The 4th Birthday Cake – Lego Heist

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I cannot believe it’s been 4 years since our lives changed. In a way it feels like it should be decades longer, but at the same time it feels like only yesterday Seb came strolling in.

This kid is growing up insanely fast and it’s apparent in everything he does. From the things he says, the things he does, and the way he thinks – it all shocks the heck out of both of us. I guess we still expect him to be a kid that’s just doing his thing, but we totally forget he’s a sponge soaking everything and anything in. He has wants and needs, dreams and desires, all wrapped up with an imagination that’ll baffle any adult mind. Even though we have 2 kids, and we learned a lot from raising him so far, there is still at least one point in every day when he reminds me that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. And those are kinda the moments I look forward to.

It’s those moments that make me slow down because otherwise the years are becoming nothing but a blur. I remember when he was into and wouldn’t stop watching Thomas the Train and Chuggington. He’ll still watch those types of shows, but now, as of today, he’s into a wider variety of stuff. I know that’s partly or maybe even mostly my fault – introducing him to so many cool things that stuff in his age range can’t compete with – but I can’t help it. I honestly and truly feel bad about it. If I sit and think about it too long it’s actually something that pains me. I feel as if I’m robbing him of being an innocent boy because I’m being the influence that drives him to more adult stuff. But at the same time, I think of how much he enjoys the stuff he enjoys and how it excites him and makes him smile. As long as he’s happy, right? There’s a pleasant way to look at it without having it eat me up from the inside. But still, every time I see a kiddie show he used to watch I always feel like that’s what he should be into. Instead he knows things like Ant Man’s super power, or the difference between a regular battle droid and a super battle droid, or what a Dalek is… What kind of a 4 year old knows what a freaking Dalek is?!

A cool one, that’s what kind!

Anyway, here’s a little rundown of what’s going on with his likes.

  • He’s still into Star Wars – actually more than last year. I’ve been holding out on him, waiting to sit down and watch the 2 trilogies. My wife asked when will I do it and I said “when he’s ready” (queue the eyeroll). But I think the time is coming so it’ll happen soon.
  • Anything to do with Marvel Superheroes with his favorites being Spider-Man and most of the bad guys. Him and the bad guys, let me tell ya. I’ve been thinking about getting him some started on some comics. I think he’ll enjoy reading them together. It’s something I never got into as a kid so it’ll be a fun adventure for both of us.

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  • He’s always ready to play a video game, whether it be a Lego game or Disney Infinity or Skylanders now (his birthday gift). And he’s shockingly good for just turning 4. He’ll pick something up, dive in, figure out controls, and start exploring fairly quickly. It’s amazing to watch sometimes, like he’s some sort of prodigy. *wipes that dirt of my shoulder*

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  • He really, really likes Legos. he helps me build them and likes how you can break them when you’re playing and easily rebuild. Admittingly, I never got into Legos as a kid, I was more of the action figure type. I wanted to try and get him to appreciate them more than I did because he could learn a lot from building and using his imagination.

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  • The #1 show right now is Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. Holy crap. There’s got to be some sort of subliminal messaging going on there, like crack for the eyes or something, because no matter what he’s doing, if you turn that on, he will stop in his tracks and sit quietly for 22 minutes. Best. Show. Ever.
  • He loves to play outside. Bubbles, riding in his car, hitting the tee ball, playgrounds, just randomly running around in circles – anything. If he’s outside, he’s happy. Sucks we don’t have a fence though because he’s always in his mindless play-rage mode and isn’t the best listener when it comes to commands like “stop”, “come here”, or “don’t play with that snake.” He doesn’t even respond to threats of the Goblin King coming to get him like he used to. We need to find a new fear, David Bowie just isn’t cutting it anymore.

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  • He loves playing with our dog, Anikin (yes, my dog is named Anikin). And Anikin loves playing with him. We were worried that Ani wouldn’t play nice but they’ve been doing good together. He just turned 7 and I dread the day his age catches up with him 🙁

  • He could be a real dorkchop sometimes. Like, he’ll walk into a wall and tell you to watch where you’re going. It’s hilarious stuff that makes us facepalm while laughing. It’s so great.

