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Let Them Eat Cake After They Decorate It!
November, 2017 - Issue #158

"It was time to get down to business and they set about transforming their blue fondant-covered cake into a UNICORN, complete with eyes, ears, tufts of mane and a yellow fondant horn."
To know my daughter Brooke is to know that more is better.

Whether we're talking nail polish, hugs or frosting, Brooke likes to pile it on. As our resident crafter/baker/seamstress, she is a whirlwind of grand ideas, many of which are inspired by the Food Network. She has an eye for style and real kitchen flair, but sometimes, clean-up takes a backseat to creativity.

Deciding how to celebrate her birthday was easy. My wife April booked a session at Duff's Cakemix, a do-it-yourself dessert design studio owned by Food Network personality Duff Goldman, aka the Ace of Cakes.

And, April kept it a secret. Surprises torture Brooke. If there's one thing she loves more than fondant, it's knowing everything that's going on.

As we rolled south on the Hollywood Freeway, she figured it out. "This is the way to Crumbs and Whiskers, the cat cafe, and Duff's is just down the street," she explained to her friend Avery who was along for the fun. April and I admitted nothing until we parked in front of the bakery on Melrose Avenue.

Inside, the girls set about choosing the frosting, fondant and accessories they would use to decorate a six-inch cake, three chocolate and three funfetti cupcakes.

The white-walled studio is not unlike a giant art class. Large, butcher paper-covered tables fill the room. Decorating supplies line the main counter. A large rack holds bins and drawers with specialized tools. Another rack holds finished cakes and a large flat screen displays customers' handiwork curated on Instagram.
The girls spread out their supplies at the end of a table, donned aprons and pulled on food service gloves.

"I think I'm just gonna wear one glove," Avery said.

"OK Michael Jackson," Brooke deadpanned.

It was time to get down to business and they set about transforming their blue fondant-covered cake into a unicorn, complete with eyes, ears, tufts of mane and a yellow fondant horn.

It's not as easy as it looks on TV. Their first horn iteration ended in a twisted lump of red and white fondant. They flagged down one of the assistants who roam the studio, helpfully offering design suggestions and technical expertise.

With confidence that comes from experience, she deftly hand-rolled the yellow fondant into what looked like a long, thin hot dog and then spiraled it into the horn. The girls slid a popsicle stick into the middle for reinforcement and then inserted it into the top of the cake.

They moved on to the rest of the components, only pausing their work to sample the fondant. "I'm going to buy fondant for my birthday," Brooke declared.

The unicorn began to take shape. Purple and white ears held upright with toothpicks perked up. The red and white gob of fondant from the first horn attempt became tufts of mane. Flowing strands of yellow, pink and purple frosting formed the tail. Eyes of black frosting peeked from the front.

They finished with the cupcakes, blinging them out with pink sugar crystals, silver malt balls, rainbow sprinkles and rock candy.

It was time for pictures, and they posed with their creations at the uncluttered end of the table. The rest of it was a debris field of discarded piping bags, popsicle sticks and scattered decorative accessories.

We packed up their masterpieces and then started to leave.
"Wait, we don't have to clean up?" Brooke asked.

"No, you have to clean up," April confirmed.

All the fun of baking with none of the work. For Brooke. Or Mom. I can't think of a better birthday present.
Eric Harnish bakes in Castaic.

Let's Decorate!
Duff's Cakemix
www.duffscakemix.com
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