I’m no Mary Berry… This is only the second birthday cake I’ve ever made for my children. I’ve always thought about it. But because they were younger I thought they’d appreciate the brightly coloured character allure from the Asda shelf.
However, this year I’ve been dishing out much advice to my children.
“Effort over grades. I will love you whatever the grade but please make the effort.”
It got me thinking this year about me always “thinking” about making a birthday cake. I’m no Mary Berry. I don’t have the time. The results going to be far from perfect.
But I thought would listen and take note of my own advice. Slightly adapted of course.
Effort over outcome. Effort over perfection. You only learn by giving things a try. Let us give this a shot. I’m certain my son will love and appreciate the effort. It’s ok not to know, but it’s never ok to not try.
And as for the time. Two teens, one tween, Max the Guinea Pig, a house, a garden, a job, various projects.. a boyfriend and general life. Time is not likely to go on my side.
So I got up bright and breezy, tackled the ironing pile, sifted through many cookery books, wrote my shopping list, shot down town for petrol, back home, picked up rubbish for the tip, trip to the supermarket for the weekly shop and cake making ingredients – which are more expensive than actually buying a cake… Home to put the shopping away, taxi’d my son to town so he could spend the afternoon out at the cinema and going for something to eat as a birthday treat with his mates. And while he was away… I decided to try my beginners luck and whip up a cake. And they say being a Mum is an unskilled job… They also say if we want to do something, we will find the time.
A Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake…
I couldn’t have attempted a more complicated recipe – unless it was a Christmas cake.
I set to work on the triple layer cake. Rushing through weighing the ingredients, pre-heating the oven, putting the unused ingredients back into the cupboard, finding the mixing bowls. Dusting off the electric cake mixer. And the sponge was ready to go into the oven. Few that bit wasn’t too messy. At this point I’d only knocked over the large bottle of Vanilla essence, managed to lose half to the kitchen floor, quickly threw a towel over it. Loaded and put the dishwasher on. Time to chill in the front room for half an hour and watch an old of Sex and the City. Now that I’m 38 I can appreciate the box set so much more.
Half hour done and if I do say so myself. Three great sponges. All I needed for them was to cool down on the wire rack – in speedy time. Time started to go against me as I started to make the filling and the frosting.
This was when it started to get messy. Throwing the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl, using the electric mixer and adding the entire contents of a bag of icing sugar… Poof a cloud of smokey icing sugar whirled around my kitchen then splatters of cake mix started artistically sticking themselves to my kitchen work top and tiles – pretty much everything in sight.
Not to be deterred I started to build the triple layer cake thinking how gooey the mixture looked. Perhaps it would set. The hard part, getting the frosting around the sides of the cake, letting it drip from the top and near enough throwing bits on the sides. I told myself how I’m sure it would all be ok in the end. The cake certainly wobbled unsteadily like a jelly. I put the decorations on the top, threw on some sprinkles.
Voila. I was done. Chaotic kitchen. With the hope the cake would set in the fridge. Off I went to pick my son up, I was still covered in cake mix and icing sugar.
My son was in good spirits as he walked through the door.
“Have you baked me a cake?”
He asked as we were greeted with the lovely, sweet home baking scented kitchen. I pretty much did a skip to the fridge. Then didn’t know whether to laugh or not. The layers had all slid off each other.
“I sort of did.” I said as I showed him the plate which resembled a bit of a mess.
“It’s still good, I bet it tastes nice.” He said while I started rebuilding the cake and put a skewer in the top. Like a… erm… professional.
With every gramme, ml, second, spillage and splatter, the cake was made with love… Effort and time over shop bought. I’d put effort in. Effort over outcome. Learning ready for the next one. No doubt I’ll be attempting a chocolate one for my chocoholic eldest sons birthday.
After a busy day my boyfriend came round to help me (or more likely take over) clean the kitchen which he said resembled something from a cocaine party.
But they all really did love and polish off big slabs of cake. Therefore I’m living by the theory that the best tasting cakes don’t always look the most perfect.