Our Turkey Cake
Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday. For him it represents one day in the year when as much family as possible gathers to share stories, love, and thankfulness for oh-so-many things. It is not a day for regrets but a day for optimism. A day to pay homage to the little blessings we receive every day that often go unnoticed or unappreciated.
We swap the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays with our married children’s in-laws. David would happily trade all Christmases to have all Thanksgivings. Yes, I think he actually would. I am not that generous because I love Christmas and I know he would desperately miss seeing the twinkling eyes of our grandkids as they open gifts on Christmas morning. So we are good sports and are eternally grateful for any holiday when family comes home.
This year was our turn for Thanksgiving. From far and near they came. Grown-ups and children gathered for evening chats by the fire, inside and outside games, day- time walks, night-time bonfires in the pasture, and lots of love, laughter, and food.
Unlike Christmas, we keep Thanksgiving dinner traditional (according to our family) …turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, salad (it will vary), and bread. Of course there is the requisite pumpkin and pecan pies, but we usually come up with an additional dessert that is new and different.
In the tradition of baking something fun, my grandson and I decided to make a turkey-shaped cake. I had purchased Nordic Ware’s Classic Turkey 3-D pan because it was so darn cute and begged to be part of our Thanksgiving celebration. A recipe was included with the packaging but we chose to use a banana bread recipe instead because my grandson loves banana bread and I have used it successfully before for cut-out and shaped cakes. We then used a basic cream cheese frosting (also a favorite of his) to “glue” the two sides together and then thinned down the rest of the frosting to a bit thicker than a glaze. We used a 1” wide artist brush to paint the frosting on the turkey. Then we left it to set while we mixed food color and water to decorate our bird. We used red, yellow, orange (red + yellow) and brown (red + green) for our turkey. You only need to add a drop or two of water to a drop of food coloring to make a nice “watercolor”. Experiment with your water to food coloring ratio to get the depth of color you want. When the frosting was set we used a ½” artist brush and our “watercolors” for the finishing touches (a tiny brush works best for the eyes). Paint some detail by following the wings and tail feathers shaped by the cake pan. My grandson finished it with a paper beak and a twist-tie wattle. He sat back to better view our handiwork and declared it a job well done. Later, when his two cousins arrived and were quite excited over the “turkey cake”, it became a success.
My daughter requested the acorn cakelets that surround the turkey. I have made them before and they are delicious. They are made with a Nordic Ware Acorn Cakelet Pan that was made especially for Williams-Sonoma. The recipe that I used is included on the packaging. It’s secret ingredient is maple sugar in the cakes and maple syrup in the frosting and glaze. I bought the Turkey 3-D pan this year at Home Goods but I purchased the Acorn Cakelet Pan a couple years ago at Williams-Sonoma. I checked and did not see it on their web-site this year. Both pans are also available on nordicware.com or check ebay.com or amazon.com.
So we have a rollicking Thanksgiving for the memory books and a quiet holiday season ahead as family spreads to places other than “home” for Christmas. We find ourselves very lucky, however, to have my sister and her husband coming to make our Christmas a foursome + one (Luella, David’s 96-year-old mother). And it will be wonderful.