Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Cake: On coming to terms with ugly cakes

Have you ever watched any of those cake decorating shows, the ones where a team of people have 12 hours to make a life sized version of the Taj Mahal or 1,972,231 perfect grains of rice in a wicker basket all out of cake?  What about all the pictures of beautiful cakes out of home kitchens?  My cakes don't look like that at all.  I even took a cake decorating class, but my cakes lean, the frosting is bumpy, and I make a mess on the cake boards.  I have a cake esteem problem, or at least I used to.
Like women who grow up feeling self-conscious about their bodies because of the air-brushed, photo shopped pictures of models, I never felt good about my cakes.  (I've never been self-conscious about my body though, go figure.)  You see, my cakes look, well, homemade.  I make a cake for my husband's co-worker's birthday every year, and I always send it with apologies for its appearance.  In fact, last year I learned the cake was going to a family dinner party, and I had a minor panic attack because I knew the cake was not a party-worthy centerpiece.

Finally, something clicked.  I thought back to how many weddings I had been to where the cake was beautiful, but dry and overly sweet or had too much almond extract.  Fondant, while smooth and gorgeous is not something I want to eat.  I have had a few cakes that were both beautiful and delicious, but these have been few and far between.  The man who gets a cake for his birthday every year is thrilled to have something homemade.  He's not looking at the flaws.

So, my cakes, while homely, bumpy, lopsided, and always leaning are delicious, and I'm fine with that.  I will no longer apologize for my ugly cakes.  I feel like there's a life lesson here, but I don't want to get all after school special on you, so I'll close with this: love your ugly cakes.

For those of you who want to know more about this cake, it's a strawberry lemonade cake.  So, the cake is lemon, and the frosting is vanilla butter cream with strawberries whipped in.  I got the recipe here.  I think this would be excellent with any berry.

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