He had planned a packed agenda too. Saturday morning was to be the cinema party with one group, Saturday afternoon would be a couple of rounds at LaserGame, and then on Sunday the last group would troop off for an afternoon of paintball.
He also wanted a birthday present. My credit card was steaming at the very thought of all this despite the fact that kids would be asked for a financial participation instead of a present. In the end I was sick in the run up to his birthday and just managed to get the LaserGame outing organised. It was all rather haphazard, but the kids were dropped off on a rainy Saturday at the tram station together with one other mother who I didn't know would be accompanying us, but was grateful that she did. We hopped on the tram, all 10 kids, and they kept relatively quiet and sensible on the journey to Odysseum mall tram stop.
I hate the place to be honest. It's a large shopping centre with vast cinema complex, ice rink and LaserGame. I was too late with my reservation to have the birthday option where the staff provide disgusting cake and watered down soda, but we'd enjoy a homemade cake and full strength soda once we got back home. For this occasion, I'd just brought water and sweets for that all-essential birthday sugar rush.
The all-boy party was gatecrashed by two others whose parents asked if they could join in as they weren't in a group. I said yes, but if there's ever a next time I'll say no as they were a right pain apparently.
They finished all nice and sweaty and a bit niffy so we went back out into the rain to take the tram back to the cars. Back home, the boys dived into the soda, crepes with Nutella, and the white chocolate birthday cake.
When I say 'white' I mean that the chocolate used was white because the cake itself was a little, um, off-white. I made it that morning having rushed to Carrouf to buy supplies. It was all going swimmingly but I'm crap at making birthday cakes; they always turn out wrong, except last year's which in a desperate effort to make one that little French boys would eat (they don't like my Brit fruit cakes), I made from a packet (and it tasted like it).
My oven has an automatic cake setting and I foolishly trusted the supposedly smart technology to tell me when the cake was perfectly done. Well, either we have different interpretations of 'perfectly done' or the smart technology was off having a weekend break or a nervous breakdown because while I was making the crepes I could also detect a whiff of burning.
The oven beeped to tell me that it had decided that cake was done, and opened the door to discover a burnt disaster which would have been fine as barbecue fodder but didn't exactly hack it as a birthday cake. I stood at the hob making crepes and wondering how to save the cake. I let it cool for a while then decided I should try and turn it out. As one crepe was cooking, I turned the cake upside down and put the tin on the rack as the cake was a wee bit stuck. I went back to the crepe and then once the next one was on the go, I bashed the cake tin hoping to jig it out of its stupor.
Well it worked... partly. The crown of the cake detached itself from the rest and landed on the rack together with a large blob of chocolatey cake goo. Bugger. I hurriedly turned the tin the right way up and popped the 'lid' back on, and got my youngest to scoop up the goo with his fingers. He pronounced it delicious, which was encouraging...
I then got the heavy mob out - a spatula - which I dug down and round the side of the cake and freed it from its tin encasing. The crepes were by this time coming out a little over-cooked as I tried unsuccessfully to multi-task. Forcefully unstuck from the tin, the cake landed on my hand in an effort to protect the dodgy crown and I got it back on the rack without further trouble.
Then I thought I'd better scrape off the black bits because it didn't look appetising, a birthday cake that resembled a lump of coal. In-between crepes (yes I made a huge pile, and they all went...) I scraped and hacked at the black bits and once the crepes were finally done, could really get to it. By the end, the cake looked like toast does when you scrape off the burnt bits...
Icing! I thought. The cake needed icing. I found a recipe that required 30g of white chocolate and a tablespoon of water. This is not a large quantity of either, and they had to be melted in a saucepan and then boiled for 2 minutes. The melting bit went okay, but when it came to boiling, I had to rescue it in extremis as it started to brown pretty quickly. So my white icing became white with brown bits. I added the icing sugar and a bit more water which did nothing to take away from the white with brown bits look, and poured it over the cake. As the crown had a healthy dent from its bid for freedom, most of the icing tried to settle there and had to be forced to cover the rest of the cake. I then discovered I had previously chucked out all the candles in a mad clear-out except for one batch of eight. Oops.
The end result? It would never win Baked Off Britain (or whatever the show is called) or even get past a vague chat about entering the competition, but it did in fact taste divine. It was light and chocolatey and not sickly at all. There was none left at the end of the party, not a crumb.
|Object allegedly identified as a birthday cake plus other birthday tea paraphernalia.|
PS that is the other mum's hand... I was mopping up spilt Coke...
