It is Y´s birthday soon, my little one is going to be 5! The place he chose for his birthday party doesn´t let us bring our own cake (Booooo) so I am making him one today to share with some friends this afternoon and this seemed like a good moment to round up previous year´s birthday cakes.
I created this particular monster when O turned 3. He was obsessed, OBSESSED, with Firemen, Firetrucks, Fireman Sam. My mum sent me this article and the sponge recipe has been my go-to birthday cake recipe ever since. Wisely, I thought it best to do a trial run and it came out perfect. Really not a million miles from the picture. So the day before his party I set to and OH. MY. GOD. The stress. The icing would not turn red. It just went pinker, and pinker, and pinker. I couldn´t figure out what was going on. In the end I had put so much colouring in, to no effect, that it tasted absolutely horrendous. Cue a late night panicked run to the shops to stock up more butter and icing sugar. On the next round, the same happened. No red, just pink. I still have no idea what happened. In the end H stepped in, attempting to avert the impending nervous breakdown and suggested we add yellow to make orange. So we did. I was furious. An ORANGE firetruck? Totally ridiculous. Unacceptable. But at 10pm with the party the next day it was really the only option unless I ditched the cake completely. In the event of course O was thrilled to pieces though I am not sure any other adult realised it was meant to be a firetruck.
This was the beginning. The very start of a tyranny that would last for years. Suddenly O, and later Y, had me as a master baker/artist who could create whatever their heart´s desired. As you can quite clearly see they are no masterpiece, but in their eyes my cakes are one of the grand highlights of their birthday. Every year they make their request and I sweat and worry and panic and worry some more about how on earth I will make it work, knowing my skills fall somewhat short of the standards they aspire to hold me to.
YEAR 4 -O
YEAR 5 – O
O was quite the obsessive as a kid. Every year he has been totally consumed with one main theme. Firemen, then pirates, then star wars. The entire year revolved around the chosen subject. Cartoons that he watched, favourite dress up, presents he asked for, birthday theme. Year 6 was an unmitigated disaster. The Year It All Went Wrong. The superhero year. O requested a Captain America shield. Looking online I decided that my old favourite buttercream icing might not do the trick and decided to try my hand at fondant for the first time. With a shocking and quite unlikely confidence I decided I didn´t need a trial run and ON THE DAY OF THE PARTY set about icing the cake. Suffice to say tears may have been shed (mine). He got a cake covered in buttercream icing and smarties and, luckily, being the absolute sweetheart he is, consoled me ´you tried your best Mummy´. Photo withheld due to traumatising memories.
Moving swiftly on to year 7. This year we were abroad for Y´s 3rd birthday so he had a very ordinary cake at a very small family celebration, not having any friends to invite to a party at the time. When we moved home after our short sabbatical away it was in time for O´s 7th so we did a combined party with a couple of friends for Y to make it up to him.
YEAR 7 – O
Still burnt from the Great Fondant Debacle I returned to my old faithful to crack out a quick football pitch cake (with dyed coconut to imitate grass). This was the year football officially became the overriding obsession in our house. Sigh. I need to take a moment here to pay my respects to those beautiful years of imaginary play, of fireman and pirates and star wars and superheroes and police and all the other characters that used to share our home on a daily basis. All gone. Because football.
Look at it. LOOK AT IT! I did it! I totally did it. I cannot tell you how proud and excited I was. Relatively little stress this year. And followed a couple of months later by
YEAR 8 -O
Okay with the blurring of names and details this does lose quite a lot but it is the logo of the club the boys play football with and although my lines are more than a little wobbly it was another fondant success. The kids were crazy impressed and they are, after all, my audience.
So here I am again, preparing another cake. A football pitch again, but this time in fondant. Nothing like challenging myself. Keep it simple? Stick to a winning formula that has been tried and tested? Me? Please. What would a birthday be without me panicking in the kitchen, trying to make straight lines with shaking hands? By now it is part of the tradition. Wish me luck.