Birthday cake stress

We may like the cards and presents, but a birthday is really all about the cake.
So perhaps beginning my attempt for my daughter’s second birthday party at 8pm the night before folowing a quick dash to the shops after work for flour and eggs was not the best idea.
My next mistake was trying a new recipe. I had already learned from an previous error of judgement that there is absolutely no point trying to make a “healthy option” when kids are concerned. It was the Christmas party at my local toddler group where we were all told to bring a festive treat. I thought I was being clever by cooking up some banana bran muffins from healthy eating guru Annabel Karmel. But I was soon put in my place when they were the only, yes only thing, left on the table. To add to my woe, I had to do a public walk of shame when I was called up to come and take home my untouched baked goods.
So, I couldn’t go wrong with chocolate fudge cake, or so I thought. Anyway it turns out you can and when it emerged from the oven at around 9pm instead of the springy, mouth-watering traybake in the picture, I had an almost flat rectangular crusty pancake barely thick enough to plant a candle in.
Trying to calm my meltdown that I was a terrible mother who can’t even cook her daughter a birthday cake, their dad reminded me that the kids wouldn’t care what it looked like as long as it was chocolate. “But their mums will!” I wailed. So I poured myself a glass of wine and started again and made some simple chocolate fairy cakes which by the time I’d plastered them in icing and Smarties looked semi-respectable.
So after I’d finished clearing up the carnage I’d made in the process, I’d basically faffed about in the kitchen for about two and a half hours. All I could think of was the £5 traybake I’d seen earlier in the supermarket, and put back on the shelf and that could have saved me a whole lot of hassle.
I know that the children really didn’t care what the cake looked like, but it somehow feels like a labour of love.
Maybe it is my childhood memories too. My gran could cook up some amazing feats from trains to bonfires, forts and a doll. And I do remember them even if I didn’t appreciate the skill at the time.
My older daughter is four in January, so I think I will have to get practicing. But maybe I will have a supermarket traybake in the cupboard just in case.

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