It was a disaster. I tried my best, but it still looked like something a twelve-year-old had made out of plasticine. At least it made my siblings laugh (good to bring a bit of laughter to someone’s day—even if that wasn’t the result I was going for).
You see, it was my mother’s 80th birthday, and I decided that I would make the cake. (Well, to be honest, the lady who I wanted to order a cake from has moved away, and when I looked at cakes in the shops, I thought I could make one that was better. I was wrong.) Birthday cakes in our family are a thing.
When we were young, my mum always made us a birthday cake. Every year, without fail. Previously, Mum had taken some evening courses (City and Guilds) and she was rather good at decorating cakes—good enough to sell them in fact. I remember the tension in the house whenever she was asked to make a wedding cake, because if we even breathed in the kitchen we were glared at!
I also remember the time she made a huge centenary cake for a Covenanter group (like the scouts) and it was left in the larder where it would be safe. Except it wasn’t safe at all because someone (my brother) lent on it to reach something and put his elbow right through the left-hand corner. There was a bit of fuss when it was discovered, minutes before the cake was due to leave the house, and my mother did a bit of nifty icing to hide the damage.
My favourite cake had a fairy on it, closely followed by one with iced pink flowers. My brother’s cakes tended to be football-themed. I don’t remember my sister’s, but they would have been beautiful.
When I had children of my own, I tried to continue the family tradition. My results were less good, but usually passable—mainly because I went for simpler designs.
So now, with Mum about to be 80, I wanted to create something beautiful for her. She is a keen gardener, with painted watering cans in the garden (where she hides sweets for all the local children to find). I decided to make a cake covered in iced flowers, with bright watering cans all around the edge.
I found some tiny flowerpot muffin cases in Lakeland—they could sit on top of the cake.
I found a mould for icing watering-cans on the internet. Perfect.
I was busy revising for exams, but when I could think no more, I used the break to make the cakes. I have made cakes a million times. These were the worst cakes ever.
I tried to make the watering-cans. Even I could see they weren’t exactly beautiful. The red icing seemed to go everywhere. The cake (and my kitchen) looked more like a war zone than a garden. I sent photos to my siblings. My brother suggested I add a hand-grenade to complete the look. My sister said she couldn’t stop laughing.
It was a disaster. I realised that decorating cakes is not one of my gifts.
On the day, I presented Mum with her garden-war-zone-chaos cake. She looked pleased.
Hope you have some success with whatever you attempt this week. But if not, at least it might make someone laugh.
Love, Anne x
(The photo below, found on Facebook, seemed strangely apt!)