It’s 3am. The kids are asleep. I’m lying in bed wide awake, with a heavy feeling of dread pressing down on me. It’s five days until I have to once again face the worst pain a woman can endure. It’s too late to turn back. We’re too far gone for that. I can only hope that the pain will only last a few hours. Yes! It’s my child’s birthday party.
Forty-five invites have gone out. The list started at just 30 but working on the theory that one more won’t hurt, I’ve added half again.
My menu is going to be bare minimum; fairy bread, cocktail franks, something for the vegetarians, something for the kids whose parents wont let them eat meat, sugar, gluten, food coloring, nuts, and gelatine. Kids entertainment has been settled on a jumping castle. The adult’s entertainment is simple; alcohol.
Now to the cake. The icon that the entire tone of the party will take lead from. It has to be art. It has to be relevant, well crafted, accurate to form and of course, delicious. The cake is what people immediately look for when they get to a party, what they’ll talk about later and at which all party guests will pause to pay homage as it’s ignition indicates the near conclusion of the event! And it’s this that is causing me the most anxiety.
I have been watching endless hours of Cake Boss, Cupcake Wars, and Ace of Cakes in the hopes that I will absorb their skills through visual osmosis, as this year I am attempting my sons most beloved cartoon Owl. It’s Hoot… And the son of a bitch is round.
Two days before the blessed event I begin the process by baking. My first attempt has crashed and literally burned. Luckily I bought a backup mix and instead of a meteor it looks almost palatable. Now the experts recommend carving the cake into shape, covering it in icing (known as a dirty ice) and leaving it to refridgerate overnight. So I carve… And eat the off cuts with cream and melted chocolate, then go to bed.
Twenty-four hours until kick off. The house is clean, the prep work is done, and I sit down to face the vaguely owl-like chocolate blob that will bring a year’s worth of happiness to my soon to be two-year old boy. I dirty ice. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and begin coloring fondants. Two hours later my left breast is orange and my arms are blue to the elbows but I begin to cover Hoot. The temperature of the house is working against me and the fondants tears over and over again.
Finally the cake is covered, and I add on the wings, beak, legs and eyes that transform this blue football into the character that delights my boy and provokes a groan of ‘not again’ from my husband.
The next day brings everything you expect from a kids birthday party. The house gets trashed, there’s a terrible misunderstanding between a couple of parents over a potential ‘pushing’ incident, and it runs two hours overtime. And at the end of it, I place the lit cake in front of my boy and his face breaks into a huge grin and he screams ‘HOOT!’
The owl was demolished in about 13 seconds and provoked a mass exodus of party guests, leaving me with a streamer lined hovel where my living room once stood. But my boy fell asleep with a smile on his face and a dab of blue food coloring on his cheek. Next year, let’s try MacDonalds.
What birthday cake have you attempted for your kids?
This piece was originally posted on themumsgroup.com.au