There are no recipes in this post. There aren’t even any hints or techniques for decorating cakes. Because, let’s be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing.
But neither does Ken, so I think we’re pretty evenly matched.
I’ve been planning this little contest for a few months now, and with Valentine’s day just around the corner, it seemed like the opportune time. The rules were simple: We would each bake and decorate a two-layer cake of our choosing. And we would post the pictures online and let people decide who won.
I baked a red velvet cake, and Ken chose a marble cake. Mine rose a little more than his, but it meant that I had to level mine.
We printed out these practice sheets, taped them to the table under a piece of wax paper, loaded up our piping bags and began practicing our techniques. I was confident that I would school him at this stage because I have years of art classes under my belt, but as it turns out, this is not intuitive at all. We both sucked at it (me a little more, I’ll admit), and after 10 minutes we gave up and decided to wing it.
We both stacked our cakes and covered them with white buttercream. I then dipped my spatula in a cup of warm water and used that to even out the frosting, while Ken wandered over to help my mother fix her laptop. That should have been the first sign that he wasn’t taking this as seriously as I was.
While he was messing with her computer, I continued to decorate my cake. The only technique from that practice sheet that I did well was make lines, so I went with a pink lattice top. I added what should have been dots to each of the corners, but as I couldn’t figure out how to make them flat, they turned into little peaks.
Ken put a lot of love into frosting his cake. I particularly like the exposed cake along the bottom, I feel it was a strong design choice.
When he finished helping my mom, he moseyed back over and began mixing up his colors. He saw my Valentine’s theme and wanted to go for a football motif (we made these the day before the big game). He then proceeded to mix together red and yellow. Here follows our conversation:
Me: “Oh, that’s a pretty color.”
Ken: “Thanks, it wasn’t quite what I was going for.”
Me: “Oh, what were you trying to make?”
Me: “…you know that yellow and red make orange, right?”
You’ll be pleased to know that I refrained myself from pulling up some sesame street videos about mixing primary colors, and instead helped him mix together a brown. But he soon abandoned that idea and returned to his forte: drawing dinosaurs.
While he plotted out his dinosaur, I added some pink drop lines (I watch too much cake boss) and a white squiggly border thing. Then I added a bright pink heart, a lower border, and some pearl sprinkles as a final touch.
We each picked out a background to complement our cake themes, took our own final glamour shots, and here they are:
I’ll give him credit, he did this in half the time it took me to do mine. The shameless writing is my favorite part, however.
Both cakes tasted great, for the record, so don’t let that influence your decision on who won!
P.S. for all my making fun of Ken, the kid has some serious piping skills when he puts his mind to it: