Last year, when 10 year old became 11 year old, I bought a coffee éclair, stuck a candle in it and he was happy.
This year, going from 11 to 12, was a different story. I was on holidays, plus I had a big borrowed kitchen to work in, and also I was feeling sentimental because next year he’ll be going from 12 to the terrible teens, and who knows whether he will even want a cake or not.
So, something special. Something ambitious.
Minecraft is an Internet/computer thing he does for hours and hours. I’ve never studied it – I can’t even bring myself to read the whole Wikipedia entry – but as far as I can work out, it’s a bit like virtual Lego in a virtual world. You can build stuff on your own or you can collaborate with online friends and build stuff together. Pretty much everything looks like an Aztec temple.
I usually only engage when I am trying to get his attention but he can’t hear me because he has his headphones on and is talking to his friends. Our conversations go like this:
ME: Hey, that’s cool. Is that an Aztec temple?
HIM: No, mum, it’s a luxury hotel.
ME: Wow! That’s impressive. It looks like an Aztec temple.
HIM: No, mum, it’s a rollercoaster.
ME: Aztec temple?
HIM: Giant cat scratching-post.
You get the idea.
In among the Minecraft memes, you find the MinecraftCreeper. Once again, I display a wealth of parental ignorance and indifference about its origins and role. It looks like an angry pixelated caterpillar on a plinth (at least I don’t mistake it for an Aztec temple…)but in the game, it is a kind of kamikaze monster that ruins things for gamers by turning up randomly and exploding.
For Christmas, I bought him a Minecraft creeper t-shirt. For his birthday, I decided to make a Minecraft Creeper cake.
So – vertical cake. Dense chocolate sponge, 4 different shades of green marzipan, 2 days’ work. 10 minutes from presentation to destruction.
I got the recipe for the sponge from this blog. It’s a good sponge for cakes that need constructing. I made two ‘bricks’ of sponge to work with.
I used two blocks of marzipan and played with the colours until I got the greens that I wanted. Of course, I had ‘Incredible Hulk’ hands by the time I had finished.
The marzipan had to be rolled, then cut into strips and then cut into tiny square marzipan tesserae. This was the sweary part. I had to leave enough chocolate sponge uncovered to make the Creeper ‘face’ and ‘feet’ but the rest was sticking on the little squares with hot raspberry jam as the glue.
To assemble, I was just going to use jam and marzipan but, hey, gravity. Skewers became necessary.
Eventually, it all came together, if not quite as perpendicularly as I had hoped. Strangely, that didn’t bother 12 year old.
HIM: Hey, that’s cool! How did you get it to bend over like it does in the game?
ME: I didn’t. It’s called gravity. Now blow out the candle quickly before the whole damn thing goes over.
In the end, it’s all about the photo op.
|See how it's tilting? That wasn't part of the plan...|
This could well be the last ‘party cake’ that I make. Next year, it's more than likely that I'll be back to sticking a candle in something store-bought as we head into his teens, but I like to think that we finished on a good note and that this is one that he will always remember.
|The image that I based the cake on and the cake itself.|