Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let them eat cake

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.


Sabina said...

You are in good company Al - I cannot bake cakes to save my life... and not for lack of trying over the past couple of years! But the kids love the mixing, the mess and of course the spoon-licking, so even if my chocolate cakes (I have tried every recipe I come across) are perennially flat, rock hard, or totally inedible, they have a wonderful time and (amazingly) still manage to each whatever the concoction turns out to be. At least they are not fussy and seem to have stomachs like your average goat!
Persevere is all I can say. I am!

Mummy said...

Sabina, I completely agree. I saw another Mummy friend at the weekend who has already engaged a professional cake maker for her son's first birthday party. She thought it was hilarious that I had even considered baking the cake when I am so bad at it.

I agree with you, it is the effort and the fun rather than the result that matters.