Today I was reminded of a cake that I made this time two years ago for the birthday of my darling godson, Jacob. He had originally wanted an aeroplane-themed cake, but, after a trip to his mother’s hometown of Texarkana, Texas in the good ol’ US of A, he suddenly announced he actually wanted a monster truck cake. Naturally, because I was still only about a year into my caking journey, I went completely overboard.
This was the cake I made and very carefully transported to his party – a party that he was sharing with three other friends who all have birthdays around the same time.
When we arrived to set up, there were already three other cakes there and all much more what you might expect to find at a two-year-old’s birthday party. I was absolutely mortified by how ostentatious Jacob’s cake looked next to the others – saying so to all and sundry. But, as the party got stated, I remember one of the other mums coming up to me rather embarrassed and almost apologising for her child’s cake – one that she had lovingly made herself. I think perhaps she felt it paled in comparison to Jacob’s.
In hindsight, it strikes me as odd that we both felt we had something to apologise for. Both of the birthday boys had been given cakes made just for them, with a huge helping of love and affection stirred straight into the mix. And I bet both of the birthday boys felt that their cake was the greatest thing in the world.
As a child, I was very lucky to have a nanna who ensured that every year, all of her grandchildren received a beautiful homemade cake for their birthday. To six-year-old me, her cakes were simply awe-inspiring, yet I also remember being a bit older and looking through her cake decorating books, seeing the cakes that brought me such joy nestled within their pages. Clearly, the original Mrs Baker wasn’t a cake innovator, but that didn’t matter – my memories of them are her legacy. And I’ve spoken before about how losing her actually originally inspired me to start baking.
If you think back yourself, which cakes do you remember from your early years? The ones bought from the local cake shop or supermarket or the ones made with love and affection by mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, family friends or others that you held dear? Making something for someone – giving them your time, your efforts, your energies and your love – should never be apologised for. Because in today’s world of instant digital gratification, that is truly priceless…