I've written before that I'm not much of a baker. But I always make my kids' birthday cakes from scratch. They taste fabulous, but no one will ever confuse them with a bakery masterpiece. When we lived in NYC, I once took my kid to a 5yo's birthday party where the cake was a perfect replica of Darth Vader's head. The bakery must have used about seven pounds of fondant to make sure that this thing would never be mistaken for a cake.
But I digress.
Last week my first born turned twelve, and I made him a homemade chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. And I realized that frosting a cake is a lot like writing a novel. It's not easy. You have a vision in your mind of absolute perfection. But pretty soon you're elbows deep in icing. And that icing has whipped up a little stiffer than you meant it to, so spreading it around isn't easy.
That's when panic may set in.
The only solution is to take your time. Stressed out? Just work on an easy bit for a few minutes--the top. And when that's going well, you take a whack at those tricky corners. The trick is to just keep plodding. Sure, you're adjusting your expectations. Perfection was never on the table anyway. Even the Darth-Vader's-Head bakery must have a few disasters.
But this will not be your disaster. Not today. Even if it doesn't look like a $200 masterpiece, you're about to produce something that's utterly recognizable as a cake. Because you've done this before. It's difficult every time, but once you accept that, you'll be fine.
And when you're done? A pack of hungry 12-year-olds is going to scarf it down. That unevenness on one edge? History. You win. And the glow of victory will last at least until it's time to whip up another one.