Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hmmm... Mack? or Mater?

Yesterday my small boy turned two. I, being the sentimental mother, cried twice because I no longer have a baby in my house.

It hurts when they turn two. No more shopping in the baby section, no more specially prepared dinners since they seem to be able to hang out until family dinner time. More rules, more nos, less cuddles, more "I do it!" moments. They don't need you so much at two. And really, isn't being needed one of the nicest things about motherhood? Being actually useful, indespensible, the only one who can do your job. You're kind of replaceable in all your other roles in life.

Remember here I said I feel obligated to provide 'repeat experiences' so that all of my kids got the same opportunities in childhood? I will get around to writing about the other silly things I've done one of these days. Well, the home-made and decorated birthday cake is one of those burdens obligations I have handed myself. I try to make them a cake that represents their interests at that moment in time. With Mr Z about to turn 7, I'm wondering when it will all end - age 10? Whoa, that's 30 cakes I have to devise and create. Easier said than done.

Anyway. I set the bar kind of high with my other kids' cakes, so I knew this one had to be special. My little M doesn't really have favourite activities (except stealing my iPhone), he doesn't have a favourite teddy to cuddle, he doesn't have any real obsessions (except yoghurt, and throwing things down the stairs). But he does seem to gravitate toward a certain 'hand-me-down' Mack Truck which transforms into a race track. So I decided to go with that.

I made it the night before after three glasses of wine (we'd been at another party), am concerned it's a little more red Mater than Mack Truck, but the kids seemed to like it. I misjudged the hat size when I cut the cake blocks, I hadn't realised how central Mack's Trucker cap was to the character before I started. Although, that was probably due to the wine, it seems so obvious now!!!

Anyone wanting some tips from a *very* amateur cake maker? I always think it's best to learn from other people's mistakes, don't you?!

  • I laid THREE layers of rolled out white icing over the cake.  
  • I learned (this time around) that rolling the icing on a piece of glad wrap and smoothing over the cake with the glad wrap still on top is the best way to make the outline smooth (again, maybe obvious to most, but I'm no cake-maker!).  
  • I tried dying the white icing with pillar-box red food colouring, but couldn't get past pink. I ended up covering with white icing and painting the whole thing with a watercolour brush and a bowl of the red food colouring. That was one coat of red (because it was midnight and I was exhausted). I think two or three layers would give the best result.
  • The grey pipes at the back are drinking straws I covered in grey dyed icing and then poked into the cake.
  • This time I baked mud cake as sponge cake would have just collapsed under the weight of the icing (again, things I learned the hard way)


  1. This looks really good. I don't think the "I'm no cake maker statement" really applies if you made this. It quickly became a hobby for me. You have to put in tons of red food coloring to make a red really red. I absolutely love working with Duff fondant. It's not available on Amazon yet, but it's super good tasting (better than Wilton by far), easy to work with, and he has a number of colors (like red, black, yellow, green, blue and pink) pre-made. Since you said "mum" you may live in England. Don't know what shipping is like at that point. May not be worth it, but I thought I'd let you know. Here's a link for future purchases. You can stop by my Cake Making 201 - working with fondant for general tips if you want. I love this hobby, so I hope you'll stick with it. There's a 101 version too...

    1. Ooooh, thanks for that Mama Jodi! I will definitely check it out. We are in sunny Queensland (Australia), but I will keep an eye out for that fondant :)


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