I’ll leave it up to you to attribute the numbers to the people. Yes, it’s true, another birthday has come around again. And with old age, clearly goes the inability to post about it on time (that would be Kitty’s age, smack bang in the middle of the clingy phase). Tuesday wasn’t a landmark birthday for any of us. At 40 weeks it perhaps should have marked the time that Kitty had been out longer than she was ‘in’ but our little laid back girl has another couple of weeks to go for that.
H’s parents came to visit (and to take us out for a fabulous dinner – blackened cajun salmon with sweet potato mash and a pineapple salsa followed by Eton mess) and brought his cousin, Miss H, for some extra tuition before her final physics A-level exam on Monday, along with the appropriate remuneration (a tub of homemade millionaire’s shortbread).
We’ve spent the days since in a blur of cake and equations, and I’m rapidly relearning things I didn’t know I’d forgotten a good 13 years ago when I toiled over A-level maths.
But you didn’t really come here to read how I was spoiled by friends and family, even if that spoiling did include purple sock needles (thank you Mandy, I love them), you came to see cake.
I know last year I said that if I made something cool and neat with columns you’d know I’d grown up. Well this year I ran out of time to do a story cake, and my cake is looking dangerously like something chic
It’s Raspberry Marscapone Layer Cake with pink icing and edible pink hearts (thank you A for my Christmas present glitter) from Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Cakes book. It’s a ground almond sponge filled with a marscapone, icing sugar and crushed raspberry mix, and it’s damp and sweet and refreshing and I think it might be my favourite ever.
For H’s cake, I had a very cunning plan, let down somewhat in the execution.
The inspiration is here, although I beg you not to look at the two side by side.
I really wanted to make him a stripy Celtic cake (green and white), and I carefully baked two nice square cakes, one green, one white … and then it all went wrong.
Firstly, the two cakes were different heights, and I didn’t level them properly. Then when I cut the cakes into concentric squares I didn’t get the measurements exactly the same on both cakes, so they weren’t a snug fit.
The lemon sugar syrup failed to stick the strips of cake to each other, and an hour in the fridge only made it chillily unstuck.
It was at this point that, whilst wailing and knashing teeth, I lamented the fate of the cake on Twitter, which H sometimes reads … oops.
Still, onwards, and upwards, I grouted the cake with buttercream and fondanted my smaller layer quite nicely, although the sides of the cake were a bit rounded so that instead of nice crisp corners I had more of an iced cob loaf that a layer cake.
For the second layer I was defeated by the width of my worktop, so I had to do a little patch job on one side, and then there was a little rip on a corner, so I did a little patch, and then another …
I tried to pipe little green scallops around the edges but I was using ordinary icing not royal icing (because the latter tastes horrid) and it couldn’t hold the pattern and turned into big soft green lines. But this was at 10.30 at night, so I stuck the candles in and hoped for the best.
H loves it, and it does taste really good thanks to the lemon sugar syrup and lemon buttercream so it’s disappearing rapidly, which is very reassuring for the amateur baker who thought she had sunk to the level of cake wrecks.
But before I disappear again, I do have to tell you about a very special present
It’s not something H or I gave to each other, or that anyone else gave us. Instead, this is a present for a little girl who lives all the way over the pond. Way back when a little girl called ‘Heidi’ was our Bamboo sponsor baby, I made a little lap quilt while I was thinking about her, and in my mind it became Heidi’s quilt. I thought it might be for Kitty when she arrived but to me it was still Heidi’s.
Heidi was adopted last September, and I knew Pearl River had been in touch with her family. So I asked, and Pearl River asked, and Heidi’s mum very generously said that we could send the quilt to her daughter. It was my favourite ever trip to the post office.