Cake Joys & Train Wrecks

I was totally spoiled and loved on during my birthday in the U.S.!  The boys and I were in the D.C. area on my actual birthday, and we were taken care of extraordinarily by Lyn Huff, and treated that evening to two amazing cakes – red velvet (one of my alltime favorites) made by our friend Debbie A., and then an amazing sushi cake (ala rice krispies and other fun things) made by Jennifer S.  It’s been a long time since I had a birthday cake made for me –let alone two! – and  I felt very loved.

Then, my sister Allison and her family celebrated my birthday a few days later, and made one of my other very favorites – when I saw all the freshly squeezed limes and the number of empty cans of sweetened condensed milk, I knew I was going to die of happiness.  Thanks Allison!

Meanwhile, my Dad was feeling bad because he had forgotten it was my birthday on the actual day.  So a week later at a gathering with some friends he ordered a cake from our favorite NJ bakery, had them add a few years onto the age written on the cake, and asked for black icing.  Love his crazy sense of humor.   So much great love (and extra pounds!) while back in the U.S.

Upon return to Japan, it was time to celebrate Ian’s SECOND birthday.  Can’t believe he’s two already!  His older sisters and brother made it very clear that there was only one birthday theme for this boy, and I had to agree.  I found a website that had a challenging but spunky version of Thomas the train, and decided to take the plunge and make my own fondant and try using it for the first time.  Getting the ingredients was a bit challenging, but I felt quite victorious when I found glycerine and was able to get all the ingredients in Japan!  I used the website for the fondant from this website.  I was nervous but excited.  Since I have never been able to take any cake decorating classes, I always enjoy learning something new through the great educator known as the internet.

All went fairly well, especially when I found a website that suggested using crisco to keep the fondant from getting too sticky.  Eric cut out all the pieces and put the cake together to become the famous Thomas shape, and then I had to lay the fondant over the shape and make it somehow fit snugly.  It was scary but fun.  I could improve a lot, but by 3 am I went to bed feeling OK about things.

I always make cakes the night before the party (while the kids are asleep!).  This turned out to be a problem.  It was particularly humid and just overall wet on Saturday with the typhoon on its way.  When I checked on the cake midday, I found — a train wreck.  The pieces of cake had separated, and left big gaping holes in my nice one-piece fondant.  My repair work was lame:

But I repaired it too soon… by the time time we brought it out that night after dinner, it was a literally very-sad looking Thomas:

BUT thankfully, the eyes of a two-year old are not looking for perfection, but for someone who understands what makes them tick.  And to our little boy, there was nothing but joy when he saw his special cake — and got to eat it too!


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