About a year ago, I came across a gorgeous terrarium that just happened to be the exact size of a round cake. “I must have this,” I said resolutely, “and shall someday fill it with something important.” A few months later, when my sister’s tropical bridal shower was announced, the wheels clicked into place. “Fish! I shall fill it with exotic and beautiful fish of every color, and put a cake on top of it!”
A few notable changes later, and a plan was devised. The exotic fish of my dreams were replaced by twenty-cent feeder goldfish from the local pet store. (Apparently the “pretty” fish need warm, filtered water.) The perfect round cake needed a segment cut out of one side in order to give the fish access to air. (Also, apparently the fish need access to oxygen to breathe or something.)
Luckily for me, several relatives and friends had flown in for the shower, so I took the cake-making tools to my parents’ house and made use of the extra minions. Ellen had the (non)enviable job of tinting the gum paste, while my mom used her quilting/scrapbooking skills to measure and tape paper along the edge of the terrarium.
Because I wanted the illusion of fish “inside” the cake, I needed the paper to go along the top and bottom edges (where the terrarium tapered in) so that the gum paste ruffles could be adhered.
For the ruffles, I rolled gum paste very thinly and cut out two-inch strips in a sort of football shape. I squished them around a bit and stuck them onto the cake with a little gum paste adhesive. (FYI: Do not attempt this unless you have an interesting lineup of TV to watch, as it is extremely tedious. Also, do not start the ruffles at 10pm. That is all.)
With the cake perched precariously on my lap and the goldfish nearby in a cool whip container, we drove to the venue. “How will we get them in?” we all wondered- there was only one small air-hole. But my father, always ready for a good experiment, had a plan. He said the poor chap at the hardware store was a bit confused by the request. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
“Yes, hello, I’d like a funnel.”
“Of course sir, they’re right over here.”
“I see. Now, do you have any big enough for a fish?”
“Big enough for a what, now?”
“For a goldfish to slide through!”
“You see, we’re putting the goldfish in a cake.”
(*more blank staring, and then a look of horror*)
In the end, I think he understood the plan. In fact, after he cut off the end of the funnel, he filed the insides so that none of the fish would cut themselves as they slid through. I can only imagine the story he told his family that night.
Later that night, we brought all the extra food and serving platters and everything back to my parents’ house. Ellen pulled out a container, peeked inside, and said, “Oh great! There’s some of that chicken pasta salad left over!” But my mom looked quickly at us, eyes wide, and then we all knew: “This is the container the fish came in!” My brother walked in the room, and, taking the container, said, “Did you wash it?” – “Um, not with soap!” Dad answered. And without a pause in his steps, he strolled out of the kitchen, cool whip bowl in hand, saying, “Eh… it’ll be fine.”
No word yet on his health, but I will update as necessary. 🙂