Thursday, May 31, 2012

Let them eat cake

I once attended a child's birthday party at which there was no cake. When I rudely asked when the cake was going to be served my German friend patiently explained that there wouldn't be any cake as they had already had one. At home. On their son's actual birthday. I was gobsmacked. 

For us, the cake is the party. Without the cake it is just another get together. It is not uncommon for my kids to pull out one of our vast collection of Australian Women's Weekly cookbooks as their party draws to an end and start planning the next party, the one that is now an entire year away. And the weird thing is that I don't mind a bit. 

The cake decision is complex, involving matters that go beyond questions of flavour (chocolate or vanilla) or whether to make the cake from scratch or a packet mix. The important questions are whether the cake will be a butterfly or a caterpillar, fairy house or haunted castle, jungle or ocean. Or at least that is the case in my family.

While my German friend did not comprehend my belief in the central role of cake at a child's birthday party, my French friend happily served up a chocolate cake in the shape of a circle for her daughter's 2nd birthday. No, the theme was not circles or shapes or Goodnight Moon. It was just that. A cake. A very fine cake that I still remember almost a decade later.

When my oldest child was in preschool I clearly remember a year where we not only made the Australian Women's Weekly piano cake, but also the electric guitar. Looking back, I am both horrified and in awe. What sort of message were we sending our first born? And more to the point, where did we find the time and energy to produce not one, but two, of these 3-D masterworks?

In recent years we have kept up the tradition while learning how to make something that looks great but doesn't require combined degrees in engineering and the fine arts. We have also accepted that while I choose the cake's theme, my husband is responsible for making it. Last year, this fine arrangement was interrupted by the his early departure for California. Aside from leaving me alone with four children and a house to pack up and sell, he also left me in sole charge of the four-year-old's party.

No need to panic. I had the Australian Women's Weekly's latest tome. A work of genius! The cupcake edition. Somehow I got Mr nearly 4 to agree to the 'garden' theme and we were off. It was completely adorable and indecently easy. I almost felt that I was letting the side down.

This year we did not make Ms10 a specially themed cake. In fact, I let Ms10 and her four new friends pick the cake themselves. From the bakery. It was a sensational cake, chocolate and in the shape of a circle. 




12 comments:

Sarah said...

No cake?? It's not a party without a cake!!

I think the record number of cakes was for my daughters 10th Birhday when we had 5 due to various people coming on different days as well as the party (not forgetting the fact that the dog ate one of them!)

Mark Fendrick said...

In the past few years I have noticed the attention and effort that Australians put into their birthday cakes. It appears that elaborate character/object cakes are the norm with my Aussie friends.

While I agree that a birthday party needs a cake, here they are most often store bought, round or sheet cakes with a simple HAPPY BIRTHDAY (or other occasion) and the person's name written on them.

I will admit to being in awe at some of the Australian cakes I have seen. :-)

mamabook said...

They often are pretty awesome! I am going to keep searching for old shots of some of our best efforts. It really is a bit of a thing for us even though the bigs are now maybe getting a bit too big for it.

mamabook said...

Sarah, I am in awe of 5 cakes! THere can never be too many. I think we usually manage a minimum of two - one on the birthday, one for the party.

nemosmummy said...

I do insanity cakes because its literally my day job. I also feel like its kinds expected for the same reason. Last year we did a Star Wars cake.

LittleWhiteDove said...

Cake. Is. Essential. Doesn't need to be fancy. Does need to be cake.

Our two boys have birthdays a week apart. So that week every year, I do four cakes. One for each of them on the day, one for the party, and one for the family BBQ. Two weeks after that, I front up for our youngest's birthday, same deal. One for the day, one per party.

Denwise aka Denyse Whelan said...

The women's weekly birthday cake book - original edition & now much dog-eared was/is still in our family, now in our DD's household. Around 33 years ago(OMG) it was our son's 1st B'day & he had the number one w smarties..nad then on & on went the cakes & designs. my mum made her grandkids cakes too,.from the book. (mum was an accomplished cake maker but she'd do the best copy she could) My DD had a tennis racquet cake for her 9th & the lamington 10 for 10th. My best effort was Superman for M Aged 2 & Mum did racing car for him one year. In Australia it IS about the cake (& the lolly bags!) great memories! d

mamabook said...

Thanks D. I have brought our entire collection of AWW birthday cake cookbooks. They weren't around when I was little but were on the scene when my brother was a bub (10 years younger) and I still remember the Hickory Dickory Dock and cat cake mum made him. One of my favourites was a very simple but cute rabbit we made for my daughter when she turned two, (pronounced "wabbit").
Michelle

Sarah said...

I am not good at making fiddly cakes, but luckily my kids don't mind. Mr 6 is happy as long as it's chocolate, and ms 4 has a very talented godmother who has obliged her the past two birthdays. We always have a cake at the party and on the actual day. Ms 4 actually didn't eat any of either of her cakes this year, but was pleased as punch to gather round them while we sang happy birthday and watched her blow out the candles.

Maxabella said...

They didn't have a cake!? THEY DIDN'T HAVE A CAKE?! No. Not right at all.

It's a little bit like the time my friend put on a splendid b'day party but sent the kids home without a lolly / loot bag. Sacrilege according to my kids...

x

mamabook said...

Ha! Yes, my kids do not leave until the lolly bag is safely in their possession.
And Sarah - she didn't eat the cake! Unprecedented in my house.

Painting services Sydney said...

awesome taste

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...