There are many areas where I don't make the grade as the perfect Mum but one of my major failings is that I don't bake birthday cakes for boy and girl. I can cook, I can bake, I'm reasonably arty crafty but I'm scared to try and put them all together and even attempt a birthday masterpiece. So year in year out I resort to supermarket birthday cakes.
I have wonderful memories of my own childhood birthday cakes. My Mum had an amazing Readers Digest Cookbook "The Cookery Year" which has a fantastic birthday party feast double page spread the highlight of which is a clock cake. The sheer genius behind this idea being that you could make exactly the same cake every year but just change the time that the little hand pointed to so it matched the birthday number. These pages were poured over so regularly by both me and my sister that that they are ripped. Alas my mother can produce no photographic evidence of any clock cake made for me. But she and my rose tinted memories assure me they happened.
|Readers Digest - Published 1973|
In the absence of homemade birthday cake for my kids I've resorted to biscuits. Girl is turning 8 this week and had an ice skating party at the weekend. On browsing the time waster that is Pinterest I came across Cookie Skates and decided I had to make them.
|Pillsbury Cookie Skates - my inspiration|
First problem - sourcing candy canes in September. Not easy when you have left it too late to order online. Thankfully Wowzie came to the rescue with a box of Jelly Belly ones. Next I had to cut them to size. This is where the mini saw from boy's tool kit came in handy. Not a utensil I've had cause to use up until now in the kitchen.
The cookies were made following a Nigella Lawson recipe that an internet friend emailed me many years back when I was first making Tractor birthday biscuits for boy. Alas I don't know its name or which book its from. It has served me well as its failsafe, makes loads, is super easy to work with and holds its shape very well.
Boy has moved on from his 3rd birthday Tractor biscuits and is now keen to help make them. The farmyard apron may well have been a 3rd birthday pressie as it now barely covers his 10 year old bum.
Once cooked the serious business of decorating commenced. The recipe said to attach the candy canes with icing but I feared that wouldn't actually be secure enough to work so I went for sugar syrup. First attempt burned. Fingers also burnt. Much swearing. You need to heat it unbelievably slowly. Thankfully second try worked like a charm. Went for simple water icing but chickened out of the piped laces and opted for silver balls.
Was the effort worth it? I fear not. My sixth sense tells me that 12 out of 13 eight year olds would have preferred a party bag with a bouncy ball and whistle. They did however seem to like the Hello Kitty Cake from Asda.