Maxi has more blooming birthdays than the Queen, and more cake! I promised her a birthday cake on her birthday, one to take to nursery to share with her friends, and one for her birthday party this Sunday.
The nursery one was very easy: one square sponge made with 2 eggs; cover with marzipan; top with a packet of strawberry-flavour icing (made up quite stiff and smoothed with a hot spatula); edge with some white chocolate buttons; decorate with 2 tubes of pink ‘designer icing’. Oh aye, and plop on el-cheapo Christmas cake board. I edged it in 5 long stripes because my poor fingers just weren’t strong enough to do anything else, and my cabbaged brain couldn’t think of anything more exciting than long lines of a box. And it hid the marzipan joins. A plus: the kids watched agog for 20 mins as I icing those lines. A negative: I didn’t half get annoyed when Mr ASDA pitched up with an early delivery halfway through the icing. (photo deleted)
Her birthday one was to be a butterfly cake. ‘Easy!’ I thought, ‘I’ve seen loads of videos on YouTube’. So Tuesday night after dinner I made a standard, nice, tall Victoria Sandwich, with thick strawberry jam and buttercream in the middle. So far so good. I thought I could get it cut, iced and decorated by 2230hrs, tops. So, at 2100hrs I cut it in half. Um, the jam is starting to ooze. Then I cut it into kind of off-set quarters to make 4 wings. Oh God, now the tops are sliding off! So I panic a little and call on The Boss for advice. Why, I don’t know: he is to Cake as I am to Stir-Fries – neither of us can do them.
However, he pulls a blinder: roll out the sugar paste icing and use it to coat each ‘wing’, holding it all together. Genius! But the first problem is that I can’t roll out the icing – it sticks to the rolling pin, my fingers and the mat. I start to get all prickly and stressy and yell to The Boss to crack open another box of icing sugar and to douse me in it. I plaster one wing in icing sugar and cover it in pink rolled-out sugarpaste icing, furiously patting and shaping it to the cake. It rips. I smear the edges together. The jam oozes out the bottom like the blood my murderous mood wants to spill. I wipe it up with a finger.
“Help! It looks bloody awful – the edges are crappy and cracked and rubbish!” I wail.
“Well, why not roll it in something else. Dessicated coconut? You’ve got loads of that”, he suggests. And we do – sacks of the stuff. I don’t know why, as no-one likes it. I request a pasta bowl and coconut to roll a wing in. Wow! This might work! It’s looking pretty cool, the creamy-white coconut against the baby-pink of the icing, with the top left completely coconut-free. Damn. It’s all fallen off.
“Use sugar water!” urges The Boss, in answer to my wordless, wide-eyed plea for help. So I slap a pastry brush of icing sugared water all over the cake, trying hard not to let all the pink icing slide off. It holds a little more coconut, but still looks more like a case of icing-with-dandruff than a proper covering.
“More coconut!” I demand, and The Boss pours 2 more bags into the bowl. Ah, now I can really press it into the side! I set up a tidal wave of coconut onto the floor. Oh crapiola, what a disaster! Never mind, get the wings onto the plate… pants. The plate surface is smeared with jam, the lovely pink tops of the butterfly have started to set with big mislaid coconut bits and gouges in them. Ah, who cares, I’ll cover it up. But with what? And what am I going to do with half a ton of dessicated coconut on my clean kitchen floor?!
The Boss suggests making grass. I look at him like he’s lost his marbles properly. He smiles, fetches some blue and yellow food colouring, a big plastic box, scoops up all the coconut from the floor, puts it all together and shakes madly. “Well, no-one can eat this blue food colouring stuff anyway, so who cares?” he says. He wants to cover the plate and the jam smears with the green coconut. Genius!
It’s now 0045hrs, I’m emotionally exhausted, vow never to do anything harder than a round Victoria Sandwich ever, ever again, and swan off to bed, ideas of decorations to hide the wing-tops swirling in my head.
Here is the finished concoction, that Maxi was absolutely delighted with (thank goodness): (deleted)