It is a seven-layer rainbow cake that I made with my best friend, Rachel, in October of 2011.
The date fell in between our 31st birthdays, which just happen to be two weeks apart. She and I have been best friends since middle school. We used to get drunk and dance on tables to celebrate things, but now that we are getting older, we fancy a good culinary adventure as a means to celebrate. In our 20’s, we confidently declared, “There is NO way I’m gonna be… (Insert, ‘still single‘ or ‘living with our parents’) when I am thirty.” And we meant it. We doubtlessly swore that we would never be so un-cool as to stay home and bake. For fun. Ever.
Yet here we are. Each of us armed with a spring form pan that we have borrowed from our mommas. For this occasion, I have purchased a serrated cake knife and a set of 3 multi-sized clear glass stands for proper display. The smallest cake stand will hold our “showpiece,” and we mean it.
We hold a conference in Publix about the type of icing that will provide ample coverage so that the multitude of colors underneath will not be prematurely revealed. Michael’s is the venue for a debate over whether or not the sprinkles should shine in silver or gold. I demand that our cake shimmer all over but not in an obvious way. She feels as though we need a bolder outward decoration. We buy everything we both want to use knowing that we will come to the perfect conclusion together; as a team. But we both walk out of the craft store thinking the other is crazy for their external vision of this cake. We have a very competitive yet magnanimous relationship.
It is Rachel’s idea to make this cake and my idea to make it our dual celebration, but we both feel as if we need to make this cake. Much more than a tasty treat, it is becoming abundantly clear that this cake is taking on a deeper meaning for the both of us. Forging ahead on this project feels so right, but is this our pinnacle or our rock bottom?
The level of seriousness that envelops this project is pure hilarity. Rachel asks, “What are we gonna do with it? “ I respond without hesitation, “Eat a piece and post it on Facebook.” THAT’S why we are doing this, so that we can share our baking skills with the world.
We are spinning after the hunt for the proper supplies and the endless deliberation on potential sprinkle choices. “Should we have gotten stencils?” The second guessing game is starting to creep in so we decide to indulge in some Thai food and agree that Facebook stalking is the best way to mentally prepare for the creation of our masterpiece.
We notice that no less than four of our mutual friends had either posted a sonogram or the ever-popular left hand photo earlier in the day. We are planning on posting cake.
You see, as she and I have experienced an onslaught of friends getting engaged, married and/or having babies, we find ourselves at that critical point of reflecting on our singledom. It is as if getting married and having children is a club that we have not been invited to join, and we pretend that we don’t want the invitation. But secretly, we do. When we catch ourselves saying, “When I get married…” we quickly correct the birth of that statement with an emphatic “If.” “I mean, ‘If’ I get married…”
Once we nourish our bodies with red curry and sufficiently audit our “friends,” we decide it is time to get to work. It is 10 pm. On a Saturday.
So we bake, and we fight as we try to boss each other around in the kitchen. We always do.
“Don’t put too much blue in; we are going for a sea foam not a turquoise!”
“What are you doing with that icing?!? That’s not my vision!”
“It’s patchy on the left side. Just give me the spatula”
We are completely berating each other while remaining fully aware that this is working… beyond brilliantly. All of our artistic calculations are paying off. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we decide that if this cake is a smash we will be naming our company “Bitchy Bakers.”
Every layer is dyed, baked, and cooled. Each equable sheet then carefully transported from our cooling station to our cake plate. As each color is stacked, it is becoming a rainbow of pure satisfaction to our souls. A blanket of icing is gingerly applied to ensure that no colored crumbs are lifted into the glistening white treasure that is becoming our cake. We decide to give the top of the cake an understated glimmer of clear sprinkles (that I choose) with a light dusting of silver powder (that she chooses). And finally, our cake is done!
It is magnificent. Stunning, really. And it is 3:30 in the morning.
But it is official.
This is our pinnacle.
The fact that our cake garners the label of “super-photogenic” by our standards means that we need to get to work. So begins the cutting of our showpiece…
Altercations about slice size quickly lead us to the big picture.
If we screw up the cutting of this slice, we are over. OVER.
The pressure is on, and the tension is palpable.
My cake knife’s moment is upon us. “You do it,” “No, YOU do it” is our back and forth. Both so scared to actually cut into this cake. What if we fail?
I cut and she lifts our showpiece onto the smallest cake plate for proper presentation. There is no banter or breathing until the slice is set. And there it lays, resplendent in all its glory. We did it, and it is perfection.
We adjust lighting, calibrate cake plate heights, and tinker with different lens and film combinations on Hipstamatmic. After a twenty minute photo shoot, we have our shot, and we post it. When the “likes” and comments start flowing, we are feeling pretty awesome about our lives.
But there is no party or shower thrown. There are no brides or invitations with birds or baby announcements to celebrate our life choices.
A few months before this cake came into my life, I literally had to ignore the fact that about eight of my friends were simultaneously procreating. The baby announcements and shower invitations were out of control. I was completely overwhelmed, and I dreaded going to my mailbox. What do I do with them? Is your baby cute enough to make my fridge? And if so, how long should I keep their sweet face up there? At some point they are ending up in the garbage. I thought it was the trend for all young families to be “green?” Well, green equals paperless. Do we really need to kill a ton of trees to announce little Madison’s pretty princess party?
The truth is, I can’t afford eco-friendly baby toys right now because I desperately need a new dress for my date with Walter.
It’s not that I begrudge anyone their happiness, or resent their life choices. I guess I just wonder: When do we get to celebrate mine? In the meantime, I choose cake, seven magical layers of rainbow cake. It’s my sonogram. Look what I created.
© 2014 Sarah Blackman