A few months ago I made a cake for a friend who turned 40. I had in mind this beautiful, elegant, tall, black fondant cake with the number 40 placed on top.
Simple and beautiful, just like my friend.
Black icing is a pain to make because it takes so much food coloring and even then has a purple hue to it. So I thought fondant would be easier and solve both of those problems.
Now, I haven’t used fondant much. My biggest undertaking would be this cake I made for my daughter’s 10th birthday party.
Notice the whole cake is not covered with fondant. Only the duct tape is fondant.
Nevertheless, I barreled ahead full steam. I bought 3 packages of fondant and set to work baking the cakes. Cake #1 was from my Betty Crocker cookbook called Best Chocolate Cake, and cake #2 was a vanilla flavor called Best Party Cake Ever from my Family Fun cookbook. Only the best for my friend!
Those two cakes equaled 5 tiers to stack, lightly ice and cover with fondant.
To keep it simple though, I made a basic white icing to cover the whole thing. You know, because I didn’t want to over extend myself.
I iced the cakes quickly and sloppily, not worrying about all the crumbs mixing in with the icing because they were going to be covered in fondant very soon.
It came time to roll the fondant. Music blaring, my work space prepped, I started flattening out fondant with my little 9 inch roller.
Rolling and rolling, twenty minutes later I formed a “circle” about 5 inches in diameter. Not exactly as easy as I thought! Still determined to make this work I grabbed a chair, hoping to give myself a little more umph to roll with.
This is easy I reminded myself. You just roll it out and then drape it over. No big deal.
Right. I unwrapped every package of fondant and continued rolling. By then my hands were throbbing and I had maybe a 6 inch semicircle. Three packages of fondant and I can only cover the first tier.
Frustrated, I tried to look at this project realistically, for my methodology was not working. I called my husband in to help me evaluate. He recommended I take the first tier off and just cover it with fondant. But because I have this version of what I wanted in my head, I said no. I should be able to do it. It looks easy! It must be, I decided, that I don’t have enough fondant.
So Adam makes a run to Wal-Mart for more fondant. Meanwhile I decided to (finally!) YouTube “how to cover a 5 tiered cake with fondant.” And I quickly discovered I’m in way over my head. Yep, I should’ve covered each tier individually. I should have a bigger rolling pin and a special mat to roll it out on so it doesn’t stick. I should have done a lot of things.
My balloon is now deflated and lying on the floor. And I’ve got a messy, ugly, 5 tiered, crumbly cake sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me.
Adam comes back from Wal-Mart ready to help me. He squishes. He rolls. And rolls. But we quickly realize – well…I finally admit this isn’t going to work as I expected.
It’s late. I’m tired. I don’t have the right tools. It’s time for plan B.
Plan B wouldn’t be so bad if I had neatly iced the cake. But I didn’t. There were crumbs dotting the icing everywhere and I had no more icing to make or add to it.
Tired of just standing there, I started cutting fondant out and decorating with it the best I could. I couldn’t fully cover it, so I tried to cover up something! By then the kids were ready for bed, so when they came in the kitchen, I hired their help.
We cut out shapes and we laughed while placing zigzagged fondant wherever we could. We made flags and “goat pellets” as Adam called them. We did our best to salvage a very epic cake fail in my book. It looked nothing like the picture in my mind. It was not pretty or elegant. Honestly to me it was the ugliest cake I’d ever made. At least it tasted good!
But God used that experience to teach me about expectations. Expectations are a big deal. How do I pivot when life doesn’t turn out how I expect?
I expect much of my life to look like the fondant wrapped cake in my head. I think, Piece of cake. This should be easy.
But when reality looks more like the cake I ended up with, my expectations are shattered and I think I’ve failed. Big time. If I had known Plan A wasn’t going to work, I would have taken my time and iced the cake neatly where the crumbs didn’t show. But now I’m left with all my imperfections looking like the crumbs on that cake – peeking through the sweet layer I iced on top.
Thankfully, God doesn’t share my expectations of a perfectly decorated fondant cake of life. He’s not telling me I failed or even that it’s ugly. In fact, He says it’s beautiful. I’m beautiful – you’re beautiful – and it will be OK.
It’s me He wants. Not some perfectly covered plastic version of me. Just me. Crumbs and all. After all, He makes a pretty good covering for all those imperfections.
So, anyone want me to make their next birthday cake??
On one hand I wish I had life together and everything figured out. A clean house with a place for everything and everything in its place. But then I think, what fun would that be? It’s in life’s messes I watch my Creator make a masterpiece. He takes my spilled paint, torn fabric and frayed strings of life and weaves in His Redemption and Love and makes it something beautiful. His creativity inspires me to be creative. So watch your step! And thanks for joining me on this messy, creative adventure of life.