It’s that time of year again, when I spend my days and nights obsessing over cake. I suppose there are worse things to obsess about, but had I planned better, I would have spread my children’s birthdays further apart. As it is, with just 12 days between them, it’s a bit of a marathon—a cake for each of them on their birthdays, then usually a third cake for a joint birthday party, all in the space of two weeks.
A few weeks before their birthdays, they request a cake flavour and a theme. It’s then up to me to produce something that will wow their eyes and tastebuds.
I take the task seriously (Ian argues that I take it way too seriously). I plan, I test out new materials and techniques. I even watch the weather forecast—I learned that the hard way several years ago when the large clear candy sails on a pirate ship melted in humid air.
In the days before a birthday, I prepare necessary accessories like marzipan, fondant, and candies. I bake the cake the day before, so it is cool and ready to decorate after dinner. Though the kids know generally what I am making, the actual cake is meant to be a surprise in the morning. I work late into the night, shaping and decorating, then cleaning up the tremendous greasy, sticky mess that only icing can create.
In the morning, I watch carefully for the first reactions to the cake. Did I get it right? Did I capture the vision my children had when they decided what they wanted?
And then it’s all over. Two weeks of frantic obsession with cake, then it’s another year until I get to make another.