03 March 2009

Happy Six Minus Six Weeks, Koji!

The Japanese school year starts in April, which means that in another week or so, the oldest kids in Koji's class will graduate from kindergarten so they can go off to first grade next month. We've had a joint birthday party for Koji and his friend Takeru (who is graduating) for the past two years. So this year, though both of them don't actually have birthdays until next month, Takeru's mom and I decided that we should celebrate together one last time, early. Thus, the ice skating birthday party that you see here! Takeru and Koji are in the middle of this photo; Takeru has a blue hat and Koji is next to him with a green jacket and a silver helmet. How was ice skating with nearly 20 kids age six and under? I wouldn't personally know; being 33 weeks pregnant, I couldn't join the skating. But most of the other moms did, and it looked like everyone had a pretty good time. The PVC pipe stands in the picture that the kids could hold onto and skate were integral to that good time, and I'm so glad that the Glenview Park District was ready for us!

The party was a collaborative effort between myself and the four other moms of the birthday kids. In the past, for joint parties, which we usually end up having once every two or three months with Koji's school friends, the birthday cake is always ordered from a bakery. This time, I volunteered to make enough cake for everyone. Here's what came out. I wish I was better at food photography, because they looked more impressive than this, if I do say so myself! It was a lot of work to make enough cake for 40 plus people, and I thought I would rather err on the side of having too much. So this is four recipes of "All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake" from The Cake Bible covered in three recipes of "Strawberry Cloud Cream" from the same book. If/when I do this again, I would go ahead and pay up for a couple more 9 X 13 pans and bake more and thinner layers. The recipe calls for baking the cake in two nine inch pans, so when I poured all that cake batter into one 9 X 13, I didn't know what was going to happen. Answer: one big cake! And when I stacked two of those, it was a ginormous cake! So next time, thinner layers for sure.

I was pretty content with what you see in the previous photo, as far as the cakes go. But last night, Koji said to me, "Mama, am I going to be able to eat the cookie on top of the cake with my name on it?"....uh, sure, son, of course you are...the bakery usually puts cookies with the kids' names on them on the cake so the birthday kids have something special and extra. Well. I certainly wasn't up for making the exact same cookies that the bakery does, but I did have an exceeding amount of egg whites after using two dozen yolks for the cakes! So I made some meringue, piped out the kids' initials, put sprinkles on them, baked them up and stuck them on the cake. Once those, the number candles and the sparkler candles were all on the cakes, they were suitably festive, I think! From left to right in this photo, you see Emika (6), Masumi (5), Kai (4), Koji (6) and Takeru (7).

What does all this have to do with dinner?!! Not much, except that it left me much too tired to serve anything but
*hot dogs and
*random leftovers

Fine with me! I really had fun making the cakes, and I even thought that if I'm going to be so into birthday cake, maybe I need to take a cake decorating class? The only trouble is, most of the cakes I see online that are beautifully decorated seem to be covered with buttercream and/or fondant, and now that my taste is skewed a bit Japanese, that's too sweet for me. Even if I can make a pretty cake, I want to be able to eat it too. So I'm not sure where/how to find a "Cake Decorating for Cakes that aren't as Sweet" class....

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