Whip up a pinata cake? No problem! (Maybe?)

Melinda Mawdlsey pours pound cake batter into a bowl in preparation for baking.

Scooping out the middle of the cake.

Putting M&Ms into the middle of the pinata cake.

Lower cake ready for its the top layer.

This looks like a hamburger, but it’s actually a burnt pinata cake.

The outside of the cake is frosted, awaiting decoration.

Preparing the frosting, per instructions.

Our attempt at colorful swirls.

Forget the swirls. We decided to decorate Jackson Pollock style.

Melinda Mawdsley gives our pinata cake a rather fake thumbs-up.

This pinata cake created by features writers Rachel Sauer and Melinda Mawdsley had a tasty filling, but overall didn’t quite meet the expectation the two had for their baking project.


Creative endeavors

Pinterest is full of fabulous, idyllic-looking things to try. Once a month, The Daily Sentinel’s features staff will pick something to create. There will be failures and triumph and plenty to laugh about along the way.

There are several ways to tell this tale, but the most direct one begins with a text message.

Melinda Mawdsley sent me a link to something called a pinata cake and asked, “Should we try this?”

My response was along the lines of “Duh. Obviously.”

I mean, the Adventuring Out Great Camping Fiasco of 2013 notwithstanding, along with the Mad Dash from Lightning ‘13 and the Tragedy on Mount Garfield ‘13, we’ve been fairly successful in our endeavors! Successful-ish? We’re both still alive, so that counts as a win, right?

(Melinda here. I don’t think pitching a tent backward in the rain, running from lightning at elevation or sitting down to cry on Mount Garfield were wins. But that’s just me.)

Plus, we both enjoy trying new things — so much so that we’re starting a whole new series in which we attempt to make things, possibly things that we saw on Pinterest. OK, most likely things we saw on Pinterest.

(Pinterest is this online world where people show off their creativity with photos of amazing things they’ve seen or done while the rest of us eat frozen pizza and binge watch “Project Runway.” But replicating things on Pinterest intrigued me. Plus, I had Rachel.)

Anyway, my heart filled with giddy joy when Melinda suggested the piñata cake — Cinco de Mayo is just eight days away. I love making stuff! (See?) And I don’t necessarily even need a reason to make something, beyond a Sir Edmund Hillary ethos of “because it’s there.” Did Melinda or I need a fancy cake? Not really. Do either of us have any real experience with making fancy cakes? Nope.

(I don’t have any real experience making cakes.)

So, onward with the baking!

This piñata cake, from the blog Claire K Creations (clairekcreations.com/2013/03/lime-macadamia-pinata-cake), is filled with candy and iced in a vivid circus swirl of color. It’s whimsical and lovely.

But as for Claire’s pound cake recipe? I gave it the ol’ suspicious side-eye, on account of it called for macadamia meal. Where would we even buy that? No, we’d use my mom’s pound cake recipe, which is delicious.

This is probably where I should point out that 1.) Melinda has the patience of a saint and 2.) I am bossy and insist on making everything from scratch. (Rachel thinks she can do most everything — canning, crafting, baking, sewing — from scratch better than any store. Often, she’ll tell you that. FYI: She makes great jam that I spread on my store-bought bread.)

I even like hand mixing. My parents have repeatedly tried to give me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, but I always respond with a hearty, “I have mixers! Arms No. 1 and No. 2!”

(I have arms, too. They are what I use to plug in my KitchenAid.)

So, we planned for a regular pound cake. Claire K advised baking it in a pudding dish, but…? You will not be surprised to learn that neither of us had one. I did, however, have two round Pyrex dishes, and in my zeal and over-confidence I took complete leave of my common sense. I assured Melinda those would be fine.

Six eggs, two cups of sugar and one pound of butter later, we had two round cakes baking in the oven. (FYI: Rachel brought a can of FAT FREE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK for the recipe. Who adds fat free anything to pound cake? It’s literally a POUND OF BUTTER.)

Meanwhile, the frosting. Claire’s recipe called for two tablespoons of cream cheese, one tablespoon of butter and three cups of powdered sugar. I thought that sounded hideous and said as much.

“That would taste dreadful,” I informed Melinda.

“OK,” she said.

In retrospect, and with much humility, I realize that sure, it would have tasted terrible, but it would have been nice and firm. I proposed that we instead make the cream cheese frosting that goes on carrot cake because that tastes delicious.

It does not, however, set up very well.

Undaunted, and per Claire’s instructions, (Like how we followed this one part but ignored everything else because our way was better?) we rolled it into tubes in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, just in time to take the cakes out of the oven.

My feelings upon beholding them were :(

“Um,” Melinda said, tapping the sizable black spots. Meanwhile, the middle of each cake was nice ‘n uncooked. (It had the consistency of a freshly dropped cow pie.) We discovered this when hollowing out the centers to create a piñata space for the M&Ms.

It didn’t occur to us before we started frosting to slice off the raised part on top of each cake so they would lie flush against each other. It ended up looking like a burned hamburger.

The frosting, I’m sorry to report, did not go much better. Using Claire’s method of jamming all our colored frosting tubes together into a decorating tip, we ended up with what looked like clown poop on top of the cake.

And because making those frosting tubes was such a pain, we quit and decided to just drizzle the icing on Jackson Pollock style.

(In our defense: continuing our clown poop swirls would have taken hours. Who has time to just bake and decorate a fun, whimsical pound cake from scratch then post photos on Pinterest to taunt the rest of us? Claire’s the worst.)

The result?

Well, people at work complimented the M&Ms in the center, so that’s something.

(Even my husband didn’t eat it. Chalk this up as a Pinterest try…not a triumph.)


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