10 Jul 2012

{Mothers Bake}

Today's guest is my lovely friend Louise. You can check out Louise's blog over here - she is mummy to two (under 3) I have so much respect for her. Louise is also one of my oldest friends - I have know her and her family since I was about 10. We lost contact for a while but we now speak on a daily basis. yay!.

Mothers bake.  That’s what they do.  I blame my mother for this mind-set.  She worked as a teacher from the time my younger sister started school so she didn’t have much time in the week.  But one day during every school holiday was dedicated to baking.  She’d make flapjacks, ’little cakes’, almond slices, millionaire’s shortbread, all portioned out and frozen to be defrosted in the weeks that followed.  We always had a piece of homemade cake in our lunchboxes.

The most beautiful and elaborate cakes were reserved for our birthdays.  Right up until our teenage years, we each had a specially chosen, home-made, hand-decorated birthday cake.  I can remember a carousel with chocolate animal biscuits parading round the side, a princess dress complete with half a Barbie sticking out the top, the most decadent chocolate cake decorated as a record on a record player, a game boy with Mario bursting through the screen.

So when my son turned one, last year, there was an inbuilt urge to bake his cake.  Friends made cupcakes, farmed out the baking to their mothers, or bought a beautifully iced cake from the supermarket.  But I had to make this cake.  Even if I never made another for him, his first birthday cake had to be my own.

I made a delicious Nigella Lawson buttermilk sponge in two tiers, each one composed of two layers, sandwiched with jam and buttercream.  To say it was tall was an understatement.  And then I set about icing it.  I’d never iced a cake before in my life. I’d helped my mum decorate our Christmas cake a couple of times, but that was always after she’d marzipanned and iced it first.  And I don’t like marzipan so I set out to decorate this one without.  And for some reason, I ended up on the morning of his party with the cake un-iced.

My first attempt was not so much imperfect as ghastly; lumpy, cracked and not at all what I’d imagined.  Fortunately, a dear friend, with much more cake decorating experience, was staying for the weekend and rescued me.  She suggested a second layer of icing and we repaired the damage together, covering the worst cracks and lumps with the coloured stars I’d already prepared.  The finished article had a lovely bump all the way round where the buttercream was oozing out the side, but otherwise was perfectly presentable (from the other side of the room, at least!).  And it was delicious, which was fortunate given how much of it there was!

I’ve been bitten by the homemade birthday cake bug but also learned my lesson.  I’m going to have to work up to the levels my mother achieved.  It’s best to be prepared, not to make life too difficult for yourself with too-high standards and tend towards your strengths.  A bit like child-raising in general really.

And his second birthday?  Chocolate cupcakes with blue icing and sugar butterflies.  His choices, including the butterflies.  But that’s another story!


  1. I think your cake looks beautiful and something to be proud of. I love to bake but I don't get it from my mum and my daughter hasn't caught my enthusiasm, they certainly love to eat the cake though! Thanks for sharing your lovely story.

  2. Yum!! So many lovely cakes, they always taste better when Mummy makes them <3