A few weeks before the end of the year in 2007, my friend & colleague Richard turned to me and asked “would you be willing to take an order of a cake?” It had been so long since anyone had requested this that I didn’t know what he meant at first. He meant, of course, that he wanted me to make him a cake. Not just any cake, though, a birthday cake for his son Hari’s 4th birthday. Now, a child’s birthday cake is quite a special thing. In my mind, it’s far more difficult to make a cake for a child, because for children it has to be interesting. Adults will put up with any old thing.
The theme for the party would be the movie “cars” since that was Hari’s favourite movie. I bought a 3D cake tin in the shape of a car and set about making sponge cake prototypes. I endured flop after depressing flop. Every cake I tried went soggy in the middle. I realised it was because of the shape of the tin. After reading about it online, I finally swallowed my pride and bought some cake mix. As if by some dark cake voodoo, my cake mysteriously rose in the previously impossible-to-rise cake tin. I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s not natural, that’s for sure.
The icing was another challenge. Red icing starts out pink, and although you put a great deal of red colouring in it, you have to wait a bit for the icing to darken naturally. At 4am, the night before the party this is a nerve wracking thing to do. I left the cake itself pink though. This is because when I showed the original (slightly pink) prototype to Richard, I swore to him his child’s cake would not be pink. To which he replied “knowing Hari, pink would be great actually, all of his friends love pink”. So, there you have it: A “Lightning McQueen” birthday cake, with pink on the inside.
The kids did love it. One of them insisted on adding another candle. “No, sweetie” I said kindly “it’s not your cake”.
“No, it’s mine” he insisted. His father had to restrain him as he tried to blow out the candles. Hari didn’t mind so much, he’s not all tat much into formality.
Another boy wanted to test the icing “I’m just touching it, Dad” he claimed, while digging his finger deeper and deeper into the icing.
The short story is the cake was a big success and I have a suspicion I may soon be getting some cake requests from people again in the future.