The Joy of Baking (or not).

It’s the night before my boy turns three. The presents are wrapped, the scooter is assembled and the house is semi clean. I feel a hundred times calmer than I did last year and the year before. The reason? A £15 birthday cake from M&S.

This year the cake was ‘hand bought’ and chosen by my child. He’s very happy with it. I’m definitely happy not to be spending this evening sobbing into a sunken Victoria sponge. If your child is about to have a birthday and you harbour an urge to bake the cake I have a very liberating bit of advice DONT DO IT. Step away from the Mary Berry cook book and get yourself down to the supermarket where someone else has created a showstopper just for you. Of course if you’re an amazing baker and can whip up a masterpiece with little effort then this post is not for you. However, if like me, you bake infrequently with varied results then baking anything under pressure is just not a good idea.
My husband feels no obligation to bake a birthday cake and has no desire to help. However, two years running I have disappointed myself by spending five hours in the kitchen and producing a pretty mediocre cake.
The first birthday attempt cost £40 in ingredients and tin rental, tasted good but was the third attempt. The second birthday cake was an unmitigated disaster and had to be smothered in frosting to hide a very dubious interior. My son didn’t care because I plonked a toy JCB digger on top and called it a ‘mud cake’.

I cared though. I wanted to bake what I’d imagined and see my sons face when I presented it. I wanted my child’s cake to mean something, to be made with love. I was under the illusion that he actually gives a shit where his cake comes from and appreciates my efforts. He doesn’t. He’s now turning three and is pretty articulate so know that his requirements are very simple he wants a cake, any cake,  with candles. This year I took the short cut and I’m converted.  Cake does not equal love. I’m didn’t win any prizes for making my own and I’ve gained five hours this evening that would have been spent in baking hell.

So we bought a jungle cake. My son chose it, I paid for it. It took 10 minutes in the shop and we’re all very happy. I’ve decided that this cake HAS been made with love, by a very nice lady/man who works at Marks & Spencer, bakes for a living and does not have a complete meltdown in the process.
So cheers to you Mr/Mrs M&S cake maker for allowing me to enjoy my sons birthday this year without any baking related emotional baggage. Another win for lazy parents!

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