Bishop

Did our son care? No. It was a chocolate cake with Luke Skywalker on it and we was THRILLED TO BITS. But, in my wife’s world, where birthdays matter more than any other, it was a crushing defeat.

This weekend, extended family will be coming in to celebrate Charlie’s birthday with a real party with little friends, and games, and .. .. a proper cake from the store.

Please tell me we are not the only parents who are utter failures at birthday cakes.

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