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Labor of Love

Or sisterhood in the making.  Either way, my daughter learned a valuable lesson this last week.  Several, actually. It began with a personal request from one of her very good friends.  “Will you make the cake for my birthday party?”

Well if that wasn’t music to my daughter’s ears!  Sound the orchestra, gather the dancers, we’re baking a cake!  And not just any cake, but a grand, elaborately constructed and ornately decorated cake, one surely worthy of a guest appearance on Cake Boss.  (Oh yes, she watches the man every chance she gets.)  As does her girlfriend, hence the request.  

And like any other order placed with the Venetta Bakery first up is the color selection, design creation, cake flavors…  Oh, but it’s a process.  Days in the making actually, but my daughter minded none of it.  In fact, she relished every minute.  Deciding on three layers, three colors and three flavors (we do like variety around here!) she went to work baking and mixing—both batter and frosting—creating her largest cake creation to date.

And during this process, I noticed her self-confidence bloom.  She took such pride in her work–felt really good about herself–it was a joy for a mother to see.  The bottom layer of her cake was perfection in chocolate, covered by her ever so favorite purple frosting.  Next came the middle layer which she decided to elevate.  Perfect.

But with no formal columns to support this raised platform, we had to get creative.  Tough, since Dad wasn’t home and I’m not the engineer type.  However, after a quick scavenger hunt, we found some cardboard tubes (think wrapping paper roll) and built our very own platform.  A little wobbly, but it would do.  Lucky for us the builder of the house arrived on scene just then and set us straight.  FYI:  for a solid base, three support points are sturdier than two.

Then catastrophe struck.  The top cake crumbled in her hands as she removed it from the pan.  Egads—the trauma, the horror!  So emotionally invested in this cake was she that I thought her heart would break before my very eyes.  “Mom!  What am I going to do?” she shrieked.

“You’re going to fix it,” I said calmly.  Staring at me in utter disbelief, I reassured her, “Trust me.  There’s nothing here that can’t be fixed.”  A lesson I’ve learned from experience and one it was time to pass on to my daughter.  Much like the ripped stockings we had to mend for her Halloween costume (too late to buy another), it was time to improvise.  While frosting usually makes for the perfect glue, this disaster was beyond frosting repair.  It needed total structural rehab.  “Grab the fondant, darlin’—we’re going to make us some walls!”

And away we went, rolling, shaping and cutting until we had the perfect height and length fondant to wrap around our cake.  You could practically hear her sigh of relief as it all came together.  Next we used filler frosting to create the illusion of a level top and then it was back to decorating.  Hip-hip-hooray!

However, we were racing against time now.  Half hour left and we had yet to sculpt our little birthday gal for the topper design!  Not an easy feat.  I mean, people are hard to draw, let alone sculpt.  But my girl persisted. This was more than a cake to her.  This was a gift, a labor of love.  And as a budding artist, she had her reputation to consider!  Delivering a cake without proper adornment was unacceptable.

But it’s amazing what we can do when our heart’s in it, isn’t it?  Sure the lows can be heartbreaking, but the highs?  They’re worth every second.  My daughter learned another important lesson:  in the scheme of things, her friend won’t remember that we didn’t arrive early, or that we were slightly stressed during delivery of this triple-decker cake.  Nope.  She’ll only remember the fabulous custom-made cake baked especially for her. 

I do love a good HEA, don’t you?

Now of course she wants to start her own baking blog. Where on earth she came up with this brain child of an idea beats the heck out of me.  🙂 God love her—she takes after her mother!  And while I would love to share the recipe with you, no can do.  My daughter would have my hide if I started divulging her secrets.

Maybe she’ll reveal the secret to her double chocolate brownies.  Stay tuned!

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