When my son requested this year’s birthday cake, he envisioned an architectural marvel—the city of Dale (yes, another Hobbit themed cake), with its neat, tile-roofed houses and soaring stone towers. I agreed to his request, thinking I would use the rolled fondant icing I intended to try this year. The one using agar…the one that tasted like sugared seaweed (read about it at this post). No problem, plan B was to use a poured fondant (no agar in that) and ice the buildings like petit fours. I tested the fondant last week on the dwarf heads, and was confident it would work.
But this batch of fondant was too thick; it ended up lumpy, and didn’t stick properly to the cake. Fixing it would require remaking it (and allowing it to cure for another 24 hours). OK, on to plan C. I had some marzipan left over from last week’s cakes, so I tried rolling it and covering the cake with it—too soft, it didn’t hold together. Plan D was to try the same with almond paste. It almost worked, but only on small pieces, and I didn’t have enough of it, anyway. I resorted to plan E, buttercream icing, which I knew wasn’t going to created the look I wanted. Before the first building was iced, I decided it wasn’t good enough. Tired, frustrated, and struggling under the oppression of a bad head cold, I surveyed the results with dismay. Nothing short of another day’s work was going to improve the cake. It was 9.30 pm the night before Lochlan’s birthday. I had, maybe, another hour before I would collapse from exhaustion.
I did the only logical thing I could—I skipped to plan S. He’d asked for the city of Dale, and he would get it, but not before Smaug did.
It felt wrong to purposely rip and tear at the half finished buildings, but the resulting confection was deemed “awesome” in the morning. I wouldn’t go so far, but it will do. Sometimes, that’s the best you can hope for.