I posted something over here for the occasion, but just look at my little dude getting his birthday-groove on…
It’s been all smiles and giggles, and presents and surprises. He is SEVEN! And he is loving it. And I am loving him more than I ever thought I could. What an awesome kid I have – for reals. The kid is cool, yo.
But here’s the other cool thing – I mean, the part that make this about ME. (You know how it’s always about ME, right?)
Dudes. I baked a cake. From scratch.
Now, let me explain something: I don’t know from The Baking. Really, I don’t. My mum wasn’t much of a baker (though she could rock the shit out of a banana bread or an upside-down pineapple cake – believe it!) so I didn’t grow up watching someone play with flour and sugar and eggs and stuff, et voila! turn out lovely, sweets confections and things. Plus I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, save for chocolates. Especially chocolates that say CADBURY and have hazelnuts in them. Or like those adorable golden foil-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I like chocolates.
Oh right, I made a cake…! A flourless chocolate cake, one in which I hoped would satisfy both the birthday boy AND his father, who decided to eliminate gluten from his diet early last fall, which has wreaked havoc on all my culinary plans for our family ever since. Boo! Hiss!!
To those of you who bake, BRAVO to you, and you can stop reading this post here, because the rest has got to be baby-steps banal to you. For the rest of us, please read on…
Cooking is fine for me. Mince, puree, dredge, blanche, de-bone – no problem. Words like mirepoix don’t scare me at all. (Okay, the word souffle scares me
a little a lot.) But cooking is not baking. The precise measuring of baking… the fats and the sugars… Is this a soft peak? How glossy is glossy? Whenever I read the word double-boiler, or candy-thermometer, I close my eyes, quickly slam the book shut, and chuck it under the couch. Then I go to the cupboard and take down a box of anything with the words Betty Crocker on it, and proceed to break eggs, stir, and bake.
But not this time. I used this recipe I found online. It listed a scant few ingredients (I had them all in the house) and boasted a very quick start-to-finish time. But I swear, had this required folding in whipped cream or blending in hot espresso or something, I would have trashed the whole idea and searched the cabinets for a Bag of Wonderful with Quaker-man on the front.
So, I braved the double-boiler thing and put a pot of water to simmer – but not boil – Jesus save me! Ava Scarlett got up on a chair beside me, and asked me about a thousand questions as I was blending the butter and the freshly chopped chocolate. I could barely speak to her… I was worried about over-mixing (?) and scorching (?) and ohmylord, what am I doing? Oh, the STRESS of it all!! And WHY did I attempt this?! There won’t even be time to buy something when this fails… JUST SHUT UP, CHILD, I COMMAND YOU!!
But I managed. I beat in sugar. I sifted in cocoa powder. I stirred until just combined. I greased the pan, and baked the fucker.
Pleased. As. Punch.
I was a bit worried I’d over-baked it (it felt dense and très crispy on the outside to the touch) but it’s like a brownie. A homemade brownie, thank you very much! We served it with Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, and I also had some plump blackberries, but forgot to serve them. Nobody cared.
Martin got to have some this time… and Oliver LOVED it. Score: 1 for mummy!
Happy Birthday Oliver, my darling, my treasure. Please know that we love you a little bit more every day. And also, please know that I’m totally riding the hell out of your scooter in the house when you’re at school.
Love, mummy. xox