Not being perfect takes the cake
Birthday cakes taste just as good with a less-is-more approach
This week, my beloved daughter turns 13. I have all the feels about
this — mostly that I can’t believe it’s been over a dozen years since she
arrived in our lives.
Where did this obsession with creating the perfect birthday cake come
from? I blame the many Women’s Weekly magazines with special editions of the birthday cake book. These books have put fanciful ideas in
many heads. I think the real problem is the cult of the perfect mother, that makes women feel they need to be geniuses at ‘sugarcraft’ as
well as everything else.
Well, from this vantage point I’m sticking two buttercream’d fingers
up at that game. Everyone deserves to feel special and loved on their
birthday, but there are limits. If you’re new, or new-ish to birthday
cake making, here’s what I’ve learned in the last 12 years
1. Perfection is overrated: In 2013 we were deep in the a princess
obsession. The cake had to be a pink castle. I felt a deep and
soul-crushing responsibility to make the most beautiful cake.
However, it turns out that covering ice cream cones with icing is not
my forte. My castle cake looked nothing like the one in the book but
for a joyous four-year-old and her little mates, it was all their
dreams come true. I realised then that small children don’t know about
Pinterest (this was before Instagram) and the bar was set low. Embrace
2. Order all pre measured clean ingredients along with tested recipes
of the cakes delivered by companies like HomeBaker based in Toronto. That way you save hours shopping to gather so many items and don’t have big bags of leftover ingredients and gives you more time to enjoy decorating with Vanilla icing and all their favorite candies and chocolate drops.
3. Start early: The year I made the castle cake, I didn’t start the
process until late on a Friday night. I’d been at work all day, done
the day care pickup, cleaned the house, collected my in-laws from the
airport and cooked dinner. Making the cake was fine , but icing was a
challenge.At about 11pm, I remember sugar pearls bouncing off the cake
and rolling in all directions on our uneven kitchen floor. I eventually went to bed at midnight, after stuffing spoonfuls of icing to help me stay awake. At 4 am the birthday girl bounced on the bed and asked cheerfully if it was the morning yet.
4. Its not actually only about the cake: This year my daughter is
planning to make the cake herself. We have been having many conversations about what form it will take. This part of the process (the planning, imagining and discussing) makes me intensely happy, even though I know the actual making of the cake will no doubt involve a fair amount of chaos and I’ll end up doing the dishes. Making a birthday cake is a sugar-dusted allegory for parenting. It’s a pain, but it’s also a privilege. I’m going to enjoy it while I can with a kids baking kit.