My biggest ‘baby’ turned 7 yesterday, and that meant a cake was needed. Easy, you might say, go to Asda. But no, I wanted to make a homemade one so I could try out my new Wilton icing measuring mat that Mr C and I bought in Hobbycraft just because we had a discount voucher and wanted to use it. I thought I’d write a handy guide for those other parents who, like me, are determined to make a cake themselves despite being a little disorganised.
1) 3 months before birthday time: “so darling, what would you like on your birthday cake this year?” (In my case, it was Iron Man.) Feel slightly smug about how organised you are, promise that you will have this planned out well in advance.
2) 2 days before the big day: actually remember you’ve got to bake a cake, look on Pinterest for ideas and then contemplate buying one. Send husband/partner/willing friend a shopping list which is far more expensive than just buying one.
3) Birthday Eve (morning): persuade children to play with toys and clear out of the kitchen so you can bake the dreaded cake. Occasionally throw them snacks to appease them whilst juggling baking and cooling times. Put the TV on and make them sit in separate rooms to stop them fighting. Realise the cake takes 20 minutes longer than the recipe says to bake it for, then play roulette with taking it out of the tin so you can reuse it for the second layer. Pray it doesn’t crack when you turn it out, knowing that it is possibly still a bit too warm.
4) Birthday Eve (post kids bedtime): look at Pinterest again, realise every idea is beyond your capabilities. Munch on the bits of cake you’ve trimmed off the top to flatten it whilst contemplating how on earth you can pull this off and still get to bed tonight. Print a picture of chosen character off the internet and use pins to mark out the shape on the icing. Cut it out, then realise some of the fiddly bits just aren’t worth bothering with. Abandon them.
5) Birthday Eve (10pm) Assemble the cake with icing glue (not vodka, even though it sticks the icing together it is probably not the ideal ingredient for a children’s party cake). Hold your breath as you try to manoeuvre it using a fish slice, the only available tool. Promise to treat yourself to every cake making related gadget in Lakeland so you are fully prepared for the two days in the year you need to make a proper cake. Swear as you manage to stretch the icing, giving Iron Man a slightly wonky face.
6) Birthday Eve, 11:55 pm: leave cake on the side for birthday boy/girl to admire in the morning. Take really rubbish photo of it in the dim light of the kitchen and post on Instagram with the hashtag madewithlove. Feel satisfied it’s as good as it’s going to get, then go to bed.
7) Birthday Morning, 5:30am: awake to yells of delight at the beautiful creation you made.
8) Birthday Morning, 5:31am: screams of delight turn to squawks and sounds of wrestling as sibling helped herself to a lump of icing right at the bottom of Iron Man’s face. Go downstairs, break up the fight, attempt to fix Iron Man with some leftover icing. Peel e-number riddled sibling off the ceiling (there must be something funny in that yellow icing). Realise going back to bed is not an option, let present opening commence!
9) Birthday, 5pm-light candles, blow them out, annhilate cake with knife that isn’t sharp enough. Take your time to enjoy the cake whilst children eat it without it touching the sides. Allow time for children to run off the sugar rush before bed.
10) Birthday, 8pm: swear that next year it’ll be a supermarket cake.
And there you go, the ultimate guide to Birthday cake making.