I am surrounded by pink. Pink homemade bunting, balloons, favour bags, tablecloths, icing and feathers. I feel distinctly out of place. The birthday girl, who has just turned five, is skipping about, happy and relishing the attention that a birthday party brings. I will admit, I was dreading it. Not from a my-baby’s-growing-up perspective as much as organising-a-party-for-hyper-kids sort of angle. Having said that, as hectic as it was, the kids had a blast, were so happy with the arrangements, that I really got into the swing of it, making a fool of myself during musical statues (they still entertain at five years of age). Also I had a feeling of perfect, unadulterated happiness, when some of the children came to me and said that this was a lovely party and the cake was yummy!
Lil Lassie was lucky with two cakes this year. One on her real birth-day and the other for the party. Her cherished favourite is Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake. Excellent choice. The damp, moist dense-ish cake, slathered in grainy textured, chocolate buttercream, is lavish without being heavy. Which means that you can plough through a substantial amount of it without clutching your belly in pain and regret all evening while suffering from sugar driven palpatations. Ok, you might get the latter, but really, you won’t care. This is a fabulous cake.
The other, more elaborate celebration cake is a culmination of the talents of two fantastic bakers, who I am happy to call my pals. The cake itself comes via culinary temptress, Cucina. You would have heard of her before. And doubtless, you will again. She is a cake maker, of the professional variety and she suggested I give her Extremely Naughty Chocolate Fudge Cake a go. You see the theme here. This cake is so easy to make, bakes beautifully and because it’s oil rather than butter based, means that it will keep really well, getting better in texture and flavour. Since it has a wider crumb, it’s flexible and springy, holding up to less than delicate handling as well as the weight of fondant. The taste is sensationally good, deep with chocolatey hit, without being too rich. I had baked two batches of this, and made a cake with three of the sponges. We ate the fourth, for testing purposes of course.
I have no imagination when it comes to decorating cakes. Maybe my innate terror of fondant and delicate sugarpaste work freezes the flow of any creative ideas. So when Lil Lassie pointed out to a picture of a stunning, multi-tiered wedding cake baked by my friend Mhairi (a mean cook and wonderful baker) and said she wanted that, well, I was happy to poach off someone else’s design. With her permission of course. So after a lot of kneading, rolling, cutting and plunging, I had a white fondant covered cake with pretty, shimmery, raspberry pink blossoms all around it. Though a bit of a departure from Mhairi’s more elegant, restrained design, I got a wobblier result of what I was after – something simple, girlie, fitting for a five year old. For my first celebration birthday cake attempt, I am happy. More importantly, so was Lil Lassie. Her wide eyes and open mouth curving into a huge smile, made all the doubts and difficulties along the way worthwhile!
My moment of triumph came when all the mothers raised their hands to the question of, ” Cake, anyone?” and after eating it, came to say that it was as delicious on the inside as it was pretty on the outside! All round a success I would think.
At the end of the night, I collapsed into a pink bed, snuggling a party weary child, with glitter from the cake dotting her eyelashes and the corner of her mouth. Her eyelids are fighting sleep but finally sink towards her cheeks. As I am about to leave the room, she softly says, ” Mama, that was the bestest party ever. I love you. Thank you for my beautiful cake.”
And now when all is quiet and everything’s done, I sit and think, of how quickly time passes and that my first born baby girl is growing up.
For Cucina’s cake recipe, click here.