My dad’s birthday. As ever, particularly with the men in my life, I try to make up for a rubbish and uninspiring present by making a cake. This year (Boo and Noodles aside) I thought it would be fun (ie required less imagination on my part) to copy the cakes illustrated on birthday cards.
As ever though, nothing is all that easy in the Gluestick household.
If you fancy making a cake the Gluestick way, here’s what to do:
• 5 large eggs (you’ll only need 4, but one will end up smashed on the floor)
Equal weight of the 4 eggs you’ll actually use in
• Self-raising flour
• Approx 1.5 tsp vanilla extract (or 2 caps full because you can’t find the measuring spoons and all teaspoons have migrated upstairs)
• Ready-made tubs of vanilla buttercream icing (because life is too short)
For chocolate icing on top, estimated amounts of
• Icing sugar
• Splash of milk
1) Start to make cake 2.5 hours later than planned, this simultaneously looking after 2 children instead of just 1. At any given point in proceedings expect to be interrupted by any/all of the following:
• Having to help with homework
• Requests for snacks and drinks
• Help sorting out TV
• Playing in the garden
• Basic first aid
• Tantrum negotiations
Pre-heat oven to Guess Mark* 5
*The oven is that old the actual marks on the dials have long since worn away. Thus Guess marks, rather than Gas marks.
2) Weigh eggs. (Optional: drop egg. Clean up resulting mess.)
3) Mix butter and sugar together. Rather than using a luxury retro-style Kitchen Aid mixer (as that’s the final phase of the Big Kitchen Make-over and we’re only on phase 1) use a genuinely vintage hand-held mixer that is older than you are.
4) Gradually add eggs and flour to the mix. This is the point that small children will want to help. Hopefully some of the eggs and flour will make it to the bowl. Have kitchen towel and surface cleansing wipes to hand. Only remember the vanilla extract at the last minute. Although well done if you remember it before step 5.
5) As it’s a 3-layer cake you will need to divide your mixture into three equal portions. Unfortunately you will only have two cake tins. Remember to grease them with butter if you want the cakes to come out in one piece.
6) Bake the first two cakes for approximately 25 minutes on the middle shelf. Try not to eat the remaining mix whilst waiting for a free tin.
7) Remove the first two cakes from the oven. DON’T turn the oven off! Allow cakes to cool slightly and remove from tins. Wash one tin and repeat steps 5 & 6 with the remaining batter.
Now you can lick out the bowl. Shoo all children away with a beater to lick each, whilst you set about the bowl with a plastic spatula.
8) DO be patient and wait for the cakes to cool FULLY before moving onto the filling and icing. (Not like I did with Indy’s last cake. Still, you live and learn.)
Spread a layer of (ready-made) buttercream and jam on top of two of the cakes and sandwich the three cakes together.
9) To make the chocolate icing topping mix an estimation of icing sugar and cocoa together with a splash of milk. (You’ll be too fed up for weighing and measuring by this point.) Quickly realise that you’ve used too much milk, so add more icing sugar and cocoa until the consistency is enough to trickle down the side of the cake, but not so much that it all runs off. It’s a fine line. Spread over the top of the cake.
10) Realise you’ve forgotten to buy decorations for the top. Dig some candles out of the back of the cupboard and use a red Maynard’s wine gum in the absence of a cherry.
Present your beautiful cake to the birthday boy/girl. Leave the washing up to someone else.