Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hoffman Family Camping

Well I officially have four posts that have over 130 views!  I know in the grand scheme of things that isn't very much, but at least it's just more than my mom reading my blog.  Unless she went to the same page more than 100 times . . . . . . . .

So, I have a really big extended family.  Usually when I say this, there is one person who is all like, "Oh yeah, me too!  I have 10 cousins!!!!"

Psshhhhaw.  That's not big.

I am fortunate enough to belong to the clan of Hoffmans.  My mom is one of eleven children and there are around 50 cousins (I'm not sure of the number, there's too many to count).  And now they have all been getting married and adding spouses and great-grandchildren to the mix.

Needless to say, it is difficult to fit us all in one place.  So every year in July, we go camping at Hoffmaster State Park in Michigan.  This is my favorite vacation of the year.  We have a lot of traditions involved in camping.

My cousin Annie got married in March.  My Aunt Nancy asked me to make the cake for Annie's wedding shower.  And Annie chose the theme of camping (for the cake) because it is so special to our family.  But the shower was in Michigan - a whole 3 1/2 hours away.  The farthest away I have ever transported a cake.  But I was determined to do it.

The plan
The plan was to make a whole bunch of fondant pieces ahead of time and then just stick them on the cake Saturday morning when we arrived.  Of course, things never go as I plan them.

I did get off to a good start.  There was one thing I knew I had to have on the cake - and that was the turkey.  Every year my dad makes a turkey over the fire for everyone to eat (well now we make two and rumor is we may be adding a third).  Each family contributes something to the meal that they cooked over the fire.  Then we all gather together and stuff ourselves.  It's like Thanksgiving and it's the best turkey you will ever eat.  Sooooooo good.  We even have special sticks that we have used for years to cook the turkeys.  So that was what I made first.

I used lollipop sticks wrapped in chocolate fondant because I wanted to make sure it was sturdy enough that it wouldn't fall over.  I formed the body of the turkey and poked a hole in it so I could slide the stick through.

 Then I added the wings.

I also made the doughboy sticks and some sleeping bags (in Michigan colors!).  Next came a bunch of wood and an axe.  No Hoffman Camping Cake would be complete without Big Blue.  Big Blue was a ginormous tarp that my dad used to use to make an ice skating rink in our backyard.  Only this time he hung it up between the trees so I could use it to practice my tennis serve.  (Can't let vacation get in the way of tennis practice!)  Big Blue was also used for a number of other purposes over the years.

I also wanted to have some camping chairs sitting around the fire.  I knew this would be complicated, so I wanted to glue it ahead of time so that it would be nice and solid when I put the "fabric" part on.

Salt Shakers - who knew they were cake decorating tools.
 Thursday night I was supposed to bake the cake, fill it and frost it so that all I had to do Friday night was add the stuff on top.  That night was a terrible snowstorm and it took me like 2 hours to get home from work.  Only to discover that we had no eggs.  Needless to say - there was no baking that night.

So now it's Friday night after dinner.  I have to finish the cake because we are driving to Michigan at 5:30 in the morning.  I set out the different elements on the cake to see if everything fit.  I had since made the fire pit and some marshmellows on sticks.

See anything wrong with this picture?
 Now granted, the dunes were supposed to be "off in the distance," (yes those are dunes), but when your camping chair is about 2 times the size of the dunes, you know something just isn't right.

Epic fail.
So I scratched the chair idea.  Sigh.  Next time.

Now I had to make the tent.  I started with 2 6-inch round cakes and cut them down to this:

The tent was a bit of a struggle.  I put too much filling inside and when I went to frost the outside, it came squishing out and got all mixed in with the frosting.  I tried not to panic because I knew I was putting fondant on top - so it would be okay.  The fondant didn't look that great, (I really need to learn how to do the tent thing better) but it kept all the frosting and filling in nicely.  And it looked fine with the rest of the elements.

The dunes pre-brown sugaring.
 I covered the dunes with frosting and then added brown sugar on top to look like sand.  I thought they turned out pretty well.

I frosted most of the cake with green frosting and about 1/4 of it with blue frosting for the water.  I added a little brown sugar for the beach.  (Note - the cake is NOT built to size).

I thought I had more pictures of the faces as I was making them, but I guess not.  I tend to get on a roll with things and then forget to take pictures.  But I made Annie and Tim's heads out of fondant, added noses, eyes and hair (they are both smiling, you just can't see it.)

Peeking out of the tent.
I added the sand dunes and the cake was ready for transport.

I won't mention the fact that by the time I cleaned up the kitchen it was around 3:30, or that we were leaving for Michigan around 5:30, or that I was driving.

I was nervous about the cake making it intact.  My mom, sister, sister-in-law and two nieces were all packed into the van with presents and the cake.  Every time we stopped I checked on it to make sure it hadn't been smooshed.  Fortunately, we made it in one piece.

At Aunt Nancy's house I added the rest of the details to the cake. 

Here you can see a little book called "Bee Stings."  That's a little family inside joke.  When we were much younger, we were up on the dunes going to the lake when Annie got stung by a bee on her lip.  My sister, having recently read Grandma's Attic, knew that putting mud on a bee sting helps it feel better.  Of course we didn't have any mud - but there was an abundance of sand.  So we mixed some water and sand and put it on Annie's lip.  I don't think it helped.

Bee Stings and Big Blue
Anyways, the story became part of Hoffman family lore, and I had to include it in the cake somehow.

Sleeping bags and a camping chair.
Since the camping chair didn't work out, I included one still in its bag.

The turkey turned out great!
That's a doughboy stick leaning against the fire pit.

The axe and the wood pile.

The beautiful bride with her cake.
The cake of course was delicious!

We cut the cake around the tent so Annie got to take it home and show it to Tim.  Looks like they are ready to jump off the cliff!

Congratulations Annie and Tim!

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