The following is Part II or the Afterword or the Epilogue of “The Ultimatum,” which I posted on Friday.
*Warning* Some content may be inappropriate for some viewers. This post has been rated PG-13 for disturbing images, borderline plagiarism, boring cake decorating details, blatant lameness, and shameless self-indulgence. If you have an aversion to bad jokes, REALLY bad photo tampering, and virtually useless PSAs, please, click on through. Proceed at your own risk
Six days later…
It was Friday night and everyone was in bed. I was up late working on a birthday cake for a friend’s precious son. The theme was Fire Fighters. The goal was the birthday cake of a 4-year-old’s dreams, or at least his mom’s. A round cake, little fire engine on top, flames around the side, the birthday boy’s name in giant letters, and a fireman’s hose with ”Happy 4th Birthday” written on it. I love a detailed cake order.
I was all set. Before me was a perfectly iced 12-inch round yellow cake and a bunch of mini loaf cakes. I was forming my plan for the innocent cakes. The 12-inch round was the easy part. It was the canvas. Everything must be done “off cake” and then attached with small dots of icing and/or brushed on water. Now, the 5 mini loaf cakes? That was a bit more complicated. They must be glued together with copious amounts of snow-white buttercream, carved, buttercreamed again, covered in fondant, and painted bright fire engine red. It was a challenge, sure, but not for the likes of me. You see, I had learned a key piece of information from Duff of Charm City Cakes. I’ll never forget it.
You show the cake who’s boss. Make the cake do what you want it to.
I am master of my cake domain. The fire engine was assembled and ready for paint. Now, most serious cake decorators own an airbrush machine. I would love to own an electric food color blaster, but alas! my budget doesn’t allow for it. I have two options. The first, is to paint the thing with a paintbrush and gel food coloring mixed with vodka, lemon juice, or clear vanilla extract. This works okay but it tends to show streaks, especially with bright fire engine red. So I use the second option. Wilton makes a nifty little product called Color Mist food color spray. It’s basically food safe spray paint. It’s sometimes difficult to find but until some generous soul buys me an Airbrush System here, (you know you want to) it will have to do. I painted the fire truck, added the details and this is how it came out:
Isn’t the bright fire engine red fabulous?
Things were going marvelously–until I started making the flames that encircled my perfectly iced 12-inch round. They didn’t look like flames. They looked like forked tongues, no matter how many different ways I cut them. I began hearing drums and a soft murmuring sound in my head. I wadded up the fondant, rolled it out, and started cutting again. This time they were more flame-like, but they were way too tall and kept ripping as I tried to adhere them to the cake. The drums were getting louder and the murmuring was turning into a disturbing sort of chant. I kneaded, rolled, and cut again–too short. The drums were deafening but the demonic chanting was worse. It wasn’t in my head. The noise was coming from the living room and it was getting louder. And louder. Until…….
He was here, in my house, when I needed him the most. Death was powerless in the face of such devotion. I knew it was wrong but how could I resist the smoldering eyes? And the hair? I couldn’t. I’m only human.
It was done. I was feeling light-headed but oddly relaxed. I heard his voice behind me. Measure the cake and do the flames in smaller sections. Of course! I turned to thank him but all that remained of him lay crushed and burned in the ashtray. He’d used his last breath to save me from cake disaster.
I was grateful but also fearful. What if my husband found out? I had to cover our tracks. Steeling myself for the dirty deed I must carry out, I picked up the ashtray, walked to the garbage can and stood there for a split second before I did it. I buried him under a pile of coffee grounds. It was appropriate. Our best times were spent over a cup of coffee. But I owed him more than that. I owed him the best darn cake I was capable of decorating. I returned to the perfectly iced 12-inch round and the rolled out fondant and I showed that cake who was boss. ME!
For the record, I have recommitted myself today to quit smoking. It’s 3:00 PM and I haven’t had a single cigarette. I am also not experiencing any nicotine withdrawals, which is a giant relief. I learned a valuable lesson. It’s not only about the nicotine. Quitting also means learning to conquer the “cue induced” cravings or THE HABIT of smoking.