Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mission: Barbie Cake

Everyone knows I love to bake (Hello, Christmas Coconut Cake), so it's no surprise that when my friend J decided she wanted a special cake for her 25th birthday party, I volunteered to give it a go.
I should start by mentioning that instead of having a quiet, wine-soaked dinner out, J decided she'd like a birthday party with a few dozen of her friends. No biggie--we can handle chips, dips, cake, wine, etc. But then she decided to theme it.

It started innocently enough. "Big hair," she decreed. "All shall have big hair." Since the playbill from Hairspray looked weird as an invite, we asked her for a little more refined theme. Like the 80s. Who doesn't love the 80s? Spandex, sneakers, side ponytails, blue eyeshadow, and, obviously, big hair.

But it was not to be. Just as the rest of the party planning crew was plotting the party's soundtrack, J had an inspired moment. "BARBIE!" she cried, despite being in a very public restaurant on a very quiet Tuesday night. Little girls everywhere went for their camera phones.

"I want a barbie party," she said, the words falling around us as if weighted down by huge, round plastic earrings and pearl-shaped bangles. And so it began.

We divided up the party-planning duties (food, drinks, decorations, invitations, and....cake), and I leaped at the chance to take on the cake, which J had asked be a Barbie Cake.

If you've never seen a barbie cake (and are somehow blind to the post picture on this blog entry), it's a half-circle cake with a barbie sticking out of the middle. Then you decorate her cake "skirt" and add an icing "bodice" and serve. (It's great fun for everyone--"lets carve into barbie, kids!")

Now, you can order these cakes from Publix at $50 a pop, but they don't tell you how many they feed (the skirt's not that big) and they definitely use fondant, and for good reason. Fondant is the Franzia of frosting-- it comes in a box, simply unroll and apply. You can also make it by hand, but the stiff, cardboard taste is hardly worth the effort. It is, however, beautiful. You can give barbie the smoothest, prettiest skirt, perfect for embellishing with designs. I should mention that J hates fondant. Loathes fondant. If there was fondant at the party, barbie would probably be stripped naked and left a sad, cake-clad doll.

So, starting tonight, I'll be embarking on Day 1 of the barbie cake creation: making the cakes. I'm making a 9" round cake and a double-cake in a round glass bowl, as well as a dozen or so cupcakes for people to actually eat. The cake has to cook for a few hours (lower temperature), so I can honestly say it's taking over my life. I'll let you know how it goes, and if my finished product looks nothing like the above picture, then I won't, and will just pretend I never made it. So there.

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