I have a friend who said that he “would eat cream cheese frosting on cardboard.” That could be arranged for his next birthday cake. It would be much easier than the real cake I prepared for the occasion that elicited his comment. Besides, I’m recently experienced with fake cake. Fake Cake has a nice ring to it. It was, after all, a ring that inspired it – an engagement ring. It’s designed to be a wedding keepsake box fashioned after the bride’s cake. It is mostly made of caulk. Yes, the kitchen and bathroom kind. The recipe goes something like this…
1) Head to your nearest Home Depot for caulk. Look for the cutest guy in the caulk aisle (who happens not to be a Home Depot employee). Ask his opinion on the best caulk. Pray that he won’t actually give you the straight line, which, of course, he does.
“Depends on what you’re going to use it for.”
Now is the time you can lie, or you can give the guy a good story to tell when he gets home. I told the truth.“I’m making a wedding cake with it.” For some reason, he did not seem surprised. Was it something I was wearing? Perhaps the leopard scarf? The Prada sunglasses? Or, just that I posed my question as such: “May I ask you a boy question?”
2) Dash into Michael’s for some paper mache boxes, a little paint and some disposable pastry bags. Ask yourself (again) why you’re the only person in line who does not have a 40% off coupon? Their customers are so crafty; they always get savings I can’t find.
3) Head over to Gail’s Fabrics on Cheshirebridge Road where you can find exquisite, embroidered French wedding lace for trim. Do your dead level best not to be distracted by all the shiny stuff and impossible dreams of things you could (but actually can’t) sew yourself. Try to act as if you know what you’re doing among the couture designers on a mission for their wealthy clients, or the sequin-seeking Mom’s making majorette and beauty queen costumes with their whiny teenage girl on her cell phone in tow. (It’s one thing to give a guy a good story to go home with from the Depot, and quite another to provide “stock” for the laughing later by snooty designers.) Various lace and trims in hand, along with some silk to line the inside of the cake, now is when you whisper to the clerk, “just a yard and half of each, please.” This is pricey stuff. Bolt before any of the bolts of gold lame or, Jersey silk, or rhinestone-riddled velvet make you wish you could sew for real. Rhinestones! That’s what I forgot! The bride has rhinestones on her cake. Back to Michael’s. This is worse than forgetting the cream cheese for the frosting on a real cake, which you can at least get at Publix, thankfully not yet as gussied up for Christmas as is Michael’s.
4) Be uncharacteristically thankful that your husband is out of town. The laughter and ridicule would be unbearable.
5) Here’s the easy part: paint the boxes (inside, outside, bottom) and let them dry. Arm yourself with a caulk gun. I usually keep a glue gun in my holster, but this time is different. Fill a few bowls with caulk. This is fun. Add some food coloring to some of the bowls, but keep the all-important bright white as it is. It does actually look tasty, even more so after you’ve painted the boxes using a frosting knife to create textured swirls on the cake. You’ve earned a glass of wine while the cake is drying – uhhh, baking. Turn on a Turner Classic Movie – this is a serious chick moment.
6) Carefully line the boxes with the silk. Thank God (or Martha Stewart) for the invisible double stick tape that actually works. The inside complete, put the tops on the “layers” (boxes). Discover that the caulk was not actually dry and that the box top is now permanently attached to the bottom of the “layers.” Briefly consider whether the bride really does actually need to place keepsakes in it, and whether she might just enjoy having a smallish replica with no purpose of any kind.
7) Call your daughter, who is a bridesmaid, and for whom you’ve actually baked up this scheme. She’s going to give it to the bride (maybe). Ask her opinion on the dilemma of the sealed box. “Mom, that’s just weird. It has to open.” It’s likely that she is remembering some other projects that you have “re-purposed.” Thankfully, she has other gifts planned as well.
8) You haven’t earned it, but another glass of wine is in order. Using your frosting knife, pry the box tops away from their box. Patch the mess you’ve made, decide to think about it tomorrow, but first … turn a fan on the cake. Try to sleep.
9) You awaken from a nightmare. No wait! It’s true. You’ve remembered that this patchwork cake is for a Beverly Hills wedding. It’s pouring rain and humid in Atlanta. Call your husband in Maine at 6:30 A.M.
“How the hell do I get this caulk to dry? I’ve got to overnight this thing to LA tomorrow.”
His son, another handy genuis gets involved. Double the ridicule and laughter. “Put a fan on it,” they say, after first suggesting that I read the instructions on the caulk packaging. Clever.
“Been there. Done that. All of that, in fact. I’m considering a hairdryer.”
Hours and google searches go by before I surrender. (No results for “caulk cake.” Now there will be.) I cover more of the cake with the lace than originally planned, but it’s pretty. The wet caulk welcomes it; I can soon move on to the frosting. This really is the fun part. Fill the pastry bags with caulk and decorate the edges. Cover your boo-boos with rhinestones. Hope and pray that it stops raining and your newly applied caulk will dry this time.
Decide that the bride can take the cake after the honeymoon. It’s drying in the sun today – her wedding day.