Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For my birthday......

The set up:
For my birthday this year, I asked the kids for one thing: Make me a cake all by yourselves?

Now, Finn, aged 10, and Quillan age 7.5, have been baking cakes from scratch with me since they were old enough to stand on a chair. Both have amazing attention spans, love to measure, use the mixer, lick beaters, help concoct frosting colors, watch me decorate, but clean up........ not so much.

They know the basics (for those who don't bake from scratch, it goes like this....all ingredients at room temp, mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, cream butter and sugar, then eggs = wet mixture, and the third bowl of milk + vanilla. Alternate adding milk/dry into the butter mix. Don't over mix.....)

On their own:
I was confident in their abilities. I got the recipe out, suggested they read it out loud to each other before starting, and to let me know if there were any serious questions, I'd be in the studio...... before I had a chance to pretend I needed something from the house (and wander through the kitchen "not looking"), Finn came in to tell me the batter was all ready but it looked like "soup with chunks of butter they couldn't mix up".

"Did you cream the butter first?"
"Not exactly........"
Me, ".......(breathing)..... ok, let's have a look". I shuffled into the kitchen to find dismayed children hovering over, yep, brown soup. With chunks.

Yes, they read the recipe and measured carefully, all into the same bowl, mixing gently with the wooden spoon. They failed to follow the recipe over to the SECOND column where it goes on to describe HOW to make it. I realized that all these times I've baked, I've read the recipe to them, so they've never tracked a recipe with their own eyes. Column one, column two. So when they didn't see directions, they relied on their recent memories of the last two things we baked: muffins and biscuits (one bowl, wooden spoon).

They were very upset, thinking they had ruined everything. There were tears. I regrouped with the studio perspective. "Ok, so this is not what you set out to do. The process took an unexpected turn. What does any good artist do? Go with it! Let's just SEE what happens!"

They got out the mixer, and creamed the butter chunks into submission, prepped the pan and baked it.

The Finale:
Of course it didn't rise. It was over-mixed, but dang it was moist and delish! Like a brownie instead of cake. They did a great job making frosting (a little help from Max there), and creating two colors, frosting on their own. They were quite proud of using a broken off piece that evoked a "smile", and turning the cake into a face. Creative use of candles, thank god, they didn't go literal there.......

The cake turned out wonderful in the end, and they were so proud. It makes me laugh every time I think about it. I'm definitely asking for cake again next Spring!

Who cleaned up? Me, and I loved every minute of it!

My birthday present from Max was tickets to Cirque du Soleil, Kooza, in Portland. It was our first Cirque show and we had a wonderful experience..... the live experience, and music is fantastic!

The kids were ready for some run around, and tricks of their own. We hit Voodoo doughnuts and the river front park, followed by gorgeous Vietnamese dinner with my sister. Yey for food artistis, visual artists, and performance artists!

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