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There’s plenty of other stuff he currently loves that I won’t bore you with. It wasn’t too long ago we thought he’d never be potty trained or he’d never sleep in his own bed. Now, he’s growing into this kid we’re immensely proud of; who loves his brother, makes us laugh, embraces his geekiness that was handed down to him, and just enjoys life every waking second of his day. It’s amazing, this having a kid thing. Just amazing.

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The Cake

 

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If you remember, last year I made a WALL-E themed cake. It’s a movie he was really into, watched it every day. Every.. day. And he always asked for a WALL-E toy when we went to the store but unfortunately it wasn’t on shelves anymore. So to eBay I went; where I purchased one (legit as far as I could tell) from China where they apparently still have plethoras available. I decided to make it the centerpiece of a cake and he loved it. I loved it too because I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on it since it was basically supposed to resemble a pile of garbage. Freaking score.

This year though was a little different. This year was a toss up between something to do with superheroes, Legos or Disney Infinity. And it was really close to being the latter because he is a Disney Infinity freak. I was thinking about making a cake in the shape of the Infinity base and putting Phineas and Agent P on there since they’re one of the two sets he doesn’t have. But no, he decided he wanted to have a Lego cake. So I figured, why not Lego and superheroes..

Ever since I got my PS4 in November, this kid has been insanely into Lego Marvel Superheroes. I swear he knows more about the universe than me at this point. He quickly figured out how to turn the game on, load the save, and just start playing. If I let him he would stay there all day exploring with every character, learning their names, picking favorites until he found a new favorite, and so on. Speaking of favorites, for some reason, no matter how much we try to change his mind, he just loves the bad guys. He always wants to be the bad guy, always wants to play as one or pretend he’s one. Anyone else’s kid prefer Loki over Thor? Let me know so I could stop worrying about him trying to take over the world when he grows up!

Oh wait, he likes to pretend he’s the Hulk sometimes. For a while he went around the house yelling “HULK SMASH!” as he jumped up and pounded the floor.. or the wall.. or the dinner table while we were eating.. My wife always gave me this look and I swore every time I had absolutely no idea where he picked it up from but she never believed me. It got to the point where we had to tell him the Lego Marvel game broke and he has to play something else (oh, don’t act like you’ve never done that!). At least we got to platinum it first. I feel bad. Maybe I’ll tell him we fixed it one day.

Anyway, back to the cake.

It was an easy idea which came to me fairly quickly. I knew my mom was sending over a few Lego sets he was really wanting, one of which was a set with Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man. And like I said, this kid loves bad guys, with Doctor Octopus, Loki, and Magneto topping that list.

So I knew I was going to make a Lego brick as the cake. I really wanted to do a crazy looking one with the bricks underneath the fondant as if it’s being constructed, but that is waaaaay beyond my expertise. Heck, this one is pushing my decorating prowess. I thought the cake being a brick would be an easy way to go and I knew I was going to have Doc Octopus crawling around on it. It wasn’t until I got the set the night before that I noticed it came with some sticks of dynamite. As soon as I saw that I knew Doc Ock was going to be causing some havoc with Spider-Man trying to save the day.

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I know it was far, far from perfect. Honestly, the only reason I shared it was because you can look at it and know what it is – I wasn’t even expecting that! Nonetheless, while there were some messy parts when it came to the fondant and the level of the cake, I’m still fairly happy with how it came out.

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As a Wilton Sweet Treat Team member, I feel as if I have this power with many looking to me for guidance of some sort. And as a great man once said, with great power, comes great responsibility. So I’d like to consider this cake as kind of an inspiration for those afraid to work with fondant. I know there are many of you out there who are afraid to attempt this way of decorating. But seriously, if I could do it, you could do it. The whole process from making it to applying it is.. well, it’s a piece of cake.

