My mum has a bit of a landmark birthday this week – the big 70. Normally for birthdays I get cakes made, I have a fab friend who has a real talent and does it as a hobby (although I think she should make it her career) or I use Paula at The Perfect Cake Company – who I have to say is the most amazing cake decorator. She has done numerous cakes for me over the years for my girls birthdays and I’ve loved each and everyone of them.
But, I’d left it a bit late to order one, and given its the holidays I decided to try my hand at a cake myself.. or rather, do one with the girls. Whilst I cook often, and think I’m ok at it (kids eat most of what I put in front of the, Ron eats everything I put in front of him, but he hates waste, so will eat it whether he likes it or not!), I rarely bake. I’m a bit of a throw it all together type of cook so generally limit myself to baking flapjack or scones. I think to bake successfully (cakes etc) you have to be precise or it all goes terribly wrong in my experience, and I’m not too good at precision!
But I thought, hey, no matter how it turns out, I’ll just say the girls did it and everyone will think its wonderful.
My girls certainly have their priorities right .. In their own true style they decided on at the outset was who was going to get to lick the spoon and who was going to get to scrape out the bowl! I know its the best bit, and boy did they make the most of it.
My friend had given me a Mary Berry Victoria Sponge recipe that she said had never failed her and was the easiest out there. We set about weighing, measuring, cracking eggs in to the mixer
It wasn’t long before the kitchen looked like a flour bomb had gone off in it, but the cake was in the oven, and the kids were glued to the oven door waiting for it to rise (I stood there with my fingers crossed that it would actually rise!)
Decorations were in order – I had in my mind to make lovely pretty roses, and cut outs of flowers and butterflies – all looked so simple in the pictures. In reality.. not quite as easy as I thought, but we gave it a go and overall, did a reasonable job. The girls loved using the cutters and we had enough to decorate 3 cakes never mind one.
I actually had a try at covering the cake in icing, not the most professional job, but given it was my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.
We sat around the cake together, deciding on placement of roses, butterflies and flowers, stood back and admired our handy work. Ok, so entry in to the Great British Bake off is not going to happen anytime soon – but I think Grandma loved her birthday cake so much more than anything professional I could have had made for her. There’s nothing quite like something thats home made, slightly wonky, but done with much love and effort.
As soon as we’d finished, the next words spoken – ‘can we eat the cake now mummy?’
The finished article, made with love (and lots of buttercream) and presented with a rather charming if quite loud rendition of Happy Birthday To You from the girls!
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