When I asked my children what they wanted to do for a parsha project, my son said he wanted to do something connected with Ephraim and Menashe. He wanted a chocolate cake, and I suggested one decorated like a fish. When Yaacov blessed Ephraim and Menashe he said “may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.”
Rabbi Edlestein explains: fish are protected from the evil eye because they live hidden from our view. They do not inspire jealousy because people are not aware of what goes on in their world. The message is that Jews should model themselves after fish in this regard, living in a separate spiritual environment, modestly, without the ostentation that would attract envious attention. “In the midst of the land” means that Jews should also be part of and contribute to the larger world.
A fish cannot lose its kosher status if it is kosher; other kosher animal can become unkosher if they slaughtered properly or if there is some defect. Yaacov’s blessing was therefore that Ephraim and Menashe never lose their pure status. (Partners in Torah, Rabbi Meisels)
I let my kids help me decorate the cake. I made the cake in a fish shaped pan (made from heavy duty foil, lined with parchment), then glazed it with a white icing (powdered sugar, a spoonful of corn syrup, a spoonful of oil and a tiny bit of hot water–just enough to make it fluid). I added some food coloring to the leftover glaze and painted on fins and scales. Then we sprayed it with food color spay and sprinkled over sprinkles.
How did I make the fish shaped pan from foil? Take heavy foil and place it on a lined baking sheet. Fold over the sides to make a roughly oval pan with 2″ high side. Pinch the back end to make the tail.
Spray with cooking spray, line with parchment, fill with batter and bake. When the cake is done and cool, unwrap the foil. Voila! Fish shaped cake.