The Cow Cake That Wasn't

My second child, Connor, was born in October. It's a wonderful time of year to have a birthday, especially in Minnesota. Leaves are usually at their peak in mid-October, the bugs are dead, the weather is perfect.

The year he turned two, I planned a farm party for his birthday. We were living in the country at the time, and our across-the-pasture neighbors had a small hobby farm. They didn't work it much anymore, as they were getting on in years, but they retained an ancient barn filled to the rafters with old equipment, and they had a elderly horse and scores of barn kittens. They were delighted to host us for a few hours of barnyard fun.

I immediately set about finding the perfect cake for a farmland party and quickly settled upon this friendly cow at Spoonful (which was Family Fun back then).

Because it's really just a combination of cake shapes and cupcakes, placed just so, I figured I could master it.

The night before the party, I baked a dome cake, a round cake and cupcakes, as required, and left them on the counter to cool.

Party day was Saturday. As usual, the birthday boy and his older sister got up early to watch cartoons.

(Cue ominous music.)

It really shouldn't have surprised me when I came out to the kitchen that morning to see this:

But it did. Oh. My. Word.

I had a full day ahead of me already; I didn't have time to re-bake all of the cakes. If I was sane, I would have turned to Corey at this point and said: Go to WalMart. Get a cake. The end.

But I didn't. I wanted the cute cow. Teeth gritting, I set about re-baking all the cakes, cramming more work into a party day than is legally permissible. I was hot and cranky and tired, the birthday mom we all aspire to be.

And then I started decorating the darn thing. Because I couldn't figure out how to make white buttercream, and I certainly wasn't going to use icing from a tub at this point, I decided to substitute white mountain frosting, a fluffy, marshmallow-like frosting that's a perennial favorite in my family. Of course, that frosting is too light to allow for chocolate icing "spots" on top of it. So I decided to substitute chocolate sprinkles for chocolate icing.

And so Connor had a cake that looked more like a pile of white frosting covered in a colony of ants than anything resembling a cow.

At least ants can be found on a farm.

How about you? Any birthday disasters to share?

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