Long time readers may recall the infamous cake disaster of Feb '11. If you don't, you can refresh your memory here.
Well sadly, and quite unbelievably, I've done it again. You'd think I would have learnt to outsource this particular task after the last time.
Recently it was Mims' 9th birthday. We had a combined birthday celebration in the park with her friend, who was also turning nine.
Between me and the other mother we easily halved the tasks. Originally, Sharon recommended that I do the party bags and she would do the cake, owing to her having the advantage of a mythically large cake tin.
Mim had, however, already been looking at birthday cakes and picked out something she loved. 'Oh, well ah, actually, Sharon,' I said, with a little more pomp and circumstance than I meant to, 'Mim has actually chosen a cake design she wants, so do you mind if I do the cake instead?'.
Sharon is very fun and easy going so had no problem with that. I didn't give it another thought, oddly, despite 'the incident' in Feb '11 when it was Peach's birthday.
Mim had picked out what I rather deludedly considered a simple cake. It looked like a series of three iced butter cakes, all slightly different sizes and atop one another, rather grand looking, with some fresh flowers on top.
I only had two tins, one was bigger than the other but they were different depths, error one. In hindsight I also realise that there was not a big enough size difference between the two, and added to that, when they came out of the oven they were different heights. The smaller one being the higher one.
Even at this stage the fact I was on the cusp of another disaster had not become apparent to me. I carried on happily. I professionally sliced the top off the larger cake and turned it over so it was (kind of) a flat surface for the other one to sit on. The smaller one however, was oddly shaped. It had barely any sides, it just rose from the base to the top.
I couldn't really slice the top off, because it would still have sloping sides - are you following?
Anyway, I didn't see this as a massive issue. I carried on, putting bamboo skewers through the two cakes to hold them together.
Then I iced the cake, doing the 'crumb layer' first, which you then freeze, fixing all the crumbs in place before the proper icing goes on. I was smugly explaining this professional approach to anyone who walked through the kitchen.
Once the cake came out of the freezer I put on the final pink icing. It was a bit runny, so I adusted it and kept going. Once finished, I was starting to twig. I looked at the cake in front of me, my head involuntarily turned to the side, like an inquisitive labrador.
Mim walked through the kitchen and looked at my 'creation'. 'What's that? Did you ice a hat?'
Due to the sloping sides on the top cake, it did look like a hat. I could deny it no longer. I got some impromptu marshmallows out and put them around the perimeter.
Darn! I said....or words to that effect.
It was one of the most hideous cakes I've ever seen in my life. A close rival to the Feb '11 cake disaster.
I swear I turned my back for a milli-second and when I looked at the cake again, the marshmallows had all moved, like they were trying to get away or something. The icing was melting. I stuck the whole thing in the freezer.
I told my husband what happened and he opened the door to see for himself. Silence. Then a weak, 'it's ok'.
Things didn't improve. The cake didn't magically right itself in the quiet dark of the freezer compartment. Just before we left for the park I got out the fresh flowers to put on top. A resounding 'nooooo' came from my unsupportive onlookers. They told me the flowers were too pretty to put on the cake. What they meant was, the flowers would have been wasted sitting on top of such an ugly beast. The phrase, 'you can't polish a turd' came to mind.
Off we went to the park. We set up our trestle table and I popped the pretty flowers on the table in a vase instead. Apart from my own actual kin, everyone at the party was very supportive when I pointed out the cake.
The afternoon was not exactly cooling down and occasionally the odd kind passer by would stop to push the sliding marshmallows back on top.
I showed Sharon my cake, the very special design that I insisted on making myself. She leaned in, 'Does it have stretch marks?'
And yes, I think if you look closely at it, then yes, it does have stretch marks.