Friday, August 27, 2010

There's Bugs on That Cake!

Snickers turned 9 last week. We celebrated with a bug cake complete with grasshoppers, dragonflies, snails, flies, slugs, maggots, bees, beetles, butterflies, worms and spiders (in a sugar-candy web). It was delicious!

Snickers requested a cake with a lot of bugs, and with layers and with some leaves (like a jungle cake I made a few years back). So that's what he got. My original idea (which I still think is awesome) was to make a big bug shaped cake. The inside cake part would be green of course. And the outside would be shades of green and brown. And the frosting would have been some sort of crunchy stuff that would crack when you cut it like stepping on a bug. Cool! But for some reason, Snickers didn't want that cake. Go figure.

One of the coolest parts of the cake I made was the spider web. I made it out of sugar and water. What could be easier, right? Wrong! Making the hard sugar candy consists of bringing water and sugar to a boil and bringing it to 300 degrees. Not 350 degrees which turns it nasty and brown. Not 400 degrees which smells like brimstone and burnt boogers and fills the kitchen with smoke. No, not that. Exactly 300 degrees which is what I ended up with on my third try. Yes. Third try!

"Come on!" you say. How hard is it to get it to 300 degrees? Easy you would think. But you know. When you are blowing up balloons, hanging streamers, sweeping and mopping, making punch and salad and burgers. When you are madly trying to clean the kitchen, feed two boys lunch, decorate and frost a bug cake, you get easily distracted.

And add to that the fact that this stuff is tricky. I mean it goes out of it's way to make you feel comfortable and relaxed, then BAM! all of the sudden it shoots into action. What I mean is that the sugar/water mixture comes up to 250 degrees very slowly. So slowly that about the time it gets to 250 degrees or so, you wander off to do one of the thousands of other things that need to be done since this is obviously going to take forever. But let me tell you, that last 50 degrees flies by like a dragonfly after a mosquito. I could have stared at that thermometer for the first 250 degrees and fallen asleep, but that last 50 degrees - I watched the mercury shoot up like a geyser. (Well, I did the third time.) So, if you ever decide to make hard candy, keep that in mind.

In any case, I finally got it cooked to the right temperature and drizzled it out into several webs. (Several because I knew it would be fragile and would break to pieces as I tried to use it.) But it wasn't quite as fragile as it seemed and I only lost one. It fit into the cake nicely and the fondant spider stuck right to without any problems. I think it came out rather nice.

So overall it was a success. A bug-covered cake (which under most circumstances would be a disgusting disaster), plenty of bugs in the food, on the floor, on the table, on the walls, on the streamers. Good food, good company. I need a nap!


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