When your partner’s a pastry chef and a brilliant one at that, how is one to ever bake a cake without feeling the pressure of comparison? It’s a question I ask myself every time I bake. Am I being silly? Maybe, but when I spoke to a close friend and mentioned I was baking a birthday cake (a few days before my only child’s 1st birthday mind you), she asked in amusement “Whose birthday cake are you baking? Can’t be Lilybelle’s, J will be making that won’t he?”… I’ve come to expect and to accept these kind of comments – as I’ve mentioned before, I’m the first to admit baking and I aren’t the best of friends. Thankfully (and rather cleverly I think), we decided to break up the parties between family and friends, so I quickly put my hand up to bake the cake for the family ‘do’ so as not to disappoint friends who have come to eagerly await Justin’s cooking whenever they come to visit. My poor family would just have to lump it (or eat it in this case).
So scanning the internet in my quest to research the easiest possible children’s birthday cake I could find in the hope that I wouldn’t make a complete ass of it, I was inundated with ridiculously difficult and crazy shapes and characters in which some over-achieving mums had moulded out of batter and icing! A handbag? A high heel? Barbie? Oh my god. What is wrong with these mum’s? Are they crazy? What happened to a yummy cake with lollies on it, like we had as kids? Apparently they went out of fashion just as the phrase ‘super-mum’ came in. Crap.
So why did I care? What was so important about baking this damn birthday cake anyway? Well I pondered this for a while as I took a breather from the super OTT display of images (my head was seriously spinning – I needed some air!). What I realized, with some surprise, was that this was really important to me – this was my little girls 1ST BIRTHDAY! My only child, my first daughter, my baby – I wanted to make her something special that was delicious and filled with love that somehow represented just how much I love and adore her. Wow, heavy stuff when cakes are meant to be light and fluffy.
Honestly, the things that come out when I ponder the world – I put some of this emotion down to breastfeeding and crazy hormones, but I can’t dismiss all of it on that. I’ve realized that this 1st birthday is not only a celebration of Lilybelle herself, but it’s also an incredibly special time for all of us as a family – a year ago today I was in labour and all three of us underwent an incredible journey together, one that was humbling, moving and changed me (and us) forever. Because when my daughter was placed in my arms, I became a mum. And J a dad. And 1 year on, looking at our little girl, we both feel it’s been the most amazing year of our life – and that is something truly special to commemorate.
Having this realization of course upped the ante somewhat. But I took a deep breath, baked a simple butter cake, made a yummy rosewater icing (I am a Rose after all) and made pretty marshmallow flowers to decorate. Yes, I went old-school and it turned out hmmm, ok – next time I’ll do a trial run first. It certainly wouldn’t win any prizes, but I put as much love as I could into that cake and that was what was important to me. And hopefully to Lilybelle, who thankfully has not had cake before and therefore can’t compare it to Justin’s yet! My family’s reaction? They kindly sucked it up, made hmm-hmmming noises and refrained from making comment!
I think she enjoyed her first taste of cake...