Yesterday I did something I’ve never done… I stayed in the kitchen all day by choice. Why? To do a baking challenge with my 12-year-old who recently saw the Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge season on Amazon Prime and decided that he too wanted to do one.
We started watching Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge about 2 weeks ago and before we got to the 4th episode, my son had already informed me that he was going to do this challenge at home with me and that Scott, my husband, was going to be the judge. I’m thinking, “Yeah, right, that is quite assumptious of you.” If you’ve never seen this challenge imagine having to balance the complexity of being a good baker who is creating not just one, but multiple tasty treats, as well as being a fabulous designer who sculpts, molds and designs whimsical, Seussian, creative designs using fondant and other decorating treats to match a look of a particular Dr. Seuss book. The best of both taste and design wins the prize. My son who had not even once baked his own cake by himself let alone sculpted and molded fondant had no idea how ungodly complex making these Seussian desserts was going to be. I on the other hand did. So I was more than hesitant and resistant when my son kept insisting that we were going to do this together.
If he hadn’t kept bringing it up and then telling me in great detail what he was planning to make and what specific ingredients he was planning on using I would have not mentioned it again and hoped he too would forget about it, but this was not to be. My son persisted. Finally I decided I was sick of hearing about it and the best thing to do would be just to do the darn thing with him so it would be done already. So we set a date for our challenge. As the date neared, I found I was getting more into it and decided not only would I do this thing but I would give it my best shot. If I was going to do it at all I was going to do it right.
The first thing we did after gathering our ingredients a few days before the big challenge was to get our fondant ready since we knew we were going to need a LOT of it to decorate our two creations. I found a recipe online that used mini marshmallows, confectioners sugar, water and a tiny bit of shortening and with that we made our fondant. The amount of sugar used to make it was impressive. The recipe said to keep adding the confectioners sugar a cup at a time until the batter was the appropriate texture and that’s what we did. It took so many cups of sugar to get to the right consistency that after we were done my son pulled up a Star Wars video clip that he said reminded him of us making the fondant together. It was the scene with Kelo Ren screaming out “More! More! More!” as they kept firing heavy guns and explosions at Luke in the 8th Star Wars movie.
After we had all of our ingredients my son continued talking about what spices he was intending to add into his recipes, as coming up with a tasty dessert was his focus. As for me, I took a different approach and decided to concentrate more on how my design and structure was going to look. Being a designer I cared a lot more about that and knew that in the end the design would matter just as much as the dessert did. So I created a base for my display which was going to support my 3 Truffula trees (our Dr. Seuss challenge was based on the book “the Lorax”). We both had done sketches beforehand of what our final project was going to look like.
Yesterday was the big competition day and after 7 hours of working in the kitchen with my son, I have to say I had WAY more fun doing this than I ever imagined. It was great! I got to be creative. It was fun bonding time with my son. And we had some crazy moments with some crazy laughs… like when my gloved hands were covered in Rice Krispy like treats and I didn’t know what to do with myself so I was looking from my one hand to the other until I finally just shrugged my shoulders and started eating it all off my gloves like a maniac causing my son to look at me laughing saying, “Mom, I’ll never be able to unsee that!” I hope he never does!
I was proud of my boy yesterday and was so happy to see him adapt and adjust his design when it started taking unexpected turns. And I was glad I could witness him making his first cake completely solo. Although the completion was actually neck and neck and both designs actually looked pretty good in the end, the judge awarded my son with first place due to his perseverance of not giving up. I do think my husband should have considered giving me some bonus points though for my willingness to be in a kitchen for as long as I was, however, I agreed with his decision. He absolutely deserved that prize!