The Fondant

Now, believe it or not, this is the first time I made fondant.

Ok, I’m lying. This is the second time. But that actual first time didn’t count. Seriously, forget I ever mentioned it.

So yeah, this is the first time I made fondant and it came out pretty damn good.

I know fondant has a really bum rap. Just like a fellow gamer/blogger friend of mine The Noyse pointed out here on his Lightning McQueen birthday cake, a lot of people hear the word fondant and instantly get turned off to the idea of having cake. If that sounds like you, then the odds are you’ve never had marshmallow fondant.

Marshmallow fondant works just like regular fondant, only it’s good, sweet, and edible. Really edible. My mom has been making cakes for a long, long time. And whenever someone requests fondant, that is the type she makes. When I asked her for tips and the recipe she uses, I wasn’t surprised to find out it’s the same recipe as my good friends at Wilton.

It’s really simple. A pound of marshmallows, about 3-5 tablespoons of water, 8ish cups of powdered sugar, and a slab shortening to coat your hardware to make sure nothing sticks. You’re working with melted marshmallows after all, and that stuff can stick a cinder block to the ceiling.

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If you’ve never made it before don’t be intimidated. It’s exactly like making a dough. You coat a microwavable bowl with shortening along with your spatula, pour in the marshmallows, and microwave in 30 second intervals till it’s melted. …Ok, fine. You don’t usually use a pound of marshmallows in your dough, but you know what I mean.

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If you’re coloring it, it’s best to add the coloring to the melted marshmallow (once again, I can’t stress the awesomeness of Wilton Icing Colors – remember, add by the toothpick!) before incorporating the sugar. If you’re making one batch and it’s going to be more than one color, then you’ll have to add the color after the sugar is added, usually during the kneading process is best.

Also, try to remember when attempting to match a color of something, to go a little brighter than the target. You’ll be adding a lot of powdered sugar so it’ll dull the color a tad.

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Add the sugar and mix it around with a shortening coated spatula till it’s incorporated and looks like dough. It may get a little tough towards the end so be ready to get your hands dirty.

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From here you’ll definitely need to get your hands dirty. I recommend shortening on your bare or gloved hands, and if it’s still really sticky, best rub some shortening on the work surface too. Start to knead it on a surface covered with powdered sugar (and shortening if needed) until the fondant forms.

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You’ll want to continue kneading until it’s smooth and elastic. You’ll know it’s right when you can pull on it and it stretches without tearing. If you pull and it tears then it still needs work. If it seems like it’s dry then too much powdered sugar was probably incorporated so just add a little more water. Again, you’ll know what you’re looking for.

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Not quite…

 

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There you go.

When you’re done, form it into a ball, double wrap it and put it in a freezer bag. You do not want it drying out. If you think forming into balls is overrated, logs are in this year.

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Wrap it up and put it in the chill box overnight to let it rest. It could actually stay in there, wrapped up nice, for a couple of weeks.

When you need it (haha, knead it..), take it out, and on a powdered sugar surface again, roll it out to about 1/8th inch thick. As far as applying it to the cake, you’ll need to put a crumb coating on it – a thin amount of buttercream to act as a glue for the fondant. Roll out as much as you need and roll it onto your cake. Rub it and smooth it out so it’s on there good. Cut the extra that’s hanging off and boom, you’re a fondanteer.

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Haha, fondanteer.

The way I made the Lego brick was I layered a cake, covered it with fondant, and on top of that I glued down – with buttercream – some circles I cut out of an extra cake I made. Tricky part to that was finding something the right size to cut the circles with. Wound up using a lid to a baby bottle. Just call me MacGyver. I then covered those circles with fondant and tried my best to seal them to the top of the cake to make it look like one piece.

As you can see, I failed miserably.

Now if I would do it again, I’d try my luck at covering the cake and the circles in one sheet of fondant. But who knows if that would work better. Well, I guess professional fondanteers would know. It probably would’ve looked a lot better.

