It was December 2012. We were celebrating our first Christmas as parents with Euan. Mum casually asked ”Are you going to make a cake for Euan’s birthday next month?”. I hadn’t even thought about what we’d do to celebrate our long awaited first born turning 1. Mum volunteered to make a cake for him and feeling the generosity of her offer I was immediately flooded with memories of all the birthday cakes she’d made for us growing up. Some of my most vivid memories are of celebrating our birthdays. Home made cakes lent such excitement to our birthday tea when Mum would appear with her latest candle lit creation. So in the simple asking about Euan’s cake I realised I did want to make him a cake even if he wouldn’t actually eat it. I wanted it to be special, within my own creative limits, but appreciated the assurance of having Mum on hand for support. So we settled on a plan for me to make the cake at Mum and Dad’s house. Mum could provide baking tips if needed but most importantly keep an eye on Euan so I could focus on cake making!
I hired a number 1 cake tin from our local baking supplies shop and bought some blue royal icing to cover it (this was where my confidence was lacking). The cake turned out well but I hadn’t realised just how big it was. We were eating it for days after but it was delicious so no one was complaining. Euan’s first birthday was celebrated in unexpected snow and with friends with snow days from school and work. I was glad there was so much cake to go around!
For Euan’s second and third birthday’s George and I shared the creative input. I baked and he crafted – fondant animals for my bundt cake and then icing ‘Wonka‘ lettering and making a golden ticket. Euan’s 4th birthday cake was simply a Lego brick with blue chocolate Lego mini-figures which turned out to be a bit more brownie like than I planned when I accidentally used plain flour. It worked for the best I think as it made icing it easier. I only have a picture of the half a cake that came back from playgroup! Euan’s 5th birthday was his first as a school boy and with a baby brother. I didn’t make a big birthday cake as we’d decorated 30 little brownie squares to share with his classmates. Mum bought a chocolate caterpillar cake for blowing out his birthday candles. By the time he reached 6 it was all about the sweets so making a simple sponge cake to plaster with them was beautifully easy.
This year Euan’s 7th birthday was the first we celebrated without Mum (with the added poignancy of his birthday being the day before Mum’s birthday). All of Euan’s other birthdays flashed through my mind. I thought about what to make him and what Mum would have offered to bring. I was realistic about how much time and talent I had for making a cake that would match my little engineer’s imagination. I decided not to ask him! I thought back to that very first birthday cake and returned to the cake shop to see if they still hired cake tins. They did, and for exactly the same price of £2! Euan decorated his number 7 birthday cake with his little brother and once again the cake went a very long way (the sweets vanishing quickly was no surprise!)
Footnote: There are many more birthday cakes yet to be made for my boys.
Here’s a snippet of some of the ones Mum made for me and my brothers when we were kids.