Way back in December, Middle Mudlet won a book, courtesy of a raffle at the school fair, cram packed with beautiful glossy pictures depicting wonderfully decorated birthday cakes for children and step by step instructions on how to produce them. I remember her delight as she thumbed through the pages, marvelling at each new creation, trying to decide which one she would like for her birthday. I also remember the peculiar sensation of my heart and stomach dropping into my boots, as the realisation hit that she was expecting mummy to recreate one of these culinary visions for her birthday.
Decorating cakes has never really been my forte, as I simply don’t have the patience or the eye for fine detail, not to mention the skill, to turn out perfect looking cakes. I can manage a passable pirate ship, toadstool house, train or rocket ship, so long as they are, for the most part, covered in butter cream but the making and/or handling of sugar paste/fondant icing is something I have never really got to grips with …… and unfortunately for me, all the cakes in Middle Mudlets new book were beautifully crafted out of smooth, unblemished, lovingly handled fondant icing!
Fast forward a few months and Middle Mudlets 10th birthday was fast approaching. Conversation turned to how we would celebrate this milestone, when we would celebrate it and where. We finally settled on a her two best friends coming over to watch a film, followed by a meal featuring some of Middle Mudlets favourite foods, a short time after her birthday.
Rather like the Queen, Middle Mudlet generally has two birthdays:
- her actual birthday which she shares with Mud and is usually a family affair because, for some reason, Mud is reluctant to spend his birthday surrounded by hoards of children, all speaking (or, to be more accurate, screeching) at the tops of their voices, as party fever strikes; and
- her birthday party which normally takes place on a day when Mud has either planned to escape for a couple of hours or is working away and so the aforementioned
screechinghoards of children won’t bother him.
With two birthdays, comes two cakes:
- the shared family cake for the actual day and which this year was a simple coffee sponge filled with coffee flavoured cream and covered in coffee icing; and
- the party cake.
A couple of weeks ago and after much deliberation, Middle Mudlet had brought her cake book to me.
“Can I have this cake please mummy?” she had asked, showing me a picture of a cake which had been made to look like a book with a book worm emerging from it. I had to smile at her choice because though all three Mudlets enjoy a good book, Middle Mudlet is a true bookworm and rarely a day goes by when she hasn’t had her nose in a book for at least part of it.
Of course I couldn’t say no which is why, one Saturday morning, I found myself faced with the prospect of trying to turn a chocolate sponge into a representation of ‘The BFG’. Notice how I say ‘representation of’ and not ‘copy of’ – a very careful choice of words.
Obviously for those of you skilled in the use of fondant icing, my rough edges and uneven lines must be an affront but I would like to point out at this juncture that the book that this cake is based on, is rather old and tatty looking and the finished cake mimicked the worn, torn and bent look really very well. Yes, that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.
In the event, Middle Mudlet was happy with her cake and in the end that’s all that matters, although Muds’ positive comments about it were an added bonus, as he is not one to sugar coat anything and is painfully honest with his comments about everything and anyway, when all is said and done I know that I am not nor will I ever be a ‘Jane Asher’ when it comes to cake decoration.