I didn’t think to do any research on tips and stuff, but if you’re looking to use fondant, there’s a rather informative section on Wilton’s site that can help you out.

The Cake – Let’s just put it in the same box as my first attempt at fondant… See, if you’ve forgotten, the wife and I are still trying to lose weight and eat better. I tried to find a happy middle ground and make a Weight Watchers yellow cake. And I’m so glad I did because it taught me that I should never ever ever try to make a Weight Watchers yellow cake again. Well, at least not that recipe. So What I’m saying is if you’re ever going to make a Lego cake, use your favorite cake recipe.

The Buttercream – since I needed something for the fondant to stick to the cake and couldn’t go to the store for an alternative – I had to make my regular, go-to chocolate buttercream. Which is pretty awesome. But absolutely horrible when you’re on a diet.

Also, if I ever do it again, I would not use a dark buttercream with a light colored fondant. See! We’re all learning here! I told you this was my first time… It’s easy to see the dark buttercream underneath the light colored fondant. Especially after it’s been sitting on a table for a few hours. Some things you just have to learn the hard way.

I made peace with the fact that I was going to scrape off the fondant and buttercream and only eat the weight watchers cake. But since that was the greatest disappointment in the history of cake baking, it was easy to just take one bite and throw the whole cake away after Seb went to bed.

Actually, no, it wasn’t easy… But in a way, omg, it was a cinch, that cake was horrendous.

I did all of the cake assembly – the layering, the buttercream, the fondant – on a Wilton Cake Lifter so I could easily slide the cake onto it’s serving plate without dirtying it up in the constructing process. Worked like a freaking charm.

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Once it was all done, I picked my least favorite corner and cut it out let Doctor Octopus blow it up. It’s a good thing Spider-Man was there to stop him from blowing up the rest of it (I totally would’ve let him). I know, I’m a child.

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Like the shamrocks I made, I wasn’t able to get to work on this till the night before. So I was up till 1 in the morning rolling fondant and playing with Lego’s. Good times. You know what though? Being able to show Seb the cake when he woke up and hearing say how awesome it is was worth it all. I even caught him going to look at it a few times throughout the day. I know all he wanted was to play with Doctor Octopus, but still..

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Happy Birthday, my boy. May you enjoy endless more.

 

11 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness – you did an amazing job!! I’ve never used fondant before, let alone made it so I really appreciate all the step-by-step photos.

    I think you deserve Dad of the Year for that cake! Well done!!

  2. Happy birthday to your son! What a sweet post about him. Mine is just about to turn 2, and I feel the same way–wait, he’s a real person! And also where has the time gone?! And also ALSO, I am old! Sheesh. Love the cake, it turned out awesome! Hope you continuously reminded him how lucky he is to have you for a father. 🙂

    1. Thank you! And yeah it’s around 2 where stuff like that starts to hit you. Especially the feeling old part! Man, that’s the roughest, I think.

      Thanks for liking the cake!

  3. Albert (ares0926)

    Wow such a great post. I look at the pictures and remember Alex being 4. Such a great age, everything is new to them and yes they still love their Disney Jr. shows.
    At 7 (just Saturday) Alex now beats me a some games and doesn’t need nearly as much help with Legos. While the occasional “kid” show will sneak into the mix there is a lot more Nick and Cartoon Network than Disney Jr. now. No more Chuggington 🙁
    Hold onto and savor the time with him now. Soon enough they are teenagers and Dad is not so cool anymore. I can certainly wait.

    1. Thank you, sir. 4 is a great age despite the craziness, totally right with everything being new to them. And as much as I want him to mature enough to be able to listen, I too dread the time when he gets older. Absolutely dreading.

  4. Ari

    …because I am the idiot I am, I had no idea your blog had moved. I found it again and I put it in my feedly rss so it will not get lost again.one thing though…remember where you got all your awesomeness from, ‘kay. Just sayin.

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