Sometimes I think I’m crazy…

Having no experience in making a layered, fondant covered square cake, I go ahead and decide to make a layered, fondant covered KETTLEBELL cake.  Admittedly, David gave me the idea and I just jumped in head and buttercream covered fingers first.  It was a challenge I couldn’t reject.  It was fitting for the surprise birthday party of our Crossfit gym owner who turned the big 3-0.

Recently for group gatherings, I’ve been testing my baking skills. I can’t otherwise make cakes, cup cakes or deserts for no reason because they’d just sit at home, alone, with me. Where they would definitely not survive more than a day. Believe me, I already get my fill “taste testing”, one, twice, five times, all along the process. I don’t have enough self-control. It’s that simple.

My first foray into fondant was the Jack o’Lantern chocolate cupcakes I made for a Halloween party. Colouring the white fondant with liquid colouring was more work that it was worth, so this time I knew to buy the coloured fondant I wanted. I went to Mora which is a cake decorator/baker/chef’s dream store. Just making a visit there made me want to do this kind of thing more often.

I recently gave up on making cream cheese icing. That is mainly due to the facts that the Philadelphia cream cheese here is different (only the spreadable type is available) as is the powdered sugar, resulting in a sweet, soupy mess.

Every. Single. Time.

So recently for my New Year’s Eve cupcakes, I made my first batch ever of Swiss Buttercream icing. It was a near fail, but Google saved me and it piped beautifully.

For yet another birthday for one of our friends, I made carrot cake cupcakes that I knew she liked and topped it with a Philadelphia cream cheese Swiss buttercream!  I might be on to something there.  And they turned out pretty good too.  Plus a lemon tart for a friend’s dinner party.  And brownies for yet another friend’s birthday.

Damn, I’ve been baking a lot.

But this latest challenge was nothing like I had done before, but I had thought about it for a day or two and did some research on how to attack it.  I made the handle out of “Rice Krispies treats”, which actually were no-name brand chocolate rice puffs and pink and white marshmallows. I molded it into shape, stuffed it with some toothpicks for support, covered in chocolate ganache and then in black fondant. That was my fondant covering “practice”. Ha!

For the cake, I made three layers, using an aluminum mixing bowl (not even a cake pan) to make the rounded top and bottom.  I came across a FABULOUS baking blog, Gretchen’s Bakery. Seriously, all the recipes I’ve tried from the site have been absolute winners, even with the difference in French ingredients.  And the tutorials are helpful.  For the cake, I made the Yellow Cake and filled and covered it in her Chocolate Buttercream.

Here I am in fast motion!

Being the impatient person I am, I didn’t make a crumb coat and just slapped the buttercream on. It would be covered in fondant anyway.

The fondant was tough. I spent quite a bit of time rolling it out and I likely made it too thin. I had it all planned out in my head, but when the fondant went on, my plan crumbled… just like the fondant.  So if you look up close, you can see a lot of rips that I had to fix and smooth out with water.  I know that’s not the right way to do it but remember, I am impatient and just wanted to get it done quickly.  But it’s a kettlebell, and it’s Crossfit… rugged, not perfect and clearly overworked!

We carefully took it to the gym where we waited in the dark with about 50 other people for the birthday boy to arrive and surprise him.

Once the cake came out later in the evening, everyone was impressed.  It’s not every day you see a kettlebell cake. And I actually hadn’t shared my plan to make it with anyone because admittedly, I was afraid it would be a failure and didn’t want to disappoint.

Although it wasn’t perfect (as evidenced by the uneven distribution of buttercream), I am proud of my creation. More so, because it actually tasted really good. And I have learned that these wonderful friends are brutally honest… there is no sugarcoating it (pun intended) when it comes to their opinions.  So when there were merely crumbs left at the end of the night, I knew it was a hit.

Going back to the party, I also found out that in France, people just yell “Happy Birthday” or actually “Joyeux Anniversaire” when they surprise someone for their birthday.

Not “Surprise!”

His girlfriend, brother and friends did a fabulous job putting together a successful event. We had a lot of fun that night with everyone. We celebrated a good friend, and the person who has brought us all together and is making us fitter, one WOD at a time.

Leaving my Crossfit family in Edmonton was tough and I still think about the fun times I had there. But I am really lucky to have found one here in Paris, with people who are warm, welcoming, encouraging, a lot of fun and patient with our broken French.  People I’m happy to call my new friends.

Finally, no gym birthday party is complete without a birthday WOD.  And out of respect, I won’t post those pictures.  But I will say they made him wear green Borat Mankini throughout the grueling WOD that involved 8 shots of Vodka and 30 reps of 8 different exercises.

I’m looking forward to the next event when I can further advance my skills in butter, sugar and flour mixtures.

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My name is Emilia - I love versatile trips! You might find me at a trendy new restaurant one night, but the next day you're just as likely to find me at a local market sampling exotic foods. I'm open to just about anything when I travel and I want to encourage you to be open too!