Sunday, 11 May 2014

Thursday, 1 May 2014

And talking of cake...

I've been in baking overdrive for the last few weeks. The child turned six (six! How can this be?) and, as anyone (who shares my addiction to carbs) will agree, there is no finer way to celebrate such a milestone than in cake.

First up a joint swimming party with a classmate. I warmed to my theme, although perhaps researching how to get turquoise food colouring out of fingers/nails/cuticles in under a week would have been more useful preparation than sourcing flesh coloured icing. Still, hindsight is a wonderful thing and at least I discovered that making odd limbs out of fondant is far more fun than perhaps it ought to be.

This was probably my fastest birthday cake to date: three hours from digging around in the cupboard for the caster sugar to cleaning (turquoise) icing off the wooden floor. And the cupboards. And the ceiling.

Perfect? Not in the slightest. But one very happy little fish, which (of course) instantly makes every bit of angst and cuticle scrubbing thoroughly worth the while. 

Because I'm a glutton for punishment mad I decided it would be a great idea to invite her non-school friends over for tea and a second celebration too. To be fair, all ten children were (remarkably) angelic throughout - just as well as husband was at work and a house full of rampaging/wailing masses is not much fun at the best of times and certainly not single handed. 

We had a lovely afternoon of pinning tails on donkeys, musical bumping/statuing, passing the parcel and making pizzas for tea. 

And then - of course - eating cake.

Now I'm as big a fan of Colin the Caterpillar as the next person - but (alas) buying one for the child is simply never going to happen. She's (so far - we can live in hope) showing no signs of growing out of her severe wheat allergy, and although it's easier than ever before to pick up gluten-free goodies in most supermarkets, buying anything fancier than a Victoria sponge off the shelf is just not an option. We could order cakes to be specially made of course - but that can be hugely expensive and also I do really like being able to create something for her myself (sometimes I need reminding how much I really like it but honest, I do...)

So cake all its wheat free (& dairy free - guest with lactose allergy) "glory". 

The hardest bit - by far - was the bucket made from fondant icing. Bar the shells (stolen from her collection and boil washed) and the flags (each made from half a wooden chopstick, two address labels and a bit of felt tip) everything was 100% edible (at least, ish). Although turns out that biscuit sand is no less annoying than actual sand in terms of getting everywhere and sticking to everything. 

And finally (yes, there's a finally), cake number 3. 

Somehow, over the years, we have fallen into the habit of inviting family round for tea as a sort of birthday extra/good excuse to entertain diverse groups of relatives in one fell swoop. "I'm not going to bother this year" I told the husband. "Enough with the parties and the baking. Plus her birthday falls on a Tuesday so no one is going to be around anyway."

But it wasn't quite that easy. Turns out once you've created an "institution", un-instituting it is rather more tricky and so, after a number of enthusiastic enquiries, we decided that if you're in for a penny you might as well go the whole hog and be in for the pound as well.

I'd got the idea for this one from Pinterest a while ago, but it took me ages to get round to actually making it track down the gluten-free ice cream cone (Ocado - great for GF stuff). It appealed because it's a relatively quick and easy design but it makes people smile.

I had a (very experimental) play around with the inside too.

Interestingly, having totted up the cost of ingredients for all three cakes (which all turned out somewhat bigger than intended - oops - and so meant plenty of leftovers to take to work etc and ended up making a total of over 60 portions between them) it still came out far cheaper than ordering one standard gluten-free birthday cake from a bakery. And although, of course, there's a fair amount of time and effort involved, there are some things you just can't put a price on. 
Especially when a little note appears on your pillow the following day.