One of my favorite parenting memories is when we threw our oldest daughter, Tulip (nickname), a Sweet-Sixteen party. We wanted to make it an occasion to remember. In order to hire a DJ, we had to cut back on other costs, so I decided I could do the cake myself. No sweat.
We expected over 50 guests, so I baked four cake mixes, which required two roasting pans. I transferred the first layer onto a large tray, but the middle of the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan. Okay, no big deal. I scraped out the middle and fit the pieces back into place like a puzzle. There were huge fissures, but extra whipped cream would take care of that, and no one would be the wiser.
The whipped cream covered all the cracks perfectly. Mm-mmm! The tricky part was getting the top layer out of the other pan in one piece. Tulip grabbed one side as I grabbed the other. We flopped it out onto the bottom layer. Dang! The top had split down the middle. No worries, though. Lots of whipped cream would easily hide that.
Camouflaging the cracks used up all the whipped topping. I still had to cover the sides, so I sent my 17-year-old son to the store for some frozen whipped cream in the tubs.
He returned in a jiff with two cans of whipped cream and told me he couldn’t find it in the tubs, and besides, the cans were cheaper anyway. I wondered how he knew they were cheaper if he never found the tubs to compare them.
So, I sprayed a fancy ripple of cream all the way around the cake. “Beautiful!”
Within 30 seconds, the canned whipped cream liquefied and ran down the sides. I rushed the monstrous cake into the fridge as it was too big for the freezer. Then I wiped the dripping trail off the floor.
Ten minutes later I checked on the cake, only to find whipped cream running down the shelf and into the veggie drawer. As I went to remove the sticky mess, the shelf gave way from the weight and collapsed into the drawer below.
Somehow I retrieved the cake in one piece, set it aside, and cleaned up the fridge, but first I sent my son back to the store. He returned with the tubs.
After spreading the tub whipped cream to the sides, I topped the cake with strawberries. Now all I had to do was write “Happy Birthday Tulip” with a tube of decorator frosting.
Darn it! The tube didn’t come with a tip, so I dug out the decorating kit I’d bought two years prior but had never used and squeezed the frosting from the tube into the cylinder.
I soon discovered why that kit was such a bargain. It required muscleman strength to press on it to get the frosting out. My face was red after writing “Happy.” I shook the numbness from my hands and decided to replace “Birthday” with “16th.” By the time I wrote “Tulip,” I was thankful I hadn’t named her Elizabeth.
That night I pulled the cake out of the fridge. Voila! It was gobbled up in no time. The guests were clueless as to the comical scene that had played out just before they arrived, and that was my last attempt at a monster-sized cake.