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.