Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dragon slaying feasting fun continues...

Oh, to slay a dragon!

What fun we had in the kitchen today!

Many families are able to cherish a lifetime of memorable moments together, offered over the passage of time, blessings along the way from the unexpected. It’s hard not to allow our upper lip to curl up, subsequent warm smiles spreading across our faces for all to see when recalling past feasts and celebration in our homes. We have many stored in our hearts here, certainly like us, so too does your own family.

As the liturgical year rolls onward, once again yesterday we feasted with St. George, watching our playmobil dragons become slayed in imaginary play, taking time to read valiant stories of brave St. George, and applauding the completed artwork of the children. As I sipped a nice cup of tea last night, I took a few moments at the end of my day to read a few blog posts, stumbling upon several photo variations of an actual “dragon” cake inspired by Matilda baked in honor of St.George’s feast day. It was so well done with a delightful imaginative flair; I shared it with our younger two children this morning. When they saw her cake, and a few others that were posted online through the night on a few other blogs, our feasting moments were suddenly refuelled because they too wanted to make a cake like this.

Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for the project, though when I saw how genuine their expressions were on their faces, how sincere they were requesting to do this, I was sunk. How could I say no? Sheesh!

I’ve made many cut-up cakes in my married lifetime in our home, having been given an out of print book for making many cut-up cake variations for family feasting occasions. There have been so many fun cakes in the past, everything from butterflies, rocket ships, teddy bears, swans, trains, pirate ships, sports cakes, circus fun, Madeline cakes, Veggie tales, and so many more. When I saw this dragon cake, I knew the children really would love the challenge, but I also knew when they began begging to make one here, I thought of how fun it would be to pull it off, even the day after the actual feast day it was being used for. Whatever - no matter, was my first thought when those puppy dog eyes batted their eyelashes at me, how could I say no?

There we were in the middle of our schooling morning and I was on a rabbit trail, and a cake project loomed ahead for us. We began our initial preparations and I had to snicker when our son reached this time for his old IKEA apron worn often as a smaller child. Clearly it was too small now, though he wore it just the same. All the ingredients were placed on the counter alongside my trusty old mixmaster. At one point we thought the day was almost ruined when it appeared we ran out of one recipe item, but luckily in my food storage closet, another bottle of oil was sighted.

A bit blurry, sorry

Isn’t it strange how one moment everything is rolling along smoothly and the next everything seems complicated? I wasn’t expecting the children to differ on the type of cake to make; one wanted a chocolate cake, the other a white cake. I decided to solve the problem by offering to make both types, one chocolate and one white.

Getting complicated by making a white and chocolate cake

I did have excess batter after the children poured all into the two pans, so while the two 9 inch rounds cakes were baking in the oven, I slipped out our mini muffin pans onto the counter for the children to fill up. Heh, it was a bonus to have a nice supply readily available in the freezer for a tea party on another day.

Bonus! Making mini cupcakes for another day!

These two younger children of ours are quite proficient in the kitchen, having been involved in food preparation and cooking/baking since they were very young, and they have also taken cooking classes are our “learning sessions”, so what I thought might be a real tough task being at the helm of such a project, I was pleasantly surprised at their abilities and enjoyed every single moment with them today in the kitchen.

As the cake cooled for a time, the children tried their hand at making swords from kitchen knives, tin foil and Wendy’s restaurant plastic knives cut down into a proper width sizing. Good old kitchen scissors worked great to carve down and shape the plastic knives, and for the gold cross section to tie the two together, we used gold colored ribbon from our wrapping paper bin. These were used to slay the dragon by the children, and each took turns doing it believe me. *grin*

Preparing the shape of the cake before icing it

We aren’t really a family who loves the sweeter-than-sweet icing on bakery items; therefore our usual style is to fold in a bit of icing with whipped cream instead. I find using this as a frosting medium is actually so much easier to spread with a metal spatula; it glides and makes the task more simple and easy to spread. The only blip was running out of my green dye paste and having to use the liquid because we couldn't get the green color darker to make him look more reptile like.

It was fun when assembling the cake, cutting the pieces to have the dragon silhouette take shape and all, and the children were so thrilled with the whole process when they began to imagine how they would decorate the detailing ahead.

The children chose square chocolate cookies and a double row of spikes on the dragon’s back. It was funny to see them fiddle with the wings of the dragon and once placed in position, they preferred not to have any at all, and pulled them off the cake, repairing the telltale areas where some icing was smudged and then without even so much as blinking just placed the green fruit roll ups (wing supplies) in their mouths to consume them.

Heck, what’s a dragon without wings? Is he still a dragon?

Our older son said; “He’s just a lizard,” to much laughter erupting.

“But he’s our dragon,” the other children retorted in response to his suggestion.

The timing for such a cake creation was so perfect. Coincidentally we had another family coming over this very afternoon for a visit, mother and four children who would love to be a part of eating this dragon cake with us. When they arrived at our front door, our children ushered everyone to the kitchen, and quickly swung open the refrigerator door for all to see. Who needs words? It was a successful show and tell, with eyeballs bulging and squeals of laughter bellowing out from all of them.

Let the feasting begin!

What fun! Let the feasting begin! My only disappointment was not taking a photo of both families gathered around the cake and taking part in his slaying onto our cake plates.

Hearty thanks to you Matilda for your fun idea of this dragon cake. What a great day we had here!

Simply scrumptious!