The Best kind of Birthday Cake

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Presentation is not my strong point. I can’t ice (frost) a cake to save my life and I once, rather too memorably, had to serve up a spooned heap of still warm and completely unset brownie-cake to each guest at an eight year old’s birthday party. Tasted fab-u-lous but people laughed. A lot.

Luckily my family love my cakes, regardless of crumbs, goo and general wonkiness and it’s a tradition for each to choose the flavour of their birthday cake each year. For the record, Simon’s favourite is Guinness cake with cream cheese icing (Nigella Lawson’s Feast) Maya invariably requests chocolate brownie cake with gold spray and anything shiny thrown on randomly; and Lily always has honey cake with a pinch of rosemary added to the mix and lemony butter icing (Tessa Kiros’s Apples for Jam.) The taste and texture of each is fantastic enough to detract from my, shall we say, rustic presentation and everyone is happy.

And me? You know what? I love cake, but I can never be arsed to make my own birthday cake so I haven’t had one for years. I don’t even know what my favourite cake is because I’ve never had to think about it. But this year Maya made a basic chocolate fridge cake (you know the one, melted chocolate and butter mixed with any bits of biscuit, nuts and dried fruit you’ve got lying around and then popped in the fridge to harden up) and then stuck candles in. It wasn’t the most beautiful creation, or even the most tempting combination of ingredients (cooking chocolate, too much butter, generic digestive biscuits, almonds and glacé cherries) but she made it for me. And arranged it in different sized slices on a plate. And she stuck candles in the bits that hadn’t fallen apart. And they all sang “happy birthday dearest mummy” – out of tune but with enthusiasm and feeling. And it was my favourite cake ever.


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