Sunday, January 30, 2011

On Again, Off Again

One of the challenges of living in two places and two cultures is that just when I think I've got a handle on things, I realize that I don't.

For Peanut's birthday this year, (her 3rd!) I was determined to bake a birthday cake. This is fairly uncommon in Japan from what I see, and I felt strongly that since this is the 3rd time we've celebrated her birthday here, she deserved better than a store or bakery cake. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but she won't get a party with all her friends, birthday crowns, etc. like many of her American friends are used to getting. Birthdays here in Japan seem to be pretty low-key (at least in my husband's family) and that's not what I want for Peanut. When I was a child, my parents didn't do anything extravagant for my birthday, but I was the special one on my birthday. My mom baked me a cake, and I'd often get to choose what we ate for dinner. It was little things, but things that let me know I was super important that day.

Anyway, I set out to find all the right ingredients and baking supplies including cake pans, sprinkles for decorating and even a "3" candle. I was surprised to find everything I needed, thanks to a friend who pointed me in the driection of a fabulous baking supply store. I came home and started to bake the cake. Not only did it look weird and puffy while baking, but when I tasted a sample, it just Metallic or bitter might be the words to describe the aftertaste. I had carefully measured and calculated everything because I've made mistakes before when converting measurements from English to metric units.

And yet.

When I asked Gboy to taste the cake he said he could taste a hint of something but didn't know that he'd complain about it. Still. I was hesitant about whether or not to serve this to his family. We went to the kitchen and double checked thee ingredients. Yup. I had used baking soda instead of baking powder. After all this time, I still couldn't remember that "tansan" is baking soda - NOT powder.

I was incredibly disappointed. I wanted it to work out for a change. I wanted to be successful at this. In the end, the cake was frosted and sprinkled and Peanut licked the frosting and sprinkles off not giving one whit about the cake anyway. And we did buy a back-up cake just before others arrived. Everyone was happy!

And lest this be a total downer of a story, I should mention that the piƱata we set out to make was a huge success with Peanut and her cousins and the adults got a real kick out of watching the kids try to smash it. All's well that end's well!


  1. Happy birthday Peanut! I'm so glad you all had such a lovely time.

    I try to make my kids' birthday cakes, as well. They usually turn out ok, but never what my expectations are. The children are NEVER disappointed, though. I really think they just get so excited that they have a cake!

  2. Happy birthday Peanut!

    I've made that mistake when the recipe was in English. Zoe's a fan of just the frosting and sprinkles, too. One time, I asked if she was going to eat the un-frosted cake left on her plate, and she told me "I ate the cake, all that's left are the bones."