I think I need to eat a whole head of broccoli. Raw. Dipped in cucumber and enveloped in green beans and slathered in lettuce. As soon as I polish off the last of these chewy cornflake cluster thingies, that’s what I’ll be doing. It’s lucky I’ve already eaten the last of the caramel-and-cheese popcorn (don’t ask) and finished the birthday cake. Washed down with a glass of vino, por supuesto.
Our weekend, it was somewhat cake-oriented. It began on Friday morning when I bought 30 supermarket iced cupcakes and delivered them to Dash’s class and teachers. (You can’t bring home-made stuff to school because of ingredients lists and allergies.) The gym teacher was absent, so even after I’d kept one for Mabel, there was one left for me. I scraped off the two-inch-high dollop of buttercream – because I’m not a pig, you know – and had it with my cup of tea as a reward for a job well done. Handing out cupcakes to third graders is hard work.
On Friday afternoon I baked a single, fat, layer of Victoria sponge to put cream and strawberries on for the block party (the Americans thought it was a strawberry shortcake but I know it’s a fruit flan); but because I felt bad about making a cake Dash wouldn’t like when it was after all his birthday, I also rustled up a batch of cookies. That’s my new go-to recipe. It does everything it says on the tin. Eat them warm and gooey.
On Saturday Mabel and I made some vanilla cupcakes, because people who come to our parties sometimes don’t like chocolate (I know. As if.) and then I made another batch of cookies because that seemed like a good idea, and I wanted something to go with my cup of tea. I also threw together the aforementioned chewy cornflake bun things, because they’re a birthday party tradition now. (This is the recipe but I use a lot less butter and if you’re in America you have to use Milky Ways because they’re the equivalent of the UK/Irish Mars Bar. A UK/Irish Milky Way is entirely different, more akin to an American Three Musketeers bar. Did that clear everything up? Now I want a Bounty.)
On Sunday morning it was time for Dash to bake his cake, because he insisted on doing that himself even though there’s nothing I want less on the morning of a party than a nine-year-old (or anyone, for that matter) inexpertly cluttering up my kitchen and making a mess in an unsanctioned manner. But, you know, have to be nice to the birthday boy, so I made an effort. I typed up the recipe more simply and printed it out in 14-pt font, because trying to navigate 8pt font on a screen is not good for someone with dyslexia. We made half the quantity given in that link, and it filled two 9-inch round cake pans.
Once it was in the oven I reasserted my dominion over the kitchen and quickly whipped up some vanilla buttercream for the cupcakes, and turned the scrapings into some sort of hacked chocolate sour-cream icing to put in between the cake layers. (Loosely based on the filling for the Nigella Lawson cake recipe here.)
The cake turned out beautifully, as the other adults who tasted it can attest. (Never believe a child.)
Nine candles is practically a conflagration. I’d never seen so much fire on a cake before. Now, where’s my broccoli?