Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Red Egg & Ginger Party Cake - Year of the Ram

In April, we celebrated our little guy's 30th day with a red egg and ginger party. This celebration is a Chinese tradition during which a baby is named and introduced to friends and family. This was based on high infant mortality rates and the thought that babies were out of the dangerous period by the 30 day mark. This also coincides with the end of the mother's confinement. After childbirth, it is felt that the mother is in a weakened state. There are a whole lot of rules to follow during confinement for example, you aren't allowed to wash yourself or wash your hair, you can't go outside, there are a number of foods you are not allowed to eat, you must rest but not sit for too long, and so on. I am half Chinese and my mother is not particularly superstitious, so there was no delay in naming our little one and no confinement. Basically the red egg and ginger party was just another fun celebration of our new baby with family and good Chinese food.

William was born in the year of the ram/sheep/goat. Apparently there is only one Chinese word for both sheep and goat which is why you may see the sign referred to as all of the above. Based on this, he is supposed to be kind, creative, loyal and empathic. I wanted the cake to be very simple (it had nothing to do with the fact that I was a sleep deprived new mother with a baby who would only sleep while being held and who ate 20 times a day). The main element of the cake was a little baby dressed in a ram costume. This was something that I could make ahead of time and in stages with William in my carrier. My dad came over during the week so that I could bake the cake (somehow leaning into an oven with a baby strapped to my front didn't seem like a good idea). It was so sweet seeing my dad sing Rock-a-bye Baby over and over to William until he fell asleep in his arms. I had no idea that my dad knew any lullabies. William seemed so peaceful. My mom was working at the time and was quite jealous! She came over the night before the party with my sister to hold William while I finished the figure and covered the cake in fondant.  
I went back and forth on whether or not I should put horns on the ram. Apparently they don't all have horns. I decided to make little horns to make it more obvious what animal he was supposed to be dressed up as although he looks a little like a patisserie with a body made of cinnamon rolls, croissants on his head and coffee bean shoes. How appropriate given my love of cake and pastry. 
I did a simple border at the top of the cake using a crimper and painted it gold along with the letters and a fondant ribbon border at the bottom of the cake. I also made cupcakes with hornless sheep and the Chinese symbol for ram/sheep/goat. Thank goodness the symbol was an easy one though the gold paint did not show up well in the photos. 
Along with the cake and cupcakes, we offered our family members red eggs and candied ginger. Eggs are a symbol of fertility and renewal of life and red represents happiness and good luck. The ginger is to balance cold and hot or 'yin' and 'yang' and is important particularly for the mother to regain her strength. 

William behaved wonderfully at the restaurant (he slept through all of dinner). Back at our house, he spent a good portion of the evening eating (he was a marathon feeder). By the time we got around to taking a photo with the cake, William had hit his 'witching' hour and was having none of it. This was the best photo we could get with him. Note the colour of his face matches his shirt and the cake. 
I cannot believe how much he has grown and changed since April. In only 6 and a half more months, I'll be working on a cake for his first birthday. I don't have any ideas yet for a theme. I almost don't want to think about it and hope that the next 6 months go by at a snails pace allowing me to savour every little moment. 


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