Friday, December 10, 2010

Sam the Snowman Cake . . . from Rudolph!

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine trees crusted with snow . . .

-- from The Snowman, a poem by Wallace Stevens
Before we get too much further into the Christmas season, I wanted to be sure and share this with you. It's my attempt at replicating, in cake form, the snowman from that favorite old TV special made in 1964, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I created it as my final-exam project for my Theme Cakes class, which ended in November. Since making this cake, I've come to the conclusion that just about every American under 75 must be a big fan of Sam the Snowman, the show's chubby narrator.

He's a pretty distinctive fellow, as far as snowmen go. Both wise and witty, he's possessed of a philosophical outlook not common to your typical garden-variety snowman. When he tells us to, "Pull up an iceberg and lend an ear," we're inclined to do just that. And isn't there something especially appealing about a dapper snowman who sounds just like Burl Ives?

I'm not going to confess exactly how long it took me to work on this cake, all in all, nor how much  fretting I did in preparation for assembling it. Needless to say, the process was time consuming for me and fraught with potential pitfalls. That's because this kind of cake--one requiring quite a bit of advance planning, not to mention structural support and anchoring--is still pretty new for me. I was more relieved than I can convey when the finishing touches were completed on the last day of class.

You know how it is when you work on something that requires you to immerse yourself in its every detail? You become acutely aware of the finished product's imperfections and those are what you tend to focus on. That's how I felt, initially at least, when this cake was done and largely why I was stunned when my teacher and fellow students liked it so much.

Chef Lois, my teacher, asked me if she could keep the cake to display it at a couple of upcoming culinary-school sponsored events. I was pretty flattered by this. She suggested that I first take it home to show to my husband and kids (who'd been hearing me fuss about it for at least a couple of weeks) and then bring it back to school. So that's what I did.

Thankfully, it was a very successful project all in all, and Sam turned out to be a pretty fun character to try and depict in cake. For those of you who want to know how this cake was created, click here for the gory details. For those of you who become nauseous or disoriented at the mere thought of making something like this, you have my sympathy. I'll understand completely if you need to stop reading right now. Yes, you may be excused. Go bake some cookies instead . . . or get a start on wrapping those presents!

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