Cue big sigh of relief.
Brains baffled hi tech bullshit!ReplyDelete
Good for you!
It's not easy trying to set things up with a woolly brain, or indeed make a birthday cake! It's a miracle it happened at all! :)Delete
Ha ha so glad the cake tasted great despite the oven! Have a great weekend, DianeReplyDelete
Thanks Diane. I was most relieved after all that! Enjoy the sun. :)Delete
The cake looks a lot better than what I usually make. I have aa failsafe chocolate brownie cake recipe for birthdays - failsafe because it's not supposed to rise so I can claim that it was always meant to look like a dense brown frisbee.ReplyDelete
I thought about brownies but I don't have the right kind of tin. I don't have any rectangular tins in fact, I just have cake tins so brownies were out.Delete
Nice save, Sarah. This story brought to mind all the birthday parties with my boys...playing deadly laser tag in the backyard and all pumped up on sugar. Let me know if you want my failsafe chocolate cupcake recipe. French people love them. If I can't screw it up, I doubt you can either.ReplyDelete
Great idea, Delana. Write it up in a post with a merry story to go with it. :)Delete
Well, what can I say, it looks like you strive when things get, well, challenging. That said, you had 3 b'day party in a week-end? I can't believe it! You are too good a mum!ReplyDelete
We didn't have the 3 events! The kids did LaserGame on Saturday afternoon and on Tuesday, his birthday, I took him to the trotinette shop after school followed by dinner at PandaWok.Delete
The other two party ideas have been quietly dropped. :)
As for the cake, I couldn't imagine the party without one, and it was perfectly all right under the burnt coat, so I was not going to let it get the better of me. Dammit!! :)
I can sympathise as I am a hopeless baker and usually just rush to the nearest supermarket and buy whatever looks most appropriate!ReplyDelete
I just mess up birthday cakes. My boiled fruit cakes and carrot cakes are just fine! :)
I think you pulled it off quite well, young lady! Here's a secret for you, I too can't bake worth a damn.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the insight into what'll be expected of us when our son turns 12. I'll start saving now.....
Haha, DD, so what do you do for birthday cakes? Does your wife have the knack?Delete
Do start saving, kids are something of a luxury these days... :)
My wife bake? Not very well. I know better as I burn everything I try and bake.Delete
Kudos to you for making the cake, and rescuing it! As long as it tasted good, that's all that matters.ReplyDelete
Now, next week, I'm attemtping a pizza cake for daughter's birthday. Never done one before, so tune in to see what happens!
A pizza cake? Gosh, good luck with that. Mind you, you are a highly accomplished baker, your fairy/cup cakes are a wonder to behold.Delete
I'm crap at how things look but they tend to taste good which as you say, is all that matters (well mostly...). :)
Thanks for the chortle. I have the same issues with birthday cakes - generally as soon as I'm cooking for anyone else, I mess up. I ahte the Odysseum- a bermuda triangle for savings.ReplyDelete
Funny how birthday cakes pose such a problem. Glad to know I'm not alone anyway.Delete
I haven't ventured into the shops part of Odysseum, just the cinema/LaserGame end, and the Decathlon/Ikea end.
I think you'd be marvellous for the Great British Bake-off - they always need things to go wrong as it makes good viewing!ReplyDelete
Kudos to you for even attempting this for the Little Prince and his everlasting birthday!! Great story :-)
I'd be the star of the show then!! :) Modesty forbids however...Delete
The lad did say he was chuffed with his birthday celebrations and presents, and that's what counts. :)
Gosh, you're brave, Sarah, juggling crepe-making with cake-rescuing. As Britain's worst cake-maker, I admire anyone who attempts a party cake and am glad yours tasted so good in the end. This is one of those times I'm glad my two are long flown from the nest and now coping with their own offspring's birthday parties. :-)ReplyDelete
Well I really couldn't let a cake get the better of me. :)Delete
What a brilliant Mum you are. I hate all those mass "Fun" places for kids (one of my major ambitions is never ever to go to Disneyland) but it means a lot to the kids to go.ReplyDelete
Thanks Jody! :)Delete
My kids went with their dad to Disneyland which I was very happy about because it meant job done! Being a big kid himself, it was the ideal solution. :)