As I write, there are six 12 and 13-year-old boys laughing their heads off downstairs, watching movies and chomping on sweets. I have retreated upstairs and left them to it! They are all here for a sleepover to celebrate my son’s birthday. I’ve had some real disasters in the past where my son’s birthday cakes have been concerned. There was the year I accidentally poured vivid blue icing over my son’s head – I didn’t realise it was running out of the top of the piping bag onto his head, as he watched me make the cake (he was only little at the time)! I was ignoring him saying ” Mum……Mum……..Mum!”, as I was trying to concentrate very hard on piping. When I eventually turned my head to see what was wrong, his hair had been replaced by a blue hat of icing. Then there was the power cut which started in the middle of me making a wizard’s hat the night before the party. I had to go to a friend in the next town to bake the sponge and the come home and decorate the cake by torchlight. Not forgetting the Teddy Bear for my youngest’s 1st birthday. It was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside at the time ( we lived in California at the time) and the buttercream was melting, as I piped tiny little stars all over the bear – it was a nightmare.
Of course, I’ve had some better years, where things went right, like the Pirate’s Treasure Chest and the Football Pitch (both relatively easy) and others which involved hours of construction and mountains of lurid buttercream to hold them together (Nemo and a Tent with campfire), but they only serve to lull you into a false sense of security, thinking you’ve got it cracked! I have been left with a slight mistrust of any ‘novelty’ cake, as a result of all these problems – there are far too many things which can go wrong! They love these birthday cakes when they are young though – I still have vague memories of a birthday cake when I was young – a Fairytale Cottage made from Battenberg, a chocolate button shingled roof and the rest of the house studded with sweets. I do like the idea of having a go at making a Barbie doll cake one day, with a really luxurious dress – I don’t think I ever had one of those when I was young!
You could forgive me for taking the slightly easier route when possible these days. My son’s favourite is Rocky Road, so this year I made a double batch and piled it up into a mountain. It was decorated with snowy pine trees, reindeer and a little chalet. He had number 13 sparklers in the top. He seemed quite happy with it anyway. It was certainly very appropriate given the ice and snow outside at the moment.
I only had multicoloured marshmallows, which I don’t usually use – I think the pale pink and yellow ones I normally have are better. I don’t like seeing that flash of lime green or orange marshmallow in the Rocky Road! You could do the same with brownies (a la Nigella) – it looks slightly more tasteful. This isn’t part of my usual repertoire in the sweet kitchen, but I could make one on request, for those other Rocky Road fans out there. For summer birthdays, flowers, animals, roses or chocolate dragees might look good.