Growing up Mum always made us the most amazing cakes for our birthday parties. I remember a train, a horse and even a ferris wheel. They were amazing creations and I have fond memories of helping Mum make butter icing and mixing in the colourings.
As Eve's first birthday approached I was failing as a mother in every respect. I had failed to find the perfect rocking horse for a present, had no card, and 3 days away had not even organised a party for her. My reasoning was that she wouldn't know and ever since a former colleague of mine threw a wildly extravagant and expensive party in a private room in a horribly exclusive members club in HK for her daughter's first I have refused to get caught in the HK birthday competition (although this was the same woman who bought 3 white Gucci babygrows for her newborn, clearly unaware that they vomit all the time).
Anyway, I was told off by friends for not doing anything, if only for the photos for the family, and I was haunted by the idea of Eve sitting with a therapist when she was 30 and complaining that her mother never loved her and as evidence saying that she didn't even get a first birthday party. So emails were sent, food purchased, and we were all set.
Except the cake. I am a reasonably decent cook but can't bake. Really can't bake. It is just a mental block. I thought about buying a cake but this seemed a bit of a cop out so I got up early on the morning of the party to bake a chocolate cake in the shape of a "1". Actually, I woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep for worrying about it.
In the end it was shit. I made a chocolate sponge, cut it into two strips, used butter icing to put them together and covered it in pink icing that slid off and coalesced in a pool on the plate. It was awful. But we put a candle in it, sung a song, had Eve's little friends and our big friends over, and nobody seemed to mind.
I can only hope I get better with practice over the next 16 